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I have recorded dialogue to go into a computer game. The client insists that we take a "lowest common denominator" approach for mixing the audio. He wants to be biased towards the audio sounding good on $20 speakers or the ones built into laptops or monitors, knowing that means suboptimal results on high-end speaker systems. He's had a bad past experience with a sound designer where the audio sounded great in the designer's editing room, but bad when he played it on his laptop.

To me, that means: * higher compression (I'm thinking of following ACX standard, peak -3db, ~-20db RMS) * playing the audio on some cheap speaker, and messing with EQ so that lower-pitched voices in particular sound similar in volume to higher-pitched voices.

What would you do?

I would also appreciate if you try to explain operations clearly enough that I could google search for whatever term you use. I easily get lost in the terms audio engineers throw out, especially ones that don't search well, but I am always willing to learn.

  • I would practice mastering for many years and slowly over the course of time begin to understand how to make the final product sound good on as many different systems as possible. One important ingredient in that would be listening to the work on several different systems and making changes to learn through experience what works. I would also research audio mastering extensively and make sure I do some work every single day. – Todd Wilcox Feb 12 '16 at 12:40
  • seriously i've heard 20 $ decent speakers and 20$ crap speakers, the request is stupid. Just do the job, mix in the right environment master in the right environment . it's a hard thing that you have to teach the clients sometimes but this is such a bad decision. The guy who is going to make the review of his game, is not going to have a 20$ speaker system, it's much better to aim for headphones rather than cheap computer speakers.. – frcake Feb 16 '16 at 7:19
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I would mix the tracks on Studio Monitors, but reference it with other game Dialogs, then check on the laptop and make the proper changes.

In doubt always reference. Grab 2 or 3 other tracks you like how they sound and mess with an EQ and a Compressor till you get there. Use an EQ match plugin if you need.

Another tip would be to increase the lows of the vocal since cheap speakers don't reach that very well. There's a plugin called MaxxBass, by Waves, which can help you on that (it's got a preset called Laptop), try watching some tutorials.

Hope it helps a little.

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If the client is asking you to target a particular hardware, do not mix on studio monitors as your primary platform - you mix on much smaller band-limited speakers such as auratones. Only monitor and check on larger speakers to check, but your primary mix environment should target your primary final output chain.

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