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Coriiander says

Hello,

I am curious to your opinions/viewpoints with regards to the quality of good audio production . I’ll have to write a little personal story so you understand where this is coming from.

At a very young age I had a lot of hearing troubles. There was often illness in the ear (I believe the correct English word is inflammation), due to which the eardrums greatly suffered and actually ended up with little holes in them. In my left ear I hear 30%-ish, and in my right ear I hear 40%-ish, with really malformed frequence curves. This also resulted in tinnitus (one or more truly constant high-frequence beeps in the ear). At a very young age I therefor got hearing aids, both for the left and right ear. While I grew up and went to high-school, kids started to make fun ot it, rip the hearing aids out, throw them in the bushes, etc. This was not cool so I stopped wearing them. I am 35 now and haven’t been wearing them for over 20 years now. I do have troubles in hearing but I get by okay in social situations. Now, I’ve always liked to work with music. Also from a very young age (say 11, but even before that I was fooling around on some organ we had). I’ve always, and I mean always, been striving for obtaining better sound quality. From the sound of my first cheap MIDI-keyboard to what I can make it sound like nowadays. I’ve come a far far end, yet I still have a road ahead of me.

Everywhere I see people speak about the utmost importance of expensive monitors, decent amplifiers that don’t colour the sound too much, and a decent studio environment to be able to interprete the monitor-sound correctly. Well, I have always been working through headphones, since due to my bad hearing, I need higher volume and I don’t want to bother other people with my stuff. I’ve always used a regular HIFI-amp for this. But the fun part is: I’ve been using the same Pioneer HIFI-amp for about 24 years now. I’m just sooooooooooo used to this sound. I am terrified this particular amp would someday break down or something. About my entire musical life I have heard through this amp (all eqs turned off). I will not, and I repeat, I will not EVER, let anything stand in my way if I like to do something. Naturally you develop your own ways to reach certain goals/standards.

While I read all the must-do’s and guides and all, this totally contradicts everything. Now the fun part is that I’m getting alot of positive feedback about the excellent sound quality I deliver, and the good production values most of my tracks have (even from AudioJungle reviewers for example). I have been wondering how this is possible. While thinking of it I suddenly realized: I’ve always used my eyes. I’ve always been reading about things, testing alot, comparing my frequency metering etc. to existing succesful projects, tweaking knobs to see what differences it made. I do believe that even while I can’t hear everything (very high frequencies I’m deaf to, and my left ear is totally different to my right ear when it comes to low frequencies), I am able to do what’s needed through using the same old amp which I’ve used my entire musical life, using my eyes, common sense and thinking about theory and all. Eventhough the hearing is bad, you still know how something is supposed to be sounding. You develop, for yourself a way of working to reach that sound.

Now, I’m curious to your opinions on the must of decent monitors, a decent mixing environment etc. For really, I have terrible ears, merely an old HIFI-amp, and just a (decent studio-) headset. I might not ever become a big mastering engineer for Hollywood-productions or whatever, but thats not needed, and more importantly: I don’t even want to.

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gballx says

Interesting thread. I too am partially deaf in my left ear due to something and so I cannot hear high frequencies. My project room is a small box room in the house with no sound proofing or baffling whatsoever. I use an Omniphonics studio amp and Alesis Monitor One MK2 Spealers mounted on sound absorption mats which is in turn sat on a wooden hollow rack unit that houses the external synths/samplers and hard drives. I flip between speakers and headphones (AKG 702’s) when doing a track. Do my tracks sound okay – have a listen, difficult to know if this setup is successful.

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Coriiander says

I’ll have a listen. Now this is another fun part. In the AudioJungle’s author group on Facebook for example (a closed group where we discuss our tracks before submitting to AJ), I’ve been complimented about the comments I gave on little peculiarities in sound production. Isn’t that just odd? Afterall I can’t even hear parts of it haha. Anyway, gonna have a listen :D

EDIT: Hm, you have alot of stuff to listen to. BRB, getting some drinks haha.

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Coriiander says

Interesting thread. I too am partially deaf in my left ear due to something and so I cannot hear high frequencies. My project room is a small box room in the house with no sound proofing or baffling whatsoever. I use an Omniphonics studio amp and Alesis Monitor One MK2 Spealers mounted on sound absorption mats which is in turn sat on a wooden hollow rack unit that houses the external synths/samplers and hard drives. I flip between speakers and headphones (AKG 702’s) when doing a track. Do my tracks sound okay – have a listen, difficult to know if this setup is successful.

I had a quick listen to a couple of your tracks at random. Here’s how my bad ears interpreted/experienced it. Or I should probably say: “related it”. Note that I did not analyze anything with meters, just the ears and looking at the EQ-meters. Probably totally off, or not, but that’s the point haha.

