I Can't Get A Good Sound...

Help please!

Hi all.

I can’t seem to get this sounding right. It’s great on my headphones and pc speakers, but when I put it on CD and try it in the car it sounds awful. I know the playings a bit sloppy I just want to learn to get the right sound.
No vocals yet.


Help please!

I probably won’t be that much help, because I have the same problem you describe. Mixing engineers generally have very neutral monitor speakers and do their mixdowns in rooms with very prescribed acoustics. It also helps to have some reference material to work with … a professional recording with a mix that you’d like to emulate. Then the bottom line is understanding that these people have high-end gear, trained ears and spend lots of time perfecting their mixes … things that you and I might be limited on.

For what your doing, I would think there’s going to be a certain amount of trial and error. Figure out what sounds wrong in the car and elsewhere and try to compensate for those problems when you go back to remix. I put a lot of my mixes on an mp3 player before I burn the best one to a CD (learned the hard way on that one).

One thing that I think a lot of us do when mixing is mix for the tonality that we like to listen to, whereas a professional recording tends to be much more neutral and flat. Again, this is where it helps a lot to have some recordings handy for reference. Do some A-B testing between your mix and the one that you want it to sound like.

As far as your song, it sounds good on my PC speakers. It might be a touch bassy and the whole mix might benefit from some compression and/or an expander or frequency enhancer.

What are you not happy with when you listen in your car???

Your tune sounds good on my Grado headphones. I thought the instruments all sound cleanly recorded. The only thing is (as ksdb pointed out) the bass may be a bit boomy. You are the only one who can hear what sounds different than what you intended though.

One tip I can give is this. Are you using the eq function in ntrack. If you have not been doing that, try it on each of the tracks. I recommend applying eq on single tracks and not the whole tune itself.

For example what I do to my bass track in general is to apply a high pass and set the low frequency drop off to around 200-250 Hz. Sometime I then apply a low pass and cut off some of the high frequency too. In my case I end up with crisper sounding bass tracks.

Listen to what you think is incorrect and see whether eq and other processing will take care of it.



EQ Primer

Read it, read it again, memorise it, be able to recite it backwards in your sleep.


Thanks DC. The bass sounds obscure, so your advice may be what I’m looking for. The whole thing just sounds amateur and a little tinny to me, and also is lacking that whoomph, but it sounds good on my headphones…

Steve thanks for that great resource.

I played with it a bit with a 5 band compressor and here’s what I’d do: bring the lows from 100Hz and below down quite a bit; boost the low mids centered around 275Hz or so up maybe 3db; bring the high mids around 4kHz up about 3db; compress.

I prefer to do this with a multiband (5 band) compressor, but you can kinda fake it with separate eq and compression. It will be difficult if you don’t have a good set of reference monitors to mix with. Headphones are for tracking and listening. Don’t mix in your headphones - it never comes out right. You’re best bet is to mix on your PC speakers, take the mix to your car and note how they differ. Literally, take a notepad out to your car, write down what you notice while listening to it a few times, come back inside and compare your car notes to what you hear while listening to your PC speakers again.

My suggestion would be to get some different speakers to mix over so it will be more representative of the typical stereo that your music will be played on. Yard sales and thrift stores are a good place to look. Just make sure the speakers are either magnetically shielded or they are well away from your monitor. When mixing I check my mix over the PC speakers, some little walkman headphones, and my home stereo.

A lot of PC speakers are fine for gaming, but not for listening to music.

Mr. Tracy

I would agree that the mix sounds “boomy” which may mean that there is a peak in the spectrum between say 100 and 300 Hz. The spectrum of most commercial recordings is approximately “flat” over a wide range of the frequency spectrum.

You can view the spectrum of a track by clicking on the button next to EQ controls. This will give you some visual feedback about the mix, even if you don’t have good speakers to do your mix.

- Ben