Compress orchestral VGM for phone?

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Hello Newgrounds Orchestral Composers!

MY QUESTION for you is that do you compress orchestra FOR PHONE speakers / PHONE games?

I mean, maybe you specifically mixed and mastered your track for iPhone and Android OS phones, specifically for their small speakers that is not easy to make orchestral sounds "pop out" of those small speakers. (In this case you know already that the game that you are composing for will be released only for iPhones and Android devices, so there is no need to mix and master to PC speakers for ex.)

Do you think that it is a bad idea to compress orchestral VGM specifically for phone speakers to make them "pop out" a little bit more?

(I know VGM is meant to be background music, but sometimes VGM's job is to "pop out" and catch the gamer's attention, or even shock them sometimes.)

Thank you for reading all these long lines, and have a nice day, I am very interested in your opinions!


My own example of what I mean on compressing orchestral VGM:
Get The Candy - Um Num (by Noise4Games)
(It is modelled (NOT copied :)) on Cut The Rope - Om Nom VGM.)

(Actually it's not a compressor, but the free George Yohng's W1 Limiter.)

Do you think it's too much limiting? Or is it good for phone games to do this?

Response to Compress orchestral VGM for phone? 2017-07-20 10:08:05

From what I've heard with Yoko Shimomura and her work, because she did compose for Kingdom Hearts Union X, for instance -- you DON'T compress. You don't need to. If your music is melody-heavy or mid-heavy, those will carry all by themselves. And if your game is music-intensive even if it's for mobile, you'd trust your players to put on the headphones and enjoy the sweet, sweet heavenly music that comes from it.

On older phones and tablets the speakers ain't that great so you'd just hear the upper half, but on newer devices, this isn't even an issue at all. I think both the Galaxy S8 and the new iPad Pro have amazing speakers; the bass carries extremely well, and this is likely where technology is headed. My recommendation: don't even bother.

Thank you for your reply!

Reading your reply made me thing that I should remaster my track.
(Actually it's just 1 single limiter, but I think it pushed too hard, but I wanted to try it and I sent it to my Dropbox, and downloaded it to my phone and it's sounded OK, but I still can hear a little bit of pumping that is cool for some electronic genres, but unacceptable for almost all the orchestral genres (maybe except for a few trailer music I guess :D, but still..)

Thanks for your tips again! I think I should try to follow the road of the pros like those Japanese composers you mentioned, and after I can get at least somewhat similar result, maybe I can experiment more.

Have a nice day!

Oh, not yet!!!!!! :)

Your reply made me have a new question about master loudness level FOR ORCHESTRAL music.

[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[NEW QUESTION HERE!]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]

Do you know what is an average number for like LUFS or maybe RMS level for orchestral music?

I've read (and tested a few songs too) that many electronic genres are around -9 or -7 dB RMS,
but I haven't found any reasonable info on orchestral final level. I don't want let it be toooooo quiet, but I am also NOT a loudness warrior :D

I just need a number.
(Don't worry, it won't mislead me, but it will give me a perspective, and 1 opinion, and I need A LOT of opinions now, because these is really new (and unknown) to me..)

(I can check the RMS for myself with SPAN for ex., (and I did), but the songs that I downloaded from the internet YouTube, SoundCloud and similar place, the orchestral soundtracks varied A LOT in terms of master loudness. some of them went below -30(!) dB, and some of them were almost as loud as an electronic track with -10dB (that was a trailer music tho)

[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[2nd NEW QUESTION HERE!]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]

What do you think what kind of RMS of LUFS levels would be appropriate for my "Cut The Rope"-style simple orchestra (or chamber music?) style music that has only a few instruments, and it is really melody focused?

Thanks for the third time, and have a nice day! :)

Response to Compress orchestral VGM for phone? 2017-07-20 18:11:43

At 7/20/17 11:45 AM, Noise4Games wrote: new questions

I will admit to not being a masterer and actually don't know what the dB RMS is meant to be. All I do know is that the actual mix itself probably needs to reflect what you'd want the final product to sound like (in terms of loudness as well). For a question on stuff like that, I think @MetalRenard may have a better answer than I do.

