'Boombox' processing??

Discussion in 'Monitoring' started by BjornZetterlund, Apr 21, 2003.

  1. My question is simply this...what type of processing, if any, do consumer music systems use to try to make them sell more than their competitors? And how do you as mastering engineers deal with this, as presumably you need to try and make any recording sound as good as possible on any type of system?

    This query was triggered by the mastering of my band's last album; the first reference that was done for me I had to say was not loud enough. I know that such a statement may well be frowned upon, but the thinking behind this was simply the fact that as an unsigned band we wanted to be able to deliver a 'signable' product, as in we didn't want to be turned away by some idiot who would say "it's not professional because it isn't loud enough". Also, when I played the old reference back on a flatemate's boombox, it was very different compared to the new 'louder' version; in a way that was more than just a result of the comp/EQ used (I heard it on NS-10's for reference as well). It sounded as if the cheapo boombox needed the CD to be a certain level for it's own processing to know what to with it, to put it unscientifically. On NS-10's, you could simply turn the softer master up, and it would sound similar to the louder master, but on this boombox it wasn't even close.

    So how has this 'everything louder' mastering approach affected cheaper music systems? Presumably a visually attractive system that targets the teenage market is also only designed to sound good with Britney Spears, with the accompanying lack of dynamic range?

    Any thoughts on this one?


  2. Mark Burnley

    Mark Burnley Guest


    I'm not a mastering engineer but I like opening up electronic equipment :D and...

    I know I've seen certain cheapy hifi units with something like "super spacial enhancing processing"....it flipped the phase of one speaker and added a bit of bass boost ;) ...and a TDA2030 IC inside!

    It is a matter of personal taste with things like this, but I don't think many people buy a "flat" sounding hifi- they probably wouldn't sell many if they did! People want Watts (even if it's PMPO) and lights and lights and lights and morphed plastic front panels.....

    I know that I've read on RO someone saying that they've heard commercial CDs so hot that they clipped the internal electronics of the hifi!

    Crazy situation.


    "Oscillators don't, amplifiers do....."
  3. joe lambert

    joe lambert Active Member

    Oct 17, 2001
    321 West 44th Street Suite 1001
    Home Page:

    Unfortunately most all in one systems now have a lot of lousy bells and whistles. The big one is MEGA BASS or as I call it mega suck. Many people buy audio equipment with there eyes. So thes componies put the lame EQ and crap to get you to forget that the system is junk.

    I master for real world systems but you can't control what is out there. And I can't slap everyones hand when reaching for the surround button even though the system only has 2 speakers!!

    If you weren't completely happy with the average level of you last project it was most likely improper mastering and not a bad system. Even on a bad system all discs should sound equally bad.

    Its Friday so I am not holding back today!!
  4. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    Sep 12, 2002
    NYC New York
    Home Page:
  5. GT40sc

    GT40sc Active Member

    Jan 14, 2001
    Seattle WA, USA
    I went down to the local "discount department store" to check out a few of these systems...all of the above is true, as posted by Mark and Joe...

    In addition, several of the "EQ Presets" also involve some cheap DSP choices such as "Hall," "Live," etc.

    And then I remember when I was in college, and many of my friends ran their stereos with the bass and treble up all the way, AND the "LOUDNESS" button ON.

    I submit that the best you can hope for is that your music will somehow survive this insanity, and will come out of the speakers in a relatively listenable condition.

    It is too much to ask that the mastering engineer be made to compensate for the sound "quality" of millions of bad boomboxes in the world.

    Add another zillion possible EQ curves and "personal signal processors" to the equation, and I can't even think about it. Just gives me a headache.

    But if the frat boys listen to it and like it, then what the hell...it's all good...I guess...

    I wonder if I answered the question...?
  6. realdynamix

    realdynamix Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    :) Not a mastering person here, but thank God some adhere to standards. If there was no basic standard used, boom boxes, and systems with the EQ smile, and loudness button combined would have bottomed out making these and many other systems sound a distorted horror.

    With all the technology available things should be getting better. Is there anyone in charge anymore?

    I don't want our stations to blast out the others when people surf TV. I want to blend in and belong. But, there are stations that will blast you out, so much so, that you have to stop what you are doing and adjust the level, and their commercial breaks are louder still, clipping your system.

    I don't think regulation is the answer as long as standards are used, but if the limits keep getting pushed, regulation may be the only answer.

    Friday night rant,

  7. Jon Best

    Jon Best Active Member

    Mar 18, 2001
    I would imagine that with the hotter disks, you're riding the edge of distorting the DAC analog circuitry in the boombox all the time, and you're used to that bright edge. Bring in your first, quieter master, and I'll warrant that it sounded a little dull and lifeless, even after you turned it up. That's what un-distortion sounds like when your ears have gotten used to distortion!

  • AT5047

    The New AT5047 Premier Studio Microphone Purity Transformed

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice