The Low End Mixing Trick That Could Save Your Mixes | – Mix School #12

Today I’m going to be showing you a great
trick so check in the levels of your loan and this is vital. I spoke about in a recent video the importance
of balancing when you’re trying to get a good low end mix and if you don’t get the levels
right in the first place, then no matter how much EQ compression, multiband
compression you use it’s never going to sound right but when you get the low end right it’s
great because your mix of translate really where it will sound powerful, it will enhance
music. So it’s important to get the low end right
and hopefully this trick is going to help you to do that. I like to stress the importance of referencing
because if you don’t compare your mix to a professionally mixed, mastered and released
track, then you don’t really have a basis for comparison to find out if the low end
in your mix is right, if it’s too loud, if it’s too weak and if there’s too much sub
compared to upper bass, if there’s too much upper base etc. So referencing is important, a lot of people
what they do is, they finish their mix, they bounce it down, they take it to their car
or their home cinema system or something with a more low end and they listen to it and the
mix falls apart, either sounds way too basically or it sounds really
thin but by using a reference, you can complete your skip all of that, just compare your mix
to a professional mix and find out how the low end is sounding but you can go into much
more depth in that and what I like to do is actually use a low-pass filter just to check
my low end. I try not to do this too often and try and
reference most of the time with the entire mix because that’s how you’re going to get
the best basis of comparison because that’s what people are going to hear the entire mix
and I’m going to hear the low end but you’re struggling, then by applying just a low-pass
filter to your master fader so that you can only hear
the low end it’s much easier to compare your track to another but before any of that, you
need to make sure that your mix sounds the same volume as the reference mix. So I’ve got track here let’s have a listen
first. Cool and now I had a few references for this,
one of them was OJ and I use the Radiohead track as well
and there’s a couple of reasons I really like
the low end in that Radiohead track, I like the aggression and the rawness of the OJ mix. So I’m using both of them, mostly the OJ mix
but first step, I just need to make sure these are the same volume because if they’re a different
volume, then that’s going to have a big impact on
how we perceive the low end. If it’s slightly louder, we’re going to think
the low-end louder as well. So I need to spend some time level matching
these. I’m going to load up a view in plug-in here
which you can use any view in plug-in, I like this one, it’s great, it’s really cheap
but any plug-in that shows you the level, hopefully an RMS level would be better than
peak but just something where you can have a look at the volume. So let’s have a listen to mine and I’m going
to do this mostly by ear, I’m not going to rely on this tracks it’s always going to be
different, let’s have a listen. Now we’ve got a problem, where the references
are actually a different volume as well. So I’m going to have to add in a bit of automation
here, the Radiohead track sounded slightly louder, it’s probably mastered a bit more
aggressively, let’s try again. So now they sound a bit more similar, let’s
go back to my track. So we’re getting there, let me just check
the V meter. So if I play the reference, we’re kind of
peaking around minus one. So yeah, we’re in the same kind of area but
that’s an important step, just make sure you do that because without doing that, none of
this is going to matter. So now what we can do is compare the low end. So I can already hear just by comparing and
without a filter on, now I think the low end on my mix is definitely too much and it needs
addressing but now what I can actually do is, engage this low-pass filter. So I’ve just got a in Pro Tools just the stock
Pro Tools EQ. So I’m listening to all the low-end here,
I’ve got sub, I’ve got pro bass guitar as well, let’s have a listen to that. So I’m going to start with my mix and then
go to the OJ track and then flick back again. So I can hear already that there’s a lot more
low-end, low low-end more sub stuff going on in my mix. The OJ track, I can hear a lot more energy,
maybe towards the upper end of this filter here, you can hear a lot more in Jin that
kind of low mids area and above 100. Let’s try Radiohead. So same thing again so I definitely need to
reduce the levels a bit. I’m not going to reach for multiband compression,
I’m not going to reach for EQ, I am going to just lower the level. So I’ve got a few things going on and if I
bypass this filter first. So I’ve got a kick part, also got a sub kick
sample. So let’s bring those flows down a bit
