Mixdown / Mastering audio anomaly when played through car audio system!


I have written, recorded and mixed a largely orchestral piece of music using BBC Symphony Orchestra CORE by Spitfire and all sounds good when I play it back in my studio. Nothing goes over 0db - in fact not much is over -2 or -3 db!

When I export it to WAV and MP3 all sounds good when I listen via my mp3 player (phone) and headphones as well as through a Sonus standalone speaker.

However when I playback in my car (Discovery 5 - Meridian system) I get what I can only describe as flattening of some sections of music - louder and ‘fuller’ sections even though they are not peaking over 0db: Its a little like compression or a limiter.

On the original mix and master I did use a little multi-band compression but no limiter as there was no need - nothing was over 0db.

I have tried all sorts of variations of the master process but nothing seems to alter how the playback sounds in the car. Spotify / itunes music plays back without this noticeable flattening. :crazy_face:

Of course if its just my car that’s something I will have to live with but…

My concern is that if my car does this will my music sound naff in other cars once its released or am I doing something wrong?
I have flattened all EQ settings in the car including the sub woofer and used Low Cut Filter set to filter 80Hz with a 24db/Oct filter slope to see if its sub sonic rumble that might be causing the issue.

Has anyone else experienced playback issues when listening to their work in a car and if so what was the solution if you found one? :thinking:

As I am new to mastering in CUBASE I’m open to all ideas / thoughts/ and suggestions (with the the exception of getting another car!!!) :joy:

Thanks for any pointers of ideas


Doesn’t the player in the use any compressor/limiter? I wouldn’t be surprised. To make sure the audio sounds good in all the environments and noises, which are around the car… I would use a compressor in a car, if I would be a sound designer for any car brand.

Check this

Just to be clear - I’m not affilliated with Slate Audio in any way, but this software/hardware has been invaluable for me for ensuring accurate translation:

Huge amounts of love from seasoned pros and others on this huge Gearspace thread:


Thank you for all the responses - very useful. :+1:t2:

By process of elimination it does seem like there is some kind of automatic volume reduction within the car audio system (or even :green_apple:CarPlay?); it plays back as expected on many other systems and headphones.

So in a few days it should be up and running on itunes etc fingers crossed! :crossed_fingers:t2: