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Equalizing the rhythm section

From: Audio Mixing Bootcamp

Video: Equalizing the rhythm section

The bass provides the power to the mix, but it's the relationship between it and the drums that really makes the mix sound big and fat. That's why some mixers can spend hours just fine-tuning this balance. If the relationship isn't correct then the song will just never sound big and punchy. In this video I'm going to show you just how to get that balance. First thing we're going to do is we're going to have a listen to what we have. This is just the drums and bass. (Music playing) This doesn't sound too bad, but it's a little murky in the low-end.

Equalizing the rhythm section

The bass provides the power to the mix, but it's the relationship between it and the drums that really makes the mix sound big and fat. That's why some mixers can spend hours just fine-tuning this balance. If the relationship isn't correct then the song will just never sound big and punchy. In this video I'm going to show you just how to get that balance. First thing we're going to do is we're going to have a listen to what we have. This is just the drums and bass. (Music playing) This doesn't sound too bad, but it's a little murky in the low-end.

There are some times when we can't hear the definition of the kick and there are other times when we really can't hear the definition of the bass, and that's what we're trying to get: definition plus some power. So the first thing we're going to do is look at how the kick is EQed. Now the first thing we see is it's EQed at almost 80 Hz. Now if we go and look at the bass as well, we can see that it's at 60 Hz. Well it should work in that they're not boosted at the exact same point. The only problem is if we add a lot at 60, we might not be able to hear it, because maybe our speakers are too small and they don't reproduce 60 Hz very well.

So what ends up happening is it just gets muddy down there. Even if we can really hear 60 Hertz, even 40, what ends up happening is that this just becomes one big ball of mud down there. So the first and we want to do is we want to solo the kick and the bass, and just have a quick listen. (Music playing) This isn't too bad, but again we're trying to make everything clear and what we have is a lot of mud, especially from the bass.

So the first thing we're going to do is bring this frequency up above where the kick drum is, and the other thing we're going to do, instead of having a shelving EQ, we're going to go to peaking EQ, and what this will do is it'll just peak in this case a 100 or so, and let's have a listen to what it sounds like. (Music playing) You can hear they're both working together now. You can hear each of the notes from the kick and from the bass guitar, but they're a lot more distinct because there are in frequency ranges.

Next thing we're going to do is add just a little bit of definition and on the bass, the best way to do that is add something around 700 Hz or so and what you're going to hear is some sudden definition that you didn't hear before. (Music playing) Although we have that, we have to add the same thing, not the same frequency, but the same definition to the kick. So we come over here and when we look, we see there is no high end here at all.

Usually what we'll find with the kick drum is somewhere between 2K and 4K is where we're going to hear some definition and that's really the sound of the beater hitting the head, so let's have a quick listen, hear what we get. (Music playing) I can really hear the definition. The real key here is the fact that if we look at the bass, we'll find that the frequency points are completely different than what we see for the kick, and that's what we're always trying to do. When we are juggling frequencies like this, we're trying to keep the frequency boost that we do or cuts different from every other instruments slightly.

Whenever there's an instrument that seems to get in the way of another one, it muddies it up or veils it. The reason why is there is probably a frequency that's in the way and the best thing we can do is move one of those instruments out of the way frequency wise, by either boosting a little up above the frequency or cutting at the same frequency. Either one will work. Let's look at our kick again, and another thing we can do is get rid of the beachball effect and that's kind of down here in the 200 to 400 range. (Music playing) Let's add our snare drum in. Have a listen.

(Music playing) And also let's add our sub kick in. The sub kick captures just the very lowest frequencies and it's usually somewhere below 100 cycles and actually what we're looking for is something that's down around the 60 or even 50. We're not going to hear it, but sometimes you feel it more than hear it. Let's solo it up, have a listen. (Music playing) Let's listen with all the solos off, listen to the whole track.

(Music playing) Now we can hear the kick and the snare distinctly, as well as the bass distinctly. There's a lot of power between them, and that's what we're trying to do. Now what we probably do is spend probably another hour or so just tightening this up so it sounds even bigger and fuller. But what we're going to be doing is just tweaking these frequencies a little at a time until everything kind of melts together so it sounds like one, instead of all three instruments, the kick, snare, and the bass, are distinctly different.

We want them sound like one, yet we want to hear them all individually, and that takes a little bit of time to do, but this is how you do it.

