Mixing Secrets For The Small Studio - Additional Resources

Chapter 3: Low-end Damage Limitation

Audio Files

(To download all WAV examples at once: 59MB ZIP)

  • LFSineTones: ( Ex03.01: WAV/MP3 play_arrow ) Do not play this at high volumes or you may damage your speakers! This file contains a chromatic scale of sinewave tones spanning 24Hz-262Hz. In conjunction with the Table 1.1 in Section 1.4, you can use it to work out the resonant frequency of a speaker’s port.

  • ConeFlapper files: ConeFlapperOut ( Ex03.02: WAV/MP3 play_arrow ) is a section of R&B-style backing track with well-controlled low end. Now compare it with ConeFlapperIn ( Ex03.03: WAV/MP3 play_arrow ) Do not play this at high volumes or you may damage your speakers! In the ConeFlapperIn file, a strong subsonic element in the kick drum eats up around 3dB of extra headroom in return for negligible audible change.

  • Kick-drum Low-end Lag: Here are two examples of kick drums with sluggish low frequencies. The first ( Ex03.04: WAV/MP3 play_arrow ) is more obvious, the second ( Ex03.05: WAV/MP3 play_arrow ) more subtle. Compare these with the following versions, which have been processed to reduce the lag: first ( Ex03.06: WAV/MP3 play_arrow ) and second ( Ex03.07: WAV/MP3 play_arrow ). For more information on the processing used, check out these two articles: Mix Rescue November 2010 and Mix Rescue March 2009.

  • Restricting Low-end Contributions: A good example of the ‘simplify the problem, simplify the solution’ tactic mentioned in Section 3.5 can be heard in Mix Rescue December 2009. Here the three main electric-guitar layers ( Ex03.08: WAV/MP3 play_arrow ; ( Ex03.09: WAV/MP3 play_arrow ; ( Ex03.10: WAV/MP3 play_arrow ) were all high-pass filtered to make way for the bass guitar ( Ex03.11: WAV/MP3 play_arrow ), which itself was high-pass filtered to leave the bottom octaves for a sub-bass synth part ( Ex03.12: WAV/MP3 play_arrow ). By combining all these elements ( Ex03.13: WAV/MP3 play_arrow ), you get an ensemble sound which still provides plenty of low end, but in a way that allows you more easily to work around low-frequency monitoring problems in your listening environment.

  • Affordable Spectrum-analysis & Level-metering Plug-ins: Voxengo’s freeware SPANMac logoWindows logo and Melda’s freeware MAnalyzerMac logoWindows logo are very good for spectrum analysis, although I personally use Schwa’s affordable SchopeMac logoWindows logo most of the time. For fully-featured full-band bar-graph metering, check out Sonalksis FreeGMac logoWindows logo, but if you prefer the look and feel of a vintage-style moving-coil meter, check out TBProAudio’s freeware mvMeter2Mac logoWindows logo, which includes VU, PPM, and EBU-standard loudness-metering options.

Further Reading

  • Audio Metering: If you’d like to know more about the mechanics of using audio metering, check out this nice little Metering FAQ.

  • Haptic Monitoring Devices: For more insight into the pros and cons of haptic monitoring devices, check out my Sound On Sound SubPac M2X review.

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