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Human—Made Rock Mixes Feature Tight Relations Between Spectrum and Loudness

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Sophisticated production and mixing techniques in the rock music genre were developed in the second half of the 20th century, but there is no unified theory of mixing tracks. This paper explores the relationship between loudness and spectrum of individual tracks using an ad hoc 3-dimensional representation of spectra as applied to 55 rock multitracks. Given good monitoring conditions, i.e. at higher monitoring levels and on full-range monitors, comparatively brighter tracks are mixed softer, and comparatively darker tracks are mixed louder. Track loudness appears to be a linear function of its spectral centroid, and audio engineers appear to be concerned with the perceived spectral balance. On the other hand, given difficult monitoring conditions, i.e. at lower monitoring levels and on budget monitors, track spectrum and loudness are set conjointly so that each track is optimally understandable.

JAES Volume 62 Issue 10 pp. 643-653; October 2014
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