Don’t sweat it. They’re terrible speakers. If you’re listening there you aren’t really concerned with the highest playback quality. It just needs to be good enough and not completely collapse when played there.


What volume are you outputting from your master limiter? If -0.1, try -0.5 or some folks bounce out at -1db just to avoid this. I think the other issue could be too much low end in your mix. That part can be reproduced on the other systems you mention, but could be too much for the phone speaker distorts as it can’t output those frequencies the same way the other listening environments can. Good luck!


Have you referenced other mixes? Phone speaker distorting doesn’t matter if other mixes cause the same thing (my phone speaker distorts listening to anything), but if it is only your mix that makes it distort it could be too much low end/low mids.


If you play a sine wave on an iPhone at max volume, it will distort. iPhone speakers just distort horribly at high volumes, especially in the midrange


Phone speakers themselves are probably just distorting.


I wouldn't worry too much about it. phone speakers sucks in general, no matter how expensive a phone is. But that aside, I find that checking my mix with an EQ on my main out with high pass at 400Hz low pass at 4K helps improve my mix in various ways, sounding better on phones being one of them. Basically the idea is there are various speakers with different capabilities out there, mid range is about the only range in common in most speakers, so if you can get your mix to sound great only within this band, it generally sounds good everywhere, the extended high and low will be cherry on the top on systems that's capable of producing them. You might also want to check the dynamic range of your mix, phone speakers (tiny speakers in general) are extremely lacking in producing sounds with huge dynamic range, when you play a material with huge dynamic on phones, it either clips, or the quiet parts becomes almost inaudible, or the phone may have some kind of built in limiter that compress the living daylight out of your mix.


Well, congrats, you've learned that iPhone speakers are terrible. It's possible you need to compress something more, or manage your midrange better. But it's more possible the iPhone speakers are awful.


FWIW I have in my Mastering contract that I reserve the right to refuse revisions based on iPhone speakers. It’s just not worth worry or doing anything about. Totally compromised playback system unless you want to say bye to all the high mids.


How do you handle it when a customer comes to you and says something like “Look man, i appreciate that iphone speakers are terrible and we’re on the same page with that. But how come i can listen to x y or z reference tracks and they sound acceptable on any speaker i play them on, but your mix sounds terrible on the phone?”


Tl;dr you can’t make every mix clean on phone speakers without some very specific qualities or seriously diminishing the quality of the end product. — As far as how I handle it when ppl say they have reference tracks that don’t distort on phone speakers- I don’t know. It hasn’t happened yet. Usually I ask them to listen to ten of their favourite songs and tel me which ones don’t distort and then they tell me all of them did 😆 or like 9/10 did. In the hypothetical case comes up where they find a song that doesn’t and they’re still on about it, I *should* be able to explain why. For example, piano distorts easily. If you compare a song with piano to one without piano, you’re comparing apples to oranges. A million instrument/arrangement/mixing variations on this theme exist. Did they mix with lots of distortion/saturation? That might be it. Etc. Etc. Another point is that cutting the upper mids significantly can reduce the distortion. Perhaps their reference mix sounds clean because of that kind of aggressive cutting and they think it sounds “decent on all speakers” because they aren’t quite able to imagine/understand how much better music sounds with a more complete tonal balance. Sure it sounds “ok” but it’s still a big step down from its true potential. There are more factors as well, but the reality is that if you understand why things happen in audio you can explain them. The main thing is that I set their expectations in advance because it’s a huge waste of time to try and track these things down since all phone speakers respond slightly differently anyway. Clean it up for iPhone and it’ll still distort on a Samsung phone or whatever. Right? It’s a waste of everyone’s time and money. If mastering for phone speakers is super important, I offer a separate service called “social media mastering” and it’s an add-on charge and it’s me tweaking the tonality and checking on three phones until it sounds good on all three with the smallest cuts possible. Only two people have hired me for this service, most people just stop when I ask them to check out their favourite songs and see if they, too, distort. Because they almost all do unless they have some really specific circumstances that don’t work with every arrangement/mix style.


