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Mastering for iPad speaker Mas­ter­ing Plugins
Old 23rd July 2014
  #1
Gear Maniac
 

Mastering for iPad speaker

Hi all,

I listened to a track I mixed a little while ago on Spotify. I just used the internal speaker on an iPad and it was ducking quite severely.

Listening to it on my laptop speaker seems fine (also on Spotify), so I'm guessing it's the limiter in the iPad that's causing the problem.

I just wondered if any pro mastering engineers here take this into consideration or is it just too trashy a way to listen to it for you to bother compensating for it?
Old 23rd July 2014
  #2
Here for the gear
 
Reiwax's Avatar
 

I think we all work on a track to make it sound good for a "normal" listening environment. By "normal" I mean on a relatively good Hi-Fi in your living room.
Nowadays there are so many ways you can listen to music (Ipod, Ipad, PC speakers, boom box, car radio, headphones (of so many sorts), ...) that it is impossible to make it sound good for everything everywhere.
But if the client asks for something specific, then sure, we'll go that way.
Old 23rd July 2014
  #3
Gear Maniac
 

Thanks for the response.

It's not a client request. The band are happy, the label are happy, the original tracks for CD sound great to me, it's fine for car, ear buds, etc. It's just when I heard it on the iPad with Spotify I got pretty depressed! Just makes me wonder how many people will hear it that way and if it's something that's common or just something I screwed up :-)
Old 23rd July 2014
  #4
Gear Addict
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanielS View Post
Thanks for the response.

It's not a client request. The band are happy, the label are happy, the original tracks for CD sound great to me, it's fine for car, ear buds, etc. It's just when I heard it on the iPad with Spotify I got pretty depressed! Just makes me wonder how many people will hear it that way and if it's something that's common or just something I screwed up :-)
I would be too if I realized people thought an iPad speaker was an option to enjoy music on.
Old 24th July 2014
  #5
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DanielS View Post
Hi all,

I listened to a track I mixed a little while ago on Spotify. I just used the internal speaker on an iPad and it was ducking quite severely.

Listening to it on my laptop speaker seems fine (also on Spotify), so I'm guessing it's the limiter in the iPad that's causing the problem.

I just wondered if any pro mastering engineers here take this into consideration or is it just too trashy a way to listen to it for you to bother compensating for it?

!
Old 24th July 2014
  #6
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TheBrightSide's Avatar
I imagine lots of people listen to music on the Ipad, I know I do (though often with headphones)
I've found my mixes also sound terrible through Ipad speakers. I listen on lots of different systems, and they sound fine, but on the Ipad they sound like they have been smashed hard.
Old 24th July 2014
  #7
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by The_K_Man View Post
!
Care to elaborate?
Old 24th July 2014
  #8
Gear Addict
I check mixes occasionally on these crappy heavy Bose PC speakers I have. They're great for checking the accuracy of bass response, since they are very inaccurate speakers. Bose speakers are generally very terrible products, but at low volumes I trust these for a quick mix check. But at higher volumes (above 50% volume setting) they tend to compress heavily. Its the only sound reproduction equipment I've ever had that auto-compressed a signal coming through it. Before I started doing audio production, I used to wonder what was wrong with them, it all made sense when I learned about compression.

For a amplification circuit to do this, I'm not sure if it would be called passive compression vs active compression? (where you intentionally control compression). I think its a harmful trait if you mixed through a circuit that does it, but for the consumer market I think it equates to speaker protection. Some joe schmo who turns it up too loud and would blow the speakers.
Old 24th July 2014
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DanielS View Post
Care to elaborate?
Don't think I need to!

I can't imagine any client demanding that their music be made to sound great through a speaker the size of the period at the end of this sentence.

Has audio sunk THAT low???
(clutching his unremastered CDs lest anyone snatch them away..)
Old 24th July 2014
  #10
Gear Maniac
 

Cool, I wasn't sure if you were face palming the question or the listening experience. :-)

I agree that you're kidding yourself if you listen that way and think you've heard the album. The only thing I'm concerned about is if people hear it that way and it sounds much worse than say a bombay bicycle club album or grizzly bear or whatever.

