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Topic: My demo CD is finally done, but HELP!!!!!

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  1. #1

    My demo CD is finally done, but HELP!!!!!

    Okay my demo CD is finally done and I just got a pair of AKG K240DF headphones to hear what the demos would sound like. These cans are supposed to be very accurate and flat unlike my old AKG K240s.

    I was told my mixes would actually sound like crap through my new headphones since they are so flat and accentuate more mids unlike colored headphones that are tailored to please the ear more. Well to my ears the new AKG K240DFs are MUCH brighter and actually make me think my mix has to much high end now. I\'m really puzzled. [img]images/icons/confused.gif[/img]

    I mix on a pair of Mackie HR824 monitors in a room that\'s brutal. High ceilings, windows, etc. I do have my monitors facing a wall with a huge sheet of foam on it to deaden the sound a little. Still doesnt accentuate the highs as much as I\'d like.

    Basically what I want to know is, do you guys ever boost your treble on your mixer a little just to see what your demos would sound like on a \'colored\' cheaper system? I have done this with the new AKG headphones and I get absolutley horrible high end digital frequency. I only boost about 3 dbs also.

    The thing that puzzles me most is how I can put in a well produced soundtrack CD (Gladiator comes to mind) and boost the treble all the way up and it still doesnt have that brutal high end digital noise. Just good high end.

    What\'s going on here? I use Waves Master Bundle EQ and LinMB compressor. These are supposed to be fantastic plugins, but what\'s with the digital noise I hear when I boost the treble a tad? Would I be better off getting a good hardware EQ unit?

    Mind you, some of my demos had no EQ added at all and they still sounded very bright, although I did have to cut about 3 dbs of 250k to get rid of the muddiness in some. Is this normal with a pair of flat headphones?

    The bottom line is what if the person I send my demo to has a \'treble boost\' feature on his system. My demos will sound horrible.

    How much is enough to try and get the mix to sound good on all systems? I A/B on all types of speakers (car, computer speakers, boom boxes) and so far everything sounds fine EXCEPT on the new headphones. Everything is brutally bright through the cans.

    I\'m also realizing that software verbs can really f-ck up a mix BIG TIME unless you really know how to tweak it right and still to my ears they sound harsh and brittle.

    Should I go out and buy a nice tube amp or tube compressor to warm things up and bring out harmonic content? Maybe that\'s what Im hearing in all of these great produced CDs.

    Oh geez...Sorry if this post is ridiculous and so long. I\'m just a bit frustrated that my new demo is done and now I\'m worried it\'s gonna sound like S H I T.

    Any advice would be VERY much appreciated on this. I\'m definitely no engineer, I just want to compose music but I\'d also like my demos to be as good I can get them.

    Thanks for your time [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]

  2. #2
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
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    Re: My demo CD is finally done, but HELP!!!!!

    Hi Damon,

    Those Waves Linear plugins are on the quality level of very expensive hardware units, so that\'s not the problem.

    It\'s hard to say what the problem could be...judging a mix without hearing it is an impossible task.

    If it sounds good on the Mackies, trust that for now.

    If you want to spend some money to improve your mixes, sounds like your room is a candidate.

    Go to www.prorec.com and check out my article there on Auralex. You may be able to pick up some hints there...and Auralex has a FREE consulting service, where they design a perfect soundplot for your room, and you can buy the components over time, getting the ones you need the most early on and adding as you go.

    Another issue here is the one of mastering. Many times people must master their own material for financial reasons. I end up mastering some of my own material, too. But the best policy by far is to send your material somewhere else for mastering. Why? Because your listening environment has defects, and those defects contribute to mix decisions you make. Part of the mastering process is getting the music into ANOTHER environment, with another set of monitors, and another set of ears.

    But you\'re doing the right thing. Listening in cars, to boomboxes, to other systems, etc., will at least give you some reality checks.

    You can\'t worry too much what it will sound like when someone has their high-eq turned up to \"11.\" Chances are that person is not a skilled listener to begin with. Worry about just making things as good as you can make them, and you\'ll be fine.

  3. #3

    Re: My demo CD is finally done, but HELP!!!!!

    Hi Damon,

    Don\'t panic! Hey, your demos have always sounded pretty good in my studio, but if the top end is harsh on every system you listen on, there are 2 things I would check out.

    1. Obviously a nice EQ. I\'m lucky to have the Massenburg EQ on my Mackie d8b which allows you to add real sparkle to the top end without becoming harsh. The Pultec EQ on my UAD-1 card is also really sweet. Between these 2, I\'m pretty happy!

    2. Accurate Word Clock! Too many people underestimate the importance of this. Even if you mix entirely within your PC, your software relies on the clocking of your soundcard. Jitter affects the quality of sound, stereo image etc. The sound in my studio drastically improved after I added a Lucid GenX6 word clock as master about 6 months ago.

    Both my Logic PC and Giga PC are slaved to the Lucid. It also makes a very big difference to the quality of the AD converters on the d8b. I\'ve been collaborating with an LA based producer who has some serious high end recording gear. He was very flattering about the sound of a female vocal I sent him and was very surprised when I told him that it was just a Neumann M147 straight into the d8b!

