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I'm All Ears: What Do Untrained Listeners Perceive in a Raw Mix versus a Refined Mix?

Creative professionals spend time learning rules just to then break them. The standards established in the audio industry function under the collective understanding that there is not a single ‘correct’ way to produce music, but rather there exists a general consensus of what the ‘wrong’ way may be. To explore whether average music listeners hear details that audio engineers notice, I conducted semi-directed interviews with ten untrained listeners who compared a ‘raw mix’ and an industry standard ‘refined mix’ of two different songs. Results show that these untrained listeners do have a certain level of understanding of what they hear in a mix; the main difference compared with trained listeners is the vocabulary that they use to describe sound.

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AES - Audio Engineering Society