Category Archives: Music Help

Blitzen Trapper “American Goldwing” [NEW MUSIC]

I want a porch.  I want a friggin’ porch so bad.  If I had my way I would move out of my Hollywood apartment away from my homeless neighbors who live on the stoop and the drunk assholes ready to kill someone over a double double from In and Out real fast.  I want a porch.  I want to sit on it and I want to listen to music and relax and drink a lot of beer without a care in the world.  I would have massive speakers and a rocking chair.  That to me at the moment is “the life”.  With Blitzen Trapper as my band of choice and their newest record “American Goldwing” as the soundtrack to my laid back afternoon I think I’m on to something here.

Might Find It Cheap – Blitzen Trapper

Indie rock, folk rock, southern rock, call it what you will Blitzen Trapper is a rock band.  They call Portland, Oregon home and have been touring heavily for the last few years.  They just released “American Goldwing.”  It’s one part rock and roll guitar laden, drum heavy grooves and one part distinct cool vocals with a southern twist.  Blitzen Trapper have created a sound all their own and I’m sold 100% on what they are selling.  Next track is called “Fletcher” which is one of my favortie tracks on the record.

Fletcher – Blitzen Trapper

After releasing Furr in 2008 Blitzen Trapper fell onto my radar.  After seeing them at Coachella Music and Arts Fest later that year (or in 09, I can’t remember) I couldn’t get them out of my head.  I have been following them on and off since then.  They released an awesome record called “Destroyer of The Void” in 2010 and now American Goldwing is just solidifying what I saw years ago.  These guys are tight and have honed this music and are perfecting it.

Your Crying Eyes – Blitzen Trapper

Despite being from Portland Blitzen Trapper has a little bit of a southern twang to them and then they just kick you right in the junk with a tune like Your Crying Eyes.  I think thats what I like most about these guys.  They have that southern influence that eases you into the music with familiarity and then they turn up the volume.

The band currently has six members with Eric Early on guitar and vocals with Brian Adrian Koch and Marty Marquis on drums and vocals and guitar and keyboards respectively.  The vocal duties are supported Erik Menteer on Guitar and Keyboards, Michael VanPelt on bass.

Girl In A Coat – Blitzen Trapper

Blitzen Trapper is currently on tour.  Lucky for me they are wrapping up their tour on November 17th at the Music Box in Hollywood.  Tour dates page is HERE.  Their new album “American Goldwing” is available anywhere where people care about good music, so basically the internet and Amoeba Music on Sunset Blvd.  Here are a couple final tracks from “American Goldwing.”  One rockin’ and the last track which is not so rockin’ but a great way to end the record.  Check these guys out when they are in your town.  In fact go out of your way by hours and hundreds of miles to see these dudes.  It’s worth it.

Astronaut – Blitzen Trapper

Stranger In A Strange Land – Blitzen Trapper

By: Steve Rippin | Beat-Play Ambassador Los Angeles | @stevewithMWL|Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC

Cymbals Eat Guitars “Lenses Alien” [NEW MUSIC]

Cymbals Eat Guitars is an awesome band name.  Cymbals Eat Guitars is an awesome band.  Cymbals Eat Guitars is loud energetic and just the right kind of music for the mood I’m in right now.  I think I’m going to get tired of continuously typing Cymbals Eat Guitars, but I’ll do it for you in the name of rock and roll.  If you like this kind of stuff and hate typing, feel free to proceed.

Rifle Eye Sight (Proper Name) – Cymbals Eat Guitars

When I’m in the mood for distortion I think I have a new band to turn too.  Cymbals Eat Guitars is that band.  They hail from the NY/ New Jersey area.  Their record comes out today and, duh, I HAVE IT ALREADY so were gonna move through this, it’s going to get loud and soft and loud and soft and you’re going to like it.

