Good reminder of why you shouldn't always trust your ears.

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_Agu_
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Good reminder of why you shouldn't always trust your ears.

Post by _Agu_ » Tue Apr 07, 2015 11:57 am

For the last 2 years, the hardest thing to get right for me has been the mixdown. Especially dealing with high end and higher mids has been pain in the ass. No clarity, no crispiness, nothing. I mostly produce using headphones, I'm mainly using AKG-240 MKIIs and some AKG DJing headphones on the side for "brick wall" testing and to see how the mix translates. I know both headphones like the back of my hand (or so I thought). I also check on monitors here and there, but tbh it haven't ever really helped me since my room sounds like shit and no matter what, I never will be listening music through them enough to know them well as I know both of my headphones. Today I got really frustrated with the current track I'm making. I sticked few reference tracks into Logic and guess what? High end sounded absolutely too harsh and bright on every track. I've analyzed pro tracks before but never really focused on higher frequencies, I've used it to check how the low end is balanced. This is not the whole story tho. In Logic I couldn't play these tracks at even relatively loud volume, because high end started to pierce my ears to death. On my iPhone, I play everything always at the max volume without any problems and I can tell you, that's even louder than what I tried in Logic. If I go to Youtube, I can play these same tracks at loud volume without high end sounding too harsh (tho it's still not as smooth as iPhone). I've heard few of these tracks in a club too and high didn't sound too loud at all.

I don't know why it's like this, but at least from this point on, I know that if high end sounds good in Logic, it will sound shit on everything else, and if it sounds somewhat too harsh in Logic, it will sound mostly right on other systems.

Hashkey
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Re: Good reminder of why you shouldn't always trust your ear

Post by Hashkey » Tue Apr 07, 2015 1:59 pm

I'd like to help you Agu, but I find it hard to understand what's going on. So If I Understood you well you're saying that listening the same song on youtube or logic you get different high end?

Try this:
Download a high Quality wav reference track, play it in vlc and then in logic. You shouldn't hear any difference. If you do there is a problem with your daw.

In my experience eqing high end can be a little tricky if you suffer from hyperacusis.

_Agu_
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Re: Good reminder of why you shouldn't always trust your ear

Post by _Agu_ » Tue Apr 07, 2015 6:35 pm

Hashkey wrote:So If I Understood you well you're saying that listening the same song on youtube or logic you get different high end?
This exactly. Does some high frequency content get lost when it's played through a smartphone, youtube or iTunes etc. ?
Try this:
Download a high Quality wav reference track, play it in vlc and then in logic. You shouldn't hear any difference. If you do there is a problem with your daw.
I'm gonna try this tomorrow, all tracks on my laptop and iPhone are 320 mp3s so I'm probably just gonna download some wavs from the internet, let's see what happens.
In my experience eqing high end can be a little tricky if you suffer from hyperacusis.
I had to google that one. Don't have any diagnosis, but who knows....

Banesy
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Re: Good reminder of why you shouldn't always trust your ear

Post by Banesy » Wed Apr 08, 2015 3:48 am

This is an important topic in analyzing and producing sound. I think you are on to something but it isn't your ears...you should absolutely trust your ears...more so...you should know your output system...very very well. You hear what you hear...your system and perhaps the room you are in however, will not produce sound like any other system.

There are way too many variables (hardware and software) between all of these listening systems so you can't really cross compare them when analyzing sound quality. You have to compare sounds on the same systems or else it just isn't a valid comparison.

One thing to note...iPhone playback through any app EXCEPT for iTunes is quieter than a computer output. For some reason, iTunes on the iPhone is louder than all other sound output on the iPhone or Android phone. This is important to note because if you are comparing audio output from Logic on a computer vs youtube on an iPhone.....youtube won't be as loud. If you have harsh frequencies in a track...Logic (being louder) would play a track "harsher" than it would be played on youtube through an iPhone. Androids...from what I have seen so far are also quieter than computers or iTunes on an iPhone. You have to drop club sound out completely. Sound goes through a mixing board and then through loud ass speakers...the sound guy has complete control to EQ so it isn't a "virgin" track that you are hearing. If you want to get really really into it...you could even say that converting a .WAV track to MP4 or MP3 will change it and comparing youtube to Logic is just not correct but...I think if you are talking about tune harshness....file conversion prob won't make a difference here.

