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Lum Tham

Exported mix plays differently on 3 gears, but my gears are not faulty

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Dear All,

Goodday.

I found a problem when i try to playback using 3 different gears that i use to enjoy music. My notebook is Dell Windows 7 that i bought in 2011. My cakewalk is version 2020.01.  Below are the gears i use:

1. sony in-ear earphone(price USD8.00) - insert into my notebook sound output jack  
2. sony headphone (price USD40.00) - insert into my notebook sound output jack
3. Edifier PC speaker with subwoofer and 2 satellite speakers (price USD50.00) - connect into my notebook using Aux cable that comes with the purchase of Edifier speaker

For my exported WAV (as attached) , playback in windows media player (version 12.0.7601.24460) and also playback in Cakewalk DAW , below are the result of playback using the gears above:
1. good
2. good
3. bad - vocal and instruments sound bad

However, mp3 songs by other artists that i downloaded from internet plays perfectly on 3 gears. What could be the problem? My edifier PC speaker is not faulty, as i also use my mobile phone bluetooth to connect to edifier PC speaker to listen to spotify and other radio apps and it sounds good.

For your info, i didn't use any FX or EQ or compression. Also attached is my mixing pane. Could it be my master volume is too low? If i turn it up it would be too loud for my ear using ear/headphone. I uploaded to bandlab for mastering and playback on bandlab website also gives same result i.e. sounds bad on the edifier PC speaker.

Thank you.

mixing.PNG

edifier PC speaker-min.jpg

sony headphones-min.jpg

sony in-ear earphone-min.jpg

forum.wav

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Without a proper audio interface and studio monitors what do you expect? Your using computer stuff with a professional DAW. Every playback system will sound different but running stuff through a $10 sound chip on a laptop into gaming speakers will definitely give mixed results. 

You need to invest in a good Audio interface  and a set of proper studio monitors. Or suffer unreliable mixes. Audio interfaces are the heart of a computer based studio. And a good set of monitors will hopfully give you mixes that will translate to other playback systems. 

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Thank you so much, as a beginner i did not know that audio interface and studio monitor are required.

Thank you!!

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If your speakers is "Edifier XM6BT - speaker system - for PC - wireless" it connects by Bluetooth.

There's a difference in quality between direct out from the audio interface or converting the audio to a Bluetooth stream and then back from Bluetooth to audio in the speaker.

Get yourself a speaker system that connects directly to the audio interface and your speaker audio would sound fine.

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10 minutes ago, Kurre said:

If your speakers is "Edifier XM6BT - speaker system - for PC - wireless" it connects by Bluetooth.

There's a difference in quality between direct out from the audio interface or converting the audio to a Bluetooth stream and then back from Bluetooth to audio in the speaker.

Get yourself a speaker system that connects directly to the audio interface and your speaker audio would sound fine.

Dear Kurre,

Thanks for your comment.

I can't remember the exact model of my edifier, but it can connect to my PC by either bluetooth or Aux cable. For playback of my cakewalk mix, i use Aux cable.

Thank you.

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It could be that the speaker takes the input through its own audio interface and that would color the audio.

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Lum,

You are doing the right thing by listening on different systems. Also asking for advice. I have a hard time doing that myself.

My mobile Cakewalk system is a Dell E6410 laptop from 2010. I often reference mixes using consumer Sony headphones similar to yours and have even tried recording just for fun using the built-in camera mic as a room mic. Not recommended for mass distribution! 😁

I listened to the file that you attached to your post and in my opinion  there are no problems with it that would be solved by spending a pile of money on equipment. After all, you didn't even say what kind of gear you used to record, and to monitor while you were mixing, you only told us what you were using to reference listen.

But that stuff only matters as you go along, and what kind of results you want to get. You didn't say what you used on your voice, but I think you're off to a good start. My equipment suggestion for getting started recording vocal pop like you are doing would be a USB condenser mic. I can purchase Chinese-manufactured ones of acceptable quality for well under $100 here in the USA. You don't say what your mix monitor system is, but I could mix with those Sony cans while I saved up for something more accurate. The IDT chip in your Dell will drive them plenty loud, undistorted, and with a flat frequency response as long as you use the Sound app in your Control Panel to disable any Windows "enhancements."

