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SOLVED! Yet another mix down to mp3 question

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MikeDVI
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SOLVED! Yet another mix down to mp3 question

Postby MikeDVI » Wed Jul 25, 2018 6:41 pm

Hi all, this has been gone over 1000 times I know, but anyway to set the table here I do know that mixing to mp3 is not in our best interest due to compression...and "that compressed sound"

When I mix down demos to email out as mp3, on "some" of my playback devices they sound overly compressed, on others they are not too bad.

Generally, I don't use much compression,and none on mastering although on tracks with acoustic guitars there is some. And most of my tunes have alot of acoustic tracks. Wondering if that all adds up to too much?

Example - Song ABC mixed to mp3. On computer speakers, windows media player, way over the top compressed. On my old boom box, not too bad. If I burn it and take it to the car, no bad again. Laptop on bluetooth to a bose wave, decent. So, what is a happy medium? I would rather link folks on dropbox to wav files but my "customers" don't want the large files.

I suppose we all have to go through this, any advice?

Thanks Mike
Last edited by MikeDVI on Mon Aug 06, 2018 7:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Starship Krupa
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Re: Yet another mix down to mp3 question

Postby Starship Krupa » Wed Jul 25, 2018 11:35 pm

You could mix down to FLAC, which has the same quality as WAV but usually comes out about half the size of WAV, or you could check the settings you are using when you mix down to MP3.

Higher bitrate MP3 sounds quite different from lower bitrate.

Set your MP3 settings for Highest Quality at mixdown time and then check the resulting sound quality on the various devices.

My workflow for mixdown and distribution is to mix down to a lossless file format like WAV or FLAC, and then use MediaHuman Audio Converter to create whatever other file formats for distribution. For lossy, I prefer AAC (M4A) at 320 for distribution these days.
-Erik
___________
3.4 GHz i7-3770, 16G RAM, Win 10 64-bit, ATi Radeon HD 5770
2X PreSonus Firepods, Event 20/20's, Alesis Monitor Ones, Alesis Point Sevens
Mixcraft Pro Studio 8.5, Cakewalk by BandLab

MikeDVI
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Re: Yet another mix down to mp3 question

Postby MikeDVI » Thu Jul 26, 2018 4:23 am

Thanks Erik, will try out these ideas! They all sound good, I need to get with the times and off the mp3 bandwagon!

Mike

Lelik
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Re: Yet another mix down to mp3 question

Postby Lelik » Sat Jul 28, 2018 12:07 am

MikeDVI wrote:When I mix down demos to email out as mp3, on "some" of my playback devices they sound overly compressed, on others they are not too bad. ...
Generally, I don't use much compression,and none on mastering although on tracks with acoustic guitars there is some. And most of my tunes have alot of acoustic tracks. Wondering if that all adds up to too much? ...
Example - Song ABC mixed to mp3. On computer speakers, windows media player, way over the top compressed. On my old boom box, not too bad.


I don't understand if you mean audio lossy compression (artifacts) or dynamic range compression.
In the MP3 encoding, the frequency response and dynamic range are essentially unchanged, there's just more junk in the signal. That's because MP3 works not by reducing dynamic range or frequency response, but by discarding data that's less likely to be heard.

So, if you hear dynamic range compression, it isn't because of the MP3 encoding, but it is due to the audio equipment that for some reason adds that effect. Maybe when you listen through WindowsMediaPlayer your PC is adding that effect that you should disable somewhere. Did you try to listen to the same MP3 file reproducing it with your PC comparing MediaPlayer and Mixcraft for example?

If on the contrary you hear audio lossy compression artifacts, that is less clarity specially in the low and high frequencies or a kind of phaser effect in the sibilant sounds (cymbals or some vocals), you may try to use higher bitrates, such as 256 kbp/s or even higher.

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Mark Bliss
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Re: Yet another mix down to mp3 question

Postby Mark Bliss » Sat Jul 28, 2018 6:20 am

I had the same unsure reaction as @lelik. There seems to be some confusion between digital file compression and audio dynamic compression.
Two quite different things, and for me it makes the OP's questions unclear and confusing.
Lelik's reply generally outlines things well. Maybe some further/clearer questions?
Stay in tune, Mark

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MikeDVI
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Re: Yet another mix down to mp3 question

Postby MikeDVI » Mon Jul 30, 2018 7:02 am

OK guys, your additional questions are quite fair. For me to put a written version of what I hear may be another story...just a 'ol guitar player here...lol

What I hear is an overly compressed, or better said, a limited sound, where for example the song sounds as if it is "coming and going" or a "push pull" sound? To me this is akin to a compressor cranked way up and limiting louder passages, as if a kick drum or vocal line wants to come through loud and is being stopped short. But when it limits in this case, the whole song gets limited.

