Creating Separation in Your Sounds (EQ, Panning, Stereo Separation)
Fitting All Your Instruments in the Mix,
When starting up mixing, even for an advanced mixer, there’s a lot of thought and routes one can take. One of the hardest parts is understanding, and realizing, that it’s your decision on what you want to do within your mix. If you want to pan a sound to the right, EQ a sound a certain way, add an effect etc.
Now, there are definitely some good rules of thumb set in place, such as, keep your kicks in the middle and your baselines. This just keeps your track solid within the middle. Although, you can still use a second layer of kicks, and maybe bounce those around left to right speaker here and there? (This is where it’s all up to you!).
So, with all your instruments, things can get crowded real fast. This is where having the knowledge of what tools to use, and what they do, comes into play with making the right decisions.
Why Are My Beats so Muddy and Muffled?
There could be a couple reasons for this. It can be from the masking of frequencies trying to fight with eachother, or it can simply be the actual sounds you are choosing to start off with. Something I didn’t show in this video was cutting frequencies within the middle of the sound to make room for others. You might want to check out this post though! But as you’ll see in the video, using the low pass/high cut filter allows for the tracks you want to cut through.
Very Powerful on Background Vocals/Adlibs,
Have you ever tried working with two separate vocals playing at the same time? They can conflict really easy, and as a listener, it can be hard to determine what vocal you should be listening to!
A low pass EQ is a perfect tool here. Choose your lead vocal, then low-pass out the highs of the background vocal. This gently pushes it into the background, while keeping your lead vocal prominent and in front!
Panning is pretty obvious, and sometimes it’s hard to remember to do everything in a video while recording. (When editing, it’s like.. oh ya!). But, as I mix off my monitor speakers, I try to envision what is the lead, and from there, I start to make some panning adjustments.
I also find that some sounds, just sound better not being panned as hard. For example in this tutorial, when I panned the piano far left, I felt the middle of the track lost all it’s hype and body. When bringing it back to about only 25% panned left, it was much better and still kept some clearance for other instruments.
Less is More (at times) in Mixing!
Now, all tracks are going to be different, but as we make beats, VSTs are generally used. Therefore, not tons of EQ and effects are needed! This is where creativity comes into play to make things stand out, or add effects such as delay onto a vocal/instrument to try and make it sound better than the original composition!