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USE A REFERENCE TRACK TO MIX THE LOW FREQUENCIES

Ciao guys, Manuel here from masteryourtrack.com

In this tutorial, I would talk about the low end of our mixes and how to use a reference track to get it in the right ballpark.

The low frequencies are usually related to two instruments: the kick and the bass. This range of frequencies is hard to manage because of two main factors. First, from the acoustic point of view, it is hard to tame the room resonances and phase cancellations in that range. Second, human ears are not very sensitive in that range. Humans like the bass frequencies and an inexperienced mixing engineer might tend to over-boost in that range. Let's see how we can use a reference track to manage the low end effectively.



Some helpful advices


  • Use a good pair of headphones to double-check the low end. (See also the article MIXING WITH HEADPHONES: 4 TOP TIPS)

  • Use an LPF to other instruments to create more space for the kick and the bass guitar.

  • Use one or more reference tracks to make sure your low-end is in the right ballpark


How to use a reference track

The way I describe here has no additional cost but if you want invest some money on the market there are A/B comparison software.


  1. Import the reference track in your project. I suggest importing two or three reference tracks.

  2. Volume match the reference track with your mix. To do it, you can simply reduce the volume of the reference by turning down its fader until it matches the volume of your mix. You can use an RMS or better an LUFS meter to facilitate this step. (See also the article DB AND METERS...WHO ARE THOSE STRANGERS?). Matching the volumes is very important to avoid to be fooled by the difference in volume.

  3. Check if the low end of your track is in the same ballpark of the reference/s. One way to do it is put an LPF on the master bus and cut out everything but the low end so you can be focused only on lower frequencies. Your mix doesn't need to perfectly match the reference as every song has its characteristics, but it has to be in a reasonable ballpark.



FabFileter Pro-Q 3

N.B. Don't use low-quality Mp3s as reference tracks. The Mp3 format can cut many frequencies to reduce the file size on the hard disk. Train yourself to listen to high-quality music, or your internal reference will be misaligned compared to the rest of the pros.




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