Please Help Me Out, Mix Fiends! Blind Listening Test Within!

Please Help Me Out, Mix Fiends! Blind Listening Test Within!
3.4 8

#1

Ok dudes and dudettes - here’s a song I stamped a while ago, but I’m getting things ready to put out my album, so we’re getting right down to the nitty-gritty here.

I’d like you to please take a listen and tell me which of the following versions you prefer - it will help me out a lot!

Please note, there are deliberate fadeouts in the files - that is not a fault (This is required so as not to prejudice the outcome - will reveal the details later)

Pineapple:

Dragonfruit:

Mango:

Thanks everyone - Your input is greatly appreciated

Go to the Reveal


Then...& Now
#2

Here’s what I did. I balanced the volumes. And listened to each one lyric line at a time, pausing, then going to the next. So I was hearing the exact same thing 3 different times. I repeated this process on a surround sound system in the lobby, my reference monitors in 2 way mode, then my reference monitors in 3 way mode with the subwoofer engaged.

Dragonfruit is my least favorite overall (my wife who was nearby happened to disagree with me though). I thought the vocal sounded most natural in Mango, but I liked the way the tails on the guitar FX and the snare cut through in Pineapple. Basically Pineapple is brighter (thank you captain obvious), but I thought the brightness helped a lot of elements of the song except for the vocal.

I couldn’t tell much a difference in the drums between Dragonfruit and Mango. But Dragonfruit sounds muddy in the low mid range on all 3 systems.

Hmm. You could argue that Mango is probably the most balanced, but I think Pineapple is more interesting. If given only those mixes to choose from, if I was your investor or record label, I’d probably take the Pineapple mix and order a mastering engineer to deal with potential translation problems in the top end.

After about 20 minutes of listening to these, I don’t think there’s a definitive winner here.


#3

Wow thanks for your comprehensive feedback here, Jonathan! It’s pretty illuminating…

Could you elaborate more on this? Can you hear issues with all three in this regard?


#4

OK, here’s my take. After listening to “Pineapple” here, I dropped the three tracks into a session so I could a/b/c between them, which worked pretty well, I was able to quickly pick out differences. First off, Pineapple sounded way hotter than the other two mixes, and frankly not pleasantly so for me. Lots of detail getting lost to my ear, and sure enough, the trace in the sound file bears this out, it’s clearly way more squashed than the other two.

Mango and Dragonfruit are very similar but one thing sticks out to me, namely the different reverbs and/or delays you’re using, especially behind the guitars. Less effected in Dragonfruit, that is to say, the intensity of them is less in that one compared to Mango. I’m getting a buildup from the mids from the reverbs in Mango, and it’s robbing both the guitars and piano of some of their character. The piano in particular sounds much richer at 0:56ish, right when it first comes in with the rest of the other instruments, in Dragonfruit than in Mango.

So my definite fave is Dragonfruit. Very nice dynamic range while maintaining plenty of punch, and I can pick every instrument out cleanly pretty much the whole way through. The delays & verbs are not fighting but only enhancing the blend. Top job, as the wise man would say!

And finally, love the composition and performances! Really strong material mate. :beer:


#5

@ColdRoomStudio
O Love this song… I remember it well… okay, that may be a problem with my listening to these samples… my objectivity is stretched by my recollections… :smile:

Listening through infinity speakers, I’ve made notes as I listened. Apologies for my emma randomness of comment…

Pineapple
light bright and crispy fruity (:sunglasses:) but the mix feels a bit cheesy to me and a bit too squeaky bright. The piano feels a bit honky tonky which is a high freq thing and I was conscious of a ‘sense’ of vocal sibilance, even though there were no clear specifics…

Dragonfruit
O yes…!! haha this is the sense of the song that I remember with great affection, a rock ballad with great vocals and a lovely piano sitting tastily in the mix. Love the sense of vocal richness and listener engagement with the emotional feel. Yum and double yum!

Mango
This sounds like a smoothed-down-pineapple version. I’m conscious again of seeming-sibilance on the vocals, an awareness of some ‘ss’ and ‘th’ sounds and the cymbals had a slight slush in this brighter-than-dragonfruit mix. The piano is obscured until the end, well, I didn’t notice it until the end.

In the Mango version I noticed the articulation of the vocal at the very end - 3.27" where the end of the word damage is cut off - did so much dama_
when I checked the other versions, they have the same but I only noticed it in Mango and now the ‘ge’ sounds conspicuous by its absence.

O, now I’ve written all that, I’m losing my confidence… I’ll step away from the mix and just post these ramblings… What a great collection of songs you are getting together for this album. I look forward to it very much!!

:beerbanger:


#6
  1. Mango
  2. Dragonfruit
  3. Pineapple
    The vocals really shine in Mango, it and Dragonfruit are really similar to my ears, but pineapple is brighter in the upper frequencies. Seems as though the drum bus could use a little more compression on the mango mix though, as they almost seem a little uncontrolled.

