How can I know what I'm hearing is what I'm supposed to hear?

Discussion in 'Working with Sound' started by tzzsmk, Jul 9, 2019.

  1. tzzsmk

    tzzsmk Rock Star

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    after going through all the various mixing and mastering stuff, processing, workflows, listening tons of various music and sound design stuff.....

    .....there's still one thing which makes me lose my mind:
    how can I know what I'm hearing is what I'm supposed to hear?

    I've been testing out Sonarworks, IK ARC, Morphit etc.., various monitors, headphones, at various places and so on - I get different results every time, so how can I tell what frequency profile of sound is the right one?

    if I visit some veteran sound engineers, do some measurements, "calibrate" their monitors, it's almost as if they refuse to accept the fact they've been hearing lies for decades on their very own systems in their very own studios,

    and moreover it's hard to ignore the fact "flat" monitor response is a joke in most not-so-well-treated rooms either...

    howto deal with this madness?

    :crazy:
     
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  3. Lois Lane

    Lois Lane Rock Star

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    Take a toke and hold the smoke
    It's all a dream until you croak
    Our ears to hear, behold the sound
    We all, us stand, on shaky ground
     
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  4. Lieglein

    Lieglein Producer

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    Can you tell me why this should be a madness if those songs are selled a few million times? The customer does not hear anything different than you do (at least in principal). :dunno:

    "Something sounds different" does not mean "this sounds bad". It can only sound better or worse in comparison to an other song. But this to decide is on to the customer. You can only make a result out of this behavior and adapt to it. (If we're speaking about production and maybe a small part of mixing. Mixing is a very technical process as we know.)
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2019
  5. Baxter

    Baxter Audiosexual

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    1) Use the monitors that you are used to and know the best (or learn a new pair all over, which might take years).
    2) Use the best converts and cables that you can.
    3) Treat and TUNE your room acoustically. There are many tools, ways to analyze, absorbers, diffusers, basstraps, resonators, etc.
     
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  6. virusg

    virusg Platinum Record

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    its all about balance in the frequencies you hear, then come in to place stereo image with same concept... when you mix two or more sounds you must find a balance in order to hear them all, you are not mad, and those engeneers swear by their studio because they are used to its sound, when you give them a track in theirs studio they feel there is something missing or is overdone ...so you or me could use a pair of headphones for mixing 10 yrs and after you get use to their sound you swear by it that they were the greatest sounding hp ever ...if you try lots and lots of options you get mad indeed, just choose the one wo sound best to you, thest it in various metods to proove you its the best and then use it forever, find a balance in your enviroement, but dont forget dynamics, without it its all white noise...
     
  7. Olivier_St

    Olivier_St Ultrasonic

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    If you like the sound you hear....
    If the balance is pleasant on all kinds of speakers....
    If, when you listen to your music in the middle of other music, the sound doesn't seem to shrink, to dull, to soften....
    You know that your mix is as good as you hear it... or at least close enough...
    :)
     
  8. No Avenger

    No Avenger Audiosexual

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    Of course you do. I don't think Sonarworks claims to make them all sound the same.

    As long as you have a decent pair of monitors and headphones all is good.

    If you want to know how a track 'really' sounds like, well, I think no one does due to the imperfections in every hardware. But that's not a real problem.
     
  9. scrappy

    scrappy Producer

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    In the end I guess it's supposed to sound as close as it can do to what you imagined in your head it should sound like when you first began imagining what it would sound like in real life.
    (the intention's really more succinct than it reads, sorry)
    :chilling:
     
  10. tzzsmk

    tzzsmk Rock Star

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    a bit offtopic, but I read somewhere nobody ever proven what we perceive when drunk/drugged is less "real" than when we're sober,
    afterall we perceive the way we want to, that's why stuff like sound masking or binaural 3D can work, our senses can be fooled so easily

    interesting point, I believe every human hears bit different, the similarity comes from relation to other sounds/songs,
    let's say someone hears "ssshh" and someone else "tsss" as "generic" cymbal, they will hear it similar every time, but different on their own - yet they will never be able to say for certain
    true true, my point is, what makes the adaptation happen for good?

    understood, but then comes the natural question, what if something else sounded better - but such question may not even arise if we fail to experience the ability of different experience - and that all being subjective and highly specific to ears' "mood"

    and that's precisely what makes me mad - what is the "balance"? some spectral measurement of a single spot within the room captured by some mic - this all not even representing my ears? let's assume headphones are less distracted by room environment, but then again every ear is different "resonator" and so the frequency response of headphones (which is nowhere as flat as most manufacturers claim) is again compromised by our very own unique ears,
    how can I say something sounds "best" for me, if I am not provided the chance to check various options? and if I would, then what would make the choice "best"?
    speaking of white noise, I doubt it "sounds" same for everyone even in theoretically exact same listening conditions anyway..

    yes yes, that's a sane way of working with music - but my original post is targeting the sheer experience of listening - it happens to me every time I am surprised by hearing certain elements in songs I didn't notice before at different listening conditions - and again - does it mean it's because of different "coloration/exaggeration" or because the sound is more true to the original, or just my ears+brain being developed overtime as well?

    indeed, but then let's say I run multiple calibration passes, howto tell which measurement result is more true?
    not being able to hear what the track is supposed to sound like is somewhat saddening when I think about it, I guess it would be really awesome to let's say hear how mastering engineers actually heard while they were mixing as that influenced their mixing choices..

    ah this sounds easy when recording something, especially acoustic instruments, but for later mixing/mastering stages, the "template" in our heads is based on previous listening experiences, which can be flawed, and when we adjust our "templates" (and we do, that's why mixing/mastering engineers are constantly evolving) how can we tell we are listening the right way and not worse?
     
