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Identifying Muddy Frequencies before cutting
Old 3 weeks ago
  #1
Gear Maniac
 

Identifying Muddy Frequencies before cutting

Hi all,

I just got the FabFilter Q which allows to easily just listen to a single band. It really helps me identify problem frequencies such as resonances/ringing in the high end and I'd really like it to also help identify mud frequencies to clear up a track although I'm finding it a bit difficult to tune in to the muddy frequencies. What should I be listening for as a "problem" low end frequency? Has anyone seen a good quality youtube vid on this subject? Clearing up low end of mix vids typically go through kick/bass relationship and universally cutting around 300hz which I tried and it was way to general resulting in a neutered mix. My monitoring environment is somewhat treated and also have good headphones if needed.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #2
Gear Head
A lot of people espouse the method of boosting and sweeping, but I think the opposite is more effective, i.e. cutting and sweeping.

You'll often land on a place that opens up the sound.

It sounds new-agey, but typically I'll get a little jolt of excitement and the hair on the back of my neck will tingle when it's right.

Not a very clinical answer, and I may just be a weirdo, but it works for me.


Note:
Maybe I just need a neck trim.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #3
Gear Maniac
 

When listening to isolated frequencies down low they always sound weird to me. The "offending" or "muddy" frequency differs from the ones around it how? Is it louder or have a specific quality?
Old 3 weeks ago
  #4
Gear Head
Quote:
Originally Posted by janalex View Post
When listening to isolated frequencies down low they always sound weird to me. The "offending" or "muddy" frequency differs from the ones around it how? Is it louder or have a specific quality?
That's all in the ear of the beholder.

There is no "Book of Offending and Muddy Frequencies" in the library.

Too much 300 Hz can make certain kick drums sound like garbage. Too little 300 Hz can make certain guitars sound weak and impotent. Sometimes I actually add 300 to a drum buss. Sometimes I remove 8dB at 300 from an overhead.

Try the technique I mentioned. When you move the EQ band around and the sound starts to sound more like the thing you want, you're on to something. When you move it around and the sound starts to sound thinner or weaker than you want, you've gone too far or are removing the wrong area.

There are plenty of common areas where drums build up, for instance, in the low mids (250-500ish). But the specific place will be different almost every time, and the amount you should cut completely depends on every other sound in the mix and how it relates.

And don't assume you always have to cut something.

When it sounds better to you than it did, you've done your job.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #5
Lives for gear
 
thismercifulfate's Avatar
Yeah, you’re coming from the wrong angle here. First you seem to default to needing to EQ. Abandon this position. Sometimes a track doesn’t need EQ, and any form of EQ makes the track sound worse than it was before. If you don’t allow for that as a possibility, then you are not being a good listener or mixer. Speaking of listening - you really need to inform your decisions from what you are hearing when you listen to the mix. Don’t EQ, compress or anything else just for the sake of it. Cut 300hz from the acoustic guitar because you hear it interfering with the low-mids of another track like the bass. Boost 12khz in a vocal, because you want to be able to hear the lyrics more clearly but you like where its level is. Etc, etc...

Don’t hunt for problems.... identify them. Don’t look for something to fix, listen to the music and make an adjustment if you think you can make it more easy/nice to listen to.

And if you want some helpful guidance you should load up a reference track into your daw and compare your mix to it. Something that has been professionally mixed that represents the sonic ballpark you’d like to get your mix into. If you level match it to your mix and compare them, you should hear right away in what direction you can go in with your mix.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #6
Gear Maniac
 

Thanks! The specific problem I'm trying to address is obscuring the snare drum in the mix which has a very strong fundamental frequency at 200hz which is lost once the band enters. It's a great rock snare and boosting anything but 10K or up on it with a good EQ changes it's tone to a point where no one likes it anymore. I just want to make space for it as is and I believe that a buildup around 200hz in the guitars, kick, room mics, and keys is the issue. Instead of blindly just cutting 200hz everywhere I want to listen to the band I am cutting to hear whether I'm cutting important stuff or mud but I'm having trouble discerning one from the other within an EQ band. I see guys online "cleaning up" tracks with this technique and its clear to me why they are narrowly cutting some of the higher frequencies but not so much the lower ones.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #7
Lives for gear
 
Piedpiper's Avatar
Also consider a high pass filter aka HPF or low cut. I prefer using a first order 6dB/octave because it is gentler, more natural and causes less phase issues. Start low and move it up until it takes away something you want and then move it back down to the sweet spot. You can only judge any of this by ear, though FabFilter ProQ is great for helping to see the frequencies in real time.

