Logic Producer Certificate Course

Level 5 Overview

This week, we’ll be exploring the frequency domain and its applications in producing and mixing. We’ll discuss a number of functions of the equaliser, and how it can be applied in mix situations as well as creative scenarios.

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Action

Shortcut

————————
Play/Stop Spacebar
Record R
Open Preferences Window Cmd + ,
Go to Beginning  Enter
Add Tracks  Cmd + Shift + N
Left Click Tool Menu T + 1,2,3,4,5 etc.
More Shortcuts…


EQ Functions

  • Achieving Balanced Frequency Spectrum
  • Shaping the presentation of instruments
  • Separation
  • Definition
  • Convey Feelings and Mood
  • Interest
  • Depth Enhancements
  • Stereo Enhancements
  • Fine Level Adjustments
  • Remove Unwanted Content
  • Compensation for less than perfect recordings

Equalization is one of the most powerful tools in your sonic toolkit and can be your greatest enemy or your greatest ally in the battle for the perfect sound.
It is always best to ensure that you get as good a sound as possible from the microphone, synth or sampler coming into the mixing console. If you start off with good sounds, then a good result is almost inevitable.

You should always aim to use EQ to improve an already wonderful sound. If the sound isn’t good without EQ, then you will never end up with anything but second best. The only time you should ever use EQ to ‘save’ a sound is when you have been given a track to work on that was recorded or produced by a lazy or inexperienced engineer.

Nobody is born with the inbuilt ability to EQ. You can only learn through experience and a lot of careful listening.

EQ Bands and the Frequency Spectrum

EQ-Bands 2

 

  • Use the Test Tone under Preferences / Audio to sweep through the frequency spectrum

The human ear is capable of hearing frequencies in the range from about 20Hz up to about 20,000Hz (20k). Everything audible in a recording falls somewhere in this range or thereabouts and a given instrument (or any other sound) will occupy certain frequencies more dominantly than others.

For example, a hi-hat cymbal would have significant amplitude (volume) between around 3k to 5k and would have virtually no amplitude at 30Hz. Likewise, a bass guitar will have a lot of amplitude around 80Hz and next to none at 10k. In other words, most instruments will have a dominant frequency range that constitutes the “meat” of the sound.

If you apply this theory across all of the tracks in your mix, you can imagine how each track (instrument, voice) will primarily occupy a certain range of frequencies.

It would be fantastic if it were that simple. However, they will also occupy other frequencies in less significant amplitudes that make up some of the characteristics of the sound. For example, the “thump” of a kick drum might be around 60Hz while the “click” might be around 2k or higher.

Masking

Many of these sound sources will occupy overlapping frequency ranges. If two sounds are trying to occupy the same frequency at similar amplitudes, they will fight with each other, creating a muddy sound and losing definition from both sound sources, a phenomenon known as Masking.

Instrument Frequency Ranges

Cut Filters

We can use Ableton’s EQ 8 to solve masking problems, and also have an artistic impact on the material we’re presented with.

  1. Use a Low Cut Filter (normal curve) to take some low end out of the Guitar track
  2. Use a High Cut Filter to take some of the plectrum noise and definition out of the Bass track
  3. Combine a Low and High Cut Filter to give the piano a “phone” style effect

Shelving Filters

Shelving filters are often used when an overall change of timbre is required. For example, you could make the drums brighter by boosting the highs. They are similar to Pass Filters in that they operate above or below a specified frequency, but unlike pass filters, but they can cut or boost.

Parametric Filters

Parametric Filters

Parametric

Assignment 5A & 5B

Assignment 5A

Your first assignment is to check out the following helpful resources. Most of them are online, so follow the links then bookmark them in your browser.

Essential Resources

  • The Secret Sound Facebook group is a great place to ask questions, share opinions and meet likeminded producers and DJs.
  • Pensado’s Place is a weekly YouTube show, presented by Grammy Award winning mixer Dave Pensado and his manager Herb Trawick, featuring interviews with the créme de la créme of the audio production industry. It’s a wealth of knowledge, both from a technical and professional standpoint, and it’s usually entertaining. You can play it on your phone while you cook, or take the bus or the car to work…
  • There are thousands of brilliant production tutorials available on YouTube. Some of the best come from Point Blank and Dubspot.
  • Sound On Sound is a great monthly publication, available in print or online. Perfect for finding reviews of gear, as well as tutorials and other audio news.
  • Gearslutz is one of the world’s biggest audio forums and can be a great place to pick up tips and discuss all things audio.

Recommended Reading

Two excellent resources here on mixing and mastering audio. Both books contain a great wealth of technical information, coupled with an appreciation of its artistic applications:

  • Izhaki, Roey (2008). Mixing Audio: Concepts, Practices and Tools. Oxford: Focal Press.
  • Katz, Bob (2007). Mastering Audio: The art and the science (Second Edition). Canada: Focal Press.

Assignment 5B

Open one of your finished compositions and see how EQ can be applied on individual tracks to achieve the following results:

  • Achieving Balanced Frequency Spectrum (is there too much bass overall? Not enough high end?)
  • Shaping the presentation of instruments (what is it about the instrument that you want to highlight)
  • Separation (you might need to remove the lows from one instrument if another is filling in this frequency band)
  • Definition (how clear can you make the instrument in its own right?)
  • Convey Feelings and Mood (cutting lows in an unnatural way, muffling an instrument that should be clear etc)
  • Interest (try automating your EQ choices at different parts of your song)
  • Depth Enhancements (dulling high frequencies to make the instrument appear more distant)
  • Remove Unwanted Content (is there any rumble in the low end, or hiss in the high end)

Assignment Submission

  1. Bounce your track as a 44.1khz, 16bit WAV file.
  2. Upload your track to Soundcloud. If you don’t have an account already, the sign up process is easy and the service is free.
  3. When your track is uploaded, put the tracks in a Soundlcloud Playlist (read more here), click the Share button to get a link to the set, then email the link to ross@secretschoolofsound.ie with your name in the body of the email.

Level 6 Overview

We look at compression and dynamics processors. Learn the various controls commonly found on dynamics processors and apply them to various instruments.

Lesson Goal

Become familiar with compression and apply it to your tracks.

Download Course Materials

Action

Shortcut

————————
Play/Stop Spacebar
Record R
Open Preferences Window Cmd + ,
Go to Beginning  Enter
Add Tracks  Cmd + Shift + N
Left Click Tool Menu T + 1,2,3,4,5 etc.
More Shortcuts…


Logic’s Compressor

The Logic Compressor, at first glance, is a fairly standard processor. All the usual controls are there, and there’s even an extra stage, a separate Limiter, at the output. But there’s an almost hidden extra that gives this plug-in a great deal of added flexibility and nuance of sound quality. Click here to learn more.

Assignments 6A & 6B

Further Reading

Apply what you have learned about compression top individual channels in your own projects.

Level 7 Overview

Delve deeper into the frequency domain.

Lesson Goal

Learn the finer details of the equaliser.

Download Course Materials

Action

Shortcut

————————
Play/Stop Spacebar
Record R
Open Preferences Window Cmd + ,
Go to Beginning  Enter
Add Tracks  Cmd + Shift + N
Left Click Tool Menu T + 1,2,3,4,5 etc.
More Shortcuts…


EQ and the harmonic series

Leonard Bernstein explains the harmonic series

When music meets maths…

Free Plugins

Frohmage – Ohm Force
Compohst
Rough Rider

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