Mixing for mobile


Emotion is my craft.
A huge greeting to the V.I Control community!

Since mobiles nowadays are common commodities and tools, and more and more applications require its audio to be handled adequately, I think this thread might be of some use.

I have to finish a few tracks for a mobile game (sound design included) and quite frankly, being my first, I am a bit unsure how to approach the audio optimization process. Please keep in mind that the game has a simple concept, not too many sounds will happen simultaneously, just tap here>the event x will happen and so on.

We are aware of the tiny speaker(s) that either phones or tablets have and that attention must be paid in order to not have unpleasant surprises coming out of them.

Do you guys have experience with this? If so, please offer a helping hand to little ol' me.

For example, how do you mix or master for this type of application?

Many anticipated thanks!

Marius Masalar

Composer, Tech Journalist
If a cue is mastered well, it should translate fine even to the tinny speakers on a phone. The big challenge is often to find an encoding that maintains decent quality while giving a small file size—still a concern for mobile games, not much for others.

Back to mixing, the struggle is that you have to make sure the music sounds good when they plug in a pair of headphones too, so if you start doing things to "optimize" for mobile speakers, it often comes at the expense of headphone fidelity, which is no good.

The only things that are generally applicable are to compress firmly, not put too much musical detail in the low end of the track, and make sure your highs aren't too hyped (they'll get shrill and tiresome coming out of tinny speakers).

Honestly though, the best thing to do is test. Bounce various mix options and listen to them all on your phone before you deliver.

There's rarely a one-size-fits-all solution in the mixing realm, and a lot of it is program dependant too...electronic tunes are going to be a different challenge than orchestral, and so on.


Emotion is my craft.
Completely agree with your points. Marius. Regarding the format, the engine is Unity so it is converting to a proprietary encoding method (rather mysterious to me), therefore it's not much of my concern, all I was asked was to keep my track duration strict to a certain length, for the rest of the story I was given the creative freedom which I thoroughly enjoy (who doesn't?).

I pretty much thought of the same guidelines, but I rather preferred to ask in case I was missing something more particular. Mastering is the art of compromise, as they say, so a balanced compromise it is.

I have a tablet and a few phones available, those should do enough for testing.

Thanks a bunch for your input, the virtual beer is on me! o-[][]-o