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Cut the MUD!
Old 19th October 2013
  #1
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tha]-[acksaw's Avatar
 

Cut the MUD!

I wanted to get a thread going, where folks can chime in about the various ways they deal with the removal or reduction of "muddy" frequencies. Stuff between say 200 and 500 Hz, or there about.

It's something I've been paying attention to, and addressing, for as long as I've manipulated audio. But I'd be hard pressed to say that I ever really found a process that seemed to stick. I've done the EQ on individual tracks using broad boosts. I've done track per track basis, but with narrow yet extremely deep cuts. I've used multiband compression on individual tracks, or the 2 bus. In my early years I even messed with exciters and sonic maximizers. I'm still all over the place. I'd love to find a consistent approach that just works.

I realize that the easy answer is, "grab an EQ, find the mud, make a cut, DONE". But I'm hoping some might share their specific ideas here. Maybe the various ways we address different types of mud. Different techniques or approaches, for different source material or applications. Even if it's something super simple, that you somehow seem to do every time you mix. Or more advanced stuff like how to deal with mud on a 2bus.

Looking forward to bouncing some ideas around with everyone...
Old 19th October 2013
  #2
Yeah, dealing with mud is something I understand a bit more than other frequencies. There was a time when I 'discovered' mud cutting, and I went too overboard with it and my mixes turned out too thin sounding with no energy. Not cutting as much definitely gives it more energy, though it's a fine line.

One tip that I like doing is cutting before compression on individual tracks. This goes for any frequency range. I'll do all of my boosts after compression. Cutting out the mud before compression can smoothen the dynamics out so you don't need to drive the compressor too hard to get the same effect.

I also like to look at my multiband compressor (on the master) to see if the low-mids are being hit particularly harder than other frequencies to gauge it. This can help when my ears are tired or playing tricks on me.
Old 19th October 2013
  #3
Lives for gear
I'm cutting a lot of low end off guitar tracks to reduce mud and allow the bass and kick room to work.
Old 19th October 2013
  #4
rem
Gear Head
 
rem's Avatar
 

On every track : Narrow Q with 12db of boost. Sweep low-mid frequencies until you hear mud/frequency that cloud/blur the sound, cut until the sound has a better definition without making it sound to thin (often 2 to 6db). Try also boosting between 3 and 6 kHz for more definition / presence (it removes muddiness too). Don't boost too much, it can sound harsh. Instead adding air helps sometimes (for example for room mic, OH and vocals, a baxandall curve around 18 kHz).

Be careful with the bass @ around 250 hz ; try not to cut this on the bass, instead cut on the other tracks (guitars, piano, etc). If there is muddiness around 100-150 hz, don't be scared to reduce it. After that you can always use a Pultec EQ to get back some roundness with a simultaneous boost/cut at 100 Hz.

Sometimes after removing muddiness, there is still boominess left. Check out the bass and the kick in the 60 Hz area.

Experiment, use your ears, use reference mix to compare, check with NS-10, Aura-tones or any speakers that doesn't reproduce subs. EarPods are good for this. This way, you should be able to make better decision about the low-mid if you don't have an acoustically well-treated room.

Hope this helps.
Old 19th October 2013
  #5
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by tha]-[acksaw View Post
I wanted to get a thread going, where folks can chime in about the various ways they deal with the removal or reduction of "muddy" frequencies. Stuff between say 200 and 500 Hz, or there about.

It's something I've been paying attention to, and addressing, for as long as I've manipulated audio. But I'd be hard pressed to say that I ever really found a process that seemed to stick. I've done the EQ on individual tracks using broad boosts. I've done track per track basis, but with narrow yet extremely deep cuts. I've used multiband compression on individual tracks, or the 2 bus. In my early years I even messed with exciters and sonic maximizers. I'm still all over the place. I'd love to find a consistent approach that just works.

I realize that the easy answer is, "grab an EQ, find the mud, make a cut, DONE". But I'm hoping some might share their specific ideas here. Maybe the various ways we address different types of mud. Different techniques or approaches, for different source material or applications. Even if it's something super simple, that you somehow seem to do every time you mix. Or more advanced stuff like how to deal with mud on a 2bus.

Looking forward to bouncing some ideas around with everyone...
The mud factor is kind of a pretty big topic, but I'll try to approach it from a few angles.

When you have a number of tracks occupying the same frequency range on the same speaker, going through similar signal processing and with a high RMS on each, these sound sources fight for attention in that frequency space, each cannot be clearly heard.

Since the mud factor is speaker scoped, L or R, the first technique to set the mud factor low by default is LCR panning. Let's say you have two karaoke sound sources and nothing else and these match the above scenario, the solution is to pan these 100% L and 100%R . That will also provide the most stable stereo image, because there will be no fluctuations in the perception of where these two are located in the stereo field since there are no temporary masking of each sound source on any speaker. That mud problem has been solved.

Then the task is, how to introduce vocals on top? Vocals need to be panned center and in this case the song is in a low key and it is a low male voice, so the dominant portion of the voice is in the same region as the sound sources that were just panned hard L and hard R. This is when you start working with air in that region (you change the way and the degree to which they fight, I call it frequency differentiation), go one level deeper, you shape each signal path so that even when they are active in the same region they fight less, you also ensure that nothing elsewhere ruins that. A typical problem is when you have a setup like this and the mix is eventually pushed higher in RMS so that there is not enough room for these to co-exist anymore.

Now, how would you then introduce a bass guitar on top of all of this? At that point it is likely a good idea to filter out the lows on the sound source panned for instance hard L that is more critical to the sound of the mix, and the lows and low mids on the sound source panned hard R that is less critical to the sound of the mix, so that the bass guitar can exist with minimal modulation distortion in that region. In other words, eventually it becomes a matter of signal prioritization (both RMS and Peak) and sound sources that need to consume a lot of mix signal, such as the bass guitar, usually get higher priority. Basically you start sacrificing portions of the less critical sound sources, sometimes to the point it is better to mute them entirely or just use automation to fade them in and out...
Old 19th October 2013
  #6
Gear Addict
 
Therion's Avatar
I find the balance between the bass and guitar and roll off the guitars where it sounds the best. Then I pan out the guitars.
If it is drop tuned metal with double layered guitars.
I will roll off slightly more on one of the guitar layers and boost/cut on the mids so the tracks glue better to a point of, that wall of sound

But if I have to roll off way to much on the guitars to get the mud out. I will ask for a re recording. Then it is problems with preformance and way to much bass in the guitar recordings. And the bass is bin tracked with to much boost in the 200-400 range.

I don't eq cut so much in the low end mud. I roll off the unwanted mud from the instruments that has mud in the low end.
But I eq cut where there are artifacts or minor problems in the higher end.
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