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Battling a Large Body of Water: Part 3 August 19, 2008

Posted by ConnorSmith in : Mixing, Project Studio, Projects , trackback

These are apparently not going in any particular order… sorry.

I would like to explore the idea of controlling your bass and low mid frequencies in the mix.

A big challenge I had when mixing this record down was getting rid of a muddy low end. In a record in this genre, there are a lot of instruments down there (multiple guitars playing low power chords, bass, kick drum, toms, lower vocals, elements of the scream, etc….). Everything needs to have its own space without muddying up the mix. At the same time, cutting too much out of the mix will undermine the sound’s power.

Your secret weapon in this fight is your hi-pass filter. Always try to cut things that aren’t needed. I noticed on my when mixing down the guitars, I always had a hi-pass filter engaged. Sometimes it was low (~100-150), but sometimes, it crept up even higher, towards the mid 200’s. This is ok! As long as it doesn’t kill/weaken the desired tone, this is a great way to start cleaning up your mix. This same concept applies to the vocals, toms, other instruments… Watch when putting a lot of hi-pass filters on your tracks. Too many with high ratio (like 18 or 24 db/octave) can actually introduce phase down there (which could be the subject of another article).

One of the hardest parts of the mix was getting the kick drum as bass to play nicely. Personally, I like to sit the kick drum in lower frequencies than I do my bass (for example, let’s say the bass drum is hitting hard around 60Hz, whereas the bass is up in the 80’s and 90’s Hz range. You can accomplish this by making cuts/boosts where you need them. You may look at the bass EQ below and say “what the heck is he doing using a hi-pass on the bass….? It’s the BASS?!”. But, this is not lunacy (at least I hope…). The non-aggressive hi-pass is what really separates the bass from the kick. The bass still has plenty of energy down there to sound like a bass. Just be careful not too cut too much out and make your bass player disappear.

Another good technique is to use cuts in the 175-300 area where appropriate. This is another area of the spectrum that can really start to get muddy. Guitars/vocals/drums can sometimes benefit from this. Be aware though: cutting too much of this will make everything sound weak, so proceed with caution.

To Be Continued extremely soon… need to get to work here….


The Studio Files


1. Russ - August 20, 2008

Good advice indeed. People tend to go a little bananas with these steep filters and worry about what the graph of the EQ curve looks like as opposed to how it sounds applied to the source. Using band-pass filters is a great way to help clean stuff up.

2. ConnorSmith - August 20, 2008

Yeah, learning bass management (not in the 5.1 sense) is a continuous journey.

I feel your pain this week too Russ… I heroically decided to backup everything, wipe all my drives, reinstall the operating system, programs, sample libraries etc….

As much as a pain as it is, I’ve had 2 drives crash in a month, plus I want a squeaky clean Pro Tools/Logic setup before I leave for MA in a few days.

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