Great answer, thanks. I asked because i’m still at the point where i don’t know why the f some of my mixes fall apart on an iphone but the previous three didn’t. To me, sounding good on iphone is near the top of my priorities because i realized that i literally don’t know anybody that listens to music on anything other than their phone or tv if it’s not on spotify (to play in the car). At first i fought against that, but then i realize i do the same thing when people post mixes for feedback. Bruh i’m sitting on my couch rn, i’m not firing up the ol’ rig just to listen to your mix


You’re welcome!! A great way to start predicting when they will and won’t is to note which sounds have a lot of harmonics in the upper half of the mids. If the sounds are less harmonically dense they have a better chance of coming through clean. Some people choose sounds and arrangement styles specifically for loudness without artifacts, or to play clean on phone speakers. It can be something that you plan from the start and succeed at. But trying to make any old mix clean on phone is not generally going to work and there are wayyyy better things to work on than that. (Edit: unless like I say below you make it a part of selling yourself to clients) Sorry to hear about your circle of friends 😆 just kidding! If that’s a reality for you, maybe specializing in that sound can get you into a good niche. You can steal all the customers from me when I refuse to do it! I’m half joking but also half serious. in this day and age, finding a niche and getting killer at working within it is pretty important IMHO.


To confirm what others are suggesting about the iPhone speakers themselves distorting. You could try plugging some headphones into the iPhone (you may need an adapter or Bluetooth) and check there isn't any distortion there.


How do your reference tracks sound on the phone? Have you looked at the mix on an analyzer? You may have too much low-end energy for the phone to handle. (IPhone speakers really only go down to \~300hz.) Where does 50-80hz Crest? Try playing with a HPF with a 6db slope starting at about 100hz. Or a steeper slope lower. Try and find the balance between cleaning up the lowest bass and killing the low end on other sources. Good luck!


Yes sir, what I would do is add some saturation and back off the limiter a few db. Mix At one click below “full volume” on your phone. Keep your loudness in check because you may lose LUFS when it’s not necessary


iPhone speakers are set for normalised loudness playback Means playback on most platforms will be loud but won’t distort, but when you play the raw file (which haven’t yet been turned down by the likes of Spotify or YouTube), then they’re too loud for them there dimed iPhone speakers


I had this issue before. I mixed a song that distorted on my phone , but when I played same mix out of my bandmates phone it was crystal clear. My phone is a bit older then his so it’s def a phone speaker issue over ur mix. I tried to save it but cutting frequencies and it made the mix sound dull. Since then I’ve realized certain professional songs by artists I like also have distortion on my phone. Not all songs but there are a few. I don’t have any advice on how to approach this but just know that not all phones will distort, and newer phones get better and better sound quality . Good luck


Try referencing your mix in mono. Phone speakers are mono as are a lot of systems your music might get played out on, sometimes putting things in mono causes weird phasing and maybe distortion especially if you are making electronic music and making drastic eq changes or heavy stereo processing


iPhone 7 and after have multiple speakers and stereo is default playback. Obvs a pretty tight stereo field and also still low-ish quality but just wanted to point this out.


Yeah the optimal listening triangle for stereo speakers THAT close together is like your nose up against the screen. Holding your phone 12in away or more it’s gonna be pretty much mono


I dunno. You can use panning to separate instruments on an iPhone for 3-4 feet away just fine. But if you are using the stereo field for width (for instance, double tracked guitars hard left / hard right), it isn’t really going to sound big and wide (to your point).


Stop telling him not to mix on a phone. This isn’t an audiophile group and most people consume music on their phones.


Exactly. Mixing on a phone is useful for if people are gonna whip out their phone and “check out” your music standing next to you. It’s not a bad practice to anticipate how a lot of people will hear your stuff


"My Rolls Royce drives fine on nice asphalt and cobblestone, but it is a really rough ride when I take it out to the dirtbike trails." ... ;) Volume too loud (on the phone), probably. those tiny speakers are shit and should not be used to listen to anything, ever.


Don't listen to it on an iPhone




iPhone speakers suck. Mine crackle like crazy too. Also the stereo image is horrible due to the difference in power. When I play off of my phone I switch to mono.


Is your room treated?


Either too much bass (your mix speakers may deceive you in the lowest frequencies), or you are pushing the bounce levels too hot. Many people listen on iPads or worse, so they are a good test as to how it will be heard.


IPhone speakers are shit.


What phone do you have? Honestly, don’t shrug off a bad sounding mix on the phone. Cause it’s one of the most common ways people will hear your track. Play a reference track, does it still distort. Identify if it’s the specific phone causing the distortion or if it’s your track.


Everything distorts through iPhone speakers. You’re good


I know what you mean, my mixes do the same thing and regular music doesn’t and I can’t find why