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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.
So even if you don't know it, you've probably used an equalizer, an EQ sometime in your life, either on a boom box or a car stereo. And now that we know where the sounds come from and how its frequency relates to instruments and pitch and amplitude, we can move on to understanding how an equalizer, what I would like to call a frequency specific level control helps us shape and blend tracks into a mix. So I said I like to call an equalizer a frequency specific level control.
Now, why would I call it that? Well, if we think about a standard level control in the Mixer, it allows me to raise or lower that element in the mix relative to the other elements in the mix. When I think about raising or lowering its volume, I'm thinking about turning up all of the frequencies across the spectrum equally or turning them down. If I think about an EQ, what an EQ is going to allow me to do is raise or lower specific frequencies. So I can raise or lower just the low ends, just the high mids.
So it's sort of like a miniature track specific mixer in a way. So if the volume and pan isn't enough to get something to sit in a mix, we can sort of open up a new frequency specific mixer on that track, called a equalizer and we can go sort of rebalance the individual frequencies within that specific sound. So a lot of times we are having to do this because there is too much or not enough of certain frequencies in the sounds that we have recorded, and we'll talk about a bunch of different reasons why this is.
An example of using EQ in sort of this context of a frequency specific volume control would be let's say an acoustic guitar. Now, how an acoustic guitar generally sounds is very, very big. They were designed to play loud by the campfire and they generally project. Now inside a mix this might not work so well in the context of a larger pop song. So if we think about sort of our problem versus solution, our problem might be we have an acoustic guitar that when we bring it up in the mix, it's just too big.
But when we bring it back down, we lose all the nice sparkly top end that we want in there to kind of reinforce the rhythm. So what I can do, since the level control is not going to give me exactly what I need, I can open up my equalizer and now I have sort of a frequency specific level control where I can say you know what? That acoustic guitar is too big and it might be obscuring the vocal and what I can do is I can pull out some of that low end with this frequency specific level control.
So if we look at this graphic here, we can see the sort of big acoustic guitar sitting right on top of the vocalist. Right dead center. Now if I want to maintain some of that sparkly top end and the rhythmic quality, what I can do is again, use that frequency specific level control and pull out some of that low end, low mid and let the vocal sort of step forward as the main focal point. If you've ever seen a Graphic Equalizer, this actually does a really good job of sort of relating EQ to sort of a miniature mixer for a specific track.
A Graphic EQ will generally have a fader for each band and it allows you to push that up or pull that back. And it really looks a lot like a Mixer, but again, it would be for treating the frequency range of one specific track or sound. So as we move through this chapter, it's really important to remember that EQ is going to be one of the fundamental tools when mixing and it's probably going to be our most commonly used processor, either that or Dynamics Processors. In the next video, I'm going to get into specific parameters found in Equalizer.
So I'm going to show you what all of this stuff means and how you can control it and sort of define these different frequency ranges in your frequency specific volume control. When we do this, it's again important to remember where that specific instrument lives and what frequencies it has as we go to apply increases or decreases to specific frequencies in the mix.
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