I did mix a song down to wave and mp3 for comparison, and playback is similar EQ wise. The wave did not have the pulsating or limited sound though.

Also checked media player etc, and do not see any additional enhancements listed as enabled. Double checked master track as well, all eq is off. Sounds like some experimenting on my part will get me closer to where this is coming from. The hands down worse offender is playback on the pc through media player.

Will continue the investigation.

Thanks for the assist!

Mike

aj113
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Re: Yet another mix down to mp3 question

Postby aj113 » Tue Jul 31, 2018 11:32 pm

MikeDVI wrote:...What I hear is an overly compressed, or better said, a limited sound, where for example the song sounds as if it is "coming and going" or a "push pull" sound? To me this is akin to a compressor cranked way up and limiting louder passages, as if a kick drum or vocal line wants to come through loud and is being stopped short...
To clarify, although it sounds to you like it's compressed/limited, it's not. The "compression" that takes place in converting to mp3 is nothing to do with compressors or limiters. It's more like when you "compress" any file by zipping it.

I did mix a song down to wave and mp3 for comparison, and playback is similar EQ wise. The wave did not have the pulsating or limited sound though.
What are your mp3 settings when you mix down to mp3? A low bit rate can cause many and varied issues; 320 kbps should produce a quality indistinguishable from a wav. A variable bit rate could also produce unstable results.

Also checked media player etc, and do not see any additional enhancements listed as enabled. Double checked master track as well, all eq is off. Sounds like some experimenting on my part will get me closer to where this is coming from. The hands down worse offender is playback on the pc through media player.
How does the file sound when you import it into a blank Mixcraft project and play it back?

Finally, have you considered mixing to FLAC? OK, the file size is not as small as mp3, but it's fully lossless, so its audio is identical to wav.

shakin_fingers
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Re: Yet another mix down to mp3 question

Postby shakin_fingers » Wed Aug 01, 2018 2:26 am

It's more like when you "compress" any file by zipping it.


Even more like converting a picture to JPEG: the more you compress (for MP3s that's reducing the bit rate) the more information gets lost. At some point you can start to see the effect. My ears seem to be able to detect MP3 compression-induced artefacts at bit rates below 320, albeit rarely at the higher end. Long sustained chords seem particularly vulnerable (like patches of unnatural looking sky in over-compressed JPEGs).

I kind suspect that the "mix" (for want of a better word) between instruments (or maybe it's more about frequencies) seems to be affected sometimes, but I may be fooling myself.

There's a decent layman's explanation at https://computer.howstuffworks.com/mp31.htm

Mike
Mike

MikeDVI
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SOLVED Re: Yet another mix down to mp3 question

Postby MikeDVI » Mon Aug 06, 2018 7:05 pm

As usual, all of your help has solved the issues. Why is it sometimes the most obvious is the most overlooked?

As many of you pointed out, my mixdown bitrate may have been to low (it was, at 192). By adjusting up to 320, the problems have gone away.

So, a big thanks to everyone for taking the time to drag me through this learning curve!

Mike

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Starship Krupa
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Re: SOLVED! Yet another mix down to mp3 question

Postby Starship Krupa » Tue Aug 07, 2018 2:00 am

Great news, Mike. It's a fine thing that memory is cheap enough and download speeds fast enough that we don't need to worry so much about filesize on people's portable devices, phones and so forth.

I have never sent out an MP3 or AAC at lower than 320, and usually use FLAC instead if I can.
-Erik
___________
3.4 GHz i7-3770, 16G RAM, Win 10 64-bit, ATi Radeon HD 5770
2X PreSonus Firepods, Event 20/20's, Alesis Monitor Ones, Alesis Point Sevens
Mixcraft Pro Studio 8.5, Cakewalk by BandLab

Ianpb
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Re: SOLVED! Yet another mix down to mp3 question

Postby Ianpb » Mon Aug 13, 2018 10:59 am

For MP3, you can use VBR - Variable Bit Rate - because it allows you to decide maximum and minimum bit rates, ie. how high you want to go for high frequency reproduction, and how low in the parts that don't need high bit rate. It's more efficient and you end up getting higher quality audio in a smaller file size.


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