Adventures In Audio

One weird trick for monitoring your mix on a Bluetooth speaker

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If you're not monitoring your mix on an improperly positioned Bluetooth speaker, how do you know whether it sounds good to your listeners?

Automated transcript

Hi okay what we have here is what people call these days a speaker it's not quite quite what I would have recognized as a speaker from the olden days but this is the modern world as we can see it's a JBL it's a JBL flip flip foot so there we go that's the model of the speaker it's Bluetooth so that's how we're going to get the sound into it and I've had a little bit of a play with this already so I figured out how it works you play music into it and me as it comes out of it okay little just let up okay so it's got some a drive unit here so it's very difficult to see and it certainly doesn't feel any different but there's a direct drive unit there and there's a drive unit there so I'm guessing that as a sound engineer I should have put it like that so both drive units are equidistant from my ear so I've got left and I've got right and that's how I would like to listen to it

But people who are not sound engineers who are just music enthusiasts there which there are many they don't necessarily know that and perhaps they don't know how they're supposed to position it and if they're positioning it like that they're not going to get the optimum experience from it but maybe just by instinct they'll just realize it goes like that and in fact it just stand like that here we've got another drive unit looked a bit like a telescope isn't it you can see the moon with that and this in fact is a woofer so it's low frequencies come out of there and I've tested that I've tested it by putting my ear right next to it and what my ear tells me is that that is low frequencies and that is low frequencies from the other side so we've got four Drive units here and it's a Miss Tenny we've got left we've got right we've got low frequency left and we've got low frequency right so if I put it down there I can play some music from it how am I going to get the music into it well I'm going to use my trusty iPhone 6s plus I know it's not the latest but neither am I okay let's just hear some music or what some people might call music

Okay what you're hearing is mono because I've only got one microphone recording here and it's pointing directly at my my mouth obviously that's what you do with microphones and it's picking up the speaker slightly from the side but obviously you are going to be able to hear it just in mono but what I hear is not a bad sound at all to be honest from such a small gadget it's a very impressive sound it's very clear and it does have I'm not going to say a lot of bass but it's got a lot of low frequency content for its size so you could perfectly well listen to that and enjoy whatever music you're playing on it so what I do want to say that most definitely is that you have to expect your audience to be listening on speakers like this so if your mix sounds good to you on your monitors in the studio but it doesn't sound good on the speaker like this you're not pleasing your audience so that would be a bad thing

So it is really really important when you make a mix and get it as good as you can in your studio on your monitor loudspeakers and you need to take it to other listening destinations the car is a really good place if you've got a clunky old car with a rubbish stereo system that's a good place to listen to oddly enough if you've got a flash BMW with 28 Drive units and a guy did tell me they have to have that many drive units in a high-end okay fine it needs to sound good there as well it will sound different in these different locations but you want your mix to sound as good as it possibly can so headphones earbuds smart speaker Alexa Alexa hey Cerie Cerie novelist when this was not smart this was not smart at all not in the slightest so that's all well and good we can understand that and it's not too difficult to do but I saw somebody the other day with the speaker very very similar to this and they were not listening to it in the favorite sound engineer orientation they were listening like this okay I shouldn't laugh really because people buy these things for convenience and convenience is what they want convenience is what they get and if they like listening to it like this where's the home there's no harm in that at all people can do what they like it's a free world more or less at least how you listen to speakers

So all you need to do in this orientation is make sure that the JBL logo is to the front and then you'll hear the left music yeah you'll hear the left from here the right from here so it's kind of like a vertical stereo which is a strange thing but it's not necessarily a bad thing and first time in a theatre sound that would easily very easily be an application to have a vertical output in your stereo so you're going to get the sound from here and here you're going to get bass from here and I'll talk about what comes out of that in just a second thinking about bass is it has become conventional over the years if you've got if you've got left that's your left up belief I keep getting this wrong I know that's your left that's your right there's your left channel there's your right channel it's become traditional over the years to place based instruments in the center there are good reasons for that for the old fashioned vinyl records and they struggled if you had off-center bass technically and also if you're are mixing EDM for a club for a club you can actually get louder bass if it's coming from the center because then it's coming from both your left and right speaker assistance so there are good reasons for that but largely it's just become a tradition that the bass goes in the center so there will be bass coming out of that drive unit there and it probably will be enough for your needs I'm just going to listen to it again I know you can't hear the full effects but I'm going to try and describe it for you some more of that dreadful music

Okay it's surprisingly not bad the difference between that and that really is quite minimally so I've got the spacious sound to it it doesn't obviously it can't be left and right anymore and you know we do have up and down perception in our hearing system but it's not as acute as left and right obviously but it sounds spacious and in a sense pumping that bass out into the room you know get spreading it around the room it's not a bad thing but what's happening down here what's happening through this drive you know we just have a listen to that see I'm gonna do this so you don't have to

Yes that there is a surprising amount of bass coming through the the surface of the table so in fact in terms of coupling the base to the the air it could be I'm actually getting more based out of this bottom speaker that I'm getting out at the top because this was firing directly into the air there's no horn or waveguide or anything like that whereas this one's got this nice flat panel to act as a resonator so I could be getting bass India from that source but it looks all wrong and from a sound engineering point of view Tiffany is wrong but it's not as bad as you think it would be and if people do enjoy listening to music on a system like this I can hear those pings in the background that's just the Evo's coming in if people do listen like listening to a sound our system like this in this orientation good luck to them is all I'm gonna say but it comes back to monitoring that your mix has to sound good on a speaker positioned like this so they I'm gonna let you go away and digest that but it really is it's a bit this has been a bit of fun to be honest but it is an important topic you really do want your mix to sound as good as it can on every possible sound system so I'm David Mann I'm David Nullah course director of watch a master class thank you for listening

Thursday March 10, 2022

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David Mellor

David Mellor

David Mellor is CEO and Course Director of Audio Masterclass. David has designed courses in audio education and training since 1986 and is the publisher and principal writer of Adventures In Audio.

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