Here are a couple of concepts that will dramatically improve your mixing during and before the mixing stage. Please bare in mind that these are concepts; You ought to read up on the basics of using an equalizer before randomly tweaking an EQ and assuming you’re “doing it right”. I decided to focus on concepts since there are already countless articles online on how to properly use an Eq.
What’s the first thing that comes to your mind before reaching out for an EQ? It’s actually a really tough question because of the variables involved. Common reasons are overall muddiness; which has the effect of a blanket over your monitors. Another common reason is taming certain frequencies that are too prominent at that moment in time. I say moment in time because your music is always moving; i hope. If your music isn’t moving; it could mean your mix is lacking clarity, punch and ultimately translation.
I’ll talk about concepts that apply to any Eq, on any DAW. The first concept is figuring out the key of the song you’re mixing. What?! That’s right, the key of your song.
They key of your song will determine what frequencies that you’ll hear most often in your mix. Professional mix engineers know this. For instance, if your song is in the key of C Major (easy example); you’ll want to focus on the frequencies of all the notes in that particular key. For example, in the key of C Major (C,D,E,F,G,A & B), middle C= 261.63 hz, middle D= 293.66 hz, and so forth. To determine the octave of your note, simply multiply or divide your note (C) by 2. Here’s a reference chart.
By understand and using this concept, you’ll take a lot of the guesswork out of fixing problematic frequencies in your mix; fast! If you hear a problematic “frequency”, figure out the note and find that frequency!
Second concept is overall tonal quality. In my opinion, this simple but difficult concept will only get better with time and experience. Everyone hears the same thing differently. Something that might sound overly bright to someone, might sound fine to another. Finding that equilibrium is what makes a mix engineer special.
So how does one find that “perfect” balance in the mix? I don’t really have an answer for that because of the many distinctions that make something “good” or “bad.” I will say that genre and taste are a good start. Understanding the genre you’re mixing in and working around that.
Remember, your audience doesn’t care if you mixed your song in the bathroom or in a multi-million dollar studio. They’ll either bop their heads along, or hit the next button! I hope this has help you in some way. Please share it if you think it could help others! Here are some links on actually using an EQ that I think are good.
If you have any questions or comments free free to shoot me a message: