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How to normally listen to music after being an ME?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #1
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darkalex's Avatar
 

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How to normally listen to music after being an ME?

Hey guys, I am really troubled after practising mastering since over a year, I've reached a stage that I just cannot listen to music normally.

I used to love so many songs back when I was a elementary school kid, now I just cannot listen to it, I am becoming way too critical of everything now

Whenever I listen to these old songs, it always bugs me like:

aaargh! those freakin high hats, the mixer should've used a de-esser!

or this has no bottom, my god!, that 40hz bassline would've shined had the mixer used saturation, or the mastering guy didn't boost that top so much


and what not, the list goes on...

Literally anything bugs me these days, it's become so worse that whenever I go for a drive with my friends, I always tell them to use my phone with bluetooth, because apparently I have better streaming due to the Spotify premium... and I EQ their car with the inbuilt eq, so that we (actually I) can enjoy the music and the drive

It's got to the point that when I hear stuff on my personal headphones, more than listening to the music, I am messing the EQ, for each song!

I want to be the nice kid again who listened to every song nicely on his apple earphones, Please help
Old 4 weeks ago
  #2
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I think there's an herbal remedy for that.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #3
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macc's Avatar
 

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3 Reviews written
Buy a **** hifi and be happy. Seriously. Get the best in the budget band on What Hi Fi. Works for me!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #4
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scraggs's Avatar
You learn to turn it off, more or less. We just have regular old nothing special stereos in the living room, car, office. Music sounds like music on them. Compared to the studio, all of them are big blurry lenses with a lot of vaseline on them, and that's a great thing...they hide so many flaws.

Listening to music outside the studio, I mostly just react to the music not the sonics.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #5
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SmoothTone's Avatar
 

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Listen to the forest, not the trees.

Somehow I've always still been able to enjoy music as music, both in the mastering room and outside of it. Rather than listening for blemishes, I listen for what I connect with.

It may take a bit of effort to retrain yourself, but try practising this:
1. Giving the music permission to have blemishes
2. Relinquishing responsibility for fixing everything

When mastering, I've found it helps to adopt an 'enhancement of enjoyment' perspective rather than a 'fixing of problems' mindset; which translates to more relaxed listening outside the studio as well.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #6
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Verified Member
Buy speakers for home listening that make you grin ear to ear.

I’ve seen some pro audio people buy “clean” speakers for their home stereo system, which is the worst mistake you can do. You already have studio monitors in a treated room, replicating that just means you have a lesser quality version in your living room (I doubt you’re going to spend more on a home stereo than your studio, when the studio makes money.)

Buy a vintage pair of Klipsch, or some Magnepan, or any of the bonkers Everest JBL designs from the 1980s, or any other speaker design that is out there and imperfect, but creates an insane soundstage. Experiment with SET amps that color the mix more than any stereo bus processor. Get an old preamp, or mix your sound sources with a vintage rotary DJ mixer (the boutique ones are all-passive EQ designs with good SNR and sonics.)

My home theater setup makes bad recordings shine, and great recordings transcendent. The entire setup cost less than my G23-S.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darkalex View Post
Hey guys, I am really troubled after practising mastering since over a year, I've reached a stage that I just cannot listen to music normally.

I used to love so many songs back when I was a elementary school kid, now I just cannot listen to it, I am becoming way too critical of everything now

Whenever I listen to these old songs, it always bugs me like:

aaargh! those freakin high hats, the mixer should've used a de-esser!

or this has no bottom, my god!, that 40hz bassline would've shined had the mixer used saturation, or the mastering guy didn't boost that top so much


and what not, the list goes on...

Literally anything bugs me these days, it's become so worse that whenever I go for a drive with my friends, I always tell them to use my phone with bluetooth, because apparently I have better streaming due to the Spotify premium... and I EQ their car with the inbuilt eq, so that we (actually I) can enjoy the music and the drive

It's got to the point that when I hear stuff on my personal headphones, more than listening to the music, I am messing the EQ, for each song!

I want to be the nice kid again who listened to every song nicely on his apple earphones, Please help
That's nothing.

After 40 years of being a professional music I cannot listen to any music without it hitting my ear and splitting into all the separate instruments and the chord progression and scales being notated on virtual manuscript.

It's like light hitting a prism.

It's a definite downside of getting so into a subject and creating a perfect matrix of definition.

Try looking at paintings for your leisure activity
Old 4 weeks ago
  #8
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mirochandler's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by darkalex View Post
Hey guys, I am really troubled after practising mastering since over a year, I've reached a stage that I just cannot listen to music normally.
I know what you mean, but after some years I can switch that kind of thinking off.
And it is normal that with todays listening systems you will always find a thing that could be better made in older recordings.
One thing that I cannot do anymore in my new studio is to write emails or doing something different on this place when music is running. It focuses me so strong; the resolution is so extreme and the room itself is absolutely quiet, that I can only listen - or stop it.

On songs I really love and where some things disturb me since years I made my own re-mastering for private use. Mostly correct de-essing or bass range or tame the 200-400Hz range on the voice on some points.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #9
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da goose's Avatar
I had that experience years ago as well when I just started mastering. Now I can just enjoy music and I love listening to music in the livingroom.Marantz 2245 receiver from 1971 with Kef LS50 speakers. Great sound and makes me enjoy music. You will learn over the years.

I must also admit that I have synestasia, which means even in my studio, I don't listen/analyze in a regualar way, but by feeling it and acting on that.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #10
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I'll repeat what some people suggested above:

Buy some basic "crappy" or semi-nice hi-fi system or bluetooth speaker for home. I've found that the more "smeared" the frequency response and dynamics of the system is, the less I get annoyed by details and can thus simply enjoy the music itself. As soon as I get extreme details exposed, I have a hard time switching into analytical mode.

Same goes for headphones. Get something basic.. not high fidelity crazyness. I'm a huge fan of the basic Bose noise cancelling headphones as they are so smeared but still pleasantly voiced.. and the noise cancelling allows me to enjoy music at home even when the kids go berserk.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #11
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i haven't been listening to any music outside my job for ca. 25 years (except on some rare occasions: maybe a concert a year and at funerals)...

...but today is a good opportunity to turn on my genelec's again and listen to jimi hendrix (who died 50 years ago)!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #12
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Slug1's Avatar
I’ve never normally listened to music. I’ve always analyzed music. Since as long as I can remember. But it’s also always been an enjoyable experience for me nonetheless.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #13
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Verified Member
Put on some of your all time favourite albums, just listen and let the music take you away, stop thinking and start feeling and you remember how it was long ago, go with the flow......just enjoy.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #14
Gear Nut
 
Sabovic Adis's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by darkalex View Post
Hey guys, I am really troubled after practising mastering since over a year, I've reached a stage that I just cannot listen to music normally.

I used to love so many songs back when I was a elementary school kid, now I just cannot listen to it, I am becoming way too critical of everything now

Whenever I listen to these old songs, it always bugs me like:

aaargh! those freakin high hats, the mixer should've used a de-esser!

or this has no bottom, my god!, that 40hz bassline would've shined had the mixer used saturation, or the mastering guy didn't boost that top so much


and what not, the list goes on...

Literally anything bugs me these days, it's become so worse that whenever I go for a drive with my friends, I always tell them to use my phone with bluetooth, because apparently I have better streaming due to the Spotify premium... and I EQ their car with the inbuilt eq, so that we (actually I) can enjoy the music and the drive

It's got to the point that when I hear stuff on my personal headphones, more than listening to the music, I am messing the EQ, for each song!

I want to be the nice kid again who listened to every song nicely on his apple earphones, Please help
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=83IylDQPVZ0
Old 4 weeks ago
  #15
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biksonije's Avatar
 

Like fellow poster Jeffrey da Goose said, listen and enjoy. Listen thru the system you like and love and try listening as a layman. Is that the right term? I believe it is. Anyway, you all know what I meant by that. I can understand where is this coming from but maybe 1% of people, or way less, have fine-tuned systems to get absolute hi-fi bliss. I listen to music on an ancient, smallest one, Marantz (as da Goose mentioned as well!), wink-wink, small 35W Amp. with Mission 761. Nothing special, nothing fancy. But it sounds nice. And looks nice too! ;-)
Old 4 weeks ago
  #16
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Strut78's Avatar
My mastering reference speakers and my listening to music speakers are in different leagues for this reason. I had to resist the temptation to cross check work on The different systems.