From the responses I've had it seems like it's not an issue though.
Old 24th July 2014
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DanielS View Post
Cool, I wasn't sure if you were face palming the question or the listening experience. :-)

I agree that you're kidding yourself if you listen that way and think you've heard the album. The only thing I'm concerned about is if people hear it that way and it sounds much worse than say a bombay bicycle club album or grizzly bear or whatever.

From the responses I've had it seems like it's not an issue though.

Well, when I play an Imagine Dragons song and then a Boston track from 1980 through the internal speaker, the Boston wins hands down sound quality-wise.
Old 24th July 2014
  #12
Gear Maniac
 

Yeah, that makes sense. I've heard quieter tracks come across better on Spotify because of the level matching. My mixes are quieter than some modern albums (just to keep it more dynamic), but I reckon I should have gone quieter again for the digital outlets simply because people will just quickly press play on their iPad/phone and make a judgement call.

I still stand by my opinion that a mono iPad speaker is no way to listen to it though :-)
Old 24th July 2014
  #13
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DanielS wrote: "I still stand by my opinion that a mono iPad speaker is no way to listen to it though :-)"

Definitely agree - 1,000%! I was just stating that a microscopic tablet speaker is no place to be mastering music through - or for. Even if my client paid me $1million to.
Old 29th July 2014
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DanielS View Post
Cool, I wasn't sure if you were face palming the question or the listening experience. :-)

I agree that you're kidding yourself if you listen that way and think you've heard the album. The only thing I'm concerned about is if people hear it that way and it sounds much worse than say a bombay bicycle club album or grizzly bear or whatever.

From the responses I've had it seems like it's not an issue though.
You're hearing more than they are because you're discerning and invested.

Them, well their ears have acclimated to that sound, every song they hear is going to have weird bits, they won't notice a thing.

Funny how it works.
Old 31st July 2014
  #15
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Lee Wilson's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanielS View Post
Yeah, that makes sense. I've heard quieter tracks come across better on Spotify because of the level matching. My mixes are quieter than some modern albums (just to keep it more dynamic), but I reckon I should have gone quieter again for the digital outlets simply because people will just quickly press play on their iPad/phone and make a judgement call.

I still stand by my opinion that a mono iPad speaker is no way to listen to it though :-)
It's actually a stereo speaker in the iPad, why they didn't place one on the left and one on the right is a mystery, but that little iPad speaker is stereo.

How to listen in stereo to your iPad speaker [caution, doing this in public will make you look like an idiot] . . . .

Hold the ipad flat to the ground so the screen is facing up and the speaker is on the side towards your body, keeping it flat to the ground raise it up and rest the centre of the speaker on the top of the bridge of your nose (pretty much aligned with your eyes) - like this your nose filters the two stereo sides and you get a very good stereo image.

Like I say, doing it in public will make you look a little mentally unhinged, should only be done by engineers assessing sound quality in locked studios - but it works really well.
Old 31st July 2014
  #16
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Lee Wilson's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by smoke View Post
You're hearing more than they are because you're discerning and invested.
Yep !
Old 31st July 2014
  #17
Gear Maniac
 

Thanks for everyone's thoughts. I didn't know it was stereo...still sounds naff though! :-)
Old 1st August 2014
  #18
Gear Maniac
 

Is it possible this sort of thing could happen in the conversion stage? (To MP3 or whatever Spotify convert it too).

Just heard it on the radio (who would have had the cd). I listened on my iphone without issue, it was a different track, but I think the album was fairly consistently mastered.
Old 1st August 2014
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DanielS View Post
Is it possible this sort of thing could happen in the conversion stage? (To MP3 or whatever Spotify convert it too).

Just heard it on the radio (who would have had the cd). I listened on my iphone without issue, it was a different track, but I think the album was fairly consistently mastered.

The industry has it completely drawkcab - compressing & brick walling for broadcast:

If you leave something relatively dynamic(DR10 or higher) it will sound *better* over heavily limited(radio, TV) or compressed(smartphone, tablet speakers) sources. This is because more dynamic songs aren't constantly triggering the station's processing chains.
Old 1st August 2014
  #20
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by The_K_Man View Post
The industry has it completely drawkcab - compressing & brick walling for broadcast:

If you leave something relatively dynamic(DR10 or higher) it will sound *better* over heavily limited(radio, TV) or compressed(smartphone, tablet speakers) sources. This is because more dynamic songs aren't constantly triggering the station's processing chains.
Yeah, that was my feeling. I'm not a massively experienced mastering engineer which is why I'm asking here but I didn't let the songs go over around 8.5 RMS.