and then let’s bring the bass down a bit as well. So that sounded better already, if you reduce
the levels of the base of the kick, to reduce some of the low-end in the mix but then find
that the kick or the base is getting lost, just boost the mids a bit more on the part
that you want to exaggerate. So here I think it’s fine, the bass is playing
a reef supportive Ralph, you can still hear the notes are still providing that harmonic
basis but if you wanted it to shine through a bit more boost the upper mids, anything
above 1 kilohertz maybe even a bit low, is going to help that to shine for a bit more
in the mix. So now let’s just do it by ear again, I’m
going to put that filter on and compare my track to the OJ track. And now OJ. So there’s still a lot going on, it sounds
different of course, it’s going to have different arrangement in the low end but we’re getting
there. So now this is the trick that I wanted to
show you because if you’re struggling to do it by ear,
then sometimes some visual aid can help you, then I try not to rely on visuals and vu meters
too much. This is a great little trick so we already
know that we’ve level matched these and with the filter not engaged, they’re pretty much
the same volume, let’s have a look at that again so in my mix, it’s hitting minus 1,
sitting around minus 3 and then OJ, about the same so they’re about the same level. Now what I can do, is engage this low-pass
filter that we’ve got here and when I engage this, we’ve only got the low end and we know
that with the whole mix on, they’re about the same volume. Now if we engage this filter and suddenly
there’s a big difference, then that’s going to tell us that there’s something going on
there because if now the volume on my track is much louder, that means that the low end
is still much louder or if it’s much lower that means the low end of my mix is now much
lower. Let me just show you what I mean. So without the EQ it’s going to be about the
same. Now let’s bring that EQ in and see if there’s
a difference. So that’s kind of peaking up – 3 on the first
beat and then sit in between – 10 or – 7. Let’s try the OJ track, interesting so now
I can see on my track, my mix rather, I didn’t write this
track, the low end is hidden a lot stronger in that first beat and I think that’s because
it’s that that kick sample it only comes in on this first beat but then at the same time,
it’s not sitting as high after that beat. The OJ track was kind of sitting around minus
seven the whole time occasionally go to minus five, whereas mine
was hitting minus 3 and then going back down near a minus 10. So what that tells me is, I’ve got maybe too
much bass on the first beat of the bar and maybe not enough on the rest. Now it’s up to me wherever I think that’s
a problem or not, of course like the low end always be the same, sometimes I might want
a bit more low end, sometimes I might want a bit less
low end. The other thing to consider is, do I want
there to be a huge hit on the first beat? I kind of do, I like that. So I need to think about how I want to go
about this but that’s given me some information that I wouldn’t otherwise have, let’s try
the Radiohead track as well. So
this is my mix. So again minus three and then go into this
area minus seven, minus 10 and then raise your head. Pretty much the same thing as the OJ track. So now I’m thinking, well if these two professionally
mix the master tracks are only peaking –5 in the low-end, then maybe I should be aiming
for a similar figure, maybe that first hit is a bit too bassy, a
bit out of control. So now I can just automate that or I could
just lower that sub bass part and compensate for that. So a great trick there, use a vu meter or
anything else an RMS meter, anything that will show you the average volume get them
the same just with the whole mix on, get them in the same area then put on
a low-pass filter before the meter and see if there’s a difference. So hopefully find that helpful definitely
give it a try in your next mix, I think it’s a really valuable little trick that can give
you a bit more information that you wouldn’t otherwise have when mixing your low end,
especially if you’re mixing on a smaller speaker system, where you can’t hear the low end as
well, then this is going to tell you quite a lot about your low end that you might not
necessarily be able to hear, especially if it’s sub-basin, you’re mixing on smaller monitor
speakers. So a gift I’d go, this is part of a larger
series on low-end mixing, if you click the link in the
video or in the description now, you can get my free low ends cheat sheet and you can use
this when you mix it’s going to tell you some really important steps and important tips
for getting a good low end in you mix so that your mixes translate well to something nice
and powerful. If you liked this video, give it a like, subscribe
on YouTube, leave a comment below if you have any questions or have anything to say and
I’ll get back to you soon as I can. Thanks for watching and see you very soon.

