Benefits of cutting unused frequencies

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
Chisel
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Benefits of cutting unused frequencies

Post by Chisel » Tue Jan 05, 2010 9:29 pm

Is there any real benefit in cutting out the unused frequencies of a sound? For example, if I have a hi-hat that sounds the same to my ears with or without the lower frequencies, should I cut them? Will it give me more headroom in the mix even if I don't actually hear those frequencies or am I losing the 'essence' of the sound by removing these frequencies even if I feel they aren't audible? I notice that when I do cut out frequencies with a filter or EQ, I still see them in the spectrum analyzer. Can you ever really cut them out completely or just attenuate them?

Thanks,
chisel316

3phase
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Re: Benefits of cutting unused frequencies

Post by 3phase » Tue Jan 05, 2010 9:55 pm

if you put enough filters after each other they totally disappear... that also shows how strong the signal in theese unecessary frequs actually is
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moreofmorris
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Re: Benefits of cutting unused frequencies

Post by moreofmorris » Tue Jan 05, 2010 10:07 pm

Don't know if it's any help to you dude, but one thing I've noticing alot recently is that it DEFINITELY helps!

...things that you know for sure are proper high in the spectrum (hi hats, crashes etc.) then definitely make sure that it's all cut out from the bottom. Any energy you see in the lower parts in the spectrum WILL take up head room and cause issues when you want to get your sub/low/low-mids clear. Just literally hi pass the fuck out of them - making sure what you do isn't taking any 'character' away from the sound.

But for stuff in the more low-mids and mid areas of the spectrum, take more care with cutting away frequencies... Again, make sure what you do doesn't take away the character of the sound, but sometimes straight hi-pass filtering the fuck out of these sounds can actually just make the tune weak sounding. ALOT of sounds take up the low-mids and mid areas (120hz - 600hz, for example, though rough estimate) and this should have more of a curved out sorta 'slide' look to the EQ here. Can't quite explain the look without drawing a picture and I can't be arsed with that... But basically, really try to carve it more down there as alot of the character of these low-mids and mid areas are there and just hi passing the fuck out of them to make space can just sound shit.

But definitely worth doing this... Only recently I discovered all this and I've been able to get mixes sound alot better because of it.

:)

Khazul
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Re: Benefits of cutting unused frequencies

Post by Khazul » Tue Jan 05, 2010 10:15 pm

If unesscessary frequencies are clutering the overall mix the cut them, else leave them be as may end up sounding a bit thin.
Nothing to see here - move along!

ethios4
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Re: Benefits of cutting unused frequencies

Post by ethios4 » Tue Jan 05, 2010 10:19 pm

I usually high-pass stuff like hats and cymbals, but always check the mix because it can end up sounding thin, as mentioned. I also usually cut everything below 100-150 on every instrument that's not intended to be sub-bass (kicks, basslines, FX). Always check the mix, but I like my bass clean, so I make sure there's only bass elements in the sub-bass.

Sage
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Re: Benefits of cutting unused frequencies

Post by Sage » Wed Jan 06, 2010 12:41 am

Always worth it. You shouldn't notice a significant change in sound, but gain a decibel or two back in headroom at least.

At first, stick it on everything and see what happens. Personally I'll even use HPFs on kick drums and stuff, not all the sub bass is useful and frees up room for really deep, subby bass :mrgreen:

henke
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Re: Benefits of cutting unused frequencies

Post by henke » Wed Jan 06, 2010 12:55 am

don't cut anything you do not need to cut!

if there is lower frequencies in your hi-hats and it sounds bad - cut them. but if they do not sound bad but add to the sound you might even want to boost them.

you might want to cut very low frequencies that your speakers cannot reproduce. but before doing so i would check with a spectrum analyzer if there is anything to cut.

use EQs as extensively as you wish if it creates the result you like, but do not use them because you think you have to...

Robert

Chisel
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Re: Benefits of cutting unused frequencies

Post by Chisel » Wed Jan 06, 2010 7:37 am

I think part of my problem is trying to make a song sound good on any speaker system. For example, I'll get the mix sounding good on my BX5s, but when I play it back on $50 computer speakers, it doesn't sound nearly as good. So then I try to make it sound better on the cheap speakers, but then I'm worried because I don't want to alter the mix for speakers that probably have a bias. What's the secret to getting a mix to sound good on any system?

Peace \/
chisel316

do_om
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Re: Benefits of cutting unused frequencies

Post by do_om » Wed Jan 06, 2010 8:28 am

To get a mix that translates to all kinds of listening environments
you need a well treated room, proper monitoring and knowledge
about EQ / Dynamics. I usually cut alot, even subs and kicks.

I work by certain rules and use analyzers but in the end you need
to use you ears to hear / feel any radical cuts, especially in the
bass area. It's easy to get carried away and cut to much and wind
up with a thin, tinny sound.

I'd ditch those bx5's and get some proper monitoring if you
want to take things to a new level.

le Do_oM

3phase
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Re: Benefits of cutting unused frequencies

Post by 3phase » Wed Jan 06, 2010 10:07 am

Chisel wrote: What's the secret to getting a mix to sound good on any system?