Keep Me Waiting – Cymbals Eat Guitars

“Lenses Alien” was produced by John Agnello.  His past clients include the likes of Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr. two bands that make evident where Cymbals Eat Guitars draws their influence from.  Dinosaur Jr. is a hometown (Boston) band for me and also one of my favorite bands of all time so when I started putting 2 and 2 together I was excited to see the resemblances between the two acts.  I was also excited to see Cymbals take their obvious influence and turn it on its head.

There is a little more pop to their music.    I can only speak for “Lenses Alien” but I will most definitely be diving into their back catalog VERY soon (as in right after I’m done writing this entry.)   High powered heavy guitars, distinct melodic vocals and great bass lines are what is driving this record for me right now.

Definite Darkness – Cymbals Eat Guitars

Appropriately enough the band started with drums and guitars.  They have grown since then and found popularity on the indie rock circuit nationwide.  As I write this and listen to Lenses Alien I’m pretty blown away.  One of my favorite tracks is the eerie tune called The Current.

It has a driving rhythm throughout under darkly distorted vocals.  It’s a far stretch from the music I usually enjoy, but for some reason it stands out for me on an album of good stuff.  The juxtaposition between that and the following partially acoustic track, Wavelengths, was a really cool transition.

Wavelegnths – Cymbals Eat Guitars

Cymbals Eat Guitars is the perfect kind of rock music for pretty much anyone who wants a new flavor of style of music from our younger years.  Either that or if you are into guitar laden, harmonic, sonic or whatever else ends in “onic” type of music.  Lenses Alien is refreshing, loud and most of all this record is honest in the fact that even though the inspiration is obvious they have stayed true to themselves and have created awesome new music because of it.  Here’s the last track.  I love it.  A great ballad to leave us on a soft note… if your not in the mood to be left in a soft note just replay the damn thing from the top on today when you buy this record.

Gary Condit – Cymbals Eat Guitars

Cymbals Eat Guitars are about to tour from Boston to LA and back to NY for the fall.  They play LA’s Echo on the 7th of October.  See you there chumps.

By: Steve Rippin | Beat-Play Ambassador Los Angeles | @stevewithMWL|Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC

Perfect Monitoring [MUSIC HELP]