Response to Compress orchestral VGM for phone? 2017-07-20 22:37:44

Ah OK, no worries! I don't know either, that's why I came here :) Thanks anyway!
and thanks for calling somebody who might know about this RMS and LUFS thing,
it's a pain in the ... when I don't find any online solution or people just don't care about my questions (unlike you, thumbs up for your helpfulness! (y)),
Hopefully somebody can help me here, because I think there are many orchestral composers in the VGM world.

Response to Compress orchestral VGM for phone? 2017-07-21 05:08:44

Hey there. You're onto something here, well done. Also, Troisnyx, yes, you're right, people do sometimes listen to the music in the games they play via headphones so mixing for a single purpose would be pointless even more so considering the VASTNESS of variety (and quality) when it comes to Android phones.

This is a really long question to answer, especially if I take time to explain all the if, buts and whys so I'll keep it simple and you can fill in the rest with research.

1- Stereo and Mono
Phone speakers have two HUGE problems - most phones are MONO. Sony gets this right by putting two speakers in their phones but most others (including iphones!) are mono. This means your biggest priority when mixing for phone based games is making sure everything sounds good in stereo (for headphones) and mono (for speakers).

2 - Frequencies
Phone speakers (indeed all small speakers) cannot reproduce low frequency sounds. They can pretend to but not really to a good standard. This means anything below, let's say 100hz, will disappear. With that in mind, I would tidy up that area of the mix a lot, still make sure it's there but I don't want to run my compressors too hard on the master because my bass frequencies are overpowering it. This will help reduce the pumping you've complained about since bass frequencies are the most powerful. Control that and the rest will work better (and be louder!). If you want things to stick out more, play with the transients, this will make things "stand out" in the mix.

3 - Classical music, RMS and loudness
Electronic music is LOUD. As is metal and any other extreme or modern genre (including trailers - they're SO LOUD!).
True classical, however, is much quieter. There is a number somewhere which I don't remember of the top of my head, but the point is to give classical music HUGE dynamics. You can compress but I wouldn't do it much for classical.
Now if you're mixing a classical piece of music for a game... you need to find the right balance between dynamics and just being too damn quiet for anyone to hear you. Up to you!

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Response to Compress orchestral VGM for phone? 2017-07-21 05:21:07

At 7/20/17 10:37 PM, Noise4Games wrote: Ah OK, no worries! I don't know either, that's why I came here :) Thanks anyway!
and thanks for calling somebody who might know about this RMS and LUFS thing,
it's a pain in the ... when I don't find any online solution or people just don't care about my questions (unlike you, thumbs up for your helpfulness! (y)),
Hopefully somebody can help me here, because I think there are many orchestral composers in the VGM world.

Oh boi oh boi, here we go:
Basicaly there seems to be no loudness regulation for video games currently. I also don'r see much reason for that, as most video games tend to have internal level controls for the volume of the different audio parts of the game, which the user then sets accordingly to how they want it (Dialogue, Music, SoundFx ect). Another problem would be, how different engines handle sound in video games. I have actually no fuggen clue how it works internally, but I can guess that there are internal systems that avoid the game from clipping (reaching 0.0 dBFS), even if you have layered sounds (Music, multiple soundFX AND Dialogue... and no clipping). Another thing could be that voice overs automaticaly duck other layers of sound, including music.
About loudness, RMS, and LUFS: Currently, EBU r128 is trendy, mostly for TV and radio, but it also seems that Streaming and other services for music (iTunes, Spotify) also try to reduce the effects of the loudness war. However, I don't know if this is applyable for video game audio. The best thing you could actually do is: Master it for the best/highest quality medium that will be published: most probably the seperated OST release.

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WOW! Thats a lot to consider/learn for me! (to me?..)

Thank you for your infos Everybody!
I will try to think about/of your tips here and use them when I do my next VGM mix/master aimed for phones.

You're awesome, Newgrounds People! Thank you again!!