Epic Path to Glory (with JB)
Sounds good to me, no extremities apart for one. I notice an unwelcome resonance in the high tones in the beginning (around 0:08). This might be due to my headset, but then again I use this always, and whenever I encounter such thing in my own works, I’d ensure to remove it. Around 1:28 I’d add some more low and lessen the reverb, to let the low sound (horns?) be more bombastic.

Technoid Titles
Sounds good to me. One matter of personal taste: I’d probably add a few dB to the highs of the 303 acid-sound, maybe very lightly add an exciter, to make it come to life somewhat more.

Somewhere to Fear
Sounds brilliant, not hearing anything bad (feels like there’s some unused room in the low-end frequences). I loved the high squeeky metallic-alike sounds, especially in the beginning.

Moonwalking
Sounds really great too! Love the stuff around 1:21, really thick. Earlier in the track I would remove a few dB from the low-to-midrange from the strings to make more room for the rest, especially the bass and the sweep/scrape that is fading-in.


Please note that this wasn’t criticism. It’s just how I experience it. To me, at least as far as I’ve heard (you have so much material wow), it sounds just great! :D

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gballx says

Comments from your good self would never be seen as criticism! Does having really expensive monitors / speakers make such a difference. I have worked in top top studios where Quested was the norm but strangely Yamaha NS10’s were used to mix on for commercial release…....why because they replicated what most people (civilians) have in their listening environment and if you could get a good mix on these (and at times it was tough) then you would be okay! Listen to anything that Trevor Horn has produced…if you get close then job done!

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AudioAgent says

Interesting thread, indeed. Now, taking a risk to state the obvious; ears play vital part in hearing of course, but cognitively hearing happens in the brain. As the brain is a highly adaptive thing it can learn to listen and to some degree overcome one’s problems in the ears. It has been proven many times for example, that practising and listening to music can improve the hearing of children who have problems with their ears. That is because it helps the parts of the brain, which take part in hearing, to develop and to become more sensitive. That of course requires training like taking piano classes in the early age etc. A bit like one can learn to distinguish certain freaquency areas much better than an average person when one mixes and carefully listens to music for years and years. So even if bad hearing + 10 years of mixing experience probably won’t beat the excellent hearing with 10 years of similar experience, it’s not all that surprising that one can produce good sound quality even with bad ears due to experience and brain’s adaptation.

Oh, and I’ve had some issues with my right ear for most of my life too.

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Coriiander says

Interesting thread, indeed. Now, taking a risk to state the obvious; ears play vital part in hearing of course, but cognitively hearing happens in the brain. As the brain is a highly adaptive thing it can learn to listen and to some degree overcome one’s problems in the ears. It has been proven many times for example, that practising and listening to music can improve the hearing of children who have problems with their ears. That is because it helps the parts of the brain, which take part in hearing, to develop and to become more sensitive. That of course requires training like taking piano classes in the early age etc. A bit like one can learn to distinguish certain freaquency areas much better than an average person when one mixes and carefully listens to music for years and years. So even if bad hearing + 10 years of mixing experience probably won’t beat the excellent hearing with 10 years of similar experience, it’s not all that surprising that one can produce good sound quality even with bad ears due to experience and brain’s adaptation. Oh, and I’ve had some issues with my right ear for most of my life too.

+1

Sometimes it’s useful to state the obvious. We often forget about the obvious, trying to make things more difficult then they are :). Your answer about “adaptive brain” covers it for the most part. I would still like to add though that there are several methods of working in this regard. Like indeed using the eyes, and being able to recognize certain metering characteristics, which you somehow relate to sound good or not. Ofcourse that’s a brain thing as well.

I can tell from first-hand-experience (recovering from severe brain injury) that our brain is an incredibly powerful device. When part of it is damaged or even just dead, the surrounding brain cells take over the functioninig of the damaged/dead brain cells. During that time the weirdest unexplainable stuff will happen; can’t really be described in a rational way. I quite marvel at it. At the brain power I mean. The human body is a wonderous thing.

Yet the topic really is about the MUST-HAVE of monitors and expensive surroundings. I am absolutely convinced that it is not a must-have. Maybe for the best of the best, but even then: as if the best song writer/producer in the world wouldn’t have his track undergo some final stages in some studio when it comes for a big product like, let’s say, music for Lord of the Rings, Avatar, etc. Maybe there are a select few out there, who can do it al at this levell, from the very first note to releasing various mastered versions for the various available media-targets.

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gballx says

You do not need expensive monitors, just some reference material before a mix…job done.

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RomanosMusic says

Its great to hear how you have overcome that obstacle in your life. Your stuff is still sounding great. And the fact that your tracks are being accepted on Aj and selling – you’re definitely doing something right. Nothing is impossible. Well done. :)

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