What to Edit with?! Speakers, Headphones, and What Type?

SOS: Okay – I just edited on desktop speakers and when I put on line it sounds like crap. On the desktop speakers had much more bass.

So how the/or what the heck is the [BEST] way to edit?? headphones? or desktop speakers? And what type(s)? :imp: arrrg!


–Well I have a pair of under $100 sony studio headphones – and various other headphones - down the line, to el cheapo’s. The only speakers I have are the one’s that gave a false bass–that when I edited with them–they basically had me strip the bass out!! -to sound right on them. Here are the tracks [removing offline soon]: Check out “Sunday Blues” /on top is–edit w/headphones, and below, crap sound with desktop speakers.
Well–I guess it depends what spkrs youre listening on??! [keep in mind im low-fi to start with/very low-fi/recorded on an ipod]. Which version sounds better to you? and what are you listening on? https://soundcloud.com/ronphilip
UPDATE: Yes of course what spkrs you edit with matter BUT I think I was on the right track anyway, editing a lot of the bass out. In hindsight I’ve changed my mind and actually like the desktop spkrs edit, which I’ve re-titled the Red Skull Version

If your budget is limited then you will may be better off with headphones. Dollar for dollar headphones will almost always have lower distortion and flatter frequency response. I also find that when using headphones I hear a lot of things that I don’t notice when listening to speakers. The downside of headphones is you will tend to mix things towards less stereo separation (because the headphones exaggerate that).

The laws of physics make it relatively easy to get good bass response in a small enclosed space (eg the gap between the earphones and your eardrum). But to fill a room good bass requires a big driver. As you discovered a lot of small speakers try to make up for the lack of truly deep base by adding a boost in the 150-200Hz region.

Also the acoustics of the room will make a big difference on how a set of speakers will sound. Listening to your recording I suspect your studio may be a relatively “live” space with lots of reflective surfaces. The reflections from hard surfaces can create resonances which will mess with the response from even the best speakers.

I listened to both tracks on both my relatively inexpensive Sony headphones, and on my Klipsch desktop+subwoofer system, and the one you mastered with headphones sounded better in both cases. The difference I notice is not so much the base, but the big difference in the treble equalization. The clip you mastered on the Altec Lansing’s has a significant increase in background hiss as well as much harsher sound both from the guitar and the sibilance in your voice. Your (presumably artistic) choice to not use the fuzz pedal on the guitar riffs in the headphone mastered track helps also.

You missed one step. Choose equipment you can stand to listen to.

The Hollywood sound people all use Sony MDR-7506 headphones. They do reveal all, but I can’t stand to listen to them for much over five minutes. They have other attributes as well. You can listen with one muff, they have one cable, etc. They make my ears bleed.

This is difficult. The director of engineering several jobs ago posted a joke. The standard speaker system is:
He wasn’t expecting an answer. It was funny because it pointed to the magnitude of the problem.

We posted a headphone list we all liked a while ago. I can’t find it just now.

I have three. Koss Pro4AA which are terrific headphones, but they weight as much as a Buick, Sennheiser HD414 which are no longer made, but they sound terrific and have no bass. I settled on Sennheiser EH150. They don’t have obvious bass boost or dip, they’re comfortable and seem to sound OK. They use a split cord and you can’t listen on one muff if that’s important to you.

I have a fuzzy rule of not trusting speaker systems you can lift with one hand.

I know someone with a Behringer speakers that were notable.
“I like that sound. Who made those speakers?”

They’re in a house 12-hour drive and one time zone away, so it will take a little research to figure out what they are.

I use Boston Acoustics CR6 speakers (no longer made) and a bass cabinet to help out the low end. The original design CR6 was a little wimpy in the bass, but I liked them. There is a new CR6 design I don’t like very much.