#7

Hi I just read some of the very detailed breakdowns of your song and was blown away what ears are out there. Wow The first is too bright. Tough call between the last two. I really like your voice and I think it shines a bit more in mango?? Love the lyrics/story. Sorry to not be able to dissect as others did. Winner winner chicken dinner:)


#8

I went and A/B/C’d them on more systems. On some systems its not a problem, but on others, Pineapple seems to fall apart at higher volumes. Pineapple may sound brittle next to the other 3, but only when compared to those three. If you put them up against anything recent, Mango and Dragonfruit sound dark. One of the reasons I thought Dragonfruit was more interesting was that its the only one of the 3 that can stand up next to Justin Beiber, Bruno Mars, Metallica (new stuff from 2016), and Faith Hill and not sound dull. I don’t think the other two are dark to where they’re out of balance, but whatever you did to brighten up Pineapple also gave it some width that I also thought was needed in order to compete with what’s happening right now in 2018.

So no, I don’t hear the same issues with the other 2, but they pose a completely different problem.

I don’t disagree with this. The other are indeed more pleasant, but loosing the cheese on the top (as Emma put it) its like falling off a cliff when you listen to 20 seconds of 3 modern tracks, then switch your browser tab off of youtube, then hit the play button on either of the other 2. I don’t know if you scooped low mids out of pineapple, but whatever you did cleared the mud out of Dragonfruit which was consistent on all 5 of my systems.

By the way Andrew, I don’t think any of these mixes are bad. I happened to have my last track on a disk in my car when I took it out there, and your snare is tons better!! My last one actually got sent back by the producer because I don’t have the snare balanced, and I noticed how ‘off’ the tone actually was when I listened to yours. So once again, well done!


#9

And by the way, what I meant by sending to a mastering engineer is that I don’t trust my own judgment, process, and room enough to attempt to anticipate how a seemingly well balanced mix will translate across a million plus systems and different environments. I don’t claim to have skill or the tools to do so. And like…where that fine line is between hyping the image in the end frequencies to get it as bright as the 2018 standard, vs making it so bright it legitimately damages the song. There’s a lot of other people in a much better position to make that call (than me). I have a video that’s pushing 5 million views on youtube that’s an absolute god damn embarrassment, but if we pull and re-load the video it resets the counter. My point is that thinking about translation across a million systems or more isn’t a pipe dream if you’re planning to push a project. I’ll never make the mistake again of thinking that I can simply ‘change’ a mix later if it so happens to pick up gain momentum. That’s the only reason I mention getting a credentialed mastering engineer involved at all in the earlier response.


#10

Okay so I don’t have any great technical reasons, but Mango is my favorite. I like the song the best when I’m listening to Mango.


#11

Pineapple was a bit too bright for me.
I enjoyed what I was listening to in Mango much much more.
I did like what I was hearing with the reverbs in Dragonfruit, but when I relistened to it using headphones the fadeouts made it awkward, muddied the singing to my ears.


#12

Mango, I don’t like pineapple much at all, but Dragonfruit sounds all right as well. Mango sounds the most balanced, lets the vox shine through the best. It’s the one where the gear gets out of the way and the song is just presented. My two cents, though I’m probably wrong.


#13

I’m going to reply more comprehensively when I get a chance, but I just wanted to pop back and say: Fantastic feedback so far, guys and gals - this is really helpful to me - much appreciated!


#14

Pineapple: here


#15

Hey everyone - I’m just about ready to reveal what’s going on here - any more votes as to which file you prefer?


#16

I’m digging Mango, personally


#17

THE REVEAL!

Okay folks, seems like we have a definite winner:
Mango with 60% of the vote
20% gave undecided
Pineapple and Dragonfruit got 10% each

ResultsThis is actually a mastering test. All the files are mastered from the same source mix file.

After spending so much time on the mixes of my album songs, and mixing the songs over a long period of time, I want to give them a cohesive sound that translates as well as possible. My objectivity only stretches so far, and I’m realistic enough to know that, while my mix conditions and monitoring work reasonably well, there are still some sonic 'blind spots"…

…so I’ve been thinking about getting my album mastered, but after hearing many horror stories of mastering cowboys butchering hard won mixes, I’m pretty reluctant to jump in feet first. I recently came across an ME who offers a free sample master, which includes a “slammed/hyped” version and a more open, less compressed version…

So here are is the reveal of the blind test:

Pineapple: Slammed/Hyped/Compressed sample master from mastering engineer.
Dragonfruit: My original "Faux Master"
Mango: The more “open” less compressed sample master from the mastering engineer.

Thanks for all your replies and comments - they were very helpful - much appreciated!


#18

You could always go for gold (or diamond)…
http://www.gatewaymastering.com/bob-ludwig/
http://www.barrydiamentaudio.com/


#19

I checked them out an I didn’t see any talk of money??? :slight_smile:


#20

I was going to say that i like pineapple for the opening and then mango when it kicks in with all the instruments. For what it is worth.