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Sound issue in mix playback

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Sound issue in mix playback

Postby JRocker » Fri Apr 02, 2021 2:32 am

I have a pair of Alesis M1 active 520 monitor speakers and I'm currently getting a synth sounding track mixed. I listened to the mix of my track and whenever the synth part begins to plays there's this kind of 'breaking up/distorting' sound happening.

Strange thing is, I can listen to the mix on other systems, on MP3 player, on headphones on stereo and that issue does not exist! Yet on my speakers it does. The mixer thinks the synth is heavy around the 250kHZ area and my speakers mustn't be able to cope with it. I've had other similar tracks that were bass heavy play with no issues in the past and when I play anything else on the same speakers, everything is perfect. It's just this particular synth part.

I have recorded through my phone the sound coming out of the speaker when the synth plays so you can hear the issue. Listen here:

https://a.tmp.ninja/kBMswhbq.mp3

What could be causing this issue?
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Re: Sound issue in mix playback

Postby The Elf » Fri Apr 02, 2021 8:46 am

There is definitely some heavy distortion on those bass notes, so I think the problem lies with whatever playback system is not revealing that.
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Re: Sound issue in mix playback

Postby JRocker » Fri Apr 02, 2021 11:21 am

The Elf wrote:There is definitely some heavy distortion on those bass notes, so I think the problem lies with whatever playback system is not revealing that.

Do you mean that my Alesis speakers are revealing the fact and the other systems are not?
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Re: Sound issue in mix playback

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Apr 02, 2021 11:26 am

No, that track is revealing a major problem with your speakers or their mounting.

Something is rattling in resonance. It could easily be something inside the speaker which has come loose over time -- the screws holding the drivers into the baffle, or the amplifier chassis into the back panel. It could be a resonance of the amplifier itself, or even the connecting wires inside the speaker rattling against something.

Or it could be a resonance of the speaker stands or something nearby on the desktop nor shelf the speakers are placed on.

It possible that it is being triggered by some ultra-low frequency component in the signal that you're unaware of, so it would be worth checking on a spectrum analyser to see what's going on.
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Re: Sound issue in mix playback

Postby The Elf » Fri Apr 02, 2021 3:51 pm

JRocker wrote:
The Elf wrote:There is definitely some heavy distortion on those bass notes, so I think the problem lies with whatever playback system is not revealing that.
Do you mean that my Alesis speakers are revealing the fact and the other systems are not?
I'm just saying that the distortion is definitely there, so your main monitors are telling you the truth. You'll need to get to the bottom of it.
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Re: Sound issue in mix playback

Postby CS70 » Fri Apr 02, 2021 4:15 pm

JRocker wrote:What could be causing this issue?

I once chased a problem like that for a couple days (distortion in speakers, not in headphones, phone or the hifi) before realizing that a certain frequency was causing a cup standing on the heater nearby my desk to rattle. :D

You could try to move the speakers someplace else and verify if the issue is still there...
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Re: Sound issue in mix playback

Postby blinddrew » Fri Apr 02, 2021 6:37 pm

Get the speakers rattling, then lift them up, one at a time. If the rattle stays then it's in the speaker, if it goes it's in the connection between the speaker and (via any stands, supports, desk etc) the floor.
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Re: Sound issue in mix playback

Postby Tim Gillett » Fri Apr 02, 2021 7:38 pm

The phone's recorded sound is heavy in the 200 - 300 Hz range, but normally modest speakers distort first on deeper bass than that but there's not much below about 200 Hz in that phone recording which seems a bit strange.

I'm trying to work out why the speakers rattle on this music but not normally. The mono phone recording will sum the two speaker sounds together. Is it possible the recording (not the phone recording) has a lot of out-of-phase deep bass in it? That could explain the lack of deep bass on the single mic recording even though the speakers may be separately struggling with too much deep bass.

Maybe your phone recording alsays reduces a lot of the deep bass as well.
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Re: Sound issue in mix playback

Postby JRocker » Fri Apr 02, 2021 8:30 pm

Thanks for all your responses so far, I will follow through all the suggestions and report back to you. It's strange that I've used these speakers for ten years and listened back to mixes that have been released commercially and sounded fantastic, (and double checked on o0ther systems as well to verify) and I can play anything else on these speakers and the breaking sound does not happen, yet on this particular track is has occurred...
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Re: Sound issue in mix playback

Postby JRocker » Fri Apr 02, 2021 8:39 pm

By the way, if this is indeed the case, why then can I pay the track unmixed in my DAW through the speakers (as I recorded them) without any issue of this breaking up sound, yet once the track is mixed and it's played through the same set of speakers, the issue arises?
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Re: Sound issue in mix playback

Postby CS70 » Fri Apr 02, 2021 8:52 pm

JRocker wrote:By the way, if this is indeed the case, why then can I pay the track unmixed in my DAW through the speakers (as I recorded them) without any issue of this breaking up sound, yet once the track is mixed and it's played through the same set of speakers, the issue arises?

Hard to say. In my case, the cup had been forgotten on the heater just recently, the heat has made the water evaporate and suddenly I had an empty hand-made ceramic up over a ceramic little dish which was prone to vibration. :) And that had not been there before.

Not an expert at all of sympathetic vibrations, but out of physics I would guess they occur only when a specific narrow frequency band keeps having enough energy for enough time.

But of course it could be something else entirely, I mentioned it because it just hadn't occurred to me at all, back then, that the reason had nothing to do neither with the music nor the playback system itself.
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Re: Sound issue in mix playback

Postby Guest » Sat Apr 03, 2021 12:35 am

Well, if it only happens on this track, and only on the mix, then somethin' ain't right. Try pulling things out one at a time until the noise stops, or as you allude to a specific synth, perhaps the instrument's gain structure is fubar?
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Re: Sound issue in mix playback

Postby Tim Gillett » Sat Apr 03, 2021 2:17 am

JRocker wrote:By the way, if this is indeed the case, why then can I play the track unmixed in my DAW through the speakers (as I recorded them) without any issue of this breaking up sound,
yet once the track is mixed and it's played through the same set of speakers, the issue arises?

Then it has to be related to the mix.

A symptom and its cause are not the same thing. The phone recording contains the rattling sound but may have removed clues as to the underlying cause of the rattling. You know the speakers play all other stuff OK. So the speakers and the room are probably OK.

Apart from it being related to the mix is the fact that you've only given us the phone recording. Any chance of a sample file of the (I assume) stereo mix which the speakers were playing?
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Re: Sound issue in mix playback

Postby JRocker » Sat Apr 03, 2021 8:49 am

Tim Gillett said ..
>Any chance of a sample file of the (I assume) stereo mix which the speakers were playing?<

Great idea Tim! Then you can tell me if its related to the mix.

Here's the link to listen to the synth section where the issue is:

https://a.tmp.ninja/lPGDYBdj.mp3
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Re: Sound issue in mix playback

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Apr 03, 2021 11:11 am

If you look at that clip on a spectrograph or spectrum analyser, there are transients at each chord change with frequency components that go right down to single-Hz. There's also quite a bit of stuff floating around all the time in the 45 - 55Hz area.

Both of those are the kind of elements that will upset some speakers.

Here's a screen grab from RX8 with the (vertical) frequency scale showing the range from 1 to 200Hz. You can see the strong horizontal line at 50Hz-ish, as well as the vertical transient spikes on chord changes that go all the way down...

JRROCK.png


For the record, though (and ignoring the odd noise-burst at the beginning), your clip plays without any nasty (unintended) noises on all of my systems here.
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