Can Har-Bal support all the low latency drivers (WDM, ASIO, MME)

Currently it supports all drivers that will work with Microsoft Windows and Mac.

Can I analyze a “source” (like my favorite CD) and also my “destination” (my latest mix) and then “morph”? Or is the “source” always the same, something that provides for the best end result?

That depends upon what you consider as morphing. What Har-Bal does is analyze and display the average spectrum energy of the entire track. You can overlay the average spectrum of a reference track on the same graph (your favorite CD) as the source you wish to Harmonically Balance (my latest mix).
Then you can adjust your average spectrum to match the reference and Har-Bal will create the filter to do just that (that is you don’t design the EQ filter directly, rather indirectly). Now if this is what you mean by morphing then Har-Bal does this.

Please note though, making a carbon copy spectrum of one track using another will usually give less than impressive results and for good reason.

To give a simple explanation, matching the spectrum exactly does not work because each track will have energy concentrated in different areas (i.e.. because they are playing different notes, they may be using different instruments, they may have unique colorations due to room acoustics etc). By doing an exact carbon copy there is a high likelihood that you’ll just be amplifying the background noise.

Can I create and save presets?

It depends on what you mean by a preset. The notion of a preset in the popular sense does not exist in Har-Bal and for good reason.

We have found through extensive testing that while you can make a one button preset work with some success the results obtainable are far from optimal and usually far worse than what you could obtain through custom adjustment of Har-Bal. As such we have deliberately left out a filter level preset until such time as we can come up with a mechanism that will work satisfactorily at least 95% of the time.
The fact is that because of the way the user interface is structured it is generally very easy to construct as satisfactory EQ filter for a given track so lacking a filter preset is not much of a penalty.

Can I harbalize individual instruments?

The answer in short is yes, you can Harbalize individual instruments but the references supplied with the product will be of no use for this purpose, basically because the spectrum with an individual instrument will generally be narrower and confined to a more limited range. That being said you can still use it to alter the sounds of individual instruments to taste.

Whether you will get substantially better results that way is debatable, basically because it is hard to know how it should be altered to give the desired end result when the instruments haven’t been combined yet. What I would argue though, is that it would definitely be beneficial to use the spectrum analysis results of a given mix down to verify that it is well put together and if not make adjustments to your mixer settings to get the right general form for the final mix down.

Once you’ve tweaked it as best you can you can then use a Har-Bal filter to apply the final polish to the mix.

Can the EQ be used in a subtractive way to remove noise?

No, you should always use a noise filter first.

Do you have any sample videos I can view?

Sample and tutorial videos can be viewed [here].

Hi, I bought Har-bal not to long ago and paid $175, now I see it is $125. Is it possible you can match the price and refund the difference?

Price matching will be honored only if the customer makes a request within 14 days of purchase.

How can you tell if your tracks are level?

Within Har-Bal you can check your level by looking at the bottom right of your program. It is the second set of numbers from the right (Track power figure of merit). This is how you can check the loudness of your songs without losing your eardrums. Most commercial songs will be between -9.00 and -13db.

How come I don’t see a reference file named Rap? Are you guys nuts!!

HB3 has .hbref files instead which you create using the “File/Export as reference” menu command.

How come the price for Har-Bal is so low since it works so well? You people should charge more for your program like everyone else. People are going to think it is cheap.

Why?? Software does not have to be expensive to be good. After all you are downloading the file from our servers. Our overhead is decreased thus allowing us to can pass the savings on to our customers. Our reputation as a company that doesn’t gouge their customers is very important to us.

How come this program doesn’t look like a hardware component? I want to be able to change skins from time to time.

It is common place for audio related software tools to concentrate on appearances to the extent that many such products would seem to be imitating hardware products.

Our view is that the standard computer user interface devices (keyboard and mouse) offer the possibility of new, more efficient means of user control of audio applications that haven’t been fully exploited. We believe that our software should stand on its own merit and excel as software, not try and imitate hardware.

Perhaps we may investigate “skins” for Har-Bal in the future but it is not a priority. Our priority is providing the best possible functionality and usability we can provide and to this end keeping up with appearances would simply take resources away from this aim.

To a large degree “skins” and other appearance technologies are more about product differentiation rather than real performance gains. While we have product differentiation through performance and capability do we really need to invest in “skins”?

How does it receive input? Via AES/EBU, SPDIF sound card or does it read Wav or Aiff type files and others?

Sound files (Wav and Aiff and others).

I am having an issue with my purchase of Har-Bal 3. It seems that my license is being denied or my order is not being acknowledged.

