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Once recording and editing are finished, audio engineers can take advantage of the training in Mixing and Mastering with Pro Tools to punch up the final output. Digidesign Certified Expert Brian Lee White covers all the basic mixing tools that every producer and engineer should know, from using EQ to add clarity and focus to using compression and limiting to maximize track levels within a mix. Brian stresses the importance of setting up a solid mixing plan prior to any work in Pro Tools, and gives advice on the best plug-ins for each stage of the process. Exercise files accompany the course.
While not part of the Take Me Down tune, I thought this was an important EQ example to point out. Many of us are working with pre- recorded loop or sample based material these days, either exclusively or as components of a larger production. The one common problem I find with commercial loops is that they are usually way too big sounding to combine with other loops or elements effectively. Why is this? Well, commercial sound designers want to sell loops and samples. And they would have a hard time selling weak sounding or thin loops.
A perfect example is clipart or stock photography. Generally they sell this at a much higher resolution and then you scale that down to fit your project. So with loops many have kick drums especially with a lot of bass. And adding more than one kick drum to your mix especially if it's a different pattern is usually a nightmare waiting to happen. So let's take a look at this little example. I have two loops. Let's listen to each one in isolation. (Music playing) And Loop 2.
(Music playing) So you can hear they both have a kick drum pattern, and both are very deep kicks. The first one is sort of an 808 really heavy low sub-kick. The other one is kind of a 909 kick. Now those two when I play them back together they are really going to fight each other and create a ton of low end, sort of masking anything else that's going on.
(Music playing) Now what if I want to use the Hi-Hat pattern and maybe some of the higher frequency material from Loop 2, but I want to combine that with the broadband material of Loop 1, sort of the Kick Drum and the Clap? What I can do is I can use filters, specifically high pass and low pass filters, to sort of break off pieces of a broadband loop into more manageable sections or more manageable frequency bands.
So in this case I'm using high pass filter and I'm going to set the frequency to cut out all of that low end. So if I just solo this and I sweep through the frequency of the high pass filter. Listen to how the bass just disappears. (Music playing) Now when I combine that with the original Loop 1, we are still going to get all the hi-hats.
The hi-hats actually sound pretty much the same with or without the filter, but I'm not going to have all that low- end mud masking the kick pattern. (Music playing) So whenever I'm working with loops, especially loops with a lot of low end and kick drum and maybe bass patterns in them, I really like to use high pass filters to kind of filter out that low-end mud, and keep a lot of stuff like the high- end rhythmic elements, the claps and the hi-hats and stuff like that.
And I can play with the Filter Frequency to get it just right and find that point that's kind of happy medium between not too much mud, but not losing too much of the character of the loop that I'm filtering. Now I could take and I could switch this filter from this loop to this one, and we can kind of switch out what we are using for the kick. (Music playing) So again, effectively using high pass or low pass filters to rein in on your big sounding loops and samples is a great way to fit many ideas into a mix base without things getting too out of hand.
But remember while it might be tempting to add every percussion and drum loop you have layered into one session, even if things sonically fit, there is no guarantee that they will fit from an arrangement standpoint. So in other words, too much, may be too much and EQ is not going to help a thousand different patterns and poly- rhythms kind of glue together, so that a listener can comprehend them. So think about things from an arrangement standpoint when you combine loops and sample material together as well as a frequency and mix standpoint, using these tools like high-pass filters to combine lots of things into one mix.
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