Harshness is a term that is often used in the audio industry. However, harshness can mean different things to different engineers.
So, what is harshness exactly?
Harshness is the result of an unbalanced audio core. The core is the frequency range which the human ear finds most sensitive, 2kHz - 5kHz. Balance in this range is essential for crafting a mix that translates.
The audio core is the frequency range which the human ear finds most sensitive, between 2kHz - 5kHz.
In 1933, Harvey Fletcher and Wilden A. Munson conducted the first research on the subject. They played a series of tones to determine the listener's perceived loudness at different frequencies. The results showed that the frequency response of the human ear is non-linear. The perception of different frequencies also varies based on the amplitude of a sound.
Mix translation is one of the most important aspects of music production. Often a mix sounds great in the studio but not when played on other speakers. The truth is that most listeners are using small cheap speakers to listen to music. This means that your mix needs to sound great on earbuds.
As part of our company's research, we interviewed over 100 audio engineers. 85% of these engineers told us that mix translation was their biggest problem. Engineers spend hours bouncing mixes between their studio, car, laptop, and home stereo. This guessing game results in wasted time and added frustration. Soundways developed the Core Production Workflow to help engineers deal with mix translation.