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What exactly is the "smeared" sound? Mas­ter­ing Plugins
Old 26th February 2014
  #1
What exactly is the "smeared" sound?

Hi!

Hope its ok to put this in the mastering forum, but I think this is one for the trained ears..

I have Genelec 8260 as my mains, at about 2m distance.
At about 80cm distance I have a pair of Genelec 6010s, these are for when I need to work in the middle of the nights, to keep the relations to my neighbours healthy

The frequency response of the 8260s is very accurate, and the 6010s are pretty close as well (for what they can achieve anyway).

Here's the question. When I turn on BOTH of these speaker pairs, it is very hard for me to describe what happens, but somehow I would describe the sound as being not accurate and somehow "smeared" but somehow yet sort of pleasant to listen to.

It sort of reminds me in a way of some hifi systems I've heard. When I measure the response there are no substantial frequency changes, so I'm guessing it must be in the time/phase domain, but without causing too much cancellations.

Is this a well documented phenomenon used by Hifi manufacturers or just some freak accident happening with my room and particular speakers?
Old 26th February 2014
  #2
There are all kinds of reason for this. Placement issues, acoustical issues and the list is endless . A grad student in acoustics could use the answers to this as a basis for their doctoral thesis.
Old 26th February 2014
  #3
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
There are all kinds of reason for this. Placement issues, acoustical issues and the list is endless . A grad student in acoustics could use the answers to this as a basis for their doctoral thesis.
Haha, true true, I guess a one stop answer was too much to ask for. I was thinking there might be something specific that we perceive as soft or pleasant (however inaccurate it may be). My mind went to perhaps the high frequencies reaching me quicker than the lows or something along those lines.

But yeah, there are probably so many effects it might be hard to pinpoint any in particular..
Old 26th February 2014
  #4
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I've heard a "smeared" sound on poorly mfgd. cassette tapes, or on low bitrate mp3(160kb & under). Particularly on cymbals and other transients.
Old 26th February 2014
  #5
Quote:
Originally Posted by The_K_Man View Post
I've heard a "smeared" sound on poorly mfgd. cassette tapes, or on low bitrate mp3(160kb & under). Particularly on cymbals and other transients.
I'm not sure I use the term "smeared" in the right way reall, but maybe there was something similar the cassette tape effect, not sure..
To me it was something about it that just felt less distinct and "snappy", but the weird thing is that I thought it sounded quite nice (as opposed to low bitrates, which i dont feel sound particularly pleasant)
Old 1st March 2014
  #6
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KRStudio's Avatar
 

Are saying you get smear if all 4 speakers are on at the same time?
Old 1st March 2014
  #7
Quote:
Originally Posted by KRStudio View Post
Are saying you get smear if all 4 speakers are on at the same time?
Exactly!
Old 1st March 2014
  #8
I guess a four speaker system doubles the chances of phase issues? Why would you ever want both pairs on at the same time, if they are both just set up as stereo references?
Old 1st March 2014
  #9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Babaluma View Post
I guess a four speaker system doubles the chances of phase issues? Why would you ever want both pairs on at the same time, if they are both just set up as stereo references?
Its explained in the top of the thread I believe. Its not that I want them on at the same time, its just that I experienced something pleasant when doing it by accident. Pleasant not as in accurate, but as in smooth (or smeared) somehow. Just wondering what exactly the reason for it was, and if that smoothness (whatever its origin) is something utilized somewhere..
Old 1st March 2014
  #10
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That's caused by different sources, different time (not time aligned) different eq all at the same time. It can sound big and easy to listen to, but not accurate at all.
Old 1st March 2014
  #11
Quote:
Originally Posted by KRStudio View Post
That's caused by different sources, different time (not time aligned) different eq all at the same time. It can sound big and easy to listen to, but not accurate at all.
Could that be applied consciously you think, if you'd be after the "big and easy" effect?
Old 1st March 2014
  #12
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Yes you could mix with phase and time align issues but you can not get the effect of multiple sound sources from just 2 speakers vs. 4 or more speakers.
Old 1st March 2014
  #13
Quote:
Originally Posted by KRStudio View Post
Yes you could mix with phase and time align issues but you can not get the effect of multiple sound sources from just 2 speakers vs. 4 or more speakers.
Yep that makes sense of course I messed around with the multiband delay option in ozone 5, tried delaying the bass by quite a bit. Did get smeared and phasey, but didn't manage to get it to sound nice in any way though..
Old 6th March 2014
  #14
Gear Nut
 

You could go old school and set up a stereo mic in the sweet spot, and record your speakers.
Old 6th March 2014
  #15
Yeah, I have the Genelec 1032B set up with NS10s. I get similar **** going on when I turn on all 4 speakers.
Old 6th March 2014
  #16
Lives for gear
 

Like has been said already. It's simply phase cancellation due to the impossibility of phase aligning 2 sets of different speakers in a space.

If you like the effect it just means that you get some frequencies cancelled out that you may not have liked or that are prominent in your room.

