“What is the one thing I can do to make my mixes sound more professional?” My answer to this – filters – is one that many producers either overlook, or don’t understand. Let’s get to it.
One of the first steps I take in every mix is to add low-pass and high-pass filters to most tracks in the project. A high-pass filter gradually cuts out frequencies below a threshold you set and lets the ones above “pass” through. A low pass filter is gradually cuts out frequencies above a threshold and allows frequencies below to “pass” through.
If a track does not have any bass frequencies that would be missed (think hi-hats, lead guitar, etc.), you can remove them with a high-pass filter. on tracks that have prominent bass and no important high frequencies, you can cut some out with a low-pass filter.
This is an important start to the EQ treatment of the mix. Taking this small step cleans up the mix tremendously right from the start, saving you from headaches down the road. This technique is one I didn’t adopt until about 8-10 years into my own production and needless to say, it would have been a great tool much earlier.
For this type of filter, just about any EQ plugin works great. I personally use Goodhertz Tiltshift. It sounds great, has very straightforward controls for exactly this, and it makes other ‘big picture’ EQ tweaks a breeze to do track by track right at the start. It’s pictured below.
One important consideration is that while these are safe general rules, every mix of every instrument is different. While cutting the highs of a bass track can help in one project, those same frequencies might be integral to the tone in another track where it is more exposed. Use these tips along with your ears for your best results. “If it sounds good, it sounds good.”
What’s your #1 tip for a cleaner mix?
Let us know and help your fellow music producers by dropping it in the comments!