Where I will agree with those who say you need to spend more money is if you want your mixes to sound just like the ones you hear on the radio and on YouTube. You will need a good quality microphone for your voice and a good quality external audio interface if you want to go that far. But you have a journey ahead of you, and you don't need to spend all that money at once if you don't have it or don't want to right now. You can have fun and learn and get pretty good results with maybe just a better mic.

There's so much you will learn, about compression, reverb, EQ, and being good at using those things has WAY more effect on how your mixes sound than whether you are monitoring on the laptop headphone jack vs. the headphone jack on a fancy audio interface. At this point, your mix might even sound worse played back on a $1000 audio interface than it does through your Dell's headphone jack.

So, after all my great advice 😄, you like how the file sounds on the ear buds and the cans, can you describe what's wrong with it on your satellite/sub system? Too much bass, too little bass? Shrill? Distorted? Hum? Hiss?

As a mix critique, I suggest that maybe you should use some FX, EQ and compression. Specifically, try a little bit of de-essing and room reverb on your lead vocal, and mastering compression and limiting on the Master bus. There are some good vocal processing tools in VX-64, you just need to enable it.

(Kurre, Lum said that other audio sounded good through the Edifier system, so it seems like he's not having technical issues with the speakers)

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32 minutes ago, Starship Krupa said:

Lum, you are doing the right thing by listening on different systems. Also asking for advice. I have a hard time doing that myself.............................

(Kurre, Lum said that other audio sounded good through the Edifier system, so it seems like he's not having technical issues with the speakers)

:$ I choosed to forget that one. I focused on how two out of three could give different results. My answer reflects what i see as the only possible culprit - the speaker and its connections.

Otherwise there's some missing or unknown facts we are not aware of.

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Posted (edited)

I have one other thought on this. If your onboard soundcard or your audio player have separate settings for your speaker uncheck any enhancements settings.

Edited by Kurre

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21 minutes ago, Kurre said:

I have one other thought on this. If your onboard soundcard or your audio player have separate settings for your speaker uncheck any enhancements settings.

Dear Kurre, thanks for your comments.

How do i check my onboard soundcard and separate/enhancement settings?

For your info, for edifier playback of mp3 songs by other artists, they are playback on windows media player connected to the edifier using aux cable.

 

Thank you

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Starship Krupa said:

Lum,

You are doing the right thing by listening on different systems. Also asking for advice. I have a hard time doing that myself.

My mobile Cakewalk system is a Dell E6410 laptop from 2010. I often reference mixes using consumer Sony headphones similar to yours and have even tried recording just for fun using the built-in camera mic as a room mic. Not recommended for mass distribution! 😁

I listened to the file that you attached to your post and in my opinion  there are no problems with it that would be solved by spending a pile of money on equipment. After all, you didn't even say what kind of gear you used to record, and to monitor while you were mixing, you only told us what you were using to reference listen.

But that stuff only matters as you go along, and what kind of results you want to get. You didn't say what you used on your voice, but I think you're off to a good start. My equipment suggestion for getting started recording vocal pop like you are doing would be a USB condenser mic. I can purchase Chinese-manufactured ones of acceptable quality for well under $100 here in the USA. You don't say what your mix monitor system is, but I could mix with those Sony cans while I saved up for something more accurate. The IDT chip in your Dell will drive them plenty loud, undistorted, and with a flat frequency response as long as you use the Sound app in your Control Panel to disable any Windows "enhancements."

Where I will agree with those who say you need to spend more money is if you want your mixes to sound just like the ones you hear on the radio and on YouTube. You will need a good quality microphone for your voice and a good quality external audio interface if you want to go that far. But you have a journey ahead of you, and you don't need to spend all that money at once if you don't have it or don't want to right now. You can have fun and learn and get pretty good results with maybe just a better mic.

There's so much you will learn, about compression, reverb, EQ, and being good at using those things has WAY more effect on how your mixes sound than whether you are monitoring on the laptop headphone jack vs. the headphone jack on a fancy audio interface. At this point, your mix might even sound worse played back on a $1000 audio interface than it does through your Dell's headphone jack.

So, after all my great advice 😄, you like how the file sounds on the ear buds and the cans, can you describe what's wrong with it on your satellite/sub system? Too much bass, too little bass? Shrill? Distorted? Hum? Hiss?

As a mix critique, I suggest that maybe you should use some FX, EQ and compression. Specifically, try a little bit of de-essing and room reverb on your lead vocal, and mastering compression and limiting on the Master bus. There are some good vocal processing tools in VX-64, you just need to enable it.

