Ask The Pro #2 “Muddy Waters”

JLBarrow • March 08, 2010 • 2 Comments

Even the best producers need help and with the constant changes and updates to music production software and hardware the most dedicated novice can become frustrated. In’s continued dedication to developing and showcasing the best production talent we have resurrected ASK THE PRO Question and Answer series previously published in Scratch magazine. One of the original contributing engineers, Ariel Borujow, will be answering your technical questions with speed and accuracy. So send them over to INFO@NODFACTOR.COM with the subject “Ask The Pro” and keep checking back to for Ariel’s answers.

How the heck do I put sub bass in a track without getting that “muddy” sound?

There are some variables that help determine how the sub will get mixed.  The one being most important is the sounds that you choose in the production phase of the song.  I can’t stress this enough. It all starts off with the right sounds and arrangement.  Plenty of times i get songs that have so much going on in the low frequency range that I suggest to the producer to cut certain things out depending on the working relationship we have.  For instance if there are 2 types of 808 then a bass that covers the same frequency range, it would be really hard to distinguish what is going on in the low end.  Other times if the kick drum occupies the same frequencies as the sub I would then use a high pass filter on the kick and get rid of the sub frequencies (maybe 60 Hz and below). Also the right amount of compression helps tame the low end tremendously.  I don’t usually use too much compression on my mixes but even if I add anywhere from 2:1-4:1 ratio, medium to slow attack and slow release it helps control the peaks without over compressing therefore the low end “breathes” more.

How can I tell if my vocals/mix is “in phase?

I have to assume that what you are talking about is background vocals because that is the one thing that people have trouble with when it comes to phasing. The easiest way to check this is to reference your mix in mono. What you will hear once you do that is your vocals will cancel out which mean you will not hear them.  Sometimes this happens because you might be over using an imaging plug in such as the S1.  The wider you go on the imaging with the plug in, you will notice this more.  When i mix, and i use the imager what i do is listen in mono as frequently as possible.  Mixes as a whole occupy and 3 dimensional field of hearing.  Be very concious about your panning and keeping things within that dimension.  As long as you keep all this into consideration,  you should have no problem with phasing.  Its takes time to learn but the more practice and mixes you accomplish, the more apparent all this becomes.

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  • juiceboxjackson • 11 years ago

    dope, I wish we had these tips to read on a weekly basis!! Thanks Ariel!!