Think of your studio monitors as a window through which to view your mix. If that window is dirty or the glass warped, then your view becomes distorted. So In audio terms, working in an inaccurate monitoring environment means that every decision you make, be it balance, equalization or panning, is based on a distorted perception of your mix. The result will be mixes that will sound great in your studio, but don’t translate well to other systems. In this tip we’re going to explore the key factors involved and see what you can do to make the best of your monitoring situation.
Although The Yamaha HS80M monitors (above) aren’t ruler-flat they perform pretty well without any major peaks and troughs and a good bass extension. However the Yamaha MSP3’s (below) are somewhat less accurate with a more significant rippling across the mid & top end. The bass / lower-mid is somewhat recessed and the very low end rolls off early with a pronounced bass port ‘bump’
Room Acoustics:
Room acoustics play a significant part in shaping the sound that arrives at your ears. In addition to the direct sound from the monitors there will inevitably be some reflected sound bounced off walls, ceilings and any other surfaces in your studio. Because these arrive slightly delayed (having travelled further) they will cause phase cancellations / additions, affecting the tonal balance of the sound you hear. In the worst cases (think small box rooms with shiny wooden floors) the reflections may be almost as loud as the direct sound creating a very confused sound (like listening to your mix through a reverb plugin).
All rooms (and objects) will also have a what is called a resonant frequency, the frequency at which they will start to ring, a bit like a tuning fork. If your room exhibits an obvious ring then, again this can affect the accuracy of your monitoring. In the same way as you can identify frequencies to cut when EQing, set up a narrow EQ boost, turn up your speakers and sweep the EQ up and down, you’ll probably hear that certain frequencies jump out.
Full room treatments can run into tens of thousands of pounds, but there are plenty of solutions that you can implement on the cheap: Move your speakers away from walls to prevent any early reflections – particularly out of corners which will cause a noticeable bass boost. In an ideal world the distance between your speakers the nearest surface would be at least twice the distance between you and the speakers. If you have a shiny wood floor then a rug will make a noticeable difference with the added benefit of being cosy under foot and try to break up any other flat surfaces with furniture (a sofa or bookcase along the back wall is a good option).
With the home studio revolution the cost of actual acoustic treatment has hit the floor so for just over £100 Universal Acoustics offer a kit that includes 20 acoustic tiles and 2 bass traps. With tiles placed directly above, beside and behind the listening position a kit like this is a very cost-effective way to get a decent sounding room up to scratch.
If you’re going to get serious about treatment then it’s worth spending some time working out the flaws of your room and the designing a solution to suit that need, using a variety of tiles and traps to absorb and diffuse different frequencies.
Speaker Quality:
Perhaps the most obvious variable at play is speaker quality. In general the flatter the frequency response the better, as any significant peaks or troughs will result in the opposite peak / trough in the tonal balance of your mix – bright monitors will create dull-sounding mixes and visa-versa. You also want to use monitors with a decent bass extension, particularly if dance music is your thing, as the bass-end is always a tricky area to judge. A bass driver around 8 inches is usually provides sufficient reach, but you might want to complement smaller systems with a matching sub.
If a manufacturer doesn’t supply a frequency plot as part of their technical specs then that’s usually a bad sign, but specs should only ever be a guide, the real proof is in the listening.
You can have the flattest sounding monitors in the world but if you don’t position them and yourself correctly you won’t be receiving the full benefit. The ideal listener position is commonly refereed to as the ‘sweet spot’. If you imagine a triangle with speakers at two of the corners and you at the third, the distance from you to each speaker should be the same as the distance between the two speakers (probably around a metre for most home/project studios). The speakers should also be angled inwards to focus the sound directly at each ear with the treble driver at roughly ear height. Just as with microphones, the off-axis frequency response of speakers (i.e. outside the sweet spot) is often a lot more uneven.
It might sound obvious but you also want to avoid any obstacles, such as computer monitors or mixer meter bridges sitting between you and the speakers (an all too common sight even in commercial facilities). And you should lay out the rest of your kit so that during any critical listening you will be sitting in the sweet spot. As more and more production work becomes computer-focused the traditional setup of mixer between the two speakers and computer to one side is an increasingly imperfect solution.
Finally, you want  to make sure that your speakers are decoupled from the surface they sit on to avoid them vibrating in sympathy with your speakers and colouring the sound. Genelec’s 8000 series monitors feature an integrated decoupling and positioning system (called Iso-Pod)  that both minimizes vibrations and allows for precise angling of each monitor. But separate foam-based decoupling products are also available from companies such as Auralex that sit under your monitors and acoustically isolate them from the surface below. Beside the beneficial acoustic properties these will also help protect any other studio equipment on the same surface from potentially damaging low frequency vibrations.
Volume and Listening Behaviour:
Research by Fletcher and Munson in the 1930s demonstrated that the human ear’s frequency sensitivity varies with volume. These Fletcher-Munson Curves, as they have become known, show that at low volume we are most sensitive to the mid range and that as volume increases our hearing starts to flatten out. But monitor too loud and you run the risk of creating tracks that will sound bass-light in a typical listening situation. And of course there is also the issue of damage to hearing.
83db SPL has established itself as a good balance between a flat listening experience and safe listening level and in a future production tip we’ll run through how to calibrate your setup. An important part is working with at a fixed monitoring level and avoiding the temptation to gradually turn up the volume over the course of a session. So find a comfortable listening level and keep it there, only turning up when you need to hear the detail in a particular mix element.
Go forth and monitor accurately!
By: Shayne Byrne | Beat-Play Ambassador Ireland | @shaynewithMWL | Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC

Getting Great Vocal Sounds With Doubling [MUSIC HELP]

Getting Great Vocal Sounds With Doubling

Sometimes I find that doubling a vocal is a powerful way of getting the point across. Doubling a vocal can do things that no reverb or delay could ever hope for if executed properly in the right song and context. However, sometimes vocal doubling doesn’t work out exactly like you think it would. In these cases, there quite a few options we have to get that “doubled” vocal sound we are looking for.