For pleasing listening, especially with the slightly forward sounding Genelec brand (every single one of their speakers can be mighty harsh, especially playing any type of modern genre which has been heavily limited), you should probably invest in a nice clean hardware EQ and dump it in between the speakers and the computer/mixing board output. Just make sure it has a true hard bypass so that you can always listen to the direct signal when mixing.

By the way, there's nothing wrong in EQing the sound of your speaker system with gentle wide curves for a more pleasant mixing experience. People who say otherwise don't understand that at these price points, all of the monitors are so flawed still that it doesn't make a damn difference. On the contrary, EQing the monitoring system to your personal preference, basically making them sound "better" can be a huge time saver and can help you end up with better mixes.

Just do it smart. Do the EQing over reference material that you know is world class in the type of genre you are into.. and remember to use sweet, wide, gentle curves and no drastic gain settings.

Cheers!
Old 7th March 2014
  #17
Quote:
Originally Posted by bmanic View Post
Like has been said already. It's simply phase cancellation due to the impossibility of phase aligning 2 sets of different speakers in a space.

If you like the effect it just means that you get some frequencies cancelled out that you may not have liked or that are prominent in your room.

For pleasing listening, especially with the slightly forward sounding Genelec brand (every single one of their speakers can be mighty harsh, especially playing any type of modern genre which has been heavily limited), you should probably invest in a nice clean hardware EQ and dump it in between the speakers and the computer/mixing board output. Just make sure it has a true hard bypass so that you can always listen to the direct signal when mixing.

By the way, there's nothing wrong in EQing the sound of your speaker system with gentle wide curves for a more pleasant mixing experience. People who say otherwise don't understand that at these price points, all of the monitors are so flawed still that it doesn't make a damn difference. On the contrary, EQing the monitoring system to your personal preference, basically making them sound "better" can be a huge time saver and can help you end up with better mixes.

Just do it smart. Do the EQing over reference material that you know is world class in the type of genre you are into.. and remember to use sweet, wide, gentle curves and no drastic gain settings.

Cheers!
I like this idea!
Old 7th March 2014
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by bmanic View Post
Like has been said already. It's simply phase cancellation due to the impossibility of phase aligning 2 sets of different speakers in a space.

If you like the effect it just means that you get some frequencies cancelled out that you may not have liked or that are prominent in your room.

For pleasing listening, especially with the slightly forward sounding Genelec brand (every single one of their speakers can be mighty harsh, especially playing any type of modern genre which has been heavily limited), you should probably invest in a nice clean hardware EQ and dump it in between the speakers and the computer/mixing board output. Just make sure it has a true hard bypass so that you can always listen to the direct signal when mixing.

By the way, there's nothing wrong in EQing the sound of your speaker system with gentle wide curves for a more pleasant mixing experience. People who say otherwise don't understand that at these price points, all of the monitors are so flawed still that it doesn't make a damn difference. On the contrary, EQing the monitoring system to your personal preference, basically making them sound "better" can be a huge time saver and can help you end up with better mixes.

Just do it smart. Do the EQing over reference material that you know is world class in the type of genre you are into.. and remember to use sweet, wide, gentle curves and no drastic gain settings.

Cheers!
Thanks for the comment! Well the frequency response is reasonably flat when measured, with both the main speakers, and the odd 4-speaker sound, but of course it's not totally identical. So yeah, could be a slightly more easy sounding frequency response in some way. However, I do sense its more of a timing thing, the transients get a bit muddled out. I mean its about 1.5 meters between the speakers in the front and the mains, so that delay I imagine would have some effect, especially in the highs.
Anyway, as someone above suggested, I could just record it with a mic if I wanted to use it as an effect!

Like I mentioned above, it is definitely not pleasing in the way that I would want to mix with it. I merely has some pleasing qualities. Kind of like turning up the bass at a party has pleasing effects, doesnt mean you wanna do that on every track in the studio (but it might help to know what it was so you could reach for it as an effect).

I mean in general I find few things more pleasing (in an accurate way) work wise than the sound of the 8260s (..and while at the subject of price points...)
Change of topic, but they are really crazy good in my opinion, and if the "usual Genelec sound" has some drawbacks to it (i've used Genelecs a lot in the past, and while I've grown very used to their signature sound, I know what people mean when they say they dont like it) those drawbacks are more or less gone from the 8260s. The 3-way design makes them very very different.

As for EQing monitors, I'm definitely all for that, if done right. There's an unnecessary scepticism towards that around here I feel.
My guess is that 95% of people here are not working in the types of rooms that those 5% are talking about when they're saying EQing speakers is a bad idea..

Anyway, thanks for the input!
Old 3rd April 2018
  #19
My bass is smeared in the mix all the time...instead of a nice round articulate bass...it's a flabby, ill-defined foggy mess.
Old 20th April 2018
  #20
Gear Nut
 
JR Mastering's Avatar
 

Like another person mentioned, this problem presents itself because something is being done that shouldn't be. Which is, playing two sets of different stereo speakers at the same time. Unless it's a dolby surround mix, there's no reason to do this. Two stereo speakers and a sub woofer is all you need.

I wish you the best of luck with your music!
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