It’s a bit like wearing earplugs to see you favorite band or to play a show of your own, it really sucks the for the first year but you change your point of reference and eventually just enjoy the show without the tinnitus that would follow. I find that listening to spoken word (podcasts, audiobooks) Is a good buffer to reset my focus inbetween.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #17
DAH
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DAH's Avatar
"aaargh! those freakin high hats, the mixer should've used a de-esser!"
Something a ME would not say.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #18
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darkalex's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by DAH View Post
Something a ME would not say.
The ME could've sorted that out easily, I agree, so could I in a whim, but not every time and every where I have my workstation. What will you do in a car which has bright speakers? The song's really good but the high hats are annoying you, EQ? It's gonna mess up the rest of the song as car EQ's are very broad, so cutting 4dB at 8K would ruin the high end completely
Old 4 weeks ago
  #19
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scraggs's Avatar
Why wouldn't we say that? I've certainly de-essed hihats in mastering before. Plenty of times I've put one on the overheads/room mics in mixing too...
Old 4 weeks ago
  #20
DAH
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DAH's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by scraggs View Post
Why wouldn't we say that? I've certainly de-essed hihats in mastering before. Plenty of times I've put one on the overheads/room mics in mixing too...
A corrective EQ always sounds better to me. De-essers are for vocals. But that is just me, YMMV. I do not like multiband processing either.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #21
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Nonlinear's Avatar
 

I have actually had the opposite happen. I REALLY appreciate when I hear something great - that most people would not even notice.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #22
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to the OP

I don't know any pro in the industry that hasn't had a period of "over-hearing"

been at it for 18 years and maybe 5-6 years in .....EVERYTHING I heard pissed me off......

But in reality I didn't know how not to take my work home...
the number of GFs that had to listen to me bitch about how BAD various elements of audio were - be it recordings, masters of even worse....LIVE.

It's about learning to switch off.

not every conversation you have with new people will flow in a way that is ideal....think of it like that......
being an engineer gets you into a head-zone of controlling....and life isn't like that....so instead of hearing errors
hear what you might be able to do on a track that rouses those same elements.

You will come round and start to let go - we all do eventually ;-) x
Old 4 weeks ago
  #23
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12ax7's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Try re-booting your ear/brain:

Leave all your electronic devices at home,
and go wilderness camping for a week or two.

When you get back home, you will be absolutely astounded at how fake recorded music actually sounds!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #24
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1 Review written
Perhaps it's already been said above but I'm not sure how useful this nitpicking & focussed on the negative attitude is even in the studio.

Sure, we need to be able to perceive a click, decide if it matters and remove or not..

Find the music and look for connection, not for things to fix.

Last edited by Ruairi; 4 weeks ago at 01:25 AM..
Old 4 weeks ago
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darkalex View Post
Hey guys, I am really troubled after practising mastering since over a year, I've reached a stage that I just cannot listen to music normally.

I used to love so many songs back when I was a elementary school kid, now I just cannot listen to it, I am becoming way too critical of everything now

Whenever I listen to these old songs, it always bugs me like:

aaargh! those freakin high hats, the mixer should've used a de-esser!

or this has no bottom, my god!, that 40hz bassline would've shined had the mixer used saturation, or the mastering guy didn't boost that top so much


and what not, the list goes on...

Literally anything bugs me these days, it's become so worse that whenever I go for a drive with my friends, I always tell them to use my phone with bluetooth, because apparently I have better streaming due to the Spotify premium... and I EQ their car with the inbuilt eq, so that we (actually I) can enjoy the music and the drive

It's got to the point that when I hear stuff on my personal headphones, more than listening to the music, I am messing the EQ, for each song!