Last edited by Piedpiper; 3 weeks ago at 07:56 PM..
Old 3 weeks ago
  #8
Gear Nut
 
C.r.a.p.'s Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by janalex View Post
Thanks! The specific problem I'm trying to address is obscuring the snare drum in the mix which has a very strong fundamental frequency at 200hz which is lost once the band enters. It's a great rock snare and boosting anything but 10K or up on it with a good EQ changes it's tone to a point where no one likes it anymore. I just want to make space for it as is and I believe that a buildup around 200hz in the guitars, kick, room mics, and keys is the issue. Instead of blindly just cutting 200hz everywhere I want to listen to the band I am cutting to hear whether I'm cutting important stuff or mud but I'm having trouble discerning one from the other within an EQ band. I see guys online "cleaning up" tracks with this technique and its clear to me why they are narrowly cutting some of the higher frequencies but not so much the lower ones.

There are other ways to give a snaredrum more presence in the mix:

Distort it to taste with a distortion plugin.

Compress the electric guitars to taste using the snaredrum as the side chain. Attack 1 ms & release 120 ms as a starting point.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #9
Gear Addict
 
Poopypants's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by janalex View Post
Thanks! The specific problem I'm trying to address is obscuring the snare drum in the mix which has a very strong fundamental frequency at 200hz which is lost once the band enters. It's a great rock snare and boosting anything but 10K or up on it with a good EQ changes it's tone to a point where no one likes it anymore. I just want to make space for it as is and I believe that a buildup around 200hz in the guitars, kick, room mics, and keys is the issue. Instead of blindly just cutting 200hz everywhere I want to listen to the band I am cutting to hear whether I'm cutting important stuff or mud but I'm having trouble discerning one from the other within an EQ band. I see guys online "cleaning up" tracks with this technique and its clear to me why they are narrowly cutting some of the higher frequencies but not so much the lower ones.
In my limited experience, I've found that 200 in particular is a difficult area. There's tone there. There's meat. But there's mud. I find myself cutting something near 200 more often than any other frequencies. If something really is living at 200 (your snare) then you might really need to make sure other instruments aren't adding to that. Usually if I'm going for a meaty snare, I try to put the fundamental somewhere below 200. Hopefully more experienced GSers can elaborate on this or even correct me if I'm wrong.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #10
Lives for gear
 
bowzin's Avatar
If you have ProQ 3 instead of ProQ 2, they've added pretty interesting options, go to 4:20 here:

I guess similarly, but not exactly the same, is dynamic EQ, either via sidechaining a normal eq in your daw, or dedicated dynamic eq plugin. For example, could try pulling down 200-300hz by 2-3db, but is only triggered by the snare. When there's no snare, it goes back to normal (or a different curve). How to implement that can vary by DAW but Pro-Q 2 and 3 can do it.

Last edited by bowzin; 3 weeks ago at 09:18 PM.. Reason: Clarity
Old 3 weeks ago
  #11
Gear Guru
 
Karloff70's Avatar
 

You could also cut just in the mid channel, if cutting room for the snare, which is in the middle......if cutting room out of something for vocal, kick, snare or bass, cutting in the middle only works nicely.

Also, think about fundamentals. Different instruments have their fundamental frequencies in different places. And just over the fundamental power area you get the potential mud or honk. If you cut the fundamental off something it can no longer move to and away from you, which may be a good thing if you need to pin something, but can definitely be a very bad thing of you cut the bass off something that needs to push at you.

So the snare's fundamental will be in or near the kick's mud area e.g., and so on.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #12
Gear Addict
 