It’s important to note that the effectiveness of vocal doubling varies tremendously from singer to singer. Some vocalists will sing a line differently every single time. This can make doubling hard. Some vocalists are so precise that you can barely tell if they have even doubled at all. It’s up to you to work with or around your singer to get the doubled sound to work (if that’s what you are going for).

Many times I will spend hours tweaking the extra layers to get them to fit with the lead vocal. I’ll automate the living crap out of those tracks to give me exactly what I want. If they jump out in weird places, I’ll turn them down so they don’t jump out anymore. If the high end is distracting in the vocals, I’ll quickly yank it out. I find myself rolling out everything above 4Khz quite often when working with layers (except in the lead vocal).

Here are a few examples of doubling tricks.

Straight Double

A straight double is a track that is set at the same volume as the lead vocal. Essentially you have two tracks giving 50% a piece. This can work well for some singers, but the takes need to be very similar. Volume automation can help, but is often tough to get right because it can make drastic differences in tone. You will here timing differences in the highs with this method quite a bit.

It is the most intense of doubled effects. Essentially the wet/dry ratio is 50/50 from the lead vocal to the double. This is where I start when doubling.

Straight Double With Crazy EQ

Sometimes there will be frequency buildups that can sound weird with doubling when both tracks are the same level. Sometimes it’s necessary to use drastic EQ settings to get what you are looking for. Don’t be afraid to boost or cut any frequency to get what you are looking for.

Double Down 6 Decibals

Sometimes you have to turn down the double because it’s simply too much. I find that if a straight double is too much, turning the doubled track down 6dB can make the doubling effect much more subtle. You can get away with inconsistencies in the tracks much more with the double down. You don’t have to use 6dB. You may want to yank it down only 3dB or you may like it -20dB.

Just make sure that when you set the level of the double that you can still hear it’s effect. It’s easy to fall in love with a dry vocal, but if you force yourself to leave the doubled sound on there, you will adapt to it most of the time and end up loving it.

Triple Panned Wide

Sometimes I like to record on great lead vocal track which we work very very hard on and then I like to slap 2 additional vocal tracks on there. I’m usually not concerned about pitch or even timing too much. I just want 2 new tracks. I’ll take each of these and pan them anywhere from 100% wide to 30%. Then, I’ll knock the high end off and compress them extremely hard. I’ll play with the level enough until I get what I’m looking for. This type of sound is more of a stereo vocal and a straight double.

In many songs, I like this effect. Remember that you will really have to automate the layered tracks to make it work.

Double Reverb Send

Another trick that I’ve found to be amazing is tracking two vocals, keeping the lead vocal dry, and then only sending the doubled vocal to a reverb. This can be amazing for epic 80s ballads using tons of reverb. Something magical happens when you use a doubled track exclusively for reverb and nothing else. It’s hard to explain. Try it!

16 Layers of Vocals

I’ve heard stories of Avril Lavign’s first record using this trick a lot. They say it’s the modern vocal sound. Basically, you just track vocals over and over and over. You pan them from 100% wide to center usually keeping the hardest panned tracks the lowest in level. Then you EQ them all differently.

I’ve tried this a few times and couldn’t make it work for me. However, the concept still makes sense.

I’ve heard that Def Leopard employed the 16 layers trick when they were doing their “football vocals” that sound like a large crowd yelling at a football game or whatever.

Double Whispers

A really creepy effect is to double whispers. That’s right, have the singer whisper the entire verse or whatever. Forget singing. Then have him/her do it again. You can do some amazing things with this trick. You can add lots of air to track by creatively using layered whispering, you can add long reverbs to just the whispers to basically extent the high end.

Actually, I’d love to try a long reverse reverb on whispers. That may sound really creepy for a song that calls for this sort of thing.

Straight Double Panned Wide With Delay

Another cool trick is to use a straight double but then using a stereo delay with 2 bounces set to the lowest setting. You want one bounce panned hard left and one bounce panned hard right. Basically, this is a stereo simulator. (You may need to knock some top end off of this one). Send your doubled track entirely to that. It can make your vocals sound really huge without lots of layering.