85 Replies to “The Low End Mixing Trick That Could Save Your Mixes | – Mix School #12”

  1. Dude you can use this for referencing tracks instead of jumping from track to track
    works amazing

  2. Thank you, I already use this trick, please more and more video on The balance subject, the right balance between Low, mid , high on a track

  3. Using reference tracks is the way to go . I sometimes struggle to find the right songs to use as my reference. Are there any standard well balanced reference tracks you recommend.

  4. Absolutely awesome video man, thank you so much for sharing your knowledge, and also by doing it so well! 100% Pete

  5. Your track sounds cooler then the other ones . . .
    Music and frequencies !

    I find that way of listening, the high cut, difficult, cos it sounds so muddy.
    Though I love to really use multiband compression and make-up gain on the bass and subbass. But I dont solo the bands while doing that.

    But after seen this video, I will give it another chance. 🙂

  6. Hey Rob, got a question for ya.

    Currently I'm in a situation where I can't set up monitors for mixing, yet I'd like to do decent mixes. I find that with headphones I can get close to decent mixes, because I understand how to compensate for the lack of bass. I also mix mostly in mono because phones do this unnatural sound separation where it's almost like the phantom stereo image appears between your ears, but it really doesn't. It's so much easier to hear masking and EQ problems in mono.

    That said, I'm finding that the real issue is the lack of hearing the real "dynamic range" or "available headroom" or vertical space (in terms of levels) with phones. I feel like maybe I'm only getting the top -30db of dynamic range (up to 0 dbFS) which means I can't really add all of the cool stuff I'd like to add to my arrangements.

    Do you have a workaround for this? I used to have a really really quiet room that measured -40db (dbu).


  7. Hi Rob, thanks for the video and trick. I understand you're using a Radiohead track as a reference, but what's the other artist's name you're using as reference?

  8. The problem with referencing is if your mixing with plugins and the reference was mixed with hardware its pointless because it will cause you to overmix your track causing devastating effects when you try to get it mastered especially with hardware.

  9. Hi.
    You are comparing a mix before mastering to a mastered referenced track. So even if you match the volume, the mastered track sounds different, maybe more compressed or tighter because of being mastered, not ?
    Another thing- U didn't mentioned exactly where you put the low end filter & why you decided to put it exactly there.
    Nice tutorial !

  10. Excellent trick. Will adopt it from now on. It is, however, rather difficult when you have a bass player and a drummer in the room while mixing who continuously ask for the kick or the bass to be pushed up louder. This process would freak them out. And around and around we go.

  11. Wat I've been wondering is since the reference track is naturally supposed to be louder. I normally take the fader down to -6 db to suit my vu 0db else it's awfully loud. Would you use the same approach. ?

  12. Great tips! I'm definitely going to use this one! I have a question though, what if my mix has more low end than others, but I like the way it sounds? This matter is subject to taste too, isn't it? Tonally, I think your track sounded just fine the way it was, even though it was a bit heavier than the references. Does balancing it like this really affect it that much when it comes to "translating" to other sound systems?
    Cheers, all the way from Brazil!

  13. Ozone 8's new Tonal Balance graph makes getting the low end correct so easy now! Have you tried it yet, Rob? It's excellent.

  14. Excellent tutorial! This is the best advice for saving a lot of time running back and forth from the car. I've always used reference tracks but that low-pass trick is invaluable! You nailed it my brutha!

  15. Good advice, I need this. Im usually lost when it comes to the low-end cause I cant hear it very well. It mostly sounds muddy to me on both headphones & speakers. I'll give this a try. Thanks! 👍

  16. Still depends on material. Which makes it not much more than an indicator. Still kinda usefull but tricky and depending on good judgement and exelent choice of ref track

  17. if you are doing this all before mastering, won't it drastically affect the perfect levels you just mixed once you throw a limiter on there?

  18. Like all recording techniques, referencing is not mandatory. Sometimes you need to break free, but only after achieving proficiency.

  19. Just make sure to gain match when referencing tracks, and also if you're going reference with an mp3 file then the top end will be cut off, I think mp3s get everything above 16k hzs cut off.

    Low hzs should be fine though.

    Edit: Lol I was like 2 min 30 sec in when I wrote this, and then as soon as I start watching again you say to gain match.

  20. i think low passing on a mix is one of the best tools.. to get an idea of whats going on and where you might wanna go. when listening to the low pass only i can imagine the high end on top of it, create a vision of what the total mix should sound like (imo). its like standing outside of a club, hearing only the lowend, then entering through the door and adding all the rest.
    i'm still amazed by this technique.

  21. Although I am not big on reference tracks it is overall good advice but only for checking bass levels. The last thing any mixer wants is for his mixes to sound like the other guy's mix. Your mix should sound unique, not a carbon copy of the latest radio hip hop hit. In other words Radio Head is a group with it's own sound. Trying to lower the bass to match your song too some band's single doesn't make much sense. Low bass is never heard on it's own and playing just the low end will be misleading. It is akin to mixing in solo which one should never do.

    That Radio Head song comes from the peak of the loudness wars. Heavy use of multi-band compression would have played havoc with the low end. And as we know mastering engineers hate the cloud. (90 – 250hz). So trying to get your song's unmastered low end too match a professionally mastered songs low end will be problematic at best. But in a pinch it will do.

    Reference tracks are a great idea for those who don't have full range monitors in a treated room. And although they are plugins that will allow you to see the low end, the ear is always best.

    And you really can't match levels properly without a K meter. We use these in film mixing. But by ear is good.

