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cubic lights

Question About Audio Enhancements

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Hey Everyone!

I noticed that whenever I exported a song that I made in Cakewalk as a wav file, it was very bass heavy and muffled. Everything sounded fine in Cakewalk, though. I managed to track the source of the problem to the Windows audio "enhancements", and turning them off makes all of my songs sound the same in and out of Cakewalk.

Which leads me to my question: Should I make the song in Cakewalk and totally ignore how it sounds with the audio enhancements (thus making it sound nice for people who don't have the enhancements turned on, but probably pretty bad for those who do.)

Or, do I change the way my song sounds in Cakewalk so that it sounds good with the audio enhancements, making it sound less good without them.

Ideally, I would like my music to sound great for everyone, so I'm not sure what I should do.

Thanks!

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What comes out of Cakewalk is correct.

Once you release your project into the wild, you have no control any more. People will destroy or preserve their own listening experience as they will.

Having said that, you have now opened up a whole other giant can of worms concerning how your mixes translate....

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Hey, thanks for replying!

Am I understanding you correctly that professional music artists make their music without audio enhancements, and then release it not worrying about how various audio enhancers might totally mess up the sound?

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Forget the Windows sounds!  Create your own "enhancements" using the tools in CW or whatever VSTs you prefer.  There are many tutorials showing the basics of CW, so take advantage of them!  Best of luck.

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Thanks for the reply!

Do you know how professionals make sure that sound enhancers don't totally mess the way their song sounds?

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The problem is that you generally have no way of knowing what "enhancements" are going to be applied, or what listening environment you are sending your music into, or ultimately how the listener will perceive it based on the limitation of his own hearing. Not everyone listening will be doing so using the same software or hardware. If you know that you will only be presenting music on a single streaming service, it is worth investigating what "enhancements" will be applied by that service, but otherwise you are probably best advised to mix and master the recordings using as few gimmicks as possible, and making sure that any color that is being applied as you listen is occurring prior to recording in your signal chain. Mixing using an "enhanced" listening environment will only produce the results you expect in that same environment on playback. The listener can tweak his listening experience using the enhancements he has available, which are mostly filters of one sort or another. In practice even "boosts" at certain frequencies are often passing a band in the boosted region followed by increasing the volume of the surviving bands overall. If the frequencies are not in the native recording they can not be effectively manufactured by the listener's equipment. 

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2 hours ago, cubic lights said:

Am I understanding you correctly that professional music artists make their music without audio enhancements, and then release it not worrying about how various audio enhancers might totally mess up the sound?

Yes

 

1 hour ago, cubic lights said:

Do you know how professionals make sure that sound enhancers don't totally mess the way their song sounds?

They can't.

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  Cubic lights , I have a laptop with "beats" audio speakers and they're somehow tied to the sound card so , even headphones go thru their idea of how music should sound , (and I can't seem to change it) . I know it is not a good representation of the recorded material , so "I don't really worry about it" . Some material sounds Fantastic !  Some  material doesn't . Even Bose audio has put out players with no way to make EQ adjustments. I think eventually you just have to Trust your ears and monitors. About the only thing I do after exporting a song and playing it thru Windows media player is , bringing up the equalizer and toggling  thru the EQ presets for the player . This at least will provide me with a few  "minor" enhancements provided by different players.   It's a process that I rarely get right the first few time thru .     I eventually give up and accept the results before it drives me crazy .                 mark       

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30 minutes ago, cubic lights said:

Thank you. You have been a huge help!

Keep in mind what I gave you is the real short version. The long version is considerably more detailed and more nuanced. If you're interested.

It's not that professional engineers don't care what the music sounds like on the other end. They care very much. Very very much and they spend a lot of time and effort in making it sound good.

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You generally get your song mastered when you're working at a pro level and intend for your music to be distributed to a lot of people. That gives it a good chance of it sounding good on most well set up systems. But not even that can save it from whatever random enhancements somebody might have set up, unfortunately, and as was mentioned, you have no way of knowing what people may be using.

Get it as good as possible first with the view that you're aiming for as many "regular" listeners as possible, and compare it against commercial releases you like without running any enhancements. That'll show you if you're in the same ballpark.

Edited by Lord Tim
Autocorrect is another annoying "enhancement"
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Your concern is very common: how do I make my music sound good EVERYWHERE?

