See how the pros handle the critical balance between the bass and drums. Learn where, when, why, and how EQ should be used on virtually any instrument. Become proficient in tailoring just the right effect for each particular mixing situation. And master the key to fat and punchy sounding mixes: compression. Tune in every Thursday for a new tip!
- The Abbey Road Studios reverb trick
- Secrets to a powerful and punchy mix
- Using compression like NYC pros
- Listening tips and tricks used by the world's best mixers
- How Van Halen gets their guitar sound
- Making vocals shine
- Adding excitement to boring pad tracks
- Setting up your mix to get the best results in the least amount of time
Skill Level Intermediate
- [Instructor] A live grand piano is a wonderful thing but, sometimes it's really hard to capture the sound the sound in the studio especially with other instruments playing at the same time. Here's a great trick to add the air that's missing back into the track. First of all, let's listen to the song, concentrate on the piano, and then we're going to solo it. (rock music) Now, there's two things to concentrate on here. The first is the fact that there are peaks that are happening, wild peaks.
So, in other words, there are certain notes that really jump out because they're hit harder and that's what happens when you have a real piano or a guitar or anything that a human is playing as compared to electronic music which usually have kind of the same dynamic range all the time. In this case though, that jumps out of the track and that's something we'll have to control. The other thing is, if you listen you'll hear that it's just a little dull on the top end of the frequency spectrum and this is something that's called the air. And, that's what's missing.
A lot of times, we can record the piano really well but, what makes it different from listening to it in reality is the fact that the air isn't there. So, that's one of the things we'll add in as well. So, the first thing we're going to do is control the dynamics of the piano and, for that, we'll add in just a normal compressor and I'm going to use the normal B flat native compressor of Pro Tools. Now, watch. (piano music) Now, it's more controlled but, still not controlled enough because those peaks are still jumping out and we want to control them a little bit more.
So, what we'll do is we'll keep on backing the attack down. In other words, we'll make it faster and faster until we can control those. But, what will end up happening also is we'll make it even duller than it was before when we do that. (piano music) Let's listen again but, watch the meter because it's a lot more controlled.
(piano music) Now, there's a difference in level there and what we'll do is go to our make up gain and we'll increase that so levels about the same between the compressor out of the signal path and the compressor in the signal path. Here we go. (piano music) And you can see there's still some dynamics in the playing and we want to keep that because that's what makes it human.
So, we just want to control it. We don't want to lose that all together. And now, it's a lot more controlled and it's going to sit better in the mix. Now, have a listen. (rock music) Now, you can see when I bypass it for the second half of the phrase, all of the sudden, there were certain notes jumping out again. And, that's what we don't want and that's why we use the compressor. But, also take notice what happened is we got rid of a lot of the brightness of the piano because we're cutting that off.
That's the part that's really jumping out and that's what we have to cut off. So, we want to put that back in and maybe add a little more so we can add some air back into the sound. So, now that we got that, let's add an EQ and once again, there are certain EQs that will sound better. Poltech might be good. You name it. There's any number of really good sounding EQs that might work better for this, might sound better. But, in this case, just to show you that any of them will really work if you try hard enough, we'll use the standard native Pro Tools EQ.
And, what I'm going to do is add some top in. (piano music) I raised it a lot. One thing I want to show you here, is the fact that we're using a shelving EQ for the high frequency band and this actually works better if we use a peaking EQ instead. Have a listen. (piano music) Now, all of a sudden we have a lot more high end, a lot more air than we had before.
We're at exactly 10K that we're adding. You might want to go lower or you might want to go higher than this particular frequency. In many cases, in a really well recorded piano, sometimes you already have a lot of high frequencies, so you want to add 14, 16K, somewhere up there. And, even though it's something that we don't here, we can feel it. We know that there's something going on and it works especially good in solo piano pieces or a trio for instance. Then, it sounds really good when that's happening and with the grand piano, too, especially.
But, in this case, just by adding some top end, it's going to bring back that air and that life that it didn't have before. In order to make an otherwise dull piano recording sound a little more realistic, first, insert an EQ in the signal path of the piano channels. Set the frequency of the EQ to anywhere from 10K to 14K depending upon the piano sound or the arrangement. Boost until you can hear the dampers of the piano pedal engage or the high end becomes more life like. Remember that you're boosting to add air, not brightness.
Q: Why can't I earn a Certificate of Completion for this course?
A: We publish a new tutorial or tutorials for this course on a regular basis. We are unable to offer a Certificate of Completion because it is an ever-evolving course that is not designed to be completed. Check back often for new movies.