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Whenever I export a song and play it on normal speakers (phone, laptop, etc.), the high end is sort of there, but the full body of the song is lacking in a huge chunk of the high end, and as a result doesn't sound clear enough to be sonically satisfying. I've done some searching around and lots of sites say that it can be caused by a build up of low-end freq. in instruments that don't have much purpose in that area. I do narrow cuts accordingly in my mixes, but my songs just can't push their way into a fully clear sound on commercial speakers. Any tips/solutions?

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    What are you mixing in? What are you listening on? [If you're mixing on headphones… don't] Making portable mixes requires that at least your mix environment is flat. Beginners often need to carry mixes to many other playback systems before getting used to what defines a portable mix. We'd need to hear one to be able to say much more. Post to Soundcloud etc.
    – Tetsujin
    Apr 21 at 6:17
  • Use a reference to prevent you to adapt yourself to the bad mix you are putting together. Try to imitate track by track the frequency distribution and loudness of the relevant part in the reference. Have the reference (a prepared loop) instantly available during your mixing work as many times as you need. Gradually you develop your skills and finally you do not need the reference.
    – user287001
    Apr 24 at 1:19
  • "normal speakers (phone, laptop, etc.)" Lol. What is this world coming to?
    – ibonyun
    May 17 at 20:39
  • I think the most likely explanation for your troubles is that your monitoring situation is less than ideal. Headphones? Budget studio monitors in a small untreated room? It's not impossible to get good portable mixes with suboptimal monitoring, but it's certainly going to be much more difficult.
    – ibonyun
    May 17 at 20:42

2 Answers 2

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It is definitely better to cut than to add when EQ'ing. If the mix sounds "boxy", try cutting around 250 Hz. The "mud" is in the range 300-500 Hz.

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As @ibonyun is saying in his comment, very often, the problem here is the monitoring. When a mix sounds acceptably "fresh" on your monitors (no matter if headphones or speakers) but lacks the freshness on other systems, your monitors might simply be emphasizing the highs too much.

One thing you can always do: use reference tracks, over and over again. Think of a great sounding song. It does not need to be too similar musically, but the genre should fit and the overall sound should fit. Think of: "If my mix could sound as good as... (this reference track)." You might observe, that your reference tracks sound a bit too crisp on your monitors, which again then will confirm the hypothesis above. Use different reference tracks.

Another thing you can do (but this will cost you some money) : use a specialized tool on your monitors that compensates for crispness (plus other sound issues). Sonarworks has a good one that is widely accepted.

If you don't have the money for such a tool, you can try to compensate by using an EQ setting right before your monitor's audio output yourself. This may end up in a bit of guesswork, and the results may still lack in terms of quality, but perhaps you will improve at least a bit. A high-shelf dip with a wide Q might be the way to start. Use gentle settings, a little less gain compensation might help more.

Also, some monitors themselves have options to set highs and lows on their back. This is similar to using an EQ, but just inside the monitor's hardware.

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