Peace \/
chisel316
first
dont worry to much.. you dont have to listen to the crap on the other speakers and the other people don know how it was supposed to sound anyway..wright?

second...
get better monitors or at least an alternativ set of speakers


third
Check how the sound you have in your room translates to the outside world by listening to mixes from you in other rooms/studios...even when your friends will hate you after a while...
Best is to have the chance to listen to it on huge systems because they are usually very unforgiving on little mistakes...especially in the bass... when you dont recognize your own song over the huge system you still have a way to go

fourth... if you tend to use subwoofers keep in mind that you are not in the cinema.. you need the ability to switch them off from the listening position and you have to use this possibility often..
at least 2/3 of the time they should be off



your mix have to sound ok without the subwoofer... and the room shouldnt be flooded when having it on..
the keyword here is defenition...

5th
beware of home cinema subs.. subs that claim to go down to 20 herz should be avoided... except they are at least one qubic meter in szise.
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Sage
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Re: Benefits of cutting unused frequencies

Post by Sage » Wed Jan 06, 2010 2:09 pm

Chisel wrote:I think part of my problem is trying to make a song sound good on any speaker system. For example, I'll get the mix sounding good on my BX5s, but when I play it back on $50 computer speakers, it doesn't sound nearly as good. So then I try to make it sound better on the cheap speakers, but then I'm worried because I don't want to alter the mix for speakers that probably have a bias. What's the secret to getting a mix to sound good on any system?

Peace \/
chisel316
I'm hardly the best person to give advice on this, but play the mix back on different systems, headphones and note down what you don't like, then go back to mix it and make those changes straight away.

It's easy to get comfortable with a mix if you're listening to it over & over on the same speakers.


I think the most important thing in mixing is to trust your instinct and make changes as quickly as possible rather than deliberate over them.

DRStudio
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Re: Benefits of cutting unused frequencies

Post by DRStudio » Wed Jan 06, 2010 2:19 pm

Here's a simple video explaining how to use Spectrum and EQ8 in Live to cut frequencies that are in the same range:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGFzYh_C7to

Not exactly the "best" or "correct" way to do it, but worth checking anyway.

Chisel
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Re: Benefits of cutting unused frequencies

Post by Chisel » Thu Jan 07, 2010 8:03 am

DRStudio wrote:Here's a simple video explaining how to use Spectrum and EQ8 in Live to cut frequencies that are in the same range:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGFzYh_C7to

Not exactly the "best" or "correct" way to do it, but worth checking anyway.
Thanks. That video was very informative. It made me take a closer look at the Spectrum Analyzer included with Live. I always had it on my Master track, but it wasn't until after I saw that video that I realized that I had it configured wrong. By switching the display from auto to a fixed range, I get a better view of the sound and it actually freezes the display when I stop the audio - which is perfect for analyzing the sound!

Peace \/
chisel316

ciw
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Re: Benefits of cutting unused frequencies

Post by ciw » Thu Jan 07, 2010 3:57 pm

Chisel wrote:What's the secret to getting a mix to sound good on any system?
0. good listening environment (monitors and room) helps, but what helps more is getting a feel for how sounds there translate to other systems, so...

1. listen to your mixes on lots of systems. and also of use is...

2. pick a reference track that has the same kind of tonal balance you're looking for, and that sounds good on a number of systems. now mix/master your tune so the frequency balance sounds similar. you can use matching eqs (e.g. in ozone) to some extent but they are no substitute for listening and just making it sound the same.

what seems to work for me (making psytrance) is having an overall frequency balance with a big peak in the bass between about 40 and 160 hz, and the rest of the spectrum as flat as possible right up to 20khz.

see here: http://www.tropic.org.uk/~crispin/volatile/spectra.PNG
the blue lines are the kind of thing you want

leedsquietman
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Re: Benefits of cutting unused frequencies

Post by leedsquietman » Thu Jan 07, 2010 5:37 pm

if the frequencies aren't there to begin with then you are neither cutting nor boosting them, just placing some extra CPU drain by adding an EQ setting which isn't needed.

Use a spectrum analyzer to determine where the frequency range lies, in conjunction with a bell/parametric EQ filter set to a narrow Q and boosted or cut several dbs which you sweep through the frequencies until you find the right range, then you might want to revisit the amount of cut/boost to get the optimal result, as typically big cuts and boosts are not required and especially too much boost can cause phasing issues. Sometime hi-hats have no audible frequencies below 500 Hz anyway, especially sampled/drum machine type ones (miced up acoustic hats are going to have some low range through room resonances and bleeding of the other drum parts into the mic, so here you should be looking at subtractive eqing and possibly, gating). I remember once seeing a dude try to boost his top end on a guitar track which had no frequency range above 7 Khz, but he was boosting 7 or 8 dB at 15 Khz because he was certain it was 'putting some sheen on the top end' (as he'd read about in some book or other). In actual fact, he was adding hiss to the track because there was nothing to boost in the first place. Common noob mistake.

Cutting lower mids (on things such as pads, leads played in the middle-higher registers, rhythm guitars etc) often helps bass and kick drum to cut through but you have to pay real close attention and use your ears to ensure you're not taking too much out - otherwise, you get a thin sounding track.
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