Here's how to clean up low-end mud and add definition to mixes.
Welcome back to the Dojo. This time we're going to look at the mighty high-pass filter (HPF) and how you can use it to clear out muddy, low-end frequency build-up in your mix, and get more separation between your guitars, bass, and kick drum.
A high-pass filter does exactly what the name implies: It attenuates the low frequencies while allowing the higher frequencies to “pass through" and be heard. You can find HPFs in many different places, but the best place to look is an EQ (either analog or digital). All DAWs come with EQs, so put one on your track and follow along.
Let's talk about the bottom end. In standard tuning, the lowest frequency on the guitar is about 83 Hz (our lowest E string), the standard 4-string bass can play down to 41 Hz, and (generally speaking) the kick drum fundamental lives in the 40 to 70 Hz range. This means that there is quite significant overlap from 40 to 100 Hz between these three instruments. Although defined lowest notes exist on instruments, that doesn't mean that when recording your guitars, bass, drums, etc., that other lower frequencies are not sneaking into your tracks!
Say you're creating your next guitar-laden behemoth, with dozens of guitar tracks. Every time you add another guitar track, you're also adding lower-end information that's accumulating and slowly covering up your bass and kick drum. You turn up your bass and kick, but then the guitars sound anemic and not as defined. It's getting bass heavy and you end up chasing your tail, getting frustrated, and asking “why can't I fix this?" Sound familiar?
Look at Fig. 1. This is an audio snapshot of me playing a grindy, super-distorted low rhythm part through my amp without a high-pass filter. You can tell by the peak, at 82 Hz, that I'm cranking low Es and Fs. Now look to the left of that 82 Hz peak. There's still a significant amount of low-end information present, especially from 70 Hz down, and this is only one track! Imagine doubling this part and adding more tracks. We're headed for some serious low-end buildup.
Now look at Fig. 2. This is the exact same section of audio with a high-pass filter at 155 Hz (the faint green line), with a 12 dB per octave slope. (More on this in a bit.) If you compare the difference you'll see that the 82 Hz peak has lessened, and most of the sub-frequencies have been radically reduced. Rest assured that the guitar sounds as bold and brazen as it did before, but now I've carved out room for my bass and kick drum to coexist.
I mentioned a 12 dB per octave slope. What does that mean? High-pass filters need to have a slope shape to be able to separate the frequencies you want to pass through from the ones you don't. The gentle slope of 12 dB per octave means that all the frequencies below wherever the filter is set (say A, or 440 Hz) will gradually be reduced, and by the time the next lowest A (220 Hz) comes around, it will be 12 dB lower. Most plug-in EQs, like the FabFilter Pro-Q 3 (which I love for many reasons), will offer many choices of slope shapes ranging, from 12 to 96 dB per octave. Remember this: The higher the slope shape value, the more you're absolutely shutting the door on those frequencies below your filter point. This can be very useful if you want to have total control over instrument ranges and how they overlap each other. Generally, I prefer 12 to 48 dB slopes, and only use 96 dB and above slopes for an effect and rare offending lower frequencies.
Try this: Take your rhythm guitar track with the lowest range and use a 48 dB per octave HPF. Slowly sweep it while listening to it in the mix. Stop when you notice it sounding slightly thin. Now pull the filter back just slightly to the left. Solo the track and toggle the HPF on and off. Notice how thin it sounds when soloed, but it has more gravitas in the mix! Why? Because you're allowing the bass and kick drum to occupy that region and making your mix sound better!
See you next month and keep experimenting.
Kick off the holiday season by shopping for the guitar player in your life at Guitar Center! Now through December 24th 2022, save on exclusive instruments, accessories, apparel, and more with hundreds of items at their lowest prices of the year.
We’ve compiled this year’s best deals in the 2022 Holiday Gift Guide presented by Guitar Center.
Mystery Stocking is coming soon! Sign up for PG Perks below so you don't miss it.
Sign up for PG Perks on the form below to make sure you don't miss the launch announcement!
About Mystery Stocking
Each year, Premier Guitar likes to put out these mystery boxes as a part of bringing some fun to the holiday season. Remember, this is supposed to be a fun holiday treat! If the contents of this box will ruin your holiday, deplete the last of your bank account, or end your ability to see the good in humanity, it may not be for you.
