I've created great vocals on studio one, in wav format 32 bit at 44.1 khz.

Problem It only sounds good on headphones. It sounds distorted on bass and high notes.

Is it because the wav was created with left and right vocal sounds but the laptop speakers or cell phone don't' play music like that?


I need to create the music file for YouTube playback and I can't tell everyone to just use headphones.

  • 1
    This is really impossible to say without more detail of what you used to record, how you processed it, and what you're playing it back with. – Matthew Read Dec 28 '16 at 4:30

High end engineers do not use headphones for the final mixdown; you need decent quality speakers to do this. In addition, the speakers need to be chosen for the accuracy of the sound reproduction and placed properly in a neutral sounding room. It isn't hard to do this, it just takes some work, and there's lots of information online to do the job properly. Even an inexpensive pair of JBL studio monitors will give you a good mix, if placed properly. You don't need 32 bits for your recording; 24 bits is fine. If you are recroding for video, you should use 48 instead of 44.1; although most computers will decode 44.1 perfectly, 48 is the video standard.

  • All kinds of engineers use headphones for all kinds of things, but they won't only use headphones to evaluate a mix. Choosing bit depths and sample rates in a certain way has become less important as computing power has increased, and isn't really related to how a mix translates between reproduction systems and the question at hand. – Todd Wilcox Dec 28 '16 at 13:10
  • It is plausible that some playback software mangles 32-bit. The typical target is (was) 16-bit (AC3, dvd, redbook, dolby) – Yorik Dec 28 '16 at 17:19
  • "32 bit" usually means "32 bit floating point" which actually has only 23 bits of audio data, but automatically avoids most of the problems caused by incorrect level settings. Most modern VST software uses this 32-bit format internally by default - and some even a 64-bit version. But there is no point in exporting the "final mixdown" in 32-bit format, especially if it is going to be played on consumer-level hardware, and it's possible some (older) audio players would scramble it. – user19146 Dec 29 '16 at 0:34

This is normal. Mastering engineers make a living every day partly by making music sound good no matter how one listens to it. Different speakers and headphones emphasize different positive and negative qualities in audio. Balancing all of those qualities to make something sound the same no matter how one listens to it is a tremendous challenge and art form.

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