(Kurre, Lum said that other audio sounded good through the Edifier system, so it seems like he's not having technical issues with the speakers)

Dear Starship,

Many thanks for your detail reply.

I use my android mobile phone (using woMic app) microphone to record my vocal. For monitoring of my cakewalk while making music/mixing, i use my in-ear earphone.

Regarding the playback on my edifier (using cakewalk DAW , using windows media player and also playback on bandlab website that i uploaded), the entire mix sound harsh, muddy.  

The rest of your comment is very advanced and high level for me, i have to digest slowly.

Thank you.

Edited by Lum Tham
added description on how it sounded on Edifier speaker
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Welcome to the wonderful world of audio recording. 😀 

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I use my android mobile phone (using woMic app) microphone to record my vocal. For monitoring of my cakewalk while making music/mixing, i use my in-ear earphone.

 

Don't listen to anything I say, We are on different planets when it comes to audio. The world of recording just got flushed....

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Posted (edited)
On 5/26/2020 at 1:39 AM, Lum Tham said:

Many thanks for your detail reply.

I use my android mobile phone (using woMic app) microphone to record my vocal. For monitoring of my cakewalk while making music/mixing, i use my in-ear earphone.

So you are starting on a very low budget, and that is fine. That's not a bad sound you're getting for a phone mic recording, although I do hear some lip and tongue noise, which is why I suggested de-essing. A phone mic will pick up more of that than one designed for singing because it has a smaller diaphragm and is designed to make the speaking voice well understood. You may be able to reduce the lip sounds by placing the mic a few centimetres further away when you sing. See if you can figure out whether your app is using the "telephone" mic or the "camera" mic, and adjust to account for that. Most smartphones with cameras have a mic on the front for taking movies that sounds better than the phone call mic.

As you get more into this hobby and want it to sound more like the polished songs you hear, as with anything, you need to do what they do, and the next investment you should make is to get a microphone. I don't know where you live, but here are some suggestions that I think would work well to get you started:

https://www.musiciansfriend.com/pro-audio/behringer-c-1u-usb-studio-condenser-mic/

I own the version of that Behringer without the USB interface built in and it is a very good sounding microphone. I have used it to record voice and electric guitar and it worked well with both, especially considering the low price.

https://www.musiciansfriend.com/pro-audio/samson-meteor-usb-mic/

I have no direct experience with this one, but it gets good reviews and Samson markets quality products for the budget market.

My next, easier, bit of advice is to start mixing (and listening) using your Sony headphones. The XBR450's are designed to have hyped bass (eXtra B*****), but they are decent quality consumer cans. Get used to what well-produced music sounds like on the same thing you use to mix it.

Disable the Windows Sound Enhancements on your system and get VLC Media Player and MusicBee so that you can hear in great detail what your music really sounds like. Windows Media Player puts processing of its own on your files as it plays them. Music Bee can use WASAPI or even ASIO mode just like Cakewalk to use your computer's audio output device more directly.

John Vere said:

Don't listen to anything I say, We are on different planets when it comes to audio. The world of recording just got flushed....

John, the first recordings I did were into a monophonic Sony tape recorder with a small handheld dynamic mic. This rig was pretty nice for its time, about 50 years ago, and probably cost my grandma about the same as Lum's phone. His phone mic, which is an electret condenser, is getting a better capture than my Sony dynamic used to. My options for file export and editing were....fewer. We all start somewhere, and if I had had a smartphone and the power of a 2011 Dell laptop and a pair of Sony cans to work with 50 years ago, things may have gone differently.

Edited by Starship Krupa

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I totally agree. I'm by no stretch a gear junkie. I spend most of my music budget on instruments, not hardware. I have not really ever bought any of the high end stuff, I don't think a it's at all necessary for a person like me but I do like dependable gear I can trust to work when I need it.

My interfaces are all lower end and at least 6 years old. I'm a firm believer in their value when using a DAW. I had a terrible first few years because I was trying to use a stupid Sound Blaster PCI card. I soon found out about why you need a proper interface with good stable ASIO drivers. The big issue is your tracks will be out of alignment. I'd try to record bass along side a midi drum track and it was way out of time. Not only that, sometimes the time drifted. I would never go back to not using ASIO. I will use WASAPI for editing already recorded parts and mid but if you want to overdub audio you have to use ASIO.  

