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Low-Pass for Clarity

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Everyone in the mixing world talks about the importance of cutting lows by using high pass filters on pretty much every track on a mix except for your kick and bass. The benefit of this is enhanced clarity in the low end. Most times I even cut lows on a bass or synth bass and let the kick carry the deeper low end (or vice versa, cut lows on the kick). I might go all the way up to 80hz with a 12db or 24db slope on the bass channel, I usually also adjust Q slight to give it a little bump or curve right on the cutoff frequency. But this is besides the point, this is almost common knowledge to most bedroom producers and I’d like to focus a little on low pass filtering instead.

I feel that there isn’t enough emphasis on how effective it is to get rid of unnecessary highs on most of your tracks. It removes unnecessary hiss, harsh, and bright clutter. You can pretty much cut highs on everything except for maybe vocals and hi hats, and even then sometimes it’s very useful to cut some super sizzling highs in your hats and vocals. In the case of vocals, this would create the effect of a tube-like filter and give your sound a bit of warmth. In the case of hats, it will simply make your mix less harsh and easier for the listener to digest. Try cutting highs with a gentle slope of either 6db or even 12db, go slowly and gently and see how the sound changes. Maybe all you need to cut is to around 15mhz. Maybe more, something like 10mhz. Sometimes on guitars and synths I might go all the way down to 4 to 2mhz. I’ll even try a steeper filter on guitars, like 24db filter.

This is a technique that is highly overlooked in modern productions. Nowadays with the use of soft synths and super high samples rates we get a lot of definition and bright mayoral that isn’t necessarily pleasing to the ears. Even in the case of newer DAWs we get a lot of 3khz information that we can usually cut out with a bell EQ and discover some pleasing results. My point is that darker can be pleasing, and you can always find the perfect sounds to fill in the missing content you’ve just removed with EQ.

A lot of new productions,
especially in the electronic genre, have a ton of brightness and people seem to just roll with it. I find that this results in less stamina from the listener, you might be unwilling to listen to a whole album because your ears get fatigued. So try using more low filters, cut highs, do it gently, remove harshness, leave space for that beautiful reverb tail to shine, or maybe a vocal delay, or maybe the perfect hi hat sample which just sounds killer as is and simply needs to have its space in the mix.

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