  11. scrappy

    scrappy Producer

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    yes, but if so, it's our own flaw... we just let the result out into the world and see if folk enjoy our flaws more than anybody elses.
     
  12. Baxter

    Baxter Audiosexual

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    You want something as flat as possible from the start (your monitors). But all "flat" speakers have their own subtle differences. That's why I also said "or get a new pair and learn it". Key here is learn/know your speakers. If you do, you can correct things that you know are wrong. You know when "right" is "right", for you.
    You don't want something that "sounds TOO good", like a pair of hi-fi speakers. You want honest and brutal truth, something you know and can trust. That's when you get confident and the mixes become better.
    I hope that answers any questions.
     
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  13. scrappy

    scrappy Producer

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    Can't argue with that.
    :like:
     
  14. farao

    farao Rock Star

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    Use reference monitors, reference headphones and reference tracks.
     
  15. The Pirate

    The Pirate Audiosexual

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    @tzzsmk I am going start by saying that no 2 rooms will sound the same even if they have the same set of monitors. Therefore, you must try to take the room's sound signature out of the equation or at least try to minimize it. It is very common for engineers/producers to bring their own set of near field monitors, headphones and reference tracks to a session. The in-house system is then used as reference. As you have been told, learn your monitors, headphones, AND reference tracks, too. If you have to go to another studio bring them with you. Remember the NS10's? Why do you think they were, and still are, so popular? One of the main reasons was that every studio had them. Subsequently, the engineer/producer had a "familiar sounding monitor" with reduced effects of room acoustics on the listening space.
     
  16. NeverenoghFun

    NeverenoghFun Member

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    You and me need to get on something pronto lol

    My best answer shares Farao's . Reference tracks are very very important. Make sure they are of highest quality too.
    Dont use some other ungerground artists stuff for a Ref track.
    Jay-z for rap, Salena Gomez pop. Biggest names in their genre because they will have biggest bugets.
    2nd Gotta have monitors. BOTH Speaker and headphones.
    Back in the day you could get away with just a nice set of monitors but in todays world you need to make sure you sound good on everything.

    My personal work flow for check sound is .

    Ref Track.
    Monitors,
    Headphones
    Monitors,
    Ear Buds,
    Monitors
    Headphones.
    Monitors final listen.

    Seems tedious but for crisp quality on anything its must do.
     
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  17. No Avenger

    No Avenger Audiosexual

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    I think this is the wrong approach.

    Think of your own voice, you perceive it different than any other person on this planet and even their perception varies. Which perception/sound is right/correct?
    Think of a violinist, the player perceives the instrument different than a person in 2 meters distance, or in 6 meters and what about a person in 20 meters distance in a concert hall where reverb, early reflections and masking effects are added? Is any of these perceptions wrong?
    And these examples don't even include any hardware like microphones, converters, monitors etc., all of which will change the recording and the playback.

    As I said, there is nothing like the one 'true' sound, only differences.
     
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  18. Fudsey Plange

    Fudsey Plange Audiosexual

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    How can I know what I'm hearing is what I'm supposed to hear?

    Ask
    Your
    Mastering
    Engineer.
     
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  19. Olivier_St

    Olivier_St Ultrasonic

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    I think it's quite natural not to find exactly the same thing you thought you did when you listen to your work again (whether on the usual speakers or on new ones).

    When you work on a mix, you focus on certain points... this focus evolves during the work and you end up no longer paying attention to certain things. These details can come back to mind when listening. And as we focus on them again, we hear them in a way that seems new to us, or at least different from what it was in our memories.

    There is also the amazing adaptability of our ear, which can play tricks on us.

    There is also the fact that, assuming the roles of author, musician and sound engineer, we cannot have such an objective approach to what is expected and what is rendered.

    And, of course, the context in which the listening takes place.
     
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  20. Lois Lane

    Lois Lane Rock Star

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    Take a toke and hold the smoke
    It's all a dream until you croak
    Our ears to hear, behold the sound
    We all, us stand, on shaky ground

    Not if you read between the lines...

    We all approach all endeavors through the day, interpreting sound as but one example, with a baseline of agreement even though there must be unique differences due to fundimental variations of brain chemistry brought on by any number of factors, and as well by physical strengths or limitations from injury or genetic predisposition. Our perceptions are continually changing until our last breath at which time our consciousness shifts to another focus. The last two lines stress those differences inherent in the process of audio perception and reiterate that no one can be the final arbiter of knowledge on the subject of the "truth of actual sound".

    Never read literature or poetry literally (or take what politicians say at face value), else the curved and varied colors and hues of the world will all meld to a flat and still flatter grey.

    I've tallied the votes and the ears have it!

    [​IMG]
     
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