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] One of the things that often eludes mixers is the proper low end balance of a mix. There's nothing worse than getting the track balances right only to find out that the mix is really thin. By using a real time analyzer plugin you can get a sense for what's missing in a particular mix, or if there's too much. In this case, we're going to use the T-Rex metering package. In other words, it's the meters from the T-Rex mastering and plugins package. I'm going to call that up. What we're going to look at is primarily the spectrum analyzer.
Let me zoom in. Now, let's play. ("Electrolux" by Snew) First of all, we can see that there's a peak here at about 150 and another one at 40, and yet another one somewhere around 90. But really, what I want you to see is the slope that we have. The low end is always way, way higher than the high end, and that's just the way mixes are supposed to be, the frequency spectrums are because what happens is the high frequencies we can hear much, much better than we can the low frequencies, so they require much less power.
If you are to get a mix that was completely flat it would sound pretty terrible to you. Spectrum analyzers have a way of evening that out. In this case, we go to the analyzer settings. There's a tilt control, and tilt, basically, makes the analyzer frequencies look all about the same. This sometimes gives you a better viewpoint of everything. I like to put it at three. Again, this will be different for every analyzer.
Now watch the settings and watch what happens. ("Electrolux" by Snew) That's way different, right? We can see some peaks here at about 3K, but again, our 150 hertz and our 40 and our 90 are pretty high there. The 150, specifically, is kind of out there. What I want to do is compare some other mixes as well.
Let me zoom back out. What we're going to use here is one of my favorites, it's called Magic AB. Magic AB is, I think, $59 from Sample Magic and it's great because it allows you to AB your current mix against a number of other source audio tracks. In this case, I'm going to use some songs that I've mixed myself and had them mastered and released and number of big hit songs, as well, just to look at the bottom end and see what it's like.
The first thing I'm going to do is go to B and I'm going to look at a song from the same band and it was mastered and released. Let's look and see what it looks like. ("Thunderdog" by Snew) What we can see here is that, well, there's a big peak here at about 800. But the bottom end looks a lot better, it's peaking at about 110, 120, but it's very, very smooth, and that's kind of what we want.
Let's look at something else. This is something from a completely different genre. This is something that I mixed and produced as well. Let's have a listen. ("He May Be Your Man" by Andrianna Marie and the Groovecutters) This is a pretty even frequency response, as you can see, and especially the low end, low end looks good. It's not very high but what it is is it's fairly even.
Usually, that's what gives us the best sounding low end mixes. Some of your favorite songs aren't quite what you think. They're not flat in the low end. They do sound good if they are, but it gives you a look at what some of the other songs look like. You can usually tell if you're low end is off or not. In order for the RTA low end trick to work first thing you have to do is insert a real time, or a spectrum analyzer across the mix buss. Many work stations already come with the spectrum analyzer built in.
Sometimes you have to use a plugin, but there's lots of them around that you can use. Second thing is look at a whole bunch of songs that you know the low end is great on. In other words, get some hits, get some songs you've mixed or other people that you like have mixed and just look at the low end response on the RTA just so you get a feel for what works and what doesn't. The next thing is look for any peaks or dips in the low end of the song that you're mixing. If there's anything extreme you'll know right away that you have to fix that.
Finally, you can smooth out those peaks or dips by using EQ or level adjustments. Go back on the base and go back on the kick drum and anything else with low frequencies, any synths or anything like that, and just manipulate the EQ or the level and you'll find that you'll smooth out those peaks and dips. Remember that sometimes any kind of adjustments just aren't needed. If the song sounds good in the low end, feels good, but doesn't look right, then maybe it doesn't need an adjustment, so don't be afraid not to change anything as well.
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.