I have never wasted money on fancy mikes, I have a nice collection from doing live sound and there mostly SM 57's and 58"s. I use a Beta 58 for my vocals. I have a cheapo Audio Technica LDC but never use it. I have these CAD mini condensers I got from Musician's Friend for like $30. My mixer is a Mackie mix 8 I got for $50. All my headphones are worth under $30. I buy them at the dollar store. I have an old set of Sony's. 

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23 hours ago, Starship Krupa said:

So you are starting on a very low budget, and that is fine. That's not a bad sound you're getting for a phone mic recording, although I do hear some lip and tongue noise, which is why I suggested de-essing. A phone mic will pick up more of that than one designed for singing because it has a smaller diaphragm and is designed to make the speaking voice well understood. You may be able to reduce the lip sounds by placing the mic a few centimetres further away when you sing. See if you can figure out whether your app is using the "telephone" mic or the "camera" mic, and adjust to account for that. Most smartphones with cameras have a mic on the front for taking movies that sounds better than the phone call mic.

As you get more into this hobby and want it to sound more like the polished songs you hear, as with anything, you need to do what they do, and the next investment you should make is to get a microphone. I don't know where you live, but here are some suggestions that I think would work well to get you started:

https://www.musiciansfriend.com/pro-audio/behringer-c-1u-usb-studio-condenser-mic/

I own the version of that Behringer without the USB interface built in and it is a very good sounding microphone. I have used it to record voice and electric guitar and it worked well with both, especially considering the low price.

https://www.musiciansfriend.com/pro-audio/samson-meteor-usb-mic/

I have no direct experience with this one, but it gets good reviews and Samson markets quality products for the budget market.

My next, easier, bit of advice is to start mixing (and listening) using your Sony headphones. The XBR450's are designed to have hyped bass (eXtra B*****), but they are decent quality consumer cans. Get used to what well-produced music sounds like on the same thing you use to mix it.

Disable the Windows Sound Enhancements on your system and get VLC Media Player and MusicBee so that you can hear in great detail what your music really sounds like. Windows Media Player puts processing of its own on your files as it plays them. Music Bee can use WASAPI or even ASIO mode just like Cakewalk to use your computer's audio output device more directly.

John, the first recordings I did were into a monophonic Sony tape recorder with a small handheld dynamic mic. This rig was pretty nice for its time, about 50 years ago, and probably cost my grandma about the same as Lum's phone. His phone mic, which is an electret condenser, is getting a better capture than my Sony dynamic used to. My options for file export and editing were....fewer. We all start somewhere, and if I had had a smartphone and the power of a 2011 Dell laptop and a pair of Sony cans to work with 50 years ago, things may have gone differently.

Dear Starship,

Many thanks for your reply as usual.

Vocal comping/cleaning took a huge amount of time because of the mobile microphone that i use. Will definitely buy a microphone next time. I de-essed using melodyne during the trial period. I even paid someone on Fiverr.com to clean my tongue/saliva voice because it is just hidden within my vocal, and i tried spectral editing with audacity but i just couldn't find the spectrum of the tongue/saliva noise, so i had to pay someone to do it. Will definitely buy a microphone for my next singing.

Thanks for all your other advice. In the meantime, i am learning to do mastering/mixing through watching youtube.

You mentioned "Disable the Windows Sound Enhancements on your system and get VLC Media Player and MusicBee so that you can hear in great detail what your music really sounds like. Windows Media Player puts processing of its own on your files as it plays them. Music Bee can use WASAPI or even ASIO mode just like Cakewalk to use your computer's audio output device more directly. My next, easier, bit of advice is to start mixing (and listening) using your Sony headphones. The XBR450's are designed to have hyped bass (eXtra B*****)"

But using the extra bass headphone will distort the "what my music really sounds like" isn't? 

Thank you all.

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The reason it sounds different on each set of earbuds / speakers is because you have mixed it on equipment that does not sound flat enough. This is why we spend not insubstantial amounts of money on quality monitoring and acoustic room treatment.  So that when mixes leave our own speakers they still sound good on others.

It can be a long and expensive road to get your equipment and mixing skills up to broadcast quality, thankfully it's cheaper now than ever. But you still gotta invest. 

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33 minutes ago, Lum Tham said:

I even paid someone on Fiverr.com to clean my tongue/saliva voice because it is just hidden within my vocal, and i tried spectral editing with audacity but i just couldn't find the spectrum of the tongue/saliva noise, so i had to pay someone to do it. Will definitely buy a microphone for my next singing.