What I didn't know about at the time was intersample peaks. I was hitting -0.1 peaks and I've since learned -1 would have been better for going to MP3/AAC.
Old 1st August 2014
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DanielS View Post
Yeah, that was my feeling. I'm not a massively experienced mastering engineer which is why I'm asking here but I didn't let the songs go over around 8.5 RMS.

What I didn't know about at the time was intersample peaks. I was hitting -0.1 peaks and I've since learned -1 would have been better for going to MP3/AAC.

-8.5 - that's what I call the "Shepherd Level". PM me if you're curious where I got that term from.


As far as ISPs go, you're right, but the "ISPs? Who cares" zeitgeist is strong here. Do not give in.
Old 1st August 2014
  #22
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Lee Wilson's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanielS View Post
Is it possible this sort of thing could happen in the conversion stage? (To MP3 or whatever Spotify convert it too).

Just heard it on the radio (who would have had the cd). I listened on my iphone without issue, it was a different track, but I think the album was fairly consistently mastered.
It might be worth placing an MP3 (or AAC or whatever) emulator on your mix bus or mastering output bus, then you can adjust for all that MP3 nastiness as you work . . . .

Sonnox codec toolbox is only £50 or so . . .

http://www.sonnoxplugins.com/pub/plu...ectoolbox.html

. . . but there are similar plugins from other manufacturers, you'd want one that you can set to 128kbps (or whatever Spotify use) - of course you can do all this without a plugin by bouncing to MP3 and then taking a listen, but it's more useful to be able to flick the (data) compression artefacts in and out on the fly as you mix/master.
Old 1st August 2014
  #23
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lee Wilson View Post
It might be worth placing an MP3 (or AAC or whatever) emulator on your mix bus or mastering output bus, then you can adjust for all that MP3 nastiness as you work . . . .

Sonnox codec toolbox is only £50 or so . . .

http://www.sonnoxplugins.com/pub/plu...ectoolbox.html

. . . but there are similar plugins from other manufacturers, you'd want one that you can set to 128kbps (or whatever Spotify use) - of course you can do all this without a plugin by bouncing to MP3 and then taking a listen, but it's more useful to be able to flick the (data) compression artefacts in and out on the fly as you mix/master.
Thanks, I'll look into that. I just got the Mastered for iTunes software which I think does something similar after bouncing, Ozone 5 can give me the numbers, but I agree - something I can master into in real time would be ideal.
Old 1st August 2014
  #24
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Lee Wilson's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanielS View Post
Thanks, I'll look into that. I just got the Mastered for iTunes software which I think does something similar after bouncing, Ozone 5 can give me the numbers, but I agree - something I can master into in real time would be ideal.
Yeah, ideally you'd be mastering into it in real time, it'd go right at the end of your mastering chain, after Ozone's maximizer and dithering.
Old 10th August 2014
  #25
Lives for gear
Daniel,

Fulltime mastering guy here. Keep it simple

- Don't worry about RMS levels, just get it as loud as you need/want in the best way you can

- For best conversion to MP3/AAC/Ogg Vorbis you want to keep your peak levels below about -0.8dBFS. I generally do a hotter CD master and a lower level "Online Master" for clients.

- With respect to Lee's suggestion there is no need to use auditioning software for the MP3/AAC etc. and you definitely don't want to try compensating for what you hear changing if anything as this is a moving target

- There is no way to make a master that sounds perfect on every system, an iPad or iPhone speaker is hard on music but a good arrangement and balance will still shine through. If you're getting decent translation on 9 out 10 systems you are doing fine.

- Finally, try to avoid super complicated processing on your master - things like Ozone enhancers, multi band, stereo widening etc are generally a bad idea. Generally...

Good luck with the project.

Cheers,
Ruairi
Old 10th August 2014
  #26
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruairi View Post
Daniel,

Fulltime mastering guy here. Keep it simple

- Don't worry about RMS levels, just get it as loud as you need/want in the best way you can

- For best conversion to MP3/AAC/Ogg Vorbis you want to keep your peak levels below about -0.8dBFS. I generally do a hotter CD master and a lower level "Online Master" for clients.

