With that said, I can still see a clear pattern on many of the songs that have been sent to me for mastering over the years. There are simply some recurring “problem frequencies” – which I thought I would highlight today. And that may be worth a closer look the next time you sit behind the levers.
The low base. The frequency range that almost always poses problems. Especially if you mix under less optimal conditions. Either there will be too much bass and the whole mix feels back heavy, or it will be too little and the music will feel lifeless and energetic.
But what instruments are really “needed” down here? Not very many actually. If it is about ordinary modern music, it is largely only the bass and bass keg that have the right to quarrel about the bottom.
A hot tip, in addition to making sure that other instruments do not have too much energy right here, is to put an equalizer on the master channel and set low-cut on everything below 80 Hz in the sides, with the mid / side function. In this way, the base and bass trunk get free play in the middle and bottom, which gives a considerably much clearer mix.
60-80 Hz: The low base.
Low midrange is a classic problem area because virtually all instruments have a lot of energy and fundamental frequencies here. Something you should naturally take care of, but also be vigilant about. If too much is cut off, the mix loses focus and feels easily eroded. At the same time, an excess of low intermediate register means that the mix becomes unclear and fuzzy.
It is simply a matter of deciding, as with the bottom line, which instruments should take up a little extra space – vocals, guitars and keyboards are obvious candidates. If you are sitting on a finished mix that feels unfocused and mushy, it is almost always better to start with the range around 300-400 Hz, before you turn on at the top. A mid / side eq can work wonders in this case as well, then listen to whether it is the sides or the middle that need to be adjusted (headphones make it easier). This will at the same time give the mix a feeling of more depth and breadth.
300-400 Hz: Low midrange.
The most sensitive area of the ear. Or at least the lower region of the ear’s more sensitive area, which actually extends up to 4000-4500 Hz. Here is a lot of clarity, but also the “intrusive” and sharp in a mix. Singing, guitars, keyboards and the vortex drum thrive here.
It is often not the song that needs to be adjusted here, but other instruments for the song to get the space it deserves. A nice reduction around 2000-4000 Hz on other instruments will give the whole mix a warmer appearance, while the song remains clear and centered. If this is what you are looking for. mid / side eq on the master channel of course also works here.
2000-3000 Hz: The most sensitive area of the ear.
Treble and hissing, but also glitter and shimmer. A sometimes forgotten frequency range, which “takes care of itself” but which at the same time can cause enormous problems. The song’s consonants (s, t, p, k and so on), cymbals, shakers, tambourines and other percussive instruments thrive here. At the same time, for example, electric guitars often have a lot of excess energy around 7000 Hz, especially if you use software amplifiers and do not record with tape microphones.
Always be careful with de-esses on the song – and sometimes just one is not enough! Zoom in on protruding treble peaks on other instruments and cut them off, with narrow Q-values. If too much 6000-8000 Hz disappears, however, the mix loses its luxury and transforms faster than you imagine into a “demo production”.
6000-8000 Hz: Treble and hissing, but also glitter and shimmer. Zoom in on protruding treble peaks on other instruments and cut them off, with narrow Q-values. If too much 6000-8000 Hz disappears, however, the mix loses its luxury and transforms faster than you imagine into a “demo production”.
What ?! Not 10kHz and up maybe you think? No, not really. In fact, if the above is adjusted correctly, the air will take care of itself. And so it is with that thing.
Feel free to ask questions or comment on the article in the comment field below, and we will spin the topic together. Or if you prefer to discuss mixing in the “Mixing and mastering” section of the Studios forum here!
Fredagstipset is a recurring series where Studio writer Jon Rinneby shares tips every Friday in, among other things, recording and mixing. Here you will find all Friday tips.