Do you mean that the software was working and now claims to be unlicensed or the software has only now been used and claims to be unlicensed? In the former this may happen if you happen to disable you network card and run Har-Bal. The key will then be invalidated and you’ll need to re-install the key (when the network card is enable) to have it work again. Also, if you change the network device or main hard drive volume name the license binding may also become invalid, in which case you need to re-create the license.

For new installs the same applies, so you should be able to remedy the problem by re-creating and installing a new license key using the credentials from your invoice, namely:

Just make sure that there are no leading or trailing spaces in the name and order number fields as this will cause the request to fail. I’ve checked and you have enough license activations left to do so.

I bought my upgrade in January 2012 and often have the problem that I always need a new license to start Har-Bal but now I got a new one and there is a big problem because I can´t start the play engine after I tried the first error message is “failed driver begin play operation” after the second try the message is “failed to open driver”. I tried to check my preferences but all things are fine and ok and it works with other programs…

You are running an old version which had quite a few issues fixed in it. My first suggestion is to immediately download and install the latest version of the software, Har-Bal 3.0 release 4, which you can get from the original download link.

Log in using the customer name and order number from your invoice (the same as the credentials used to create the license key).

Be sure to uninstall the previous version before installing the new one and if you change from a 32 bit to 64 bit version or visa-versa then you will need to re-create the license key. I’d also recommend deleting the HarBal.ini which you can find in the folder,

C:\Users\{your user name}\AppData\Local\Har-Bal\Har-Bal 3.0

It might also help if you delete all the intermediate files that Har-Bal created (.hba, .hbfs, .hbfr and .hbir files).

I clicked on the Pan Cursor and moved my song from my view and now I can’t get it back or see it anymore. What am I suppose to do now?

Go to the toolbar on the menu and click on “graph/zoom all” or right click anywhere on the graph and click on “zoom all”. This will return your view as it looked initially.

I downloaded my purchase onto a friend’s computer and saved it to a zip drive to put into my XP studio computer. When I got it into my XP computer, it says I need a license key and it says that I have no network card. What does that mean?

If you want to run Har-Bal you must have an active network device on the computer. We use it for licensing purposes. That does not mean you need to be connected to the internet. If you don’t have one or have disabled it, either re-enable it, or purchase a USB Ethernet device to use as a dongle. See below for more information. This was in the “How to Install” link on the web site where you downloaded the software from.

I have both the 32bit and 64bit versions on my machine and Har-Bal 3.0 is not working.

You can only install one or the other. You cannot have both versions on the same machine.

I heard that Har-Bal will allow you to adjust a sound at any point in the frequency spectrum to infinity at any direction.

That is correct. You can drag your screen view in any direction to infinity. You can return the screen to its original state by going to the menu and clicking on Graph/Zoom all or right clicking on the graph and choosing “Zoom all”.

I just reinstalled Har-Bal 3.0 on my new machine and my old Har-Bal 3.0 license is not working.

When you reinstall Har-Bal 3.0 you will be prompted to create or install a license. Please choose “Create a license”, and follow the instructions.

I know very little about sound, but I am interested in learning more and getting a home studio setup for music production.

Could you recommend any suitable Studio Monitors that are ideal for home DJing and production work for use with Har-Bal? Are Mackie and Tannoy good suitable speakers? What should I be looking for in studio monitors?

For mastering monitors, you should be looking for speakers with good imaging and preferably a uniform and controlled frequency response from 50Hz up to 20kHz. You can get away with smaller sized speakers as monitors but you have to be very careful about what you do at the low frequency end of the spectrum with bookshelf speakers : They usually just don’t have any useful output below 80-90Hz which can lead to muddy sounding mixes if you happen to play your recording on a system that does reproduce down to 50Hz.

The brand names you mentioned are extremely capable models. Probably the most important thing is to know the sound of your speakers and to do this you need some reference material that you know well enough to know what it sounds like. Then just use this to evaluate each speaker you try out. Probably the easiest way to get an idea of the way it should sound (if you don’t have someone’s monitors as a reference) is through a good quality pair of headphones (Sennheiser for example). But beware that the way things sound in headphones is somewhat different than with speakers (mainly the imaging). Just concentrate on the tonality.

I run a recording studio in South America, and became very interested in Har-Bal for doing “client mix versions” before sending the material to the mastering facility. Is there any demo version which I can test so I can verify if it will fulfil what I need?

There is a demo player application with filters to demonstrate the capabilities of Har-Bal that you can obtain below:

If you want to be able to demo it on your own material then you have to buy it and exercise the money back guarantee should you find it unsuitable for your needs. There is no fully functional demo and we don’t intend making one available in the future.

Is Har-Bal a stand alone application? If not, what kind of plug-in is it?

It is a standalone application that works on sound files (wide range of supported file formats). As a standalone application it has certain capabilities that would simply not be possible as a plugin and that is why we developed it as a standalone application. There are not immediate plans to develop a plugin version of Har-Bal simply because the plugin context is too restrictive.

Is the registered copy 24 bit 96K?

Har-Bal is not bit rate specific, provided that your hardware and windows MME drivers support 96kHz Har-Bal will also.

Isn’t this just a Digital Fletcher-Munson loudness knob?

Absolutely not! The only thing Har-Bal does automatically is to apply a level change to you track to compensate for the change in perceived loudness caused by your filter design. It is no different to a mastering engineer with conventional gear using his master fader to lift or lower the levels to compensate for changes made by the EQ stage. The only difference here is that Har-Bal does it automatically for you.

Looks like a Steinberg Free Filter rip-off to me!

Not anymore! Har-Bal 2.3 did similar things to the Free Filter plugin but with significant differences. Har-Bal 3 does things Free Filter cannot do : track splitting and complex filters, mid-side processing and spatialising Har-Bal air just to name a few differences.

Har-Bal is stand-alone which affords it a degree of usability that is not possible with a plugin.

The way you design an EQ filter in Har-Bal is totally different and more flexible. Free Filter is constrained to 1/3 octave. Har-Bal has no such constraint.

The way Steinberg’s Free Filter and Har-Bal assess the spectral content of the music is very different too. Har-Bal works off the average of the entire track because the average of the entire track will best describe peaks that will cause listening fatigue. Looking at an RTA you get some idea but it isn’t as clear cut as an average for the entire track. Har-Bal also tracks the peak spectrum too.

The biggest difference as far as usability is concerned is compensating for perceived loudness effects which, as far as we’re aware, only Har-Bal does. What do we mean by that?

A simple example can be visualized as follows.

If you had a graphic EQ in front of you and you realized a particular frequency using only boost and on a parallel one you implemented the same frequency response using only cut. Now do an A/B test on both and which sounds better? Obviously the one that uses only boost because it is louder, although from an Eq’ing point of view they are identical!

You might say this is a trivial case and you should adjust the EQ to use nominally the same boost and cut and then you’d only have one “correct” frequency response. Wrong! This would only be true if the source material was largely “pink” and human hearing wasn’t frequency and level dependent! In performing mastering equalization neither of these assumptions are true so how do you account for the different perceived loudness in different EQ arrangements when performing A/B assessments? At worst you don’t and at best you guess. Neither approach is objective.

Har-Bal takes an educated guess which is objective and likely to be far less biased than any manual approach. It does so by calculating a loudness index for the pre and post equalization spectrums and adding or removing the appropriate gain to the EQ’d case to remove loudness related biases. It is an educated guess in the sense that the Zwicker loudness measure is only approximately indicative of human loudness perception but it’s a far better approximation than being left to your own devices.

Please tell me what is supposed to happen when i press the tab key and then left-mouse-click on the green line in select mode? I did this and nothing happened!

What will happen is the focus of the gain cursor will change from one plot to another. That is, when you first use it the trace that the gain cursor attaches itself to is the green one. If you press the tab key once while the left mouse button is down the gain cursor switches to the yellow trace (peak power) and if you press it again it switches to the red trace (geometric mean of the two). Note that it will only change focus while the left mouse button is down and you are using the gain cursor. There is a minor issue of the crosshair not actually updating correctly on some versions of windows that needs resolving but it you move the mouse after pressing the tab key it should show up on the next trace.

There are too many lines in Har-Bal and I only want to see the green line.

Har-Bal is completely configurable. Go to Graph/Options and change whichever line you don’t want to see to the background color. This will cause the line to disappear. You can also toggle the lines on/off at the switch located on the bottom right side of the screen. It is color coded.

What is the cost or policy on upgrades?

The introductory offer includes the same level of free upgrades as the full price. Our upgrade policy is to provide free upgrades of minor revisions and improvements and paid upgrades for major revisions & improvements. All bugs are fixed free.

What is the policy on upgrades?

I think there is room for improvement in this program and I hear upgrades are on the way. What happens if I purchase the software and find an upgrade comes out a few weeks later? Will I be entitled to free upgrades in the future?

Whether you will be entitled to a free upgrade will depend upon the nature of the release. Bug fix releases will be free of charge and some minor enhancement work will be too.

Major upgrades will require purchasing but at a reduced rate taking into account your other software purchases. As far as major upgrades are concerned, it is highly unlikely that you will purchase the current version to then only find out that the new version is released the following week. We will publicize it fully.

In any case, under these circumstances the price you pay for the upgrade will not be excessive.

What kind of output does it generate?

Same format as input.

What sampling rates and bit depths does it support? How wide is the internal data path? What is the precision of the EQ (24 bit, 32 bit, 64 bit, etc)?

Sampling rates are any; bit depths include 16,24 and 32 bit fixed point and 32 bit floating point formats; The signal processing is implemented using 64 bit floating point arithmetic.

What type of guarantee do you offer to back up your claims?

A 30 day (no questions asked) money back guarantee if you are not satisfied with the product.

When do you anticipate that a DirectX version of Har-Bal will be available? I do all my mastering work in Sound Forge 6, and it would be a lot more convenient if a plug-in was available.

We have no plans for a plugin. You can’t do what we want to do with Har-Bal as a plugin. The interfaces are too primitive in what they give you access to. It is important to note that it is difficult to “efficiently” support the mode of operation required for Har-Bal as a plugin, simply because the plugin interface does not give enough control/access to the source material as Har-Bal would require. It is possible to do something similar but the means of operating the software would be decidedly clunkier than the standalone version.

When making adjustments while playing a file, does the filter re-filter immediately or do you have to hit stop / toggle the EQ button or something?

During playback edits can be made and the change will be heard after the filter updates. The time it takes to update depends upon the speed of your machine and the complexity of the filter. When the filter is updating an animation is displayed in the status bar.

Where are all the reference files located?

The easiest process to use if you are unfamiliar with eq’ing would be to find similar music and extract it using the process below and create a reference that you can use as a guide

Or if references are important to you can create your own reference files.

Load a sound file that is consistent with your target genre and sound great and then simply use the “File/Export reference…” menu command to export the analysis snapshot to file. That file can then be opened as a reference.

To open a file as a reference load your regular track

Click on Open Reference

Click the browse button under the Source file choice.

Click the drop down under “Files of Type” and choose Reference Files *hbref*

Where exactly does Har-Bal fit into the mastering process?

Har-Bal is ideal for insuring that the spectral image on your track is ideal for the genre you are currently working on. You can also use to check the overall spectral balance of your track after you have completed your mastering.

Where should I do most of my processing in Har-Bal 3?

Generally speaking, you should confine most of your processing to the mid view. In this view the filter changes you make are applied to both mid and side channels simultaneously which is equivalent to applying the same filter response to both channels.

Left and Right views are typically not used for editing except in special circumstances or for an effect.

The side view you can use to alter the stereo image of the track. Boosting levels will widen the stereo image and cutting will narrow it. A commonly useful usage of the side filter is to monophy the bass by applying a low shelf filter with a knee at around 300Hz.

You can easily delete the files created by Har-Bal after each project completion by clicking on File/Close and the File/Manage Files delete.

Which sound card driver is Har-Bal using? I do not see an option in Har-Bal to choose.

Click on Option/Driver and choose your sound card.

HarBal supports ASIO, DirectX and multimedia drivers.

Why is it that monitor speakers don’t seem to thump through the floor as much as hi-fi speakers? Just curious.

One big problem when mixing is:
Is there enough bass in the mix? Is it too toppy, too squawky, too woolly and muffled?

Well, you don’t know. Even if you had God’s own monitors, you wouldn’t know, because your hearing adapts to the signal, especially if you’re working on a piece for a longer stretch. Your brain EQs your perception to make the sound bearable

As for bass: Normal monitors won’t play back as low as you need them to. You need a tool that will tell you what’s going on in the bass region that is out of your hearing range and your monitor’s playback range. Har-Bal is a mastering EQ and analyzer package for Windows PCs and Macs. First you analyze your mix. The analysis will show how tops, midrange and bass are distributed in your mix.

Now you load a world-class reference mix of a similar musical style, let’s say R&B if you’re doing R&B and you compare the graphs of your mix with the graph of the world-class reference mix.
Then you adjust the graph of your mix to a shape quite similar (similar, not exactly the same) to the reference mix´s graph.

Bob’s your uncle! You are rewarded with a mix that is 100% compatible with the rest of your music style’s greatest successes.

Not too bassy, not too toppy. No need to test it on a million different systems! Finished! And you can be confident that your piece will be played and not taken off the air because it just doesn’t cut it sound -wise. I bought Har-Bal and I recommend this software. They don’t pay me to write rave reports about it. I tried it and I found it worked.

Try it yourself and you will find that it will save you a lot of time and money, You don’t need world-class monitors to make world class mixes. That doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t like some world class monitors for myself

It does mean that world class monitors don’t solve the basic problem of subjective hearing. Har-Bal does, and that will take a great weight off your shoulders, believe you me!

Would you be so nice and share some Mid-Side tips to give “life” to a mono lead vocal (using your Har-Bal AIR feature)?

By definition, a mono track has no side component so mid-side processing can do nothing for you. All that you can do is to stereo’ise it using cross-coupled ambiance to simulate a space. In Har-Bal 3 using about 50% air should do that pretty well.

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