Another very worthy note...be careful of "pro" tracks that you reference. I am not throwing anyone under the bus here but artists that I consider pro kick out some really harsh sounding tracks. Death and Magic has a lot of ear piercing tones up in the 3-4kHz range (usually the cause for this ear piercing character). Zomboy is right on the fence...Terror Squad is very harsh for example...the entire Outbreak EP isn't too bad but it can cause ear fatigue pretty quickly. I like to reference Skrillex but a lot of his collaborative tracks are really harsh like the Alvin Risk collabs or the Trollphace collab. I actually avoid listening to the entire Bangarang album because it is harsh as hell. I am not trying to throw anyone under the bus but it is good to note that harsh tracks come from pros as well so you have to pick your reference carefully and not just by the artist. If you look at semi-pros...it gets even worse...like people with 30K soundcloud followers and down. I won't name them off but a lot of these "semi-pro" artists have stuff that I can't even play a tune all of the way through due to harshness.

A followup point...a lot of producers are making stuff in headphones these days and headphones are very forgiving in the 3-4kHz range where this ear piercing harshness comes from. The hole that everyone is falling into is that saturation and distortion in the 3-4kHz range makes tracks sound really really loud in headphones but on speakers, it sounds very very harsh. A good example that I used to mess up a lot was using the tape saturation in Ozone 5 exciter. It magically makes your track louder...like really really loud but you have to be very very careful with it because it is like showing up to surgery with an axe.....it is just too much sometimes. I actually don't use it anymore. It seems like low hanging fruit...it is such a simple way to make your track loud as piss but most of the time, it makes things waaaay to harsh.

Time to end the rant....hopefully this may give you some food for thought to help you analyze and produce tracks.

Hashkey
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Re: Good reminder of why you shouldn't always trust your ear

Post by Hashkey » Wed Apr 08, 2015 5:17 pm

agreed, some mixes have terrible 2-4khz range!

fragments
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Re: Good reminder of why you shouldn't always trust your ear

Post by fragments » Wed Apr 08, 2015 6:24 pm

It strikes me has hilarious and sad that all these so-called "pro" dubstep artists are cranking out tracks with shite mixes that sound so bad you can't possibly listen to their music for very long and people are "avoiding listening" to whole albums. How is that "pro" at all?

My mixes aren't perfect, but they won't rob you of your hearing...
SunkLo wrote: If ragging on the 'shortcut to the top' mentality makes me a hater then shower me in haterade.

Hashkey
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Re: Good reminder of why you shouldn't always trust your ear

Post by Hashkey » Wed Apr 08, 2015 7:50 pm

that's because I guess there is a stupid habit of thinking that:
loud = better = let's boost 2-5khz where ear is most sensitive.

and in my opinion that's total shit but hey that's what 15 yrs old kids want to listen.
Lately I can't even club anymore due to totally shit DJ's that fuck up lows and highs thinking they are are sound engineers and they end up cutting mids even more adding even more bass and highs.

fragments
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Re: Good reminder of why you shouldn't always trust your ear

Post by fragments » Wed Apr 08, 2015 8:14 pm

Hearing some of this stuff at home, I can't even imagine listening to it all night on a club system.
SunkLo wrote: If ragging on the 'shortcut to the top' mentality makes me a hater then shower me in haterade.

_Agu_
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Re: Good reminder of why you shouldn't always trust your ear

Post by _Agu_ » Wed Apr 08, 2015 8:57 pm

Alright I did a quick google search, but didn't find any free wav downloads to these tracks (surprise). Let's just hope that stuff bought from iTunes is high quality enough.

Reference tracks I used were:


^ this is what tried first.





