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What's the secret to low-mid definition?
Old 12th September 2002
  #1
Lives for gear
 
moon_unit's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
What's the secret to low-mid definition?

Alright, not sure if this is the right place for this question or not. Maybe I should elaborate a little . . .

Some of the major factors I see that tend to set apart the "low end" recordings from the "high end" ones:

* Great accoustics and/or reverb
* Quality of musicianship
* Quality of instruments
* Skill of engineer/mixer, etc.

(and the list goes on)

But the real biggie, to me, is definition in the low-mids. As a sound engineer on a budget, I work around this problem by simply pulling out the RenEQ and cutting out a lot of them. Easy enought.

But why do I have to? Is this a gear thing? I mean would a better mic or preamp help? Could it be an instrument issue? Or is it mostly bad accoustics, do you think?

I understand this question is rather general and there are a gazillion different ways to answer it. But what do you think is the secret to getting rich, warm low-mids as opposed to muddy and undefined?
Old 12th September 2002
  #2
Gear Addict
 
🎧 15 years
Typical small rooms resonate at several upperbass and low mid frequencies. This messes with the tracking, this messes with the mixing. Eggshell foam doesn't help, instead leaving a murkier mess. Bass traps do help. In every corner of your squarish room.

Abuse of directional mics is an issue, too. "But you said the rooms are a problem." Yes, but so is excessive proximity boosting. An omni at close proximity to the source has no proximity boost and less room then you'd think.

Cheap monitors don't tell you the truth and subwoofers generally make things worse. Compensate by switching up your monitoring as much as possible (phones, home stereo, car stereo, Aurotone-like torture testers, etc.).

Seperate your mud from the start. Don't use the same mic on kick and bass amp. Don't cut lard assed guitar sounds if you have low end congestion. (Omni dynamics are nice for dropping pounds from electric guitars while leaving taught muscle in the frequencies guitars are supposed to hit at.)

Hope that helps a bit.

Bear
Old 12th September 2002
  #3
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
That's all good advice. A lot of times you can high pass things much higher then you would normally think you could get away with. I almost never have anything set lower then 100-150hz on electric guitars, vocals, room mics, etc. Take the lows out of everything you can without making it sound thin. Taking too much away with EQ isn't really a good answer either because if you take out too much things can come out sounding like they don't have any meat. Also, listen to the top end of your recordings. Are they bright enough? If you don't have much energy from 5khz and up things can sound like they're bass and low-mid heavy. Getting clean sounding high end is a problem with cheap gear because that's where things tend to fall short a lot of times. Seems like nobody really minds bloated, murky bottom end but as soon as the highs sound weird it's all over.
Old 12th September 2002
  #4
Lives for gear
 
moon_unit's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by Gone Fission
(Omni dynamics are nice for dropping pounds from electric guitars while leaving taught muscle in the frequencies guitars are supposed to hit at.)
That's a good suggestion I haven't yet heard mentioned. A+
Old 12th September 2002
  #5
Gear Addict
 
🎧 15 years
If you want a specific recomendation on a mic, the EV-635a is great and you can usually get them used for about used SM-57 prices if not much less. Better yet, the EV PL-5 is the same thing, with maybe less stringent quality control, easily found for under $30 used. Not a beautiful sounding mic, but damned useful.

Bear
Old 12th September 2002
  #6
There is only one
 
alphajerk's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
i have really found that great monitors make a world of difference. i went from uncontrolled low mids [and ultimately scooping them] to very tight kick ass sounding low mids just by hearing better what is going on in there. its where a LOT of the power in music is.... scoop too much out and you lose power. very tricky region to get JUST RIGHT>
Old 12th September 2002
  #7
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
I dont have good monitors but when i got the waves gold bundle thing a while ago I was playing around with the analyzer thing and found most of my low mid problems werent in the low mids, but in not having enough high end information.

The only thing I scoop low mids out of is kick, and sometimes bass guitar. As AJ said its were all the power in the music is. Take it out and everything will sound thin, but without enough high end it still sound dull and boomy, so now you're stuck with a thin AND dull record.

I have to admit I have a problem with never having enough high end. Last thing I took to mastering the ME boosted 1 [email protected] 1k, put a 2db shelf @ 4k, and boosted 15k by an extra db. The whole time I had been thinking my low mids were too thick, but with those boosts, and a 4 db low shelf cut @ 45 hz it was back to sounding like a real record.
Old 12th September 2002
  #8
Lives for gear
 
moon_unit's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Some good discussion, here.

I just remember what it was like for me back when I first discovered small diaphragm condensers, and how it opened a whole new realm of possiblilities. Suddenly, it was okay to boost from 4K on up without revealing latent harshness.

It was kind of a similar awakening for me when I learned the secret to better bass -- boosting only what's needed and cutting what isn't.

So I'm wondering if/when my next big awakening will be in terms of the low-mids. It kind of seems like the appendix, to me, of mixing. I don't miss them too much when they're cut, but I wonder if there isn't a higher function they serve.

Like maybe the right mic or piece of gear might all of a sudden open my ears to the low-mids the way the Oktava mc012 first opened my ears to the highs.

Just a hunch, but I'm betting it has something to do with something really simple . . . like the solution to my dilemnas lies in a better brand of bass string or something.
Old 12th September 2002
  #9
Founder
 
Jules's Avatar
Faskinating thread!

Old 12th September 2002
  #10
Gear Addict
 
🎧 15 years
Great point on high frequency content. Consider the ubiquitous Rat distortion pedal and the filter on it. Purely a passive tone control, although atypically the sound gets darker as you turn it clockwise. With the filter at minimum, the sound is bright and fizzy as hell, with no discernable congestion in the lows. Crank the filter in, and you get pretty thick and mushy low mids happening. Just from taking the highs out. Don't over do it, though, or you'll make people wince.

Bear
Old 13th September 2002
  #11
Lives for gear
 
moon_unit's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
So what you're saying is that you believe in a moreless symbiotic relationship between the low-mids and the highs?

With just the right balance of high versus low-mid content, they can be warm and powerful. But without the necessary high-end content, the balance shifts and low-mids turn in to mush.

Interesting. I don't really notice such an interdependence in the other frequencies. I mean good bass, by itself, still sounds like good bass. It might destroy your woofer, but it still sounds like good bass. And good highs, all alone, still sound like good highs, although they might make your dog squeel and your ears bleed.


But can't low-mids sound warm and fluid . . . like a sea of molten, melting butta'? Or supple and silky like a naked babyoil wrestling match with Hale Barry . . . without the highs to bail them out?

I believe there is a secret to getting the low-mids to sound like fine Godiva chocolate, EVEN IN THE ABSENCE OF THE HIGHS. And what I'm thinking of is a "hummmmm" sound/feeling. Good, smooth low-mids will have the buzz of an electric razor . . . or the hum of a well-tuned motor/engine.

. . . As opposed to the fart of a burrito-fed butthole.

That's the kind of low-mids that separate the players from the wannabes.

So what is it? Are you a low-mid wannabe? Or are you a low-mid player?
Old 15th September 2002
  #12
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Yes, the low to high content is very related. Do you have access to a spectrum analyzer? Either hardware (plug-in to the wall) or a software plug-in will work. Take a few hours to listen to some albums you like sound of and look at the curves and content of them. Then, take a look and listen to your mixes. How do they compare?
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