Double Distorted

Sometimes distorting the doubled track can add a really cool texture if you can find the level which it belongs. I don’t use this one that often, but it has came in handy over the years. It can add a sense of air to the track if you do it correctly.

Single Track Copied and Split Into Multibands

Of course, you don’t have to double to apply some of these tricks. Recording software makes it easy to make copies of a track. Well keep your lead vocal put and then make 3 copies of it. On one track, label it “vocal-hi-end” and roll off everything under 4Khz. Label one mid and label one low end and set Eq appropriately. Then smash the living crap out of each one with compression. Blend them to taste. Usually the vocal-hi-end is useful for adding air, but experiment. There are no rules.

By: Shayne Byrne | Beat-Play Ambassador Ireland | @shaynewithMWL | Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC




Despite a Reference Guide that stretches beyond 1,000 pages, as well as a handful of additional guides and manuals, there is so much you can do with Pro Tools LE that it can be overwhelming to approach the documentation directly. (Though, to Avid’s credit, the guides are easy to navigate.) For those who just won’t RTFM but want to get things done now, this article offers five techniques that every Pro Tools LE user should know, but which are often overlooked.
One of the things that sets Pro Tools apart from the competition is its elegant routing system, yet it’s the simplest application of the sends and buses that often intimidate 
Pro Tools users. I’ll explain a couple of ways the pros use them to get the most creative mileage, with a fun technique at the end for fans of old-school, tape-speed effects.
Throughout the article, I’ll offer keyboard shortcuts whenever possible. Command/Control indicates that on the Mac you use Command, while on the PC you use Control as part of the key sequence.
Unlike in an analog mixer, the insert section in Pro Tools is post-fader. This means that even though you may have effects plug-ins on your track while you record, you’re not recording—or printing, as we say—those effects to disk. That’s a good thing when all you want to do is give singers some reverb around their voices. On the other hand, if you want to keep that awesome sound you’re getting from your amp-modeling plug-in, you’ll need to use an aux track to host the plug-in and then route its output, using a bus, to an audio track to capture the processed signal.
Begin by creating an aux track that will serve as your main audio input (Track > New, or Command/Control+Shift+N). If you’re playing guitar, a mono track will do, but if your input is stereo, create a stereo aux track. The aux track serves as the effects conduit that will feed other tracks. So if you’re recording a lead guitar part, this is the track in which you will load your favorite amp-modeling plug-in.
Notice that the aux track doesn’t have a Record Enable button like audio tracks do. You need to create a destination, so hit Command/Control+Shift+N to open the track dialog box again and create the number of destinations tracks you want. (Typically, I’ll create the aux and audio tracks at the same time, but for the sake of clarity, I’m doing them separately here.)
To feed audio to your destination track, use a bus in the I/O section rather than one in the Sends area because you don’t want to hear the unprocessed track while you play. (If you were to use a send in the aux track, and kept its output tile set to Out 1-2, you’d hear both parts—processed and unprocessed—at the outputs, which gets annoying when you’re playing.) Therefore, select an unused bus for your aux track’s output—let’s say bus 7 for now—and then select the same bus number as your input for your destination track. Hit the Record Enable button to see if you’re getting signal when you play (see Fig. 1).