I didn't really check the spectrum for 2 latter tracks, since I just wanted double-check by using more than just one track and my ears told me it's the same. On Centipede, sub & kick & snare peak double as high than everything else. Everything is flat from 250 Hz to around 10000Hz, no resonant peaks, it looks a lot like brown noise with boosted high end, at 10Khz it starts rolling off.

To Banesy: This is exactly what makes it even more weird to me. I remember some old Skrillex track from Bangarang (I think it was Devil's Den), that has a huge spike moving across the midrange when the second drop hits. I wouldn't be surprised at all if it would fuck up your ears when listened even slightly above the average volume on some systems. I have all these 3 tracks on my iPhone. I don't use any 3rd party apps, only iTunes and never get that "ouch my ears" feeling, unless I listen like 3 hours straight.

fragments
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Re: Good reminder of why you shouldn't always trust your ear

Post by fragments » Wed Apr 08, 2015 9:16 pm

To try to be useful: listening on YouTube, as we know, means the file has been heavily compressed--MP3 compression usually looses some high end and low end content, though typically I seem to recall people mostly noticing high end. I wouldn't be surprised if an iPhone headphone jack had some kind of limiter and filter on it to protect dumbasses from ruining their ears.

Also, are you volume matching your comparisons of the songs listening between Logic, YouTube and iPhone? Max volume on an iPhone and on Logic might be different. I assume you are at least using the same headphones the whole time. Clear master bus on Logic? Any reason drivers might not be properly installed?

I'm sure you could have bought these tracks from somewhere and got .wav files for a few more dollars...the compression MP3s might not tell the whole story.

If you can find someone with the same version (does it matter?) of Logic and listen to the same file on their setup.

Final question, do you experience the phenomenon with fresh ears as well as tired ears? In the past I swear I've heard crazy shit like this...after working in the studio for three hours...then I came back the next day and couldn't reproduce what I thought I heard 10 times the day before...
SunkLo wrote: If ragging on the 'shortcut to the top' mentality makes me a hater then shower me in haterade.

_Agu_
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Re: Good reminder of why you shouldn't always trust your ear

Post by _Agu_ » Wed Apr 08, 2015 10:28 pm

fragments wrote:To try to be useful: listening on YouTube, as we know, means the file has been heavily compressed--MP3 compression usually looses some high end and low end content, though typically I seem to recall people mostly noticing high end. I wouldn't be surprised if an iPhone headphone jack had some kind of limiter and filter on it to protect dumbasses from ruining their ears.

Also, are you volume matching your comparisons of the songs listening between Logic, YouTube and iPhone? Max volume on an iPhone and on Logic might be different. I assume you are at least using the same headphones the whole time. Clear master bus on Logic? Any reason drivers might not be properly installed?

I'm sure you could have bought these tracks from somewhere and got .wav files for a few more dollars...the compression MP3s might not tell the whole story.

If you can find someone with the same version (does it matter?) of Logic and listen to the same file on their setup.
Same headphones, no stuff on master (apart from eq with everything bypassed, just used for an analyzer), no reason why drivers wouldn't work properly (at least not anything that I could think of. Volume matched by ear, or more likely would be matched, but I can't turn the gain up in Logic as much before high end starts to kill my ears.
Final question, do you experience the phenomenon with fresh ears as well as tired ears? In the past I swear I've heard crazy shit like this...after working in the studio for three hours...then I came back the next day and couldn't reproduce what I thought I heard 10 times the day before...
Tbh my ears weren't exactly fresh back then, they aren't now either or pretty much ever after sitting down behind my laptop for a few hours. Need to try again some morning just after waking up or something.

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nowaysj
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Re: Good reminder of why you shouldn't always trust your ear

Post by nowaysj » Thu Apr 09, 2015 1:20 am

fragments wrote:MP3 compression usually looses some high end
It completely just chops it off. Like gone. There is no high end, whatsoever, left. Look at an mp3 in a spectrum analyzer.

