Near perfect mix and master for streaming?

Wanted to drive a quick input on a record produced by one of my friends.
To me Its bordering on a near perfect mix and sound on a streaming platform.
What are your thoughts?

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It’s a pretty damn good song indeed, with haunting vocals and an interesting blend of traditional instruments in an electronic production.

Not sure why you are mentioning streaming platforms specifically though? If the mix/master is good in the first place streaming platforms won’t make it better or worse.


I have to agree with @Lophophora Jean-Marc. This sounds excellent. As far as I’m concerned, a good mix is a good mix is a good mix! :grin: (Oh and a good mix is nothing without a great production, performance and song, which this indeed is!)

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That was just a conversation starter lol. We need to talk about it more.
Its not easy to get good sound quality on youtube.
Usually a CD master can get quite damaged on the streaming platforms. I have heard a lot of mixes that were supposedly great as a cd master, sound terrible after being uploaded on youtube. We can easily say they simply werent great mixes, but they were. They just werent juicy around those levels when normalized to the targeted lufs, at the average/preferred listening levels from the devices. A supposed example is maroon 5 payphone. If you own the CD record, you will notice significant differences between youtube version of it.

another example is the blockbuster song yellow which suffers on streams as well compared to its rich sounding CD, you can see the squash knob pushing the sound down 6db. Some songs are impacted by it and some arent impacted as much, depending on the effects of turning volume down on the juicer frequency spectrums.

Really cool sounds… enjoying the mix even through laptop… great space and intriguing melodic twists… very nice!

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Don’t cater to their bad decisions, if it’s a good mix, not your fault If they f it up. It should still sound decent if it was mixed well.

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I wish I had the means to compare with more examples, because technically that should not happen: the normalization algorithms are supposed to turn down the whole master evenly just like you would turn down the volume knob, that shouldn’t affect the sound qualities whatsoever. It is only when a soft master is turned up that limiting can be applied, which can indeed be damaging to the audio. But not many platforms turn the volume up using a limiter. YouTube doesn’t turn up audio at all.

I think it is just a perception thing. The potential damage that may be done to a master when aiming at high loudness and huge dynamic range reduction might appear more detrimental when listened at low volumes in comparison to other masters that retain more dynamic range and little to no clipping. At least that is my own experience and the reason why I tend to avoid high LUFs when possible.

Indie artists who are only releasing exclusively to digital media don’t need to bother with loudness as much because their music will be streamed normalized, mostly. Of course when you release outside of digital, loudness is still very much a requirement.

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It is a perception thing for sure, in addition to that, its an effort thing as well. When a mix is turned down significantly using a volume knob, human ear tends to lose a mix that is leveled out than the one that has some microdynamics. I actually just saw an example of that, there were two mixes both volume normalized to -14lufs. Most people listened to it at their average device levels and didnt touch the volume knob. However 1 mix sounded louder than the other because of micro dynamics and nearly 80% of people preferred that mix over the other.

We are still trying to figure out the user behaviors online on who tends to actually turn up or turn down their volumes during a play list session, almost no one. Which is why I think micro dynamics in a song are important. I will see if I can get permission to post those tracks here.

Seems to be a lot of varied opinions about mastering to this level… Here’s one I got sent via email today…


I do agree with one thing in the Sonarworks article, if a mix is staged specifically to hit -14lufs it sounds underwhelming ( or in their terms ‘wimpy’ lol ) if not done properly. I agree that a mix should be referenced for the genre because it will likely be played in a playlist of similar songs. Thing is people are mixing their mixes then forming habits of aggressively touching ‘group channel faders’, master faders and limiter faders to achieve those targets.

the -1 db however is a gray area. In the international production I posted above, it was mastered for the genre, loud and proud then they brought the volume down during video render slowly till it still sounded juicy in the bassline and the high mids. They stopped when the quietest portion in the lomids started to sound weak in a moderately noisy room. Assuming no one will touch their volume knob, its a good practice to maximize the sonic landscape. Microdynamics ( loudness fluctuations in short few second intervals between 2 octaves or more) fools the algorithm in a way because the algorithm thinks that the song is quiet, when the ear still perceives it loud.

Songs that approach mixing using equal energy per octave rule ( static mixing ) tend to sound quieter when subjected to the volume knob stress test, compared to songs that have heavy syncopated activity between and lows and highs.

With that said, it is an intriguing field of study nevertheless. I think the mixers should mix/master for the genre regardless but keep an ear out for how dynamics are affected with volume in a noisy place like a car.


I was wondering if that is why you asked this question. What ultimately made me come around to your way of thinking about this is that my initial mix on that song came in around -7 LUFS. Instead of just turning down the fader, I went in and adjusted levels within the mix to hit the loudness target, which changed to sonic qualities. Lesson learned. :slight_smile:

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Hi Mike, the thread is before your duel. Its been a lingering question in this field. Do people move their faders or not during a listening session? They likely dont, they are either jogging or working or doing something random. Which makes mixing for the genre even more important. Most arent gonna have a loud metal song while listening to smooth jazz ( unless youre me lol )

Anyway, now you gave away your mix lol. I thought your mix was amazing. The low end was just right, very smoothly done. The other was just a bit closer to the genre. I could have voted for both lol

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Doh! So it is! Fantastic song/mix BTW! I’m not sure I care for the kick, but that’s purely subjective. But this mix would sound good anywhere I think. As you know, I’m now of the opinion to mix for the song and let the streaming levels fall where they may - most likely turning the mix down…

Haha! Well, you already voted anyway. :grinning:

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This is interesting… Actually, when I think about it, it might explain a lot about trends in audio that I’ve noticed. One of the most noticeable overall trends in mixing in the last 10-15 years has been “the return of the low-mids” in mixes. Go back to the 90’s and everyone was pulling out low mids to get their mixes tight and punchy.

I noticed low mids started to return about 2004-5. Take for example Jet’s “Get Born” which sold a squillion copies worldwide. Very warm and healthy in the low mids.

Around 2010, people were really starting to push low mids in mixes again. The guy who does it masterfully is Tchad Blake - his mixes on The Arctic Monkey’s “AM” album and all the stuff he has done with The Black Keys since the “Brothers” album. Definitely at the vanguard in that respect.

Now, we have a bit of an arms race going on. Check out this track from Crowded House released in October 2020:

Sounds very cool on smaller speakers, and on my studio system the low end sounds MASSIVE. In my car, however, I was surprised to discover that this definitely crosses the “muddy” threshold".

… but the way you explain the significance of low mids in respect to common playback systems and environments, it all makes perfect sense… Low mids are the new bass :wink: