Equalization and Removing Unwanted Frequencies
There are so many ways we use EQ in our mixes, whether it be an effect, notching out harmful frequencies, adding energy to a track or simply removing what we actually don’t hear. Each instrument has a dedicated space in the frequency spectrum, for example; Bass is mostly found in the low frequency range whereas a hi-hat in the high frequency range. Cleaning up our tracks allows space for other instruments to breathe for example, applying a low shelf or high pass filter to a hi hat or vocal track to remove anything below 200 Hz will leave a clear area for our bass and kick to sit in.
Also clever use of EQ can be used to bring out certain sounds that aren’t sitting well in the mix without adding other characteristics at the same time, just by simply lifting the certain frequency needed.
Side Chain that Bass!!
A great way to get our kick coming through our bass, since they both occupy the low end frequency range, is to use some side chaining on the actual bassline. Making the kick trigger the side chain compressor will help it drop the dynamic volume a bit allowing our kick to punch right through the bass.
Vocal Automation or Rider
Vocals can be a nightmare to tame dynamically even when just using a compressor. Be sure to not forget that we can still automate the volume in much detail where needed if we still struggling with dynamics.
Now we are all set and in order to start our mix.
Where do we start? Well we can start anywhere but I normally prefer starting with the main tracks which in this case is the drums, vocals, then the instruments and final effects last.
1) Start by soloing our drum group. Then focusing on the kick I added and shaped the sound of the kick with a bit of EQ, not forgetting to roll of frequencies below 40 Hz. In this case my kick was very muddy so I removed a bit of 500 Hz as well. Next I added a plugin called Brainworx Boom, which adds some nice low end to our kick. After that I added Oxford’s Trans Mod to bring out some of the transient hits from the kick and last but not least I inserted a maximizer plug in setting the ceiling to about -0.2db so we don’t clip and dropping the threshold till our kick thumps.
2) Next I remove all low end frequencies from my claps, hats, shakers etc. which will be rolling of anything from around 100 – 300 Hz depending on the sound itself. Also I have side-chained and EQ’d the bass as per pic 3.
3) I have panned a lot of the higher freq cymbals to add interest and allow for stereo width to take place. I also have sent the hi hats to a verb buss, and set the settings on a 20 mix just to give it a bit more of brightness and depth. Overall I have sent my drums to a master buss with parallel comp mixed in. I’ve used the sausage fattener for a bit of fatness with colour.
4) Moving onto the instruments, I’ve applied certain EQ and compression settings to each instrument, but mainly because the piano was the main part that was to stand out the most. So I’ve added some energy with the EQ at around 2- 3 kHz as well as 1 kHz. Also the piano already had a nice stereo image to it which I left as is, but on the other hand I found the pad needed much more width and knowing that some of our vocals will be sitting in the middle as well as the left and right I added a stereo widener.
5) Let’s move onto our vox. After editing, tuning and levelling some of our vocals I added some automation on certain words that were giving the compressor a hard time controlling. I’ve also removed frequencies below 150hz as well as the vocal needed a lot of energy to come through the mix so I EQ’d it giving some energy around 2-3khz, removed muddiness around 300 Hz as well as added some nice brightness around 6-7khz.
Hope you enjoyed this technique.