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Why don’t you mix to Mp3?!? Everybody else is doing it!

The usual answer: Why would ever do that?

For educated audio engineers that know the various compression ratios and degradation mp3 files have on music, the thought of mixing to mp3 can keep them up at night. Audio quality wise, mp3 files are the shadows of their former selves.

A normal 128 kbps(*shudder*) has a compression ratio of 11:1 compared to the normal CD quality of 1411 kbps. I never realized how bad this could sound until I A/B tested a mix I was doing inside my DAW with the mp3 bounce I was doing for the internet.

Oh, the Horror!

The bass had given up, ripped out of existence by the various filters and compressors that the mp3 codec uses. My spacious ambience was barely noticeable and the high-end sheen seemed to have given up “sheening.”

Why would I ever want to do that to my audio? Compress and distort it beyond recognition so that the audio quality I strove to create was all flushed down the drain?

Because That’s how People Listen to it

Everybody listens to music on mp3s today. Even though there has been a resurgence in vinyl records in the past few years we can safely say that vinyl pressing and the CD is dead or dying. Don’t get me wrong, I love nice album covers, vinyl records and good audio quality but that’s just not a profitable industry anymore.

Famous Producers Mix to Mp3

So why shouldn’t you? Niko Bolas, at the AES Producers and Engineering panel at the 2010 AES convention said that he always mixes for mp3. If his clients are going to be listening to the song in mp3 format his mixes better translate from his studio to the mp3 format. So when you are mixing a track for a client and you have to send him the mp3 over the internet, for instance, you better check out the mp3 file and make sure it sounds the way you want it to.

Hope for the Best

Mp3 isn’t all bad though. It’s not like it rips the song apart. If the song was good to begin with then there is not a lot an mp3 can do to destroy that. You might not want to burn your CDs with low quality mp3s but for instant uploads and easy streaming mp3 gets your song across.

Image by: Cszar

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About me

About Björgvin Benediktsson

I’m Björgvin Benediktsson. I’m a musician, audio engineer and best-selling author. I help musicians and producers make a greater impact with their music by teaching them how to produce and engineer themselves. I’ve taught thousands of up and coming home studio producers such as yourself how to make an impact with their music through Audio Issues since 2011.

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