Yes, a good USB microphone, it will do wonders for your vocal sound. While you are waiting for it, and you can practice with your phone mic, you can study singing and mic technique in YouTube videos.

I liked your basic singing voice, but there are simple ways that you can improve your technique so you will not be making as many of those lip clicks and pops. Think about singing from farther back in your mouth/throat. If it doesn't suit you, you don't have to keep doing it, but I think you might like the result. Also, there is the trick of singing across the diaphragm of the mic instead of what people usually do, which is sing straight into it. Try setting your phone on a shelf and singing across the mic. You have nothing to lose, and every take is at least practice. 😀

My advice about your headphones was because they are the best you have right now, so get used to how music sounds on them. You will know how your favorite artists sound on your headphones, so you can compare their sound to yours on your headphones. Their music may sound bassy, but at least you will know that.

Later you can get a pair of better Sonys or Audio-Technicas or Sennheisers or AKG's or some monitors if your living/financial situation allows it. The Sonys will sound more accurate than the earbuds at least. Out of all 3 of your "gears" they are the best for mixing. Your subwoofer system has bass, the headphones have bass, so you'll probably get a better picture. But next thing after the mic may be a better set of cans? 😀 You can ask our opinions here, and I am sure you will get many.

For as many freeware plug-in effects as you can handle, check this out. Everything works in Cakewalk and doesn't cost anything.

I don't know what your finances are, but I get the idea that you, like me, have a hobbyist budget for your music. Every month, one of my favorite software dealers gives away a free license for a plug-in with any purchase, usually it's good and useful software. This month it's a vocal plug-in. Just sign up for an account and buy one item, they have things as low as $5 US and you get the free thing with it. Every so often they give away licenses for one of the iZotope Elements suites, which are excellent, especially helpful for beginners to get good results with.

https://www.pluginboutique.com/

They still have iZotope/Exponential Phoenix, the best reverb plug-in I've ever heard for $9 US, or Cyclone, an excellent bus/mastering compressor, for $8. Either of those would be a useful tool and you'd get the ERA Vocal Leveler too.

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fwiw, your on-ear sonys are "extra bass" types, so they are no giving you a "pure" sound

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23 minutes ago, Mark Morgon-Shaw said:

The reason it sounds different on each set of earbuds / speakers is because you have mixed it on equipment that does not sound flat enough. This is why we spend not insubstantial amounts of money on quality monitoring and acoustic room treatment.  So that when mixes leave our own speakers they still sound good on others.

This is very true.

It's also true that everyone has to and does start somewhere. My beginnings were much more primitive than Lum's.

It's also true that all of us have some limit to the amount of money we can spend on equipment. However high or low it may be.

Also true that none of us, wherever we are in the journey of acquiring tools and the skills to use them, bought all our stuff at once, nor was the first stuff we bought the very top of the line.

It's also true that we don't all buy the same stuff.

Fortunately for the style of vocal pop with synthesizer backing that he's doing, his Dell notebook, a halfway decent USB condenser mic, a good set of cans and a keyboard controller will do for a while, and the rest is up to whatever skills he can build as a singer, composer, engineer and producer.

The things that caught my eye right away were first that Lum figured out on his own that something wasn't right with his track using speaker system referencing. Then he came to the forum with a detailed inquiry with the right information for the people he was asking. And he wasn't afraid to say that his laptop was old or that he was mixing on earbuds.

Playback system referencing is a favorite technique of mine, and not incidentally, one of the ways that can help a mix engineer who is working with low budget equipment. If you don't have a good system (and even if you do), you can at least take your mix and play it back on as many systems as you can, and compare it to songs you like on the same systems. That's what he did, and my impression is that he figured it out by himself.

Truth, I'm more interested in talking with a dude with $70 in monitoring equipment and an aging notebook, singing into his phone mic, who notices that it's weird that his mix sounds okay on system 1 and 2 but sucks on system 3, while the ones he's trying to emulate sound good on all of them, then takes that information to a forum of strangers for help than a guy who wants to talk about how it was only once he found the right NOS tube for his Manley preamp that his recordings started having a truly open soundstage.🤣

(gestures to mic locker and monitors) "It is not what is in here or here that makes great mixes." (points at temple, then sternum) "It is what is in here, and in here."

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