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Knowing all the theoretical things about mixing, mastering, and tools like EQ or compressors is one thing. But to figure out when and where to use these tools can be difficult sometimes.
A step to make these things easier is to train your ears.
Yes, you read that right. Training your ears to identify different frequencies will help you get a faster and more efficient workflow.
As a human, we can hear frequencies in a range between 20hz to 20khz.
We split this range up into 7 different parts, to make separation easier.
1. Sub-Bass (20Hz to 60Hz)
Not many instruments have frequencies that are noticeable in this area. Too much power in this area can make things sound too boomy. On the other hand, the sub-area can be super important in some genres to create that bumping, aggressive sound.
2. Bass (60Hz - 250Hz)
Too much of this area can end in a boxy sound but too little will make your music sound flat.
3. Low-Mid (250Hz to 500Hz)
This area can really shape your bass sound. It will give your bass instruments a defined sound. Be careful, because this presence-bass area sometimes fights with the high-frequency elements.
4. Mid (500Hz - 2kHz)
This area defines prominence to most instruments.
5. Upper-Mid (2kHz to 4kHz)
The Upper-mid area is especially noticeable on cymbals or percussion elements.
It brings the attack to elements and is an important place for vocal clarity.
6. Presence (4kHz to 6kHz)
The presence area can help you to control the distance of a sound.
You might have noticed that things that are far apart have less high-frequency activity. For vocals, this area often has the harsh S sounds that we try to remove with a De-Esser.
7. Brilliance (6kHz to 20kHz)
The brilliance area is the highest area we can hear.
Not many instruments are noticeable in this region.
But especially cymbals have a lot of presence here that will add clarity.
To start, you should download your favorite song and use an EQ for splitting up the different areas I mentioned above.
This will help you to get a feel for the whole audio spectrum.
After you feel like you got a good foundation for the audio spectrum you can use a service like soundgym to train your ears even more with different exercises.
If you want to learn how to use compression you can check out our compression blog post here!
To learn how to use it in practice you should learn to hear the difference you create with compression.
There are different ways to learn hearing the effect of compression.
You can set up a compressor with a high ratio like 6:1, a fast release time of around 20ms, and a slow attack.
After that, bring the threshold down till you get around 6dB of gain reduction.
Now it's your turn to see how playing around with attack and release will affect the sound of your song.
Balancing all the different elements in your mix is another part you can train to get better results super fast.
Take two different songs from the same genre.
Take similar parts like the drop or chorus for example.
Try to get both on the same loudness level.
To check your work, you can use a LUFS meter to see the loudness.
This might sound like a weird technique in the first place but this is really about getting a feeling for tonal balancing and can be helpful.
If you can combine all the theoretical and practical knowledge, you will get a better producer fast.
A lot of blogs are super theoretical so try to recreate the things I explain in your own DAW and on your own songs.
Learning by doing is the best method to get better at the things you want to understand!
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