How To Achieve Separation In Your Mix

10th July 2017

There are several reasons why some mixes to sound muddy and out of focus. On this video we explain why that happens are how you can fix the problem :

Filter The Low End

The low end is where most of the problems usually happen. You really only need low end from the Kick, Bass, and maybe some synths… if they have a “Bass” role. On all other channels you can use a high-pass filter to remove everything below 80-100Hz. The exact settings depend on the recording and the arrangement, but as a general rule removing useless bass information is the first step to get rid of the “mud” in a mix.

Use Panning

Try not to pan similar instruments in the same position. If you have two guitars, don’t put them both in the centre, try to pan them to the left and right. If you have lots of percussions, you can scatter them across the stereo field, to give each sound its own space. Try to leave your lead vocal right in the centre and if you have backing vocal, then pan them a bit away from the lead voice. Pianos and guitars can have lots of mid frequencies: try to pan them away from the vocals.

Stereo Enhancers

Try to use stereo enhancers on stereo sounds like pads or reverbs.  When you use stereo enhancers, you have that sensation as the sound is coming from outside of the speakers… that’s because you’re changing the phase correlation of that sound. If used wisely it can be a great way to achieve more separation between similar stereo sources.

Clean Up Your Arrangement

If the arrangement is too cluttered to begin with then it’s going to be a lot harder to achieve separation. Some people like to have multiple guitar parts playing at the same time, in the same section in the same spot… but maybe that’s not necessary and instead can use the mute button and get rid of some of them.

Sometimes there are multiple instruments covering the same parts of the arrangement. Maybe piano, keyboards, pads, guitars and backing vocals are happening all at the same time? In the same section of the song? That will make your mix sound a bit confusing! Try to select the best parts for each particular section of music and make decisions about what can stay and what can go.

EQ things out of the way

Mid rich instruments like piano or guitar can be in the way of vocals! You can try and scoop those instruments with an EQ between 1KHz and 3KHz… that will make more space for the vocals to cut through the mix. In other words priorities the vocals while they are paling. This will help you achieve clarity.

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