Murky Waters's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by janalex View Post
Thanks! The specific problem I'm trying to address is obscuring the snare drum in the mix which has a very strong fundamental frequency at 200hz which is lost once the band enters. It's a great rock snare and boosting anything but 10K or up on it with a good EQ changes it's tone to a point where no one likes it anymore. I just want to make space for it as is and I believe that a buildup around 200hz in the guitars, kick, room mics, and keys is the issue. Instead of blindly just cutting 200hz everywhere I want to listen to the band I am cutting to hear whether I'm cutting important stuff or mud but I'm having trouble discerning one from the other within an EQ band. I see guys online "cleaning up" tracks with this technique and its clear to me why they are narrowly cutting some of the higher frequencies but not so much the lower ones.
Try high-passing guitars below 200 or so.
Keys too, but that is very dependant on what they are doing.
Pay attention to phase relationships between the snare and overheads.
Also try high-passing the snare with a little bump where it thwacks.
Some compression on the snare can also keep it alive in a dense mix.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #13
Lives for gear
 
andychamp's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by janalex View Post
Thanks! The specific problem I'm trying to address is obscuring the snare drum in the mix which has a very strong fundamental frequency at 200hz which is lost once the band enters.(...)
I‘ve found that, although a rock snare‘s power does reside in part in the 200 region, one mustn‘t underestimate the contribution of ambience/room mics/overheads.
Lowmid-heavy, compressed room mics, slightly mixed in, expanding 6-12 dB on snare hits do a lot to increase the snare‘s impact, and lets you keep the 200 boost to a minimum, where it still sounds natural and doesn‘t cloud the mix.
The region I boost on the ambience is often in the „muddy/boxy“ 3-400 region, with not much below that, and more on the sides, leaving the dry punch in the middle.

Regarding EQ in general, I find it helpful to move the fader while I EQ, to find the right amount of boost or cut in context.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #14
Gear Guru
 
Drumsound's Avatar
Getting rid of the SC fundamental in other instruments is a good idea. Of course, only if it doesn't make those instruments sound bad. A subtle, wide-ish cut on guitars, keys and bass might really help the snare speak, without making those instruments sound odd.

I like @ andychamp 's idea of expanding the room mics, keyed off the snare to add presence without overpowering that region. I'm going to have to try that.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #15
As a novice I have made lots of boosting & sweeping errors...there is/ was a tendency to go berzerk locating lots of 'offending' frequencies...as boosting high and sweeping tends to sound consistently crap to novice ears. I've since learned to be a little more discerning. But I'm still a rank amateur.

Old 3 weeks ago
  #16
Lives for gear
 
chrischoir's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by janalex View Post
Identifying Muddy Frequencies before cutting
Quote:
Originally Posted by janalex View Post
I just got the FabFilter Q which allows to easily just listen to a single band. It really helps me identify problem frequencies such as resonances/ringing in the high end and I'd really like it to also help identify mud frequencies to clear up a track although I'm finding it a bit difficult to tune in to the muddy frequencies. What should I be listening for as a "problem" low end frequency? Has anyone seen a good quality youtube vid on this subject? Clearing up low end of mix vids typically go through kick/bass relationship and universally cutting around 300hz which I tried and it was way to general resulting in a neutered mix. My monitoring environment is somewhat treated and also have good headphones if needed.
mud is low mid as you have already identified. You often need two-three notches. 180 ish and 250ish 400 on cardboard sounding drums. If you use Neve pres you will have 400hz build up among other low mid areas.

Use this to dial in the exact frequency. http://pages.mtu.edu/~suits/notefreqs.html
The centers of the notches depend on the key/harmonics of the song. That is where the extra energy is often going to be, cut accordingly. I will add if you place mics properly in a treated room it's possible you won't have any low mid mud issues. On guitar amps just dial back the "bass" and mid knob depending on their voicing. On drums tune the kit properly and watch out for proximity effect and other mic induced artifacts. I don't think you want to use headphones. they will actually mask problems. Good monitors are key. There are certain nearfileds that excel in identifying these problem frequencies. I have a pair of Focal Alpha and while I hate the sound of them, they really accentuate the low mids. I only switch over to them for the purpose of identifying low mid build up. I mix on Adams otherwise.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #17
Gear Maniac
 

Thanks. I will try to locate the frequencies using the key of the song and harmonics. What is it that I’m listening for when boosting that offending frequency. Is it obvious it contains mud?

Also I’m not planning on boosting 200hz at all in the snare. The frequency is already quite loud. I’m hoping that 200hz isn’t a coalescence of snare body and mud. What happens when that’s the case and your snare body also contains mud? Do you cut and boost another low frequency? This is a concern I have. I’m not sure I’d be able to tell if that were the case either.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #18
Lives for gear
 
Space1999's Avatar
 

Oh so many ways to go, things to consider. What to leave in, what to leave out. Relax, it’s a snap.