Hey great feedback–appreciate that. Yes I’ve concluded as well–the headphone’s is better.
-As far as good equipment to start[!]–have to wait on that–

-My headphones are MDR-XD100/SONY, and with catch words like “Studio Monitor Series headphones” they’s is better–and possibly this ‘experiment’ makes that more understandable–because I previously didn’t understand what makes a listening device “studio” or “monitor.”

–Learning the hard way/the right stuff is crucial. Luckily I found these headphones in a clearance fer cheap. Be glad when the price of recording devices go down–the portable recorders that is/rambling–thanks again. Good lesson.

There is another trick. Listen to music that you know and listen to several types of music. Listen to more than one headphone if you can. I lucked out and had access to several different headphones at work and I sat in a corner and tried them all. Of course, I can’t find the notes, but I do remember the cheapest ones had a pronounced bass boost. Those Sennheisers seem to be the sweet spot.

I was on vacation and needed to mix a sound track on my laptop, so I visited a book/music store and picked a set of Sony MDR-V150s from the display wall. They sounded reasonable and only after I cranked out several wimpy mixes did I find that the Sony’s have a bass bump.

Complicated by trying to judge musical quality on Jeep speakers (attached). Acoustically not my shining hour.

But I still have those mixes…

Screen Shot 2014-08-19 at 9.15.00 PM.png

I vote for distortion (via Audacity’s leveller ) …

It’s good for blues-vocal too : it makes the vocal sound like it was recorded on an ancient harmonica mic.

[ BTW the frequency analysis / spectrogram is the gold-standard : it’s not influenced by transducers or hearing deficits ]

There is a decent review of inexpensive headphones here: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/10-earphones-100-dollars,1564.html

NOOOOO! You’re joking, right? Distortion. sure, but The Leveller–NO! -no way -lol. :laughing:

Steve did make a distortion plugin for Audacity which has 10 types … Distortion effect

This one is something–quite untameable though–unless you want Metal

It’s the only one I’ve experimented with so far (Sunday Blues etc.)

it can produce very subtle distortion, in fact LESS distortion than the Leveler effect (which is not really supposed to be a distortion effect !)
Try the “Soft Distortion” setting with a small “Amount” setting if you want a subtle effect.
For a strong effect, try “Crazy Distortion”.
Each of the distortion types produce different overtones, so its worth experimenting.

This is the probably the best distortion guitar blues sound I’ve ever come across…


It was used as the opening theme for the History Channel’s “Men Who Built America”. To bad Blues Saraceno has nothing as gut bucket raunchy sounding in the rest of his repertoire.

Is there any software that can produce that kind of sound? Will Steve’s “Crazy Distortion” do it?

To answer the OP, I will confirm the Sony headphone edit is much better in retaining low end body to your voice. It even sounds good on both my Sony MDR V6 cans and my cheapo “it came with my 1999 GateWay computer” Altec Lansings sans its subwoofer. But I did have to adjust its bass knob back to its default top center mid position. Treble was maxed.

If you want your vocal to sound more like Saraceno try the “AM Radio” equalization curve in Audacity’s equalizer, (maybe even apply it twice). Then try Steve’s distortion on “Bright distortion” on about 15.

[ BTW IMO “Crazy Distortion” is only usable on music below settings of 5 ].

I’m currently remastering my lo-fi tracks once again! This time with EQ as my best weapon. So far on song 1 I’m doing, I’ve concluded my freq.‘s about 200Hz are way too up! (about 20 dB!) -And I’m comparing popular country blues song frequency analysis’ read-outs to try and get some idea what the curve should look like. I originally wanted to edit as little as possible to try and keep it pure (a pure sound)- but with my recording equipment and room(s) I’m recording in (and who know’s what… :laughing: ) they need help!

Had to give your Sony headphone edit a second listen and I hear the low end hum in your voice (200Hz?) but not in the guitar which sounds more like you had the mic and your voice near a flat surface or the mic laying inside a wide but shallow drum with the guitar pointing another direction. If that’s the sound you’re talking about, it’s going to be difficult editing that without affecting the texture of the guitar on strummed lower notes.