OP, just add a 12db boost in a bell starting at 2khz, peaking at 4khz and ending at 6khz. Your tracks will be totally unlistenable, everyone will be like yeah, I like that agu dude, his bass is huge, and then the other guy will have stolen your track, but only listened to about 30 seconds of it because he had to turn it off, but he'll play like he has listened to it, he'll be all like, yeah man, the bass is immense. And your bass infamy will spread, and not a single person will have listened all the way through one of your tracks. It is the future, and the future is now. :Q:
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Re: Good reminder of why you shouldn't always trust your ear

Post by R0 » Thu Apr 09, 2015 2:05 am

nowaysj wrote:
fragments wrote:MP3 compression usually looses some high end
but only listened to about 30 seconds of it because he had to turn it off, but he'll play like he has listened to it, he'll be all like, yeah man, the bass is immense. And your bass infamy will spread, and not a single person will have listened all the way through one of your tracks. It is the future, and the future is now. :Q:
Way ahead of you. Thats why I make 4 bar loops and call them rollers.

The reason the spectrum looks like brown noise may be cos it has been limited so hard that it is pushing up all the frequencies that were quieter originally as a sideeffect.

_Agu_
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Re: Good reminder of why you shouldn't always trust your ear

Post by _Agu_ » Thu Apr 09, 2015 10:52 am

I tested it again this morning with fresh ears. Either there is a difference or it's my brain that screws me up. High end sounds more "bouncy" in Logic to me, than what it's like in iTunes or Yt. All these small high end things like when s on vocals, cymbals, and high end on midrange basses seem much more harsh. Is it really just that youtube compression dos something to the high end and iPhone has some limiter in-limiter on it that makes everything else to cut through more and makes the high end to seem less harsh? Don't know why iTunes on my laptop doesn't sound so harsh..

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Re: Good reminder of why you shouldn't always trust your ear

Post by Banesy » Sat Apr 11, 2015 3:14 am

Hmm...that seems odd. Do you notice the reverse...if you actually export the reference track from Logic, will it retain that harshness when you put it back into iTunes? When I export tracks, they sound exactly the same through iTunes as they do in Ableton. You should remove all FX so you aren't coloring the track intentionally. Even an EQ can add 3-4db of noise to reference track.

Does your sound card have EQ settings or something weird going on with it like some other surround sound or enhancement settings? My only other thought would be if Logic is set to override your sound card settings perhaps the output really is different if it takes control of your sound card and changes the output.

_Agu_
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Re: Good reminder of why you shouldn't always trust your ear

Post by _Agu_ » Sat Apr 11, 2015 10:51 am

Banesy wrote:Hmm...that seems odd. Do you notice the reverse...if you actually export the reference track from Logic, will it retain that harshness when you put it back into iTunes? When I export tracks, they sound exactly the same through iTunes as they do in Ableton. You should remove all FX so you aren't coloring the track intentionally. Even an EQ can add 3-4db of noise to reference track.

Does your sound card have EQ settings or something weird going on with it like some other surround sound or enhancement settings? My only other thought would be if Logic is set to override your sound card settings perhaps the output really is different if it takes control of your sound card and changes the output.
I bounced it out and it sounds the same as original track, no extra harshness. Sound card settings are okay, and so are settings in Logic. Maybe it just me. Like my ears getting to the sound so fast after pressing play that I think it's playing at equal level when in reality it's played at a lot louder volume and that's why high end starts to pierce my ears. I could swear there's a difference tho...

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Re: Good reminder of why you shouldn't always trust your ear

Post by Banesy » Wed Apr 15, 2015 5:35 pm

Hmm...there might be. I believe you anyway...If you are producing music and analyzing sound in tiny details...you should be able to judge if something is different. I have seen a few things about DAW sounding different but everyone monitors in different ways it is hard to say what is happening.

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/music-c ... d-mix.html

Here is an interesting comment;
In my experience, the different DAWs do have different sounds to them.

Logic has a sort of high-end sheen to it, a kind of smoothness. I dig it!

Protools and Digital Performer are both fairly neutral.

Protools LE is kind of clinical/harsh to my ears, more so than DP.

The sound engines are different -- why wouldn't they have different sounds to them?

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