Show transcript

This video is part of

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Audio Mixing Bootcamp

103 video lessons · 19400 viewers

Bobby Owsinski
Author

 
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  1. 1m 16s
    1. Welcome
      1m 16s
  2. 8m 20s
    1. Determining the listening position
      2m 27s
    2. Fixing acoustic problems
      2m 5s
    3. Setting up your monitors
      3m 48s
  3. 20m 17s
    1. Setting up your session
      5m 52s
    2. Setting up your subgroups
      7m 50s
    3. Setting up your effects
      6m 35s
  4. 8m 45s
    1. Developing the groove
      3m 46s
    2. Emphasizing the most important elements
      3m 44s
    3. Knowing what to avoid
      1m 15s
  5. 1h 4m
    1. Learning the principles of building a mix
      1m 1s
    2. Assigning the drums to a subgroup
      3m 55s
    3. Building the mix from the kick
      10m 8s
    4. Building the mix from the snare
      8m 46s
    5. Building the mix from the toms
      5m 25s
    6. Building the mix from the overhead mics
      3m 53s
    7. Checking the drum phase
      4m 44s
    8. Balancing direct and miked bass channels
      3m 36s
    9. Building the mix from the bass
      3m 26s
    10. Building the mix from the vocals
      4m 19s
    11. Balancing the rhythm section
      2m 44s
    12. Balancing the rest of the instruments with the rhythm section
      5m 22s
    13. Making a mix without building it
      4m 20s
    14. Balancing the harmony vocals
      2m 35s
  6. 23m 2s
    1. Looking at the three main panning areas
      9m 23s
    2. Panning the drums
      6m 9s
    3. Avoiding pseudo-stereo
      7m 30s
  7. 1h 17m
    1. Understanding compressor parameters
      3m 42s
    2. Setting up the compressor
      14m 44s
    3. Compressing the drums
      7m 53s
    4. Compressing the room mics
      4m 9s
    5. Compressing the bass
      5m 24s
    6. Using the New York compression trick
      4m 23s
    7. Compressing the clean electric guitars
      4m 40s
    8. Compressing the distorted electric guitars
      4m 48s
    9. Compressing the acoustic guitars
      8m 7s
    10. Compressing the piano
      6m 35s
    11. Compressing the electric keyboards
      4m 32s
    12. Compressing the vocals
      4m 34s
    13. Compressing the horns
      3m 55s
  8. 25m 36s
    1. Learning noise gate basics
      9m 23s
    2. Using the noise gate on guitars
      3m 57s
    3. Using the noise gate on drums
      7m 38s
    4. Learning de-esser basics
      2m 15s
    5. Using the de-esser on vocals
      2m 23s
  9. 36m 4s
    1. Understanding equalizer parameters
      10m 16s
    2. Learning subtractive equalization
      8m 57s
    3. Learning frequency juggling
      8m 28s
    4. Using the magic high-pass filter
      7m 39s
    5. Learning the principles of equalization
      44s
  10. 49m 46s
    1. Equalizing the kick
      6m 7s
    2. Equalizing the snare
      2m 57s
    3. Equalizing the rack toms
      5m 4s
    4. Equalizing the floor tom
      4m 32s
    5. Equalizing the hi-hat
      4m 56s
    6. Equalizing the cymbal or the overhead mics
      6m 49s
    7. Equalizing the room mics
      5m 13s
    8. Equalizing the bass
      3m 59s
    9. Editing the bass rhythm
      4m 21s
    10. Equalizing the rhythm section
      5m 48s
  11. 47m 58s
    1. Equalizing the electric guitar
      8m 15s
    2. Equalizing the acoustic guitar
      4m 55s
    3. Equalizing the hand percussion
      3m 28s
    4. Equalizing the lead vocals
      6m 5s
    5. Equalizing the background vocals
      4m 14s
    6. Equalizing the piano
      4m 46s
    7. Equalizing the organ
      6m 49s
    8. Equalizing the strings
      6m 4s
    9. Equalizing the horns
      3m 22s
  12. 30m 47s
    1. Learning the principles of reverb
      1m 59s
    2. Understanding reverb parameters
      6m 49s
    3. Timing the reverb to the track
      6m 6s
    4. Equalizing the reverb
      2m 51s
    5. Using the two-reverb quick setup
      5m 35s
    6. Using the three-reverb setup
      7m 27s
  13. 59m 8s
    1. Adding reverb to the drums
      7m 56s
    2. Adding reverb to the vocals
      11m 59s
    3. Adding reverb to the guitars
      5m 17s
    4. Adding reverb to the piano
      4m 19s
    5. Adding reverb to the organ
      3m 43s
    6. Adding reverb to the strings
      5m 36s
    7. Adding reverb to the horns
      2m 57s
    8. Adding reverb to the percussion
      4m 46s
    9. Using reverb to layer the mix
      12m 35s
  14. 46m 8s
    1. Learning delay principles
      1m 40s
    2. Understanding delay parameters
      6m 54s
    3. Timing the delay to the track
      1m 28s
    4. Using delay timing variations
      2m 51s
    5. Equalizing the delay
      4m 23s
    6. Understanding the Haas effect
      2m 51s
    7. Using the three-delay setup
      7m 23s
    8. Adding delay to the vocals
      8m 43s
    9. Using delay to layer the mix
      9m 55s
  15. 21m 35s
    1. Understanding the types of modulation
      2m 43s
    2. Understanding modulation parameters
      4m 13s
    3. Modulating the guitars
      4m 7s
    4. Modulating the keyboards
      3m 17s
    5. Modulating the vocals
      4m 17s
    6. Modulating the strings
      2m 58s
  16. 12m 22s
    1. Mixing with subgroups
      5m 5s
    2. Using mix buss compression
      4m 21s
    3. Understanding the evils of hypercompression
      2m 56s
  17. 39s
    1. Goodbye
      39s

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