I have covered the topic of mixing numerous times, and each time I do my research so I can provide enough tips for my readers, I always either come across something new, or I realized I forgot to mention something.
This time, it’s about filtering and how you can use it to your advantage. It’s easy to just slap on a filter and then work on the rest of your tracks, but it goes beyond that – like the high pass filter and how it can make your life so much easier behind the mixing board.
It’s All About Choosing The Right Frequencies
The most important part about mixing is that you need to find the right place to put everything. It’s not just about making sure all the levels are good and the mix sounds right, of course not. What you need to do is think of mixing like moving day:
You have a house full of stuff that you need to move, so you have a few options.
- Load up by just tossing everything onto the truck.
- Place specific items into certain parts of truck, making room for more of your stuff.
Which option would you go for? Obviously if you just stuff the truck with random boxes and furniture, it will fill up fast, but if you take your time and place everything in certain spots, then it will all fit.
So when you mix, the same theory applies.
The High Pass Filter Is Your New Best Friend
To use the high pass filter, you will pretty much run everything through it, except for the bass and kick drum – that’s it. Most instruments don’t have much bass, but even for those that do, you should run them through the filter, which automatically frees up your low end, helping you to avoid having a muddy and boomy track.
For example, an acoustic guitar can actually give off a lot of “boom”, which can easily pop in and out of the track, which would make your life very difficult. With a high pass filter applied, now the guitar track sounds like it’s supposed to, free of any low end artifacts.
The frequencies to be used with the filter vary greatly, depending on the track itself. It can go anywhere from 40-50Hz to 120Hz, but your best bet is to use your ears and judge for yourself. If a track sounds too thick, just apply the filter and your problem should be solved, but again, use your ears.
Even though above 120Hz is not necessarily needed, it’s still good practice to apply the filter, just in case. For example, a directional microphone has a bass boost because of the proximity effect. What happens is the microphone applies a low frequency boost for very low sources. So if you have a microphone that is giving off a low end because of the proximity effect, then you could use a high pass filter anywhere from 200Hz to even 500Hz.
Filtering Is Not Just For EQ
When I first started making beats, I thought the high pass (and low pass) filter was just a way to EQ a piece of music. I didn’t even realize that it would be a useful tool in keeping low frequency instruments in check, and that’s exactly what it’s best used for.
But above all else, a high pass filter is a great way to allow you to open up your mixing canvas, which frees up your space. This means that your mix will not be cluttered or muddy, and makes it much easier for everyone to hear all the instruments as they were intended.
There have been many times where I found a nice sample to use in my beat but it was too hard to mix it in because there was something else fighting it in the EQ. When that happens, you can either ditch the sample, or process one or both of them.
It’s one of the most basic things you can do when mixing, and yet most people forget to even use it. It’s understandable because there is so much information out there about mixing, it can be overwhelming.
Just remember that if you need some sort of effect to make your beat better, stop and think about filtering first. Once you perfect that, your beats will sound so much better.