Consider the attached clip of a piece of relaxation music I’ve put together over the last few days. The clip is one minute out of just over five minutes, but you probably don’t need to listen to all of the 60 seconds to get the idea.
It sounds lush. The main synth sound is dry in terms of any additional reverb, but has reverb as part of the patch itself.
I sounded lovely at my desk, and also lovely when played mixed down to an MP3 file then played back from my phone to my Bluetooth headphones.
But when played out of my phone speakers it’s distorted unless I turn the volume way down. Not massively distorted, but enough for it to sound bad enough for me to not want to use it with the group of ‘relaxers’ until I can, hopefully, suppress that distortion.
So, what’s the best approach to get this in to a usable state? EQ it to death? Mixdown to a low volume?
Maybe check the low end on a RTA to see if there’s a lot of energy there. The synths and/or kick drum type sound may have a lot of low end information - too much for the little phone speakers. Nice ambience in the piece, and nice low warm spacey energy, but for tiny speaker it may need to be modified.
There’s a nice sleepy dreaminess to this, am deliberately listening through cruddy laptop speakers which accentuate ‘twang’ and for me, the notes that chime through, at the entry, 30 secs and end, feel a little harsh and non-relaxing. I would ‘sweeten’ them by shaping them quite sharply with eq. I’m not good at giving precise suggestions, rather my own process would be to identify the frequencies of that tone with a SPAN analysis and then experiment with shaping the eq to tame it so that the sounds slip gently in and away. I’m guessing that you are aiming for a seamless integration of sound rather than a distinct ‘chime’ so the sounds need to be soothed and sweetened to blend together a little more… For that, I would target eq and then play around some with the reverbs…
That’s my two cents anyway
That the chimes cut through like that is actually a good thing, and what I need it to do.
This piece of music of for something we have at work called Plank Club. This club meets at 11:00 and 15:00 for five minutes every day just to get away from our desks and stretch for a bit (a few people just come along and sit and chat - there are no rules!)
Every 30 seconds we ‘change’ from one stretch to another. There’s no leader, we all do what we want to do, rather than it being synchronised stretching. When I started going someone, usually one of the ‘sitters’, would start a timer on their smartphone and call out “Change” at every 30 seconds. However, sometimes they’d forget, or wouldn’t be heard. If they werent’ there then one of the ‘plankers’ would run the timer on their phone but have to watch the phone while they stretch/plank, which is a bit of a distraction.
Being a techie, I felt “there must be an app for this”, and found something called Tabata Timer, which is an exercise reps timer which plays a sound I can choose from its bank of supplied samples. It’s fine, but the samples are pretty low quality, sometimes cutting short.
If I’d thought of it I should have done one for Guy Fawkes day (the murmur of a crowd and the crackle of the bonfire at a fireworks display, then the sound of a firework at each 30 seconds). Oh well. Next year.
Anyway, this one that we’re discussing is meant as a more generic, every day, soundtrack timer to use. Since the plank club can be quite chatty (at most I’ve seen 14 people attend a session, so there can easily be three or four conversations going on) the chimes need to be quite loud in order to cut through the noise in the room.
I may still EQ those bell chimes just to make them easier on the ear, but it’s the big reverb chords that are causing the speaker distortion.
Definitely. The kick drum sound is actually a percussive bass synth sound which in that clip is played staccato. Just an FYI really, as I was aiming for a tuned kick drum effect every fourth chord. Further in to the track this bass sound is held for longer, mainly at the gentle crescendo around the last 30 seconds.
Yes. Emma had mentioned SPAN which is Voxengo. There are numerous ones, and many EQ plugins will show you the real time frequency response. It could show a particular frequency or range in the low end popping out with the bass synth. I love that bass synth “kick”, it sounds soft yet penetrating, really cool. But yeah there may be lots of strong low frequencies coming through on it. Not really something to listen to on a portable device IMO.
It was captured just after a bell note, so that there are things above 600 Hz.
Most of the time, you have a big square full of energy from 500 Hz and below (I don’t know what’s the lowest value on this but it’s still heavy below 50 Hz)…
Using a hi-pass filter set around 130 Hz doesn’t really change the overall tone but it frees up a lot of energy!
-> Using your phone as a test device isn’t a bad thing but some have audio settings like “bass boost”, “loudness curve”… to enhance the lack of low end.
Check that thing as well.