:)

But is not realistic... the listening experience depends entirely on the whole chain from the audio file to your ears (just think how differs your listening experience from a pair of earbuds to another, or to one set of speakers to another, or as you already experienced, just applying those annoying consumer oriented "enhancements", that alters the EQ of your audio)

What you can do is be sure that the sound that the audio that comes out of CW is as compliant with industry standards as possible (but this is a whole BIG chapter in audio production)...!

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Quote

What you can do is be sure that the sound that the audio that comes out of CW is as compliant with industry standards as possible

How exactly can I do this? Or where can I learn how to do this?

Btw, thanks for replying!

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You are welcome!

Ufff... I think is beyond a Q&A forum, because of the scope of the subject. .!

The basics: you need to optimize your audio setup for getting a flat audio response from your speakers, and it involves all the audio chain, from the audio card+your PC+your DAW+Speakers+your Room (which should be acoustically treated to get said flat audio response).

This is a subject that every audio engineer learn, but is really an important but broad and sometimes even complex area. 

There are lots of info online and in books about the subject.

In the plugin domain, here is a tool I found really useful in the room acoustic correction area, that helps a lot, but is not intended to replace a proper room intervention.

https://www.ikmultimedia.com/products/arc3/?pkey=arc-system-3-software# 

 

 

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35 minutes ago, cubic lights said:

 

How exactly can I do this? Or where can I learn how to do this?

Btw, thanks for replying!

Most of us have invested in good studio monitors that we "learn" how they sound.  I have a set of Yamaha NSM10's that you used to find in every studio in the world almost. They are arguably the most used "proofing the mix" monitors ever. But they are actually not very interesting speakers to listen to  recorded music on because they are a bit boring. Go figure. They are a fluke I guess. 

But I have use these for 25 years so I can listen and know within 98% of how my music will sound in the real world on all sorts of systems. This is called Translating to other systems and they certainly do this well.

So you will have to invest in the same type of system if you can. Otherwise you are faced with the option of listening to your music on as many systems as possible and taking notes. This is a HUGE task but it can work. I still proof my mixes on a kitchen getto blaster and my Trucks CD player driving at 110 K.  I also now upload the songs to Sound/click/cloud and listen on my iPhone's speaker- this is probably 90% of where it will go. But because I have "learned" my monitors I rarely need to re mix for balance and quality.

Bass can be the biggest issue for new comers. Use Span so "look" at your spectrum.  Enhancers most often boost bass and if there's already too much you just get distortion. 

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26 minutes ago, John Vere said:

Most of us have invested in good studio monitors that we "learn" how they sound.  I have a set of Yamaha NSM10's that you used to find in every studio in the world almost. They are arguably the most used "proofing the mix" monitors ever. But they are actually not very interesting speakers to listen to  recorded music on because they are a bit boring. Go figure. They are a fluke I guess. 

Jeje - I use those same monitors, John. Agree that they are a bit flat and boring, and that at the same time are SO reliable to translate to other systems. 25+ years of use and they still rock.

If you are interested, check out the IK Multimedia link. For a long time a dear audio engineer kept insisting me on buying the system, and I thought he was after the sales commission. But I surrendered and tried it, and , man, it literally changed my life.

The dull but reliable NS10M sounds brighter and alive, WITHOUT messing with the flat audio response. The system compensates for your audio listening experience to be as flat as possible measuring against a flat response ideal curve. And, bonus track, you can check your mix in multiple virtual scenarios (laptop, TV screen, Iphone, even other common speakers, all within the app, without switching routings or anything.)

Worth trying. 

 

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The basics: you need to optimize your audio setup for getting a flat audio response from your speakers, and it involves all the audio chain, from the audio card+your PC+your DAW+Speakers+your Room (which should be acoustically treated to get said flat audio response).

This is a bit beyond my budget. Do you think a pair of open back headphones would be good enough? (I'm just making music for a relatively simple rhythm game in the Unity Game Engine that I plan to release on Steam.)

Edited by cubic lights

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 A good set of monitors will be fine for decades. Keep an eye on Craigslist for people who have upgraded and selling off older gear. Sometimes you can get a Great deal , when they eventually give up on trying to re-coop their investment. You'll eventually really need monitors and headphones.            ms

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