MOTU 828 Mixdown Sounds Bassey

Problem in mixdown

Folks, I’m probably just overlooking a simple thing, but I’m trying to mixdown some songs we’ve recorded and edited with effects. When I listen to the mixdown wav or a CD burned, it is real ‘bassey’. I’ve played the CD in other computers and CD players and it is real ‘Muddy’.

Any thoughts on the process or overview will be appreciated. I’m using a MOTU 828 MkII, IBM Notebook with Firewire and both N-Track V4 and 5.

Hi fenderbuilder:
I’ve heard of this issue happening to other guys here on this Board.

I remember the standard answer by guys up here as suggesting to them to check the Windows Media Player to see if they have the EQ. and tone effects turned on… Sometimes, having that turned on will cause the CD Burner to alter the audio that gets burned to your CD’s…

That might be something you could look into… on your set-up…


Yes, what Bill said.

As a starting point, load the mixdown back into n-track and play it there (in a new project without any effects or adjustments). That way you are comparing like-for-like.

If it still sounds different, there are a number of settings in the mixdown dialogue that you should have a look at, notably “process master channel” (or some such words). If you have things going on in the master channel and this box is not ticked, then the mixdown will sound different.

Also, don’t forget the psyco-acoustic affects of loudness… louder nearly always seems to sound “better” so unless you are listening to your mix at the same volume as you are in n-track you may be experiencing this issue.

Finally, if you are listening to the mix on a home stereo or other listening system then you may have just hit on the problem that mixes always sound different on different playback systems. Then you are into “compromise” mixes so that, on average, the mix sounds ok on the majority of systems.


Yes, what Bill and ^S^Q said. (little inside joke there, just move on …)

First, the MOTU has nothing to do with the mixdown, except that you’re using it to listen while mixing. The MOTU probably had an effect on the tracks going in, but isn’t likely to be the cause of mud.

When you listen to the CD on your own computer, is it through all the same stuff (e.g., MOTU and monitors). If so, it’s probably something turned on in the media player you’re using. To verify this, rip the CD as WAV, load it into n-Track without any FX turned on, and compare. If they don’t sound the same, it must be the media player, because the only thing n-Track would be doing is dithering (and by default, it doesn’t dither on playback: you have to explicitly turn that on).

Of course, your media player has nothing to do with how a mix sounds on other CD players. It’s very normal for a mix to sound great in our monitors and sound like crap on lots of other systems. This is particularly true if our monitor system is nice and flat, because most stereos aren’t flat. Most have a bass bump to disguise the fact that they really don’t have good bass response. Or they have low end resonance (again, a means of making a system without a lot of good bass sound bassy). You have to adjust the mix so that it sounds good on these systems, too – this is called comparison monitoring. For us homeys, one of the best ways is to get a few 6-packs and a clipboard and do the rounds, visiting our friends and taking notes. And of course, your car stereo (which typically has very resonant bass to make it sound bassy despite small woofers).

However, there’s another big cause of muddiness, especially in rock music with electric guitar and bass. To avoid mud, it’s very important to scoop (bandcut EQ) each of the tracks so that they don’t overlap much in frequency spectrum. For example, the guitar track would have the lows removed to avoid the bass, and the bass would have midrange scooped to avoid the guitar. With two guitar tracks (meaning really different tracks, not just double-tracking the guitar for image & thickness, but different arrangements), scoop them differently to hit the right combination of blending and distinctness – a real exercise in judgement.

Failure to do comparative EQ is the prime cause of mud! And this kind of mud is a lot more noticeable on a bad system than a highly accurate one (though, you can learn to hear it and compensate on an accurate one).

Note that when adjusting the EQ (or any FX) on a track, always listen to the whole mix, because that’s the only thing that counts. Sure, you might fiddle with controls while soloing the track to learn what the FX or EQ is doing, or to search and correct some flaw in the track like noise. But in the end, it’s only the mix that counts, so all adjustments should be done listening to the whole mix. And because the mix changes, you have to revisit all your choices repeatedly as it matures.

If the above doesn’t seem to get you on the right track, post a clip so we can hear what you’re talking about.



^S^Q said. (little inside joke there, just move on …)

Excellent Jeff but I think it should be ^Q^S. It’s been a while so I did have to have a sneaky check which way round it goes (but I won’t reveal anymore. Let’s see who else gets it).



Thank you for the quick responses, I’m going to import the mix into N-Track and check it out. It’s great to have a forum like this with real users that understand the applications and objectives. Again thanks!


Geez you guys are making my head hurt… I ain’t thought about this in ages…



Right, X – I wasn’t even thinking about the order, just the control characters.