Some Panning and EQ thoughts
This post is in response to @DJChrisson who asked me about panning and EQ. My response was a tad too long for twitter.
As a rock/pop producer, I’m very influenced by early stereo recordings like rubber soul / revolver. There was a lot of hard panning in these records, which I like. It makes the mixes feel uncluttered and clean, and it also allows the listener to hear the intricacy and musicality of each part.
The downside is that sometimes it can make a track feel spacially imbalanced or lacking in “fullness.”
For example recently I’ve been making a lot of bass music and electronic music. I hardly pan anything! One sound at a time explodes through the center of the sound field. However, sometimes I’ll bus a track to an auxiliary input, hi pass it, and put some stereo spread on it (with delay or a stereo field plug-in like Air stereo width). This gives electronic music a stereo feeling while preserving the depth and singularity of the bass sounds.
I also use a lot of hi pass filtering - this is not a good idea for boomy, booty-shaking mixes, though. Getting out of mixing habits is tough, but I’m working on preserving lots of full low end in my tunes to keep the subs rumbling in the car. Knowing what to hi pass and what not is important. I don’t hi pass kick drums anymore, though I used to. I also don’t hi pass bass very much. But hi passing a voice? Great. For my mixes, I don’t need anything below 100hz on a lead vocal usually, and I often hi pass a vocal well above 100 hz.
One tricky thing about EQ is trusting your ears, not your eyes. One producer I was just reading about, Alan parsons I think, said that if he had to A-B something more than 3 times to hear a difference, he considered it unimportant. He said he laughs when guys solo out drum tracks for an hour and make 1/2 db tweaks here, 2 db tweaks there, only to bring in the rest of the band and wonder why their drums still sound wimpy. Most people say that EQ adds distortion, which scares people into under using EQ. Parsons evidently makes sweeping adjustments without soloing out tracks, until it sounds right IN the mix. I thought that method could give mixers a new, solid perspective on EQ.
It’s hard to trust your ears, but often it’s the only way. My electric guitar sound on the song “eat” came from a tiny little amp, and I needed to add probably around 9 db of boost to a whole area of the spectrum to make the guitar pop in the mix. Geoff emerick, engineer for the Beatles, was famous for over compressing, stressing, and pushing his gear to its limits, which is mostly why the Beatles had such a ballsy, unique driving tone.
Sometimes distortion is a good thing. Especially if you’re going for a little bit of “fuck you” in your records.
Is this stuff helpful? I don’t know if my tumblr followers are fellow musicians. Anything you guys want me to write about in particular?
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