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5 Reasons Why Your Mix Sounds Bad On Small Speakers

5 Reasons Why Your Mix Sounds Bad On Small Speakers IB

Most of us listen to the songs on good studio monitors with optimized acoustics. In this environment everything sounds perfect. However, if you switch from the big system to small speakers, the mix sounds overloaded and the pressure is suddenly missing. In this case you can find out why this is the case.

Kick Has No Overtones

A fat kick is characterized primarily by powerful bass? Absolutely! But just a very deep kick with little attack cause grief and worry on small speakers. These kick drums sound really massive with a subwoofer and make everything shake! As soon as you then listen to the song on bass-weak systems, you no longer notice the kick.

The reason for this is obvious. Small speakers cannot reproduce the required bass range. If you trust the manufacturer’s specifications, computer speakers can reproduce a frequency spectrum of 80 Hz to 20 kHz in the widest case. Just below 80 Hz the bass starts to be fun. Typical 808 kicks play their strongest role in this range.

To prepare these kicks for such circumstances, there are two ways. The first is to layer kicks. You have a bassy kick without much attack? Then put a second bassy kick with short attack under the main kick. The disadvantage of this is that you sometimes change the character of the sound.

The second option (in my opinion the better one) is to distort the kick. For this you use a distortion, saturation or overdrive plugin and drive the low-frequency kick hot. This creates or amplifies overtones that are audible even in the frequency range of small speakers. However, one should not proceed too aggressively here. Otherwise you will change the character of the sound too much. Alternatively, you can insert the distortion on a parallel track.

Bass Has No Overtones

The same problem that occurs with attack-weak low kicks also occurs with a bass. However, layering is more of an alternative here as well. Because with a melodic bass the sound is only changed by further instrument layers. Therefore, I recommend the distortion method here as well.

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Too Much Bass

As strange as it may sound after the first points, too much bass is clearly noticeable on small speakers. Therefore, such monitoring is also a good reference for the bass range.

Too much bass overloads the small speakers. This quickly degenerates into terrible distortion in connection with loud masters. At this point, you can’t even begin to perceive this on bass-capable systems.

So if it should tug and clang, then you urgently need to clean up the bass range.

No References Used

Reference songs belong in every mixing session. These should be songs that you’ve heard on every system in the world and know exactly what their strengths and weaknesses are.

This allows you to assess your own mix much better. It is easier to make comparisons and draw conclusions. Reference songs are, so to speak, the permitted cheat sheet in school.

Listen Only On Good Studio Monitors

You should not make this mistake if you really want to mix seriously. Even the well-known mixing engineers with perfect acoustics and years of experience do not rely only on one monitor.

The best systems are the ones on which most people consume the music. So use built-in computer speakers or cell phone headphones to check the mix. Especially the cell phone speakers are a very good reference for small listening. If the mix sounds good on your system and the cell phone, not much can go wrong.

Listen too Loud

Listening too loudly can have nasty consequences for the mix. As a rule, such mixes sound very punchless at normal level.

In contrast, songs that have been mixed with adequate levels are clearly punchier. It doesn’t matter if they are listened to loudly or softly.

You Only Listen In The Sweet Spot

A famous mixing trick is to listen to the song in the next room with the door ajar. Especially the relationship between the voice and the instrumental can be checked well there. Does the voice prevail or do kick, snare and other instruments drown out the most important element of the song?

So turn on the song and leave the room. Go to the kitchen. Get a snack or something to drink and listen to your mix.

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