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An E an F, any octave, sound different; I'm not deaf to pitch. This is about timbral quality: I can hear the difference between a plucked string and an eBow'd string, but I can't hear pick vs finger. I just leave EQ things on 12 o'clock for all bands because I don't notice the difference. If treble or bass is all the way up or down, I notice, but I don't discern 9 from 12 or 12 from 3. I don't notice chorus effects unless its cranked up enough to get that marshmallow (or beyond) sound; same with reverb that doesn't have its tail set to longer than the natural sustain of a note.

Why is this? Is this important? If I'm not "timbrally up to speed" with other people, will I be unable to produce good music?

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    I'd recommend hearing tests. Maybe your audible frequency spectrum is limited. – Tetsujin Feb 1 at 19:27
  • I agree with getting hearing tests. If you have an hearing or ear problem, you may be able to find a solution. – Heather S. Feb 1 at 20:52
  • It's also possible that your hearing on one side is compromised, or that your auditory processing is atypical. Both of these scenarios might have coping skills or accommodations that could help. (I have both and have found my ways of getting along.) First, get to know your equipment better (your ears and their functioning). Knowledge is power. – aparente001 Feb 2 at 8:34
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I think it depends on how much experience you have. Maybe you just aren't used to it enough. Most of the time the effects you mention aren't used to be heard as something separate, but rather to achieve very subtle differences.

From what you say, I think you might need more training paying attention and identifying all those subtleties that come when parameters are not at their maximum.

If treble or bass is all the way up or down, I notice, but I don't discern 9 from 12 or 12 from 3.

That's normal if you haven't yet achieved a great level of experience. Depending on the source, those differences may not be so easy to hear, too. If you have an especially resonant frequency, then 3 dB might be very noticeable, but somewhere else in the spectrum not so.

I don't notice chorus effects unless its cranked up enough to get that marshmallow (or beyond) sound

Again, I think it's normal. If you listen carefully, you may not discern that there's chorus, but maybe you can tell there's something there, that the sound isn't all dry.

same with reverb that doesn't have its tail set to longer than the natural sustain of a note.

It may seem to be part of the dry sound. I think with training you should be able to start to differentiate all the subtleties you're mentioning.


It all reminds me of my own experience when I was a total beginner, and what happened to other people I know: the training needed to recognize all the different things takes time.

I'd add that I think this is one of the reasons beginners tend to exaggerate all the effects and equalization (and everything!) in their mixes: because ones' ears are not trained to get all the subtleties yet, so everything ends being at extreme values: all or nothing.

Hope this helps!

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Maybe a physical hearing isue. Maybe just lack of experience. If it worries or limits you, sure, get your hearing checked.

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A hearing issue is very unlikely. Actual hearing deficiencies are easy to spot and would have hindered your daily life much sooner and in a much more obvious way (i.e asking people to repeat themselves all the time, cranking up the TV, ...)

A lot if not most professional music and mixers actually have some sort of hearing loss because of their job. But the brain adapts and compensates for this very well.

Your "problem" is due to a lack of experience. Practice, practice more and practice even more. And do remember that hearing things in a mix is much much trickier than you think because of all the masking that can occur. Example: your song has a cymbal that is too bright. It will likely mask out a lot of brightness from your reverbs, making them next to inaudible.

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