Why my song does not translate well played live


Hi Everyone,

Before I started taking Daniel Wyatt’s classes I played some of my songs out live at a performance. They sounded pretty good on my speakers at home and in car but in the performance they sounded shrill, incoherent and just plain awful. The other producers’ tracks who performed that night sounded fine. Would anyone be so kind as to listen to a moment of my track and perhaps tell me why this could be? I would much appreciate this!!
Here is the track:

ON this track I used a ton of Ozone’s harmonic exciter module when mastering.

Thank you in advance!! You guys are all so talented very inspirational to hear your songs in office ours and other places!


Hey Jacob, I am sat in ‘departures’ currently travelling back to the UK. I will check out the link when I get back. However, this is a classic reason for using reference tracks. Did you have any good reference tracks that you kept checking against throughout your mixing and mastering process?

I used to see ‘listening’ to someone else’s track whilst trying to do my own as a delay and distraction. Yeah right! It is crucial. I even use them as a visual check on frequency and levels now.


Hey jmfriedman!

I listened to the track you linked above with your questions. My ear was definitely hearing what you described which was some harshness in the upper mids - highs resulting in a bit of a shrill sound as you also stated. You may have actually answered part of your own question when you mentioned that you “used a ton of Ozone’s harmonic exciter module when mastering.” The Ozone harmonic exciter is an awesome saturation tool I find especially in mastering, but I’ve also encountered that when you push that module too hard it does result in a very harsh, shrill, and/or piercing sound. It can honestly end up destroying an otherwise beautiful mix/master if too much is applied. So with that said, I would start there and revisit the Ozone Harmonic Exciter and bypass that on and off to hear how its affecting the overall mix/master. Then take action from there by either deciding to remove it completely from the chain, or maybe rather dial back what you did with either less saturation amount and/or playing with the dry/wet knobs. I also noticed with the vocals in your track that there are some prominent sibilance issues. Harsh “sshh” type spikes. So if the revisions with the Harmonic Exciter do not solve the sibilance issues with the vocal, I would advise that you also revisit the vocal treatments, most importantly and specifically Eq and De-essing for this problem. Elton’s statement about using Reference Tracks is also very much applicable here! Pick high quality wav references to compare levels, frequency neighborhoods, and even sonic details/textures, etc, with your own track. Let me know how it goes! Best of luck. :grinning:


Thanks a lot Kevin.
My name is Jacob by the way. I’ll go back and change my screen name

This seems like really valuable information! I can confess that I don’t use high quality references nearly enough in my mixing and mastering partially because I hear how amazing they sound and then get discouraged cause I don’t know how to achieve their sound.

I really like the reference track Daniel Wyatt uses in the mixing foundation practice stems.

I will keep practicing with these tips…

As Elton said, Rome wasn’t built in a day!

Jacob M Friedman



Just tying this post in with the one on sidechaining, I think there are three areas you could get more of a driving kick into this track. It needs bringing up in the mix (increase the gain), some more top end ‘click’ and bottom end ‘punch’ (have you used parallel drum buss compression?) and finally, you could duck this a lot more. All that said, remember this is all ‘to taste’, so these are pointers, but you choose how much of each to get the feel you want for the track.

Also, what DAW are you using? Not that I am opening up the DAW wars convo! Just that in Cubase, I have used VariAudio to ‘shift’ vocals slightly if needed to get them working with the ‘beat’ better. It is a painstaking task, but this slight timing adjustment will (should) be unnoticeable in the vocal line, but add more punctuation or bounce when in the mix. This is just me though and not an official MMWA technique! Could be interesting to hear other thoughts on this too?


Hi Jacob,
Hope you’re well, firstly, what a beautiful track. Producing something great (as you have), doesn’t come easy, so don’t feel down. I understand the feeling of you not wanting to compare your work against reference tracks, but that is how we all improve. For a producer, to create something great is the hardest part. The technical side of things we can learn. You have great creativity, so my advice is; have fun!


I really appreciate your advice Sean and taking the time to check out my track. And thank you for reminding me that creating music should always be fun and that the technical part will come in the process!

Jacob M Friedman


Sean should have his own ‘Column’ on here as the frustrated producer’s agony aunt! When I am not getting the time i need on my music and feeling ‘behind’ (whatever that means!), he is always there with his words of encouragement. Go @TheSheep!!


Nice to meet ya Jacob! Yeah I understand where you’re coming from but don’t get discouraged!!! Try to analyze the reference by separating it mentally into sections and go bit by bit in comparison to your track. For example: How does their kick sound in comparison to yours sonically? How does the sub/bass energy feel/sound in comparison to yours, percussion, synths, other instruments, cymbals, fx, vocals, etc etc and so on and so forth. Also, don’t get too wrapped up in trying to sound exactly like your references. Use them rather as a guide/checklist. Matching the energy is what you’re after really with referencing, so theres no need to lose your own sonic identity/preferences as long as it still sounds amazing! You got this man! Hit me up anytime. :smiley:


Thanks Kevin for these great ideas!

Jacob M Friedman


That advice is gold, just there! (And the other parts, but this is a key i think)