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TOPIC: Advice For Muddy Tracks

Advice For Muddy Tracks 1 year 8 months ago #24219

  • keywal
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Hey Guys,

First off gonna say I'm very much a newb in the Ableton world so be gentle with me.

I'm here to ask for some advice on muddy sounding tracks.
I've read around and can see this is a new Ableton users pitfall and wondered is there a particular set of tasks people do when they face this issue?

I've seen some suggest filtering to lows on certain parts but is there something to identify the correct part to do this with given the track as a whole?
I'd also love to hear of any must-do activities when mixing your tracks?


With my own stuff its likely the effect chains i wack on at the end when i launch my attempt at mastering but its all i know how to do at this point to keep the power and clarify the sound - individually on tracks this works but then when i come back to the song the whole thing sounds boomy, muddy and i lack the skill to fix it.
Perhaps i need to tackle this from an earlier stage so I've come here for some advice ;)

Thanks in advance!
Keith
Oh and if you need examples... soundcloud.com/keithwalsh
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Advice For Muddy Tracks 1 year 8 months ago #24221

  • Karl37
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Hey welcome to the forums.

What i tend to do is mix as i produce the track, i personally would not get into the habit of mixing at the end of the track as its important to get a feel and sense of what frequencies you can cut and play about with to make room for other things, as you go along this is much more manageable.

I would certainly start of by rolling off your highs and low end frequencies using an EQ8, anything under 30hz in the lows and anything over 18-20khz in your highs as these are often the frequencies the human ear cant hear so why have them in your mix filling up space you could be using for other frequencies etc.
Then have a look into using bands on an EQ to pick out any undesirable frequencies by picking a band use a bell filter, boosting the gain and raising the Q so the band is a very high narrow peak, then solo this band by pressing the headphone icon in the top right corner of the EQ so it turns blue, this will then solo any band you select with the mouse. Then slowly drag the band while your sound/track plays listening for any harsh frequencies, when you hear one stop then turn down the gain so you essentially cut this harsh frequency and then repeat the process over and over till your happy.

Also while EQing have a look at the 200hz to 450hz region as this is often the spot for muddy frequencys, i often make a cut here on pretty much everything that needs it or does not require this range.
Also side-chaining your bass to a muted kick track helps the kick come through and can also control frequencies by using the EQ function on the compressor you used to sidechain with.
Also look into Mid/Side EQ, and Parallel EQing to help you with your mixing. Oh and also EQ all your reverbs....the low end in your reverb can create mud, especially the more reverb you use....believe me i use a lot of reverb and i still have this problem lol

I hope this helps get you started. enjoy :)

Karl
www.soundcloud.com/k37productions
Check out my Soundcloud - soundcloud.com/k37productions
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Last Edit: 1 year 8 months ago by Karl37.
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Advice For Muddy Tracks 1 year 8 months ago #24234

  • Mr Fork
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Karl made some great suggestions there. Ultimately the bottom line is that no matter what you do you need to identify the piece that is making things muddy. You can cut things out....move things.....etc but if you can't identify what specifically is causing the issue you are going to end up probably making some terrible mix decisions in an attempt to fix things. Basically "fixing" things that don't need to be fixed. So here's what I got to add to what Karl was saying. You obviously can tell something is muddy otherwise you wouldn't be asking how to fix it. Muddy or not has nothing to do with Ableton specific knowledge so much as the concepts of mixing and soundstaging so don't worry.....I won't be getting too ableton specific. If you already know what exactly is causing it then don't pay any attention to this piece. Highlight and mute all your tracks except for your drum bus (assuming you have a drum bus if you don't then mute everything and then unmute your drums). This can be done by selecting one track and then shift clicking the last track header. Now when you mute one it will mute all. Start listening with just your drums. If your drums don't sound muddy start adding in tracks until you hear that muddiness. Usually it's because you have some frequency overlap. Once you have found the one or more problems causing muddiness you need to understand what to do with them.

There are really 4 ways to deal with the problem that I have found. Panning, EQing, Volume adjusting, and removing. If you have too much running straight down the middle of your track eventually you will run out of space to put things. I made an analogy on another post about your mix being like a box. You start filling up that box only in the middle and eventually you can't close the lid and you can't tell exactly what's in that box because it's all jumbled together. If you move some items to the side though you can fit in more stuff then just putting everything in the middle. So as I bring in items if I find that one is muddying up my mix I will typically first try to pan it to the side. If it's the LEAD making things muddy then I pan everything ELSE out of the middle that would be causing it to be muddy. Start with a hard pan left and right. If that fixed the muddy issue then go to the items you panned and start looking for sweet spots. You may not like everything hardpanned left and right so try bringing some back in to 50% or so and see what happens. If panning doesn't work then start looking at the other 3. Maybe try taking an element out. Maybe you have too much going on. Put that sound in a different section. Maybe try bringing it way down in volume.

Anyway this post could go on forever with examples and things I've learned along the way. Really I recommend learning the concepts behind mixing. Tons of great videos that are out there to watch. Warp academy has some good ones for free and also a paid course you can take for mixing which seems very good. To finish my thoughts off though step one is FINDING the issue. What is causing the muddiness. If your drums together aren't muddy and then you add in your bass and kablam it's muddy....then you might have found part of your problem. Start from a point where nothing is muddy and work forward. Once you find the issue apply some mixing techniques (the ones you're going to research ;) ) Hope that helps.
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Advice For Muddy Tracks 1 year 8 months ago #24261

  • Scheimann
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Hey...

Check out this link, it's quite handy to keep within arm's reach:
www.cheatography.com/fredv/cheat-sheets/eq-tips/

R/Scheimann
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Advice For Muddy Tracks 1 year 7 months ago #24325

  • Scheimann
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Karl37 wrote:
... Also while EQing have a look at the 200hz to 450hz region as this is often the spot for muddy frequencys, i often make a cut here on pretty much everything that needs it or does not require this range.

Karl

K37 had a very good point here, there's a good post over at Home Studio Corner, which I'm briefly reproducing here:

When mixing a song, we’re combining a bunch of tracks. If the fundamental frequency for each of these tracks is somewhere between 250 Hz and 500 Hz, then we’re obviously going to have a huge build-up in that range.

Action: Take one of your EQ bands in the low-mid area and do a big boost. Next, sweep the frequency up and down until you find where the “mud” is coming from. (I have a sneaky suspicion it’ll be between 250 and 500 Hz.) Once you find the frequency, turn the gain down until you’ve done about a 3 dB cut and take a listen.

Oftentimes a 3 dB cut is all it takes to clear things up. Use more or less as you see fit, and hopefully there will be much less mud in your future.


Full post: www.homestudiocorner.com/dealing-with-low-mids-and-a-muddy-mix/

R/Scheimann
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