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Is the highest Instrument always the most audible Instrument ?

nuyo

Active Member
I'm analyzing other mixes to find out why my stuff sucks. ^^
What I noticed is that when I listend to them on a very low level, I usually hear the highest Instrument (that plays the melody) and the percussion. That isn't the case in my bad mixes.
Could this be some kind of rule ? At least in the Orchestral World ?
 

kmaster

Sleepy Member
Audibility is as much a psychological construct as it is a physical one.

I think a better question would be why other mixes, turned down low, exhibit this behavior.

My guess is that you're hearing the high elements due to the equal-loudness contour, which shows that elements with content in the ~ 2kHz - ~ 5kHz band are much more 'audible' at lower levels than other frequencies—in other words, humans hear this range most clearly and effectively.

Percussion transients tend to be in this range, as well, which should make them more 'audible', but I would also hazard a guess as to the relative dynamics within the mix itself: the transients of the percussion probably also have more signal strength than other elements in the mix. (If the waveform is spiky, then this is true; if it's a sausage/brick, then it probably isn't).

Both of these are 'rules' to the extent that humans perceive sound similarly from one human to another, at least in part due to the laws of physics and our own physical construction. But there are definitely psychological factors at play, too, and listening to music at different volume levels (as you are) helps to strip away some of the issues that are masked by that psychology.
 
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nuyo

nuyo

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I think a better question would be why other mixes, turned down low, exhibit this behavior.

The thing is that my mixes have more audible stuff in the mid range (at the same level) than other peoples mixes that sound better (to my ears).
 

kmaster

Sleepy Member
Can you post an example of a track you feel does well, and a track of yours you feel is lacking?
 

gamma-ut

Senior Member
I'm analyzing other mixes to find out why my stuff sucks. ^^
What I noticed is that when I listend to them on a very low level, I usually hear the highest Instrument (that plays the melody) and the percussion. That isn't the case in my bad mixes.
Could this be some kind of rule ? At least in the Orchestral World ?

The Fletcher-Munson curve has a pronounced effect on apparent audibility at low listening levels. You're not necessarily hearing the highest-pitched elements but those with a fair amount of energy between 1kHz and 3kHz when things are quiet. The brain tends to favour this area because it's where speech intelligibility is: it's why we can hear whispers even with a fair amount of background noise. The curve flattens out at high listening levels. You're probably mixing the mids too high so everything sounds boxy and "demo-like".
 
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