Using a sprectrum analyser to clean up your mix by Track Spark
in     by Track Spark 05-04-2016

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In this tutorial from March's goody bag, Rich talks you through using a Spectrum Anayser to clean up your mix.

Rich Lewis has 13 Years of professional experience in broadcast composition, production and sound design with his company He composed the current official podium music for Formula 1 and has been chosen to write FIFA's official music for the 2014 World Cup. He's written channel idents for ESPN, MTV and FOX among others. He's also composed extensively for BBC, Boomerang, Cartoon Network, Disney, and Warner Brothers among others and for brands such as Sony, Orange, Honda, Virgin Media, Nissan and Levi's. He is also a partner in Track Spark. 

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Hi guys, it’s me again, Rich from Track Spark with another hopefully quickly tutorial. This month is just going to be on using a spectrum analyser to help you clean up your mixes and sculpt the frequencies that you want to use so that cleans up your mix and works in the way that it should be instead of overlapping frequencies or doubling up on frequencies which can cause problems. So let's get on with it.

I'm going to do it today just on this drum loop. This drum sequence here. This technique can obviously apply to anything you’re using. So basses. If you’ve got a sub-bass and a synth bass going on at the same time, it’s good use of spectrum analyser to work out which frequencies you want to take from which instrument so that they work together and complement each other rather than doubling up on frequencies and causing issues. It makes things work a lot better and cleaner.

Ok, so here is drum loop. Basic, simple, mid tempo dance beat but that doesn't matter. What matters is if we look here, I've got a sub-kick, a punchy kick and a clicky kick. I’m taking different frequencies from all of them to get the kick drum sound that I want. What we'll do is listen to the sub kick and get my control panel up here. I’ll disable this EQ and I’ll disable the Cubase EQ on it and here we've got a spectrum analyser on the Cubase EQ as well. I got one here which is a Waves pads frequency analyser. Let's just listen to the sub. I only want low frequencies from around 70 or 60 and lower for my subby kick because I'm going to get higher frequencies, the punchier frequencies from this one, from around the 70 to 120, maybe 200 and then my clicky one is going to be around 3kHz or something like that. I know I need to cut out all of this area here. I’m just going to look again on here. It’s coming all the way up to 1 ½k. I've actually got low pass filter that I've used here but with this one, it’s not that steep so I’ve just stuck this Cambridge in as well just to make sure. I’ve put a low pass on all the way down to around 47 kHz there. So now if I look at my frequencies I can see there’s nothing crossing 0 from above 63. There’s a little bit going up to 200. Let’s change the steepness. So i've used that analyser to remove anything that I don't want. Moving on to my punchy one, it’s the same process. I have 2 EQ’S here, you don’t always need to 2, I'm just using the Cambridge EQ and then using the Cubase one just to help me clean it up a little bit more.

Looking at the spectrum analyser we can see that I’ve got frequencies all the way up to around 12 or 13 kHz and all the way down to zero. Mainly coming out in this area here which is what I mentioned about the punchiness. What I want to do is clean up the lower frequency because I've already got my sub. I'm going put in this Cambridge EQ and put a high pass on up to around 50 or 60 kHz. 63 so that I know the lower frequencies are cutting out and I’m not doubling up with my sub. Also I know from working it out with my click that I don't really want anything above around the 2 to 3kHz mark. I'm bringing out the punchiness at around 100 and cutting everything above the 2kHz mark, also using my Cambridge. I’m just doubling up on the EQ there, you don't need to. I’m looking at my frequency analyser and there’s nothing above 2kHz coming out, it’s mainly coming out at 1kHz, bringing it down at around 50. So the two are going to work a lot better now. The overlap is there but to a minimum. Hopefully that's cleaned up the sound.

I could take the high pass off there and I can’t hear any difference to my punchy kick  but I know that the frequencies in there are going to be doubling up so by using the analyser and not my ears I know I’ve cleaned things up. Now, moving on to the click. Let’s just take this EQ off. I can see all of this frequency below the 1 to 1 ½ kHz mark which I’m not going to need because my click is coming from this area here. I can see all the stuff that’s coming in and now if I put on my Cambridge EQ and a high pass all the way up to 1kHz all I’m getting is this. The putting it in with my other two kick sounds I have my punchiness, my sub and my little click which gives it more definition. If I was to take out this EQ on the click it just doubles up on some of the lower frequencies which I don’t want. All I want is the click and it’s doing nothing to the sound anyway so I know that I’ve cleaned that up. And that is how you clean your mix up using a spectrum analyser. I hope that was helpful. Have a good one and see you next month.