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Mastering for different computers

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I tried looking through that sticky mastering thread but couldn't find what I was looking for.

So I have this song and finished mastering it and it sounds great on my desktop computer: crystal clear, not muddy, distinct instruments.

But when I try to play it on my laptop (with the same (good) headphones), it sounded really muddy and unclear. So I tried mastering it on that, and although I couldn't get it sounded as good as the original, it was decent, but when I tried to play it on my old computer, it sounded like garbage.

It wasn't my speakers fault; I used the same headphones. It was the computers. They don't have any global EQ set or anything.

I only have 2 computers to test it on so I have no reference point. Maybe my laptop is just extra muddy. But my desktop just has an integrated sound card.

So should I just master for my desktop computer and leave it at that? What if a listener has a computer like my laptop, and it sounds really muddy? Do most of you test it on a lot of different speakers and computers and find a happy medium? I really like it on my desktop and I'm saddened to learn that it may end up sounded terrible to other people :(

Thanks.

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comparing your song to others can give you some good hints. If your song, AND every other song you play, sounds muddy on your laptop, well, you've found the problem.

prolly helps to have different reference points yes, anything from car stereos to cd players. dunno what the issue could actually be in your case, though.

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It wasn't my speakers fault; I used the same headphones. It was the computers. They don't have any global EQ set or anything.

It might've been the laptop's soundcard - quality of the D/A converters and the clock. A soundcard uses a clock to play back music - one that ticks at 44khz. Clock accuracy pretty much depends on how much money you pour into it, so do D/A converters, and if the speakers are tiny and crappy anyway, why bother using expensive stuff?

tl;dr version: laptops sound like shit anyway, so don't bother doing anything special for those, get good monitor speakers for your desktop and master on them.

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Hmm okay. I'll just stick with my desktop then. Yeah, I think most of my other songs were a bit muddy.

I'm still kind of uneasy though. Although better than my laptop, I doubt my desktop is a good point of reference.

Thanks for the help!

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Wait a second... I write all my music on my laptops, I dont even have a desktop. I use my good headphones on the laptop and have monitors hooked up to a soundcard with my decks which I check my final copy on. My quality isnt pro, but its not terrible, and my laptops is cheap (Dell) (well, expensive Dells, but still a Dell with onboard sound).

Dont assume its just the laptop, do some comparisons, with both headphones and speakers.

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Hm. Well, I tried it with 2 different headphones and they sound the same. I just hope it's my laptop that's muddy, not my desktop being very non-bassy. I'm sure it's fine, and that my desktop is a better representation of the world, but I'm afraid that it will sound muddy to some extent for most people. I'm really paranoid now :( I guess I'll just see what happens.

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There's a program out there that's dirt cheap and nearly completely resolves the issue of getting your songs to sound good on every set of speakers out there.

http://www.har-bal.com

I'm still learning how to use it properly, but so far it's been the best teaching tool ever for learning how to get my mixes sounding right anywhere I listen to them. The basic premise is that it shows you, visually, which frequencies are out of whack and will correct them for you without compromising quality and overall volume. It's pretty amazing. Check it out and see what you think.

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If your mastering on a computer or laptop with a crappy soundcard and a crappy set of speakers or headphones, your definatley going to miss alot in the mastering process. What sounds decent on a crappy output source will definatley show a bunch of flaws once you listen to it on a good pair of monitors. I'd just getting like a decent soundcard, nothing amazing. Maybe a good pair of headphones, AKG or senheiser, in and around the 100 dollar range.

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There's a program out there that's dirt cheap and nearly completely resolves the issue of getting your songs to sound good on every set of speakers out there.

http://www.har-bal.com

I'm still learning how to use it properly, but so far it's been the best teaching tool ever for learning how to get my mixes sounding right anywhere I listen to them. The basic premise is that it shows you, visually, which frequencies are out of whack and will correct them for you without compromising quality and overall volume. It's pretty amazing. Check it out and see what you think.

... I thought this was going to be a joke link.... looks pretty cool though

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