I want to be the nice kid again who listened to every song nicely on his apple earphones, Please help
Dude, you're really young, if you keep at it you'll find the balance. YMMV but around your age things seemed a lot more black and white even though in hindsight I was a complete idiot

There is no place for dogma, remain flexible.
The artist is always right. (hmm, sounds dogmatic ...)
Enjoy music regardless of sound quality.

As a teen I was as fanatical as you when it comes to sound quality. I still am, I just pick my moments better and relax more

It's just a phase, you're discovering and developing your ear, just try not to drive yourself and your friends insane while doing it. If you ever feel lost like this, meditate and reconnect with your reason(s) for getting into this field. This will probably happen a good few times in your life. Don't be alarmed, it's called being human.

Old 4 weeks ago
  #26
Gear Nut
 

Yes, you'll probably grow out of it, yes, listen to regular speakers, nothing like your studio speakers.

But I use it as a learning tool.
"Wow, that hi hat is crazy, but this track still sounds good. Huh."
There is no correct way things should sound. Drives me crazy when I can't hear the bass, but maybe that track really wouldn't be better if the bass was loud. Try to to figure out if the track would really be better with the changes you hear, or if that's just the way you think things should sound. That's a tough one to learn.

When I go to friends houses or cars I'm often saying WTF, but then I realize that's how people are going to listen to things, and keep that in mind when I'm working. There are also things that sound amazing in my car and not amazing in the studio. Huh. No one is going to ever hear it in my studio.

I also can't judge mastering fairly if I don't know what they started with and what the artist wanted.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #27
Lives for gear
After tracking 100's of musicians going to karaoke is hell. I want to stop the tape machine, rewind, and have them do it over.

You have to consider, they made that choice? Just because its not the choice you would make, it does not make it invalid or not enjoyable. Let it go and have fun. Not everything is perfect.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #28
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Hippocratic Mastering's Avatar
I’ve come to accept that I’ll never love listening to music the same way I did as a teen. I spend all day working on it so tend to relax with other things. That said, if I have a week off work (or, occasionally, as mentioned, a little herbal assistance) that feeling does come back to a certain extent. It’s a trade off that’s worth it, to me, especially as I would be useless at almost any other job!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #29
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Rumi's Avatar
I had the experience for some years that I could analyze most songs instantly, starting from composing over arrangement and mix to master, because I do all these things myself. "If the bass played had played that note instead, if they hadn't use that compressor", etc. At a certain point, my ears were so trained that I could tell which brand of mic pre was used. And of course compressors etc.

But I couldn't enjoy music anymore...

Over time, I've learned to hear all that information, see what I would have done differently and why, AND enjoy the music. It's sort of a wholeness on a much higher level. Everything is included now. I don't have to blank out things in order to enjoy, I enjoy the whole, which includes my analysis and my critical observations.
And when I hear something that is JUST RIGHT, there is satisfaction on a level that few of my friends can comprehend.

So I would advise you to go higher, instead of buying a blurry home hifi or something. And yes, don't obsess. On anything.


Another thing that I recommend to all my assistants is the approach of: Why is this the best way it can be? Why did they do it like this, and why is it great? Even though a lot of what's out there is indeed not done in the best way possible, this approach can open new dimensions for you.
I always suggest to assistants that they listen to music they don't like, and ask "Why is this great? Why do people love that? Why is it exactly as it should be?" It's not exactly the same thing as above, but it's related. Don't become a snob.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #30
I had an episode of this. I refurbished an old piano that someone had tuned half the keys a halfstep sharp. I had to retune it every week for about 6 months before it started to retain the tuning. For about a year after that minor pitch discrencies really bothered me. I'd grit my teeth when I heard Jr. High bands play.
Thankfully I got over it...

Music is there to elicit human emotion. Emotin doesn't care if the mix is perfect and the cymbal sound is smooth. I suggest going lo-fi, maybe a cheap bluetooth speaker, for non-work listening, so you re-learn how to listen to the song rather than the mix details.
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