- With respect to Lee's suggestion there is no need to use auditioning software for the MP3/AAC etc. and you definitely don't want to try compensating for what you hear changing if anything as this is a moving target

- There is no way to make a master that sounds perfect on every system, an iPad or iPhone speaker is hard on music but a good arrangement and balance will still shine through. If you're getting decent translation on 9 out 10 systems you are doing fine.

- Finally, try to avoid super complicated processing on your master - things like Ozone enhancers, multi band, stereo widening etc are generally a bad idea. Generally...

Good luck with the project.

Cheers,
Ruairi
Thanks for the feedback. I will definitely do separate masters from now on.

I've only been using Ozone for eq and multiband compression, and limiting (when FG-X isn't doing the business). The other stuff scares me! I tried the imaging once and it just sent everything out of phase.
Old 10th August 2014
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DanielS View Post
I've only been using Ozone for eq and multiband compression, and limiting (when FG-X isn't doing the business). The other stuff scares me! I tried the imaging once and it just sent everything out of phase.
Cool. The only difference between my CD master (usually delivered in DDP form) and my online masters (delivered in 44.1kHz 16 bit WAV form) is the peak level. CD is usually between -0.3 and -0.5dBFS peak and the online between -0.8 and -1dBFS peak. I don't eq, compress or do anything else differently.

For records that don't require uber level I do one master only.
Old 10th August 2014
  #28
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A few things to check - firstly Spotify's download setting, you can specify what bitrate it plays/syncs at in the settings. Set it to Extreme, otherwise it is just going to be mashed into oblivion by the compression. Second thing is iPad speaker's don't reproduce low freq information, if it's pumping a lot it's probably because the master is heavily limited and bass heavy. On a full-range system this may sound acceptible, but when you remove the low freq information, every time a low bass note is hit all of the high-freq content will duck. This seems more than likely your issue.

I've tested things on a wide range of tablets/phones/laptops and tbh I'm relatively impressed with iPad speakers compared to the other options in that speaker bracket.
Old 10th August 2014
  #29
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ross Goodman View Post
A few things to check - firstly Spotify's download setting, you can specify what bitrate it plays/syncs at in the settings. Set it to Extreme, otherwise it is just going to be mashed into oblivion by the compression. Second thing is iPad speaker's don't reproduce low freq information, if it's pumping a lot it's probably because the master is heavily limited and bass heavy. On a full-range system this may sound acceptible, but when you remove the low freq information, every time a low bass note is hit all of the high-freq content will duck. This seems more than likely your issue.

I've tested things on a wide range of tablets/phones/laptops and tbh I'm relatively impressed with iPad speakers compared to the other options in that speaker bracket.
Thanks Ross. The particular track in question does have a sub bass and a bass guitar, so I can see that being a cause. Most of the album is fairly bass light to my ears, but I can see that this track could be guilty of that.

The other thing about this song in particular is that it starts off uber quiet (one piano and one voice) and then everything comes crashing in at the end. As I said, I was working to a -8.5 RMS level (which I now know isn't as foolproof as I'd thought). Maybe that was simply too loud for this song, but what you said about the bass could well be the issue.
Old 10th August 2014
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ross Goodman View Post
A few things to check - firstly Spotify's download setting, you can specify what bitrate it plays/syncs at in the settings. Set it to Extreme, otherwise it is just going to be mashed into oblivion by the compression. Second thing is iPad speaker's don't reproduce low freq information, if it's pumping a lot it's probably because the master is heavily limited and bass heavy. On a full-range system this may sound acceptible, but when you remove the low freq information, every time a low bass note is hit all of the high-freq content will duck. This seems more than likely your issue.

I've tested things on a wide range of tablets/phones/laptops and tbh I'm relatively impressed with iPad speakers compared to the other options in that speaker bracket.
This is setting a bad precedent. I don't care if 'the majority' of listeners listen on their tablet/phone/laptop's built-in speaker: We should not be mastering for those platforms.

Conversely, I often consult friends, colleagues, and co-workers: What you choose(or buy) to listen to music on IS having an affect on how records are being made. It's making it more difficult for those of us with full-size(at least a receiver, maybe an amp/pre-amp combo, minimum 50W/ch, separate playback components, etc.) systems to enjoy what's been coming out lately, or reissued or 'remastered'(for lack of better term!).
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