- This year's Mystery Stocking will cost $44.95. ($39.95 + $5 Flat shipping)
- Each box will be guaranteed to contain $40 or more in value.
- US only. (Sorry World.)
- Make sure your shipping address is correct.
- Have your credit card ready to go before you refresh the page. Paypal is not available. Autofill may not fill in your information.
- There will be NO REFUNDS given.
- There has been a huge demand for these in the past. We really did sell out in less than 4 minutes last year. When they are gone, they are gone.
- One per household, one per person.
Q: What's in the Mystery Stocking?
A: It wouldn't be much of a surprise if we told you, now would it?
Q: Will I definitely get my money worth?
Q: Can I return it if I don't like it?
A: Nope. All sales final.
Q: What if I live outside the US?
A: Sorry, US only.
Q. How much is it?
A. $39.95 Plus $5 shipping
Q. When will it ship?
A. On or before December 10, 2022.
Q. What form of payment do you accept?
A. Credit cards only. Sorry, no Paypal for this.
Q. Can I ship to a different location than my billing address?
Q. I tried last year and didn't get one. Will I get one this year?
A. There is an overwhelming demand for Mystery Stocking. Be sure you have a fast internet connection and be ready when they go on sale. Last year we sold out in 3 min 33 seconds.
Q. I want to buy 5. How can I buy 5?
A. You can't. This year, we're limiting to one per household, so more people can get in on the fun!
Featuring the Adaptive Circuitry recently introduced on their Halcyon Green Overdrive, Origin Effects have brought us a pedal with a character all of its own and a new flavor of drive.
Origin Effects introduce the new M-EQ DRIVER mid booster & drive pedal. Based on a vintage Pultec studio EQ, this unique pedal offers a range of mid-focused tones, from a subtle mid boost to thick, resonant overdrive. Featuring the Adaptive Circuitry recently introduced on their Halcyon Green Overdrive, Origin Effects have brought us a pedal with a character all of its own and a new flavor of drive.
A choice of three mid-range frequencies ensures that you can boost just the right part of your guitar signal and, when pushed harder, can elicit a range of saturation from a classic “mid-hump” overdrive to fierce “cocked wah” distortion. Thanks to the Adaptive Circuitry, the high-end roll-off of the Cut control is reduced as the pedal cleans up. This allows for a smooth transition from warm overdrive to bright clean tones in response to playing dynamics or guitar volume knob changes.
Introducing... M-EQ DRIVER || Mid Booster & Drive
Built-in the UK to the highest standards, the M-EQ DRIVER continues the Origin Effects tradition of vintage, studio-inspired tones in modern guitar pedals. The Origin Effects M-EQ DRIVER is available now from Origin Effects dealers worldwide.
RRP: 259 GBP (Inc VAT) / 319 USD (Ex TAX)
For more information, please visit origineffects.com.
The new finish, according to Lava Music, is “inspired by the beauty of the golden hour,” a shining time just before sunset and after sunrise when photographers covet to capture stunning pictures.
With bright and warm golden hues, the new finish adds a brilliant metallic glow to the surface of Lava ME 3, complementing its AirSonic 2 carbon fiber unibody which features L3 Preamp with FreeBoost 2.0, delivers industry-leading sounds by breakthrough acoustic technologies, and houses a multi-touch display powered by Lava-developed HILAVA system.
Speaking of the HILAVA system, Lava Music also added four new effects: Nebula, Desert Rose, Cassette, and Edge of Breakup. As unique as their names sound, they are very much different from what we normally know about effects. Programmed into the HILAVA system, each of the four is powered by the company’s latest ArctanDrive algorithm and incorporates effects like Pitch Shift, Delay, and Reverb. And every one of those incorporated sub-effects comes with various parameters that players can adjust to design unique, overdriven sounds by just tapping on the multi-touch display. That said, those effects enable users to play with overdriven tone on an acoustic-electric guitar without even plugging in any external gear.
LAVA ME 3 | Now in Golden Hour | LAVA MUSIC
Lava Me 3 in Golden Hour is now available starting from $999 on LAVA MUSIC, Amazon, and local guitar dealerships near you.
For more information, please visit store.lavamusic.com.