The most important thing in the mix is what sells the mix. Throw all your faders down and bring that one element up on its fader.

Protect it. Massage it, build your mix from that track.

So as you build your mix it’s always good to have two different meters. A phase scope and a frequency graph, along with your level and loudness meters.

Start building a mix around your money track. As you bring each track up use your HP and LP filter to shape the borders of the track using your live frequency graph/meters.

If it doesn’t exist on the freq plot, carve it out.

So at this point you should have a dry, unEQed and uncompressed mix built around your primary track. That’s probably the vocal if you haven’t already guessed. You have placed your filter corners for each track.

Now if you still have a bad low frequency build up, hunt it down with your freq meters and try using compression and light EQ. Remember every element needs it’s own place to live in the mix. And that should be dictated by the natural EQ signature of the sound and not arbitrarily with an EQ.

Bass and kick: one has to be lower than the other. Decide.

Now use your phase meters and solo your drum tracks to make sure you don’t have any tracks 180 degrees out of phase with another or any other multiple that will cause the tracks to be out of phase.

Remember that guitars are mid frequency elements and acoustics can be too heavy across the spectrum. Here you can use a shelf to trim the body down and then a bump in the highs for sparkle.

All of this really depends on how things were miked and if the room is treated well with no standing waves etc....

If that’s the case, you will have learned a lot by this point about what went wrong in tracking and what worked well.

Now if things are shaping up, go ahead and use some verb and additive EQ and compression for effect.

Try this and see how things go. Good luck and have fun

Pat
Old 3 weeks ago
  #19
Lives for gear
Here is the simplest I can present EQ in general.

Check low pass, where does it sound best, off?
Check high pass, where does it sound best, off?
Check 1K, semi sharp Q for cuts, wide Q for boost.
Then dig into the 200-400 range and find out what's happening.
Then dig into 4-7K range, find out what's going on.
after that, its too specific for any one thing.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #20
Lives for gear
 
chrischoir's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by janalex View Post
Is it obvious it contains mud?
It depends on the instrument. After while you get a feel for it. It will not take you long. I'm not a big fan of spectrum analyzers, but if you use a plugin like SPAN it may help you visualize problem areas in the beginning.

Quote:
Originally Posted by janalex View Post
Also I’m not planning on boosting 200hz at all in the snare. The frequency is already quite loud. I’m hoping that 200hz isn’t a coalescence of snare body and mud. What happens when that’s the case and your snare body also contains mud? Do you cut and boost another low frequency? This is a concern I have. I’m not sure I’d be able to tell if that were the case either.
That's the million dollar question. Areas like 200-250 are often the warmth as well as the mud. So it's a tradeoff. You have to find the right balance. One thing you can do is carve out that area so other instrument don't impede with the snare. It comes down to clarity. Sometimes you have to make those tough decisions. Do you notch out 250 on guitar?? to feature the snare?? I think if you pan things properly and use the right mic pres and reverbs the spacial elements take care of themselves. Arrangement is a big factor as well.

Listen to your favorite records and try to copy them the best you can. Look on YT for stems so you can really study the tracks and how they blend individually. Use spectrum analysis to see how the tracks are EQd. After you get comfortable you will be able to just hear a track and you will know how to Eq without using visuals. There really is a formula to it. It's pretty easy with rock and pop songs. Post some tracks people will be able to help you out I'm sure. You may even be doing the right thing already. Sometimes you can be your worst critic.

Another thing you can do in the beginning is to use a sampled snares from a famous records. This will give you an idea of what style snare fits your song. Then you can try to copy the eq curve using the real snare. It's a great baseline. Reference points are a big help. even professionals with years of experience do this do this. They may not admit it, but they do. Unless someone has perfect pitch and great recall it's tough to get EQ perfect every time without a reference.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #21
Gear Guru
 
Karloff70's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Drumsound View Post
Getting rid of the SC fundamental in other instruments is a good idea. Of course, only if it doesn't make those instruments sound bad. A subtle, wide-ish cut on guitars, keys and bass might really help the snare speak, without making those instruments sound odd.

I like @ andychamp 's idea of expanding the room mics, keyed off the snare to add presence without overpowering that region. I'm going to have to try that.
Expanding the rooms from the snare is awesome. Especially if you have nice deep room mics. As in a decent sized space. Or room mics down the corridor. lol
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