Here’s my editing attempt at emulating a 1936 recording using Robert Johnson’s Terraplane Blues’ waveform and frequency analysis as a guide.(mono WAV 48k 0826). And–recorded on an iPod–which is probably way worse than what they recorded Mr. Johnson on in that hotel room back in 1936.

UPDATE/SEE NEW VERSION (PREVIOUS REMOVED) https://soundcloud.com/ronphilip

Not Lo-Fi enough IMO . There’s a free plug-in called "JS Resonnateur " which can gives an ancient low-fi microphone sound. I used it on the “after” , ( settings: about 200Hz bandwidth at 3kHz) …

[ I believe the “Resonnateur” effect can also be achieved with Audacity’s equalizer].

Thanks, the Audacity page listed it but no link, so I found it online–hope it’s safe! Here’s the only place I found it (scroll to bottom): http://www.dllfreedownload.com/js-resonnateur-v1-0-dll-download/

Per you’re redo: I have to disagree, well as far as the quality of Robert Johnson’s catalogue --is not that cracky sounding anyway. I have heard some really cracky old songs before though. Anyway my target was Johnson’s Vocalion records, of course I don’t have one, just the CD compilation, The complete…’ or something. ANyway redid my “1936” version… AGAIN! Not happy with other (previous) attempt: https://soundcloud.com/ronphilip/slow-down-blues-vocalion-1936-version-take1

And here’s the frequency analysis and the targets’. I decided not to try and replicate the waveform, just freq.analysis, because it didn’t seem to work, but trying to achieve a similar freq. anal. did… more so, anyway.
Terraplane Blues.JPG

I use WOT services to see if a site is known to be risky,
but “dllfreedownload.com” is “Unknown” by WOT , also unrated by McAfee.

[ I’ve had a look but I can’t find the source I got it from , it was years ago ].

Increasing the “size” parameter on the frequency analysis reveals more detail …
comparison @ size 16384.gif

that plug-in didn’t help me (js resonnateur)–or I should say I didn’t like the results. Seems a good concept for a plug-in but didn’t fit -concept being replicating an old record. not necessarily scratches but the over-all narrow sound/or sound of the oldest records (1920’s 30’s–?). I think that plug-in was good to bring out a certain frequency, is all, ie, resonate a freq,–didn’t find one on the page either–anyway (maybe web search?). custom cutting eq seemed to work–for me. heres my eq I used (pic below). Another thing not sure on is bandwidth–that plugin had bandwidth option as well–didn’t seem to help either anyway. in this pic am I correct on the band width–somewhat? the bulk anyway. never had to research the meaning of bandwidth yet…

internet definition:
1.range of radio frequencies: a range of radio frequencies used in radio or telecommunications transmission and reception
2.communications capacity: the capacity, often measured in bits per second, of a communications channel, e.g. a connection to the Internet

still not sure… Terraplane Blues seemed to cut out at 4kHz --so would that be the “bandwith” of that particular recording? --4kHz or 3800Hz? (20Hz-4kHz)?
–update: http://wiki.audacityteam.org/wiki/Sample_Rates But still hard to grasp/for me.

Also, thinking the plot spectrums/freq. analysis’ you shared there trebor are not from the same as: RJ-Terraplane Blues, and Black Dog: Slow Down Blues Vocalion… Version 2–the last one I linked–the redo. Anywho–thanks for sharing- :smiley:

Found this plug-in… will try soon… heres a video 'bout it. careful it seemed loud!!–no RMS technology wYouTube or something. Blasted my ears: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3lu7fT729A8

UPDATE: This iZotope plug-in is not that great IMO -think best results done per song through the EQ with no one-size-fits-all template/plug-in able to do such. Plus I am interested in replicating a true studio sound from 1930’s, not a 1930’s record that has been damaged. Still experimenting with it though.
1936 EQ.JPG