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loopsinner
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Joined: Tue Sep 15, 2015 11:33 am

Mixing/Mastering for online streaming.

Sun Apr 18, 2021 3:44 pm

Does anyone have tips/tricks to share?

Like every beginner, i used to love my own mix until it was put on online streaming services. That was when i realised my mix sucked, a lot.

Like a lot, a lot.

In the early years, i learnt that my mix had too much low end, so i would like every beginner overly high passed every track until my mix sounded digital and lifeless.

Over time, my ears got better and i would properly balance the top and bottom ends with only minimal use of low/high pass filters. Mostly just a gentle control with low/high shelves.

And when i was happy with my mix, loud matching it with a top 10 track on online streaming services would reveal that i did crap again.

It was a never ending learning experience.

I didn’t know that online streaming services would encode my 24bit master and dilute it till it sounded thin, artificial, and very digital.

I’ve gotten a little better since. I learn that apart from balance, eq, dynamics and all the true peak ceiling etc.. my productions need tons of good, expensive sounding saturation.

Expensive sounding saturation. Maybe not in price, but you get the idea.

That what separated my mix from the top 10 chart on streaming services. They had adequate saturation that’s pleasing to my ear.

In short, over the years i learnt that for online streaming services, my mix needs:

  1. A good, very subtle but pleasant sounding saturation on almost every track and the master bus. Without it, it would sound thin, digital and small once it’s being encoded for online streaming. Because i mix in the box, the plugins i use commonly emulate a hardware/transformer.
  2. Mix with AURoundTripAAC on my master bus set to 64kbps. This way, i can hear what the encoder does to my mix and fine tune it so it wont result in thin sounding AAC/MP3.
  3. Used to submit my masters around 14-13 lufs thinking that it would better if they turn up my masters than turning them down. Nope, they were horrible sounding when they got turned up by online streaming services. They sound so much better when my tracks have a little 2-4db of loudness penalty.
  4. When my mix is balanced in the eq, dynamics and saturation, it’s loud without needing a limiter.

Of course, all these after doing all the common mixing rules of controlling the bottom end for boominess, top end for harshness, balance the mid, check the stereo image, the mono compatibility etc.

Online streaming services change our masters, they encode them and strip some of the subtleness and nuances we like in our masters.

Does anyone have any tips/tricks to share so that we would still like our own mix when it was encoded and played against the other top 10 tracks on Apple Music?

I find the right kind of saturation in the mixing process would make 64kbps AAC doesn’t sound that far from my master.

What’s yours?

Please share.
• Logic Pro X 10.6.2
• Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (second generation)
• Mac mini • M1 • 16 GB LPDDR4 • macOS Big Sur 11.4
• MacBook Pro Retina • 2.4 GHz Intel Core i7 • 8 GB 1600 MHz DDR3 • macOS Catalina 10.5.7
 
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David Nahmani
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Re: Mixing/Mastering for online streaming.

Mon Apr 26, 2021 1:50 am

All of that information is actually super useful. I'm moving this to the Tips and Tricks section! :D

My tip of the day for mixing is that you want to be bold, make a statement, and that starts with the composition and the arrangement, orchestration, choice of instruments etc. Give roles to your instruments. For example the bass doesn't have to be a bass guitar, it could be a synth playing the role of a bass. The energy-driving percussion during the chorus could be a hi-hat, or it could be a tambourine, or it could be an acoustic guitar. But if it's an acoustic guitar then give it the role of the tambourine by EQ-ing it so that it is in that frequency range, now lows, no mids, only highs. A guitar, synth, horn etc... could be the lead and play the role of the vocals. Just know what instrument brings to the plate and mix it accordingly.

If something is very hard to mix and requires a lot of dramatic processing then perhaps it wasn't meant to be composed/orchestrated that way. Don't hesitate to get rid of a part if it doesn't work for the song. I remember getting a song where the moog was playing all sorts of little melody lines that were really great except when they were played over the lead vocals. I tried to find the right sound for them so they would leave room for the vocals but that would take too much out of the character of the moog. I ended up leaving the moog full sounding and just deleted every part that was playing while the singer was singing. BINGO!

Hope that helps. :D
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loopsinner
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Joined: Tue Sep 15, 2015 11:33 am

Re: Mixing/Mastering for online streaming.

Wed Jun 16, 2021 6:27 pm

Thanks for your contribution David.

David Nahmani wrote:
If something is very hard to mix and requires a lot of dramatic processing then perhaps it wasn't meant to be composed/orchestrated that way. Don't hesitate to get rid of a part if it doesn't work for the song.


I’ve went through this, oh dear I had and replaced my instruments before. Sometimes I even took 2 sounds out and left my composition minimal but better sounding.

I always ask myself this question though : Does the change I made to my mix make it sound better or just different?

If it sounds better, I commit to that change. If it makes it sound just different, but not better, I revert my changes.

Looking at this list though https://www.logicprohelp.com/vip-users/ , with so many grammy winners are using Logic either for composing or mixing, I bet they have some tips to share with us.

We just need to lure them here to this forum :D

But to add another tips:

  1. My iPhone/iPad speakers is what I use to check the top end. If it sounds harsh in here, and if I pull back my head or turn down the volume, it means I have too much of the top end.
  2. Blast my monitors a little louder from usual, move 5-6 meters away from my regular sitting position. Listen to the rumble. More often than not, my kick is too loud.
  3. Lead instruments/vocals are king. I notice that when listening to an fm radio, when I’m almost losing the signal and everything is just noisy, I’m still singing to that current hit song they are playing, and it still sounds decent. How?

    1. Their vocals are a little louder than the background instrumentation - in the mid range area.
    2. As soon as you listen on a decent setup with bottom end, you’ll notice that top 10 songs have vocals sit just about right, not any louder - this suggests they balanced the bottom with the mid, taking in consideration that their songs will be played on small speakers (vocals would sound boosted) and regular sized studio monitors/headphones (vocals would sit just right with the low end added).

I’m speculating, but i think top producers mix the mids first and make the main vocal sit a tad louder, and then slowly bring up the kick/bass until everything sounds about right and the main vocal doesn’t sound like its louder anymore.

Can anyone confirm?
• Logic Pro X 10.6.2
• Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (second generation)
• Mac mini • M1 • 16 GB LPDDR4 • macOS Big Sur 11.4
• MacBook Pro Retina • 2.4 GHz Intel Core i7 • 8 GB 1600 MHz DDR3 • macOS Catalina 10.5.7