    For those who are just writing, recording and mixing their own music, highly detailed full range monitors in a fully treated room is probably not an option. Very expensive.
    If you are have a small studio and and have a few clients you need to get proper monitors and treat your room.
    Yes, you can mix with cans but that doesn't mean you should. If you are advertising your studio as "PRO" then you need a pair of monitors. A pair of KRK Rocket 5' s and the KRK subwoofer in a properly treated room can be done for under $1200. Which for a lot of people on here might as well be $12 million. Treating room is really very cheap unless you are going for Dead Zero room.

    Again. Great video. This trick, although not full proof will prevent to much low end from ending up in your mix. And believe me….ENGINEERS HATE THAT.

  22. very weird method. you can't here the whole spectrum, so its impossible to mix it down properly musically.
    it's MUCH BETTER to buy good SUBWOOOFER which is REALLY helps.

  23. Boi your detailed ! And honest.
    I guess most people cut their scenes where its getting too unexpected.
    Keep it real. Keep it going

  24. great piece of information! I have a question tho! Now that you find the "problem" why automate? Wouln't be easier to put a multiband compressor?

  25. Good trick! I actually use this at times when I get completely lost. Though one problem with this trick that you have to aware of is that the phase changes drastically when applying a strong EQ like this. And it's not certain that it changes in the same way as your reference track. So it's good to know that if there's just an incremental difference there actually might be no difference at all when using this trick. With all that said, this is still a good trick if the db difference is big when comparing.

  26. Really never thought about putting a high cut for reference the low end. That really helped checking my low end! Thanks for the great tip.

  27. For your mix, I uses a sub and a pair of Beyerdynamic DT880 Pro and I can clearly hear that your bass is stronger than the reference tracks you played. It came in clear as day even without the "trick." This is something that I've been struggling with for some time. Like you, I use reference tracks and I can "hear" the difference but the problem actually goes deeper than what you can "hear." It's about what you feel as well. I have my own way of gauging the feel. I HAVE to use reference tracks, although I've gotten REALLY good at getting near the average of mastered mixes, for both high and low end. I'm not perfect, but I get really close…we're talking about a gain difference of between 0.3 to1.2db of difference for everything except the low end and hi's. There, I'm off at most about 3db. That's significant!

    So, independently, I've used a low pass eq to measure the low end. Here's what I found out. It's not always true to feel or perception because I mix artificial sub harmonics and the sum of all the sound adds up to be different in the band that you pass. What works really well is to split the low end up into several bands and check that way. All the way from 20-300/500Hz. In fact, there's a plugin called Bassroom that does just that. The limitation though, in all these auto mixing and auto sensing plugins such as Ozone 8, is that they offer a suggestion for the part of the song you are using as the reference and not the entire song. Your hook will come out great sounding but the rest of the track will only have as much energy in the bass as allowed by the levels created by the plugin for the referenced section. Most of the time, it thins out the rest of the song. So, there's that. I just ride the levels based on the leveled suggestion of the bass from the plugin.

    There's nothing easy about this entire process. It takes a lot of practice and most of the time, I have to stop listening to the song and do something, anything, else that isn't music. Then I come back with a fresh set of ears. I have to take a lot of breaks. A lot. This is all old news. Every pro has said, endlessly, to take breaks, use reference tracks, and test different systems. The entire mixing and mastering process is involved and I wish I could say something new that hasn't been mentioned already, but it really boils down to practice and learning how your system sounds. It's like you have to train yourself on what music sounds like by listening to tons of tracks of different genres. Yes, a treated room is ideal, but a semi-treated room is actually good enough. A non-treated room…that's a big no-no. If you're not using any treatment…you're fooling yourself. For goodness sake people…use moving blankets and put them up on the walls. At least that. And really, that's a start and you'd be surprised at how significantly that helps. In fact, that is all you'll need for a while.

    For everyone else, get a sub when you can. Lol. Seriously.

    Anyway, thanks for posting this video up. It was super informative, and similar to my workflow. I picked up some good info.

  28. Wouldn't just match EQ be a more simple way to check the low end? Match your mix to a reference track and it will adapt to the low end frequencies of your reference. Just my thoughts.

  29. What do you suggest as source material for Reference Tracks? I've been using CDs as opposed to, say, some Audacity captured youtube track? Do you ever use "negative" reference tracks? A Reference, but, we want to make sure we do not sound like X?

    Thanks for the great videos here. Excellent channel.

  30. Thanks for the LF pass trick. There is one question though. As a reference track you use mastered songs probably with multiband compressor applied for low end, while your mix is not. And at the end of the video your mix still has peaks in low end. Does it make to stop matching mastered track at some point, because master compression will eliminate the LF peaks eventually?

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