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Mixing Tips: Mixing With Frequencies

Mixing Tips Mixing With Frequencies

Mixing with frequencies refers to the process of combining multiple audio signals with different frequencies to create a cohesive sound. This is commonly done in music production and audio engineering.

Normally we use the equalizer to correct or define the sound, we hear the sound, we like it or we don’t, and we modify the equalizer, of course, it’s really important to use your ears to properly use the equalizer, but many people do not know that there is another way to use the equalizer. To be able to properly do frequency mixing you should use a parametric equalizer because it is more specific, and you can select any frequency in the frequency range.

Audio Frequency Range

In order to understand how this process works, one should first know that every key or tone is made by a specific frequency and its harmonics, like A4 on the piano is a representation of 440 Hz, that is the main frequency (fundamental frequency). A4 is formed by its harmonics and the main frequency; the harmonics are pair of multiples of the main frequency, so if you have 440Hz (A4) the first harmonic would be 880 Hz, the second would be 1320 Hz, the fourth would be 1760 Hz, etc.

Why is this important?

Because if we know this theory we can make better use of the parametric equalizer, especially for kicks and basses, or make a whole song sound more unified, where every sound is in key with each other. Let’s say your song is in A minor and has a bass that plays mainly A4, if you want the kick to sound more united with the bass you could add 3dB to the fundamental frequency of A4 or the harmonics on the kick, and you can do that on every instrument, so the song would sound more united, the kick and bass would have more “punch” and you would have an overall better mix, of course never forget your ears, but this theory helps a lot. There are even some parametric equalizers that even tell you on what key is the frequency that you are modifying, like on Ableton Live’s  EQ Eight:

Mixing Tips: Ableton Live EQ Eight

On the picture shown above, I am pointing at the main frequency of a kick, (the area where the frequency has more amplitude) and on the lower-left corner of the spectrum of the equalizer, you can see a little box that is telling me that where my mouse is pointing there is a frequency of 40.5 Hz and that my kick is on the key of E0, but because 40.5 Hz its to low to have a good balance between the kick and the bass, (normally 40 Hz it is used for the bass) and 90Hz or around is used for the kick, what I would do it to attenuate a little around 40 Hz of the kick and add some dB on the bass around 40 Hz, but to make the kick more punchy

I would add a few dB on the first harmonic of the kick which would be 80 Hz, so doing that you would not only have a good balance between kick and bass, but you would also have a kick and bass properly EQ’ed in Key both having more amplitude on the E key and its harmonics.

These mixing tips are very useful, especially for electronic music, but I do not like to over-use them because it may take away some aliveness from the mix, and never forget your ears, especially if you have a good monitoring system and a well-treated acoustic environment.

Here are the basic steps for mixing with frequencies:

  • Start with good recordings: To ensure a good mix, it’s important to start with well-recorded tracks. Make sure each track is recorded at an appropriate level and has minimal background noise.
  • Balance levels: Adjust the volume levels of each track so that they are balanced and no single track is overpowering the others. This can be done using faders in your digital audio workstation (DAW).
  • Use EQ: Use an equalizer (EQ) to adjust the frequency balance of each track. This can help to remove unwanted frequencies and make each track sit better in the mix. For example, you might cut the bass frequencies in a guitar track to make room for the bass guitar.
  • Add effects: Add effects such as reverb, delay, and compression to enhance the sound and create a cohesive mix. Be careful not to overdo it and make sure the effects are appropriate for each track.
  • Listen critically: Listen to the mix critically on different playback systems such as headphones, speakers, and car stereo to ensure it sounds good on all platforms.
  • Make adjustments: Make adjustments as necessary until you are happy with the final mix. This may involve going back and adjusting EQ or effect settings.

Overall, mixing with frequencies requires a combination of technical skill and artistic judgement to create a well-balanced and cohesive sound.

You may also like to read the Splitting Frequencies Tutorial

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