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How To Make Your Songs Sound Better In 3 Easy Steps: Part 1


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blog-0464758001372955659.jpgI wanted to post about getting better mixes. I know we all struggle with this. You've got your tracks all recorded. Everything is in tempo and on key. When you mix it your final result is not sounding good. Why not? What Happened?

3 Easy Steps to Better Sound

I'll try and give you a three step process you can use as a starting point to get better results. This is not a magic bullet. It will not make your music better than what you recorded but your overall sound should improve in three areas.

The Three Steps will be;

  1. Low Pass Filter - Less low noise, -this will clean up your sound and make all the parts sound out clearly
  2. Sweep - Find the bad sounds and cut those frequencies from your song
  3. High Frequencies - Control Your High end, - give some sparkle and air

There is a lot to know about mixing and being a sound engineer. I am not a sound engineer, nor I am a professional with years of work in the studio. Those professionals are part of what you pay for in the studio work. They are well worth it.

The Low Cost Demo

That being said we all do need to create demo's of our music.I don't have the money to go into a studio so my solution was to learn enough to let me do a decent job using my computer and equipment at home. How your home computer can do this and how to set that up is not what I will talk about here. I will talk about easy ways to mix your songs to get a result that will give your songs a better sound, just from these 3 steps.

Please keep in mind this is only a starting point. You should also be careful of ear fatigue, this is important, If we spend too many hours without a break tweaking our music what happens most times is that you end up having to redo the mix. We can only listen for so long before our minds stop being able to process what we are hearing.

So try to avoid this kind of work path:

Tired Mind = bad music decisions = redo the work with fresh ear and mind.

Step 1, Low End EQ Filter

I'm using Mixcraft 6.0 and Fabfilters, This technique should apply to the software that you use for your EQ and mixes.

FF_EQ_01_Low%20Cut%2003.jpg

In the above Sceen: The Dark Grey Wave = Original Sound, Light Grey Shows the Current Sound, i.e. what you hear from the speakers.

In the above screen shot of a Low Cut Filter. Any sound below the 28 Hz frequency will be reduced. The 28 Hz used in the example was just a start point. The number you end up with will vary depending on what you hear as you mix.

You will use this Eq Filter on your Main Mix, this way it affects all the tracks for your song.

Master%20FX%2001.jpg

Once you've place your EQ filter to your main mix you will need to edit the Low Cut Filter.

Edit while your song is playing....

Move it slowly to the right to increase how much frequency you will cut. Once you can hear it, roll it back slightly to the left. You want to not be able to tell its there yet still get the benefits from the filter. Very subtle, so take your time and have some fun with it.

That's it your Done.

The goal here is to take out all of your unneeded low end. This is one of the reasons the mix can end up sounding dull and flat. With the low end frequencies taken away you should hear a nice improvement of the overall tone of your music

End of Part 1

Go to Part 2

http://forums.songstuff.com/blog/186/entry-1391-how-to-make-your-songs-sound-better-in-3-easy-steps-part-2/

edit: Changed the screen and added a note about that screen.

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Awesome. Cant' wait to get a chance to try it out. I'm also looking forward to part 2. Thanks a ton for posting this.

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Looking forward to part 2 and 3...great that you're also using Mixcraft, makes it easier for me to visualise/audiolise...

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Thanks, though it should work for any Eq filter that you use. I've used low cut filters in Audacity too.  Though the big drawback in audacity is that you can't hear real time changes. Make a Change, save, listen,  etc etc.  Very slow

 

J

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I haven't had a chance to get home and try this yet but I do have a question as I've looked at the low cut filter before. How did you come up with 28 Hz. 

 

I'm a complete greenhorn at this so please bear with me. :) When I look at that low cut image, I've always thought that the yellow line filled with green showed where the music was "sitting". So I have been thinking that if I was to put it to the left of that (28hz in your example) it wouldn't cut out anything because it isn't within that green area. The same would go for the decibal setting being at around -10. How did you get that? Obviously I'm wrong so any insight into that would be of tremendous help.

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I haven't had a chance to get home and try this yet but I do have a question as I've looked at the low cut filter before. How did you come up with 28 Hz. 

 

I'm a complete greenhorn at this so please bear with me. :) When I look at that low cut image, I've always thought that the yellow line filled with green showed where the music was "sitting". So I have been thinking that if I was to put it to the left of that (28hz in your example) it wouldn't cut out anything because it isn't within that green area. The same would go for the decibal setting being at around -10. How did you get that? Obviously I'm wrong so any insight into that would be of tremendous help.

 

Let see if this will help answer your questions.

 

WFF_EQ_01_Low%20Cut%2003.jpg

 

Bear with me for a moment, I'm going to be very simple and just confirm some of what we are seeing in the above screen.

 

  • To the Far right you will see a 0, at the intersection with the yellow line.  Above the zero is  +,  boost,  below is - or cut.
  • The Darker grey is the original sound wave.
  • The light grey wave shows the current resulting frequencies with our Low Cut Filter active.

 

 

We can clearly see a difference in the wave form.  The light grey  (what you hear as the end result ), active wave is smaller than the original. We can see that the current low Hz area is being cut. Its not totally gone but enough has been reduced so that our ears are no longer hearing that range of sound.

 

Anything to the left of the yellow line is being filtered. From 0 Hz to around 30 Hz

 

FF_EQ_01_Low%20Cut%2004.jpg

 

So what happens when we move this Low Cut Filter to the Right?  Take a look at the above screen shot.

 

 

The active sound, light grey is now totally missing the low HZ frequencies. From 0 to 30Hz (ish) it shows no activity.   It has also lowered all the mid range sounds. Again when you do this in real time the difference is very obvious.

 

With the two screens shown, I hope how the Low Cut Filter is used will be easier to understand.

 

 

Why the 28 Hz.?

 

That number was a just to give me a start. You will have to experiment for each songs Low Cut Hz, it will change with each song. The final result will depend on what you hear and like or dislike.

 

So you would start somewhere around that 28Hz, then, close your eyes and just listen as you move it from left to right. You'll get far better results with your ears rather than using your eyes. 

 

Keep in mind what we see in the screens here is just used as good visual to help us understand what the Low Cut filter is doing.

 

 

Please do post anything that is not really clear. This helps me understand it better too. So thank you.

 

James

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Just1L

 

I was to very glad to help out.  It really makes me learn this stuff too. This mixing stuff is hard and then again,  its easy.  :)

 

Be sure to post some before and afters of you music here. I'd love to hear'em.

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Looking forward to part 2 and 3...great that you're also using Mixcraft, makes it easier for me to visualise/audiolise...

David, post your new song mix here....I'd love to have others able to hear what you were able to do .....

 

James

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