Music Mix for “Smartphone” Use

In current times, you can not expect that your music will be listened to under ideal conditions (e.g. in a cinema or good speaker systems) but many people watch media and listen to music in less ideal situations. Of course you cannot predict where exactly your music will be heard but some formats (like writing a score for a mobile game) have a strong indication of what is to be expected. If there is a strong probability that your music will be listened to in less ideal situations you need to adjust the mix accordingly. There are two factors to keep in mind for that.

1.) Dynamic Range: Prefer to have a smaller dynamic range of your music so people don’t have to constatly readjust their volumes. This can be achieved during mixing but also during composition. Depending on what you’re writing for (e.g. a movie) the technical side of that might also be done during  the final mix but it might be a good idea to have an eye on that already during production of the music.

2.) Mono compatibility: Make sure that your music sounds “right” if it is converted to mono. If you use sounds that have a very wide stereo spread, they might disappear or become considerably softer when collapsed to mono changing the perceived mix drastically.

Additionally, of course you can not expect for such playback devices to have a wide frequency range, so anything else that you place in the extreme highs or more likely extreme lows (like sub bass rumbles) will be lost.

Of course you shouldn’t sacrifice too much musical expression just because there is a chance that people might listen to it on sub-optimal playback chains, still it is a good idea to not completely ignore that, too.

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