    So, if you\'re thinking about upgrading your soundcard, one with a good quality wordclock (RME, Aardvark etc) will make a difference. Alternatively, if your soundcard has a wordclock input, buy a master clock like the Lucid (~$360 I believe. I paid £500 in the UK!).

    Hope this helps!

    Good luck,

    Chris

  4. #4

    Re: My demo CD is finally done, but HELP!!!!!

    Damon, Steinberg makes a plugin called Freefilter which allows you to \"learn\" the eq settings from any given sound / piece of music. You could use this to approximate the sound image you hear on a track you like, by having FreeFilter \"learn\" the eq settings and then apply it to your own mix. I\'m not sure how well it works, but I\'ve heard it\'s a pretty good plug-in as far as EQ goes.

    If you listen to Hans Zimmer, Prince of Egypt you will hear that the highs are boosted a lot and that the mix really isn\'t that transparant. It\'s not just your mixes [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]

    Thomas

  5. #5

    Re: My demo CD is finally done, but HELP!!!!!

    Originally posted by Damon:
    Okay my demo CD is finally done and I just got a pair of AKG K240DF headphones to hear what the demos would sound like. These cans are supposed to be very accurate and flat unlike my old AKG K240s.

    I was told my mixes would actually sound like crap through my new headphones since they are so flat and accentuate more mids unlike colored headphones that are tailored to please the ear more. Well to my ears the new AKG K240DFs are MUCH brighter and actually make me think my mix has to much high end now. I\'m really puzzled. [img]images/icons/confused.gif[/img]
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">Damon,

    If you mean that your new headphones are NEW,well, I have heard many people say in audiophile forums that new headphones (High end ones, reference type) sometimes need to be \"broken in\", by leaving them playing at mid-high volume for around 24 hours. I don\'t know if this is complete BS or not, but people seem serious enough about it.

    I\'ve heard a few people comment that they had problems similar to what you are describing (crappy frequency response) on new headphones, and after this process of breaking them in, things normalized.

    Also, consider that if everywhere you play your music it sounds very good except in your new headphones, the problem most likely is with your new headphones, not your mix or mastering.

    And, if anyone is going to be listen to your work with treble boost, well, S C R E W them [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img]

    Looking forward to listening to your work, and congratulations. Take it easy...

    Ruben

  6. #6

    Re: My demo CD is finally done, but HELP!!!!!

    Originally posted by MrArkadine:
    If you mean that your new headphones are NEW,well, I have heard many people say in audiophile forums that new headphones (High end ones, reference type) sometimes need to be \"broken in\", by leaving them playing at mid-high volume for around 24 hours. I don\'t know if this is complete BS or not, but people seem serious enough about it.
    [/QB]
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">Well it sounds pretty impossible, but just recently I bought fairly new headphones for $100, and they sounded awful (especially with classical music). However, after a few weeks, I think the sound has improved slightly.

    Damon, you mixes sound ok on all of my headphones/speakers... I don´t think you should be worried. Try comparing them with some other music than you own and see if they sound any different.

  7. #7

    Re: My demo CD is finally done, but HELP!!!!!

    I forgot to mention...

    You probably know this but, burn your CD in an audio CD (not a data CD), and at the lowest speed posible (It should be 1x).

    And try to encode with different programs at different settings to see if it makes any difference.

    But like Paul said, there might be something to the headphone issue. I suppose that from a physical standpoint it would be possible that a headphone transducers or membranes would be too \"tight\" right after manufacturing, thus needing the breaking in period. I wonder if any headphone companies actually include this breaking in process at the end of the manufacturing cycle.

    Ruben

  8. #8
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
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    Re: My demo CD is finally done, but HELP!!!!!

    Originally posted by MrArkadine:
    I forgot to mention...

    You probably know this but, burn your CD in an audio CD (not a data CD), and at the lowest speed posible (It should be 1x).
    Ruben
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">Hi Ruben,

    I\'ll add something to that...check your manufacturer\'s recommendation for the speed which will give the lowest error rate. Many drives actually have lower error rates at higher speeds. For instance, I have a Plextor 12/4/32 which burns most optimally at 2x in terms of error rate.

  9. #9

    Re: My demo CD is finally done, but HELP!!!!!

    Bruce,

    Very interesting, I didn\'t know that! Thanks for sharing that info.

    BTW, I used to have an external SCSI Plextor, and I think it was 12/4/32 too. They are great drives, very fast, and they are built like a piece of industrial equipment (albeit in plastic)

    Ruben

  10. #10

    Re: My demo CD is finally done, but HELP!!!!!

    Damon, Not sure of the audio path you chose to record and mix your demo, but sometimes the thing that is overlooked is good dithering down to 16 bit. Poor dithering can add some unpleasantaries to the end result no matter how good your eq plug-ins are.

    Try making an analog transfer to a DAT from your original sequenced files (pre dithered) and listen to it in a different environment or through your headphones.

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