FIG. 1: The aux track (left) hosts my plug-in and routes it to the middle track. The right track records the unprocessed signal, which I’ve noted in the comments field at the bottom.
Remember that your input gain setting should be set at the interface. In the case of an electric guitar, plug into the DI input, push the DI button to set the initial gain level, and then set the input trim control on the interface itself so that your signal is not overloading.
In the Mixer window, the amount of signal you send to your destination track will be determined by the aux track’s fader level. To get the best signal-to-noise ratio and use the most bits possible, make sure your input signal is hovering in the 75-percent range of the aux input’s meter—mostly in the yellow zone and rarely (if ever) hitting the red.
At this point, you should be able to hear your processed guitar from your destination track. You can set the fader level of the destination track to whatever is comfortable because it doesn’t affect the signal while you record—it’s for monitoring only. Set it to a listening level that inspires your playing. (Unfortunately, it doesn’t go to 11.)
While you’re tracking that killer guitar tone from your modeling plug-in, it’s also a good idea to record an unprocessed version of your part just in case you want an alternative tone later on. To get that, create a new audio track with the same input that is going to your aux track, hit Record Enable, lower the fader to zero (so you don’t hear the dry guitar part), and hit Record.
A good habit to get into is naming the tracks (by double-clicking on the name tile) in a way that will make it easy during mixdown to see what’s there. And be sure to add notes in the Comments section (View > Mix Window View > Comments) below each track when you record multiple tracks in this way. Comments provide a good way to remember a patch setting, show a collaborator what you did to get that sound, or tell the mixer how to treat the track. Figure 1 shows my annotations for this particular set of tracks.
A common practice in the studio is to create the perfect vocal or instrumental track from several alternate takes by cutting and pasting the best sections together. This is called 
comping (short for compositing). You can set up 
Pro Tools so that it repeats the section and automatically records and names take after take. This process is called loop recording.
Pro Tools will automatically create a new playlist on the same track for each alternate take. Think of each alternate take, or playlist, as a virtual track below the main playlist (the top track that plays back). Although you could manually create a new playlist and then record each take individually, using the loop-record function lets you stay in the groove by not interrupting your creative flow. (It also works best if you’ve chosen beginning and end points for the loop that aren’t too distracting.)
A bit of setup is required to make this process run smoothly. Begin by going to the Record section of the Operation page under Preferences (Setup > Preferences > Operation). Check the box next to Automatically Create New Playlists When Loop Recording, and then click the OK button.
If you want to see all of the alternate-take playlists automatically fan out below your main playlist when you stop recording, change the Track View tile from Waveform to Playlists (see Fig. 2).

FIG. 2: Select Playlists in the Track View tile to see all of the alternate playlist lanes when you’re done loop recording.
You can also set an amount of pre-roll time before you begin loop recording, so select something that makes sense musically to get you into the section. However, you will only hear the pre-roll material once before you begin loop recording. If you want to give yourself a bit of pre- and post-roll on either side of the part you’re tracking, select loop points that give you the extra beats or bars before and after the section.
To set Pro Tools into Loop Record mode, select Loop Record from the Options menu (or simply right-click on the Record button in the Transport window until the circular arrow appears on it). Also be sure that you’ve selected Link Timeline and Edit Selection in the Options menu.
In the Edit window, use the Selector tool to click and drag over the area in the audio track where you want to record. If the beginning or end of the area needs to be adjusted, hold down Shift and drag near either side until the edges of the selection are in the correct place.
Record Enable your track, and then hit the Record button followed by Play to begin recording (Command/Control+Spacebar). If you’ve set a pre-roll amount, Pro Tools will begin playing the session, but it won’t actually start recording until the cursor enters the selected region (loop zone). But once recording begins, it will loop the selection until you hit the spacebar to stop the session.
Now it’s time to create your composite track. To do this, you’ll want to see all of the alternate takes you recorded. If you set the Track View tile to Playlists before loop recording, you’ll already see each take in its own playlist lane once you stop loop recording. If you only see one playlist, select the region you just recorded and right-click to get the popup menu. Then select Matches > Expand Alternates to New Playlists to view all of the playlist lanes.
Let’s say you have eight takes of a solo, each with its own playlist. Choose the best parts of each alternate take and automatically paste them to the top position (the main playlist). To listen to an alternate playlist lane, use its Solo button. Then select the portion you want to move to the top, right-click on the region, and then select Copy Selection to Main Playlist (Edit > Copy Selection To > Main Playlist). The shortcut is Option/Control+V to paste the selected region into the main playlist (see Fig. 3).

FIG. 3: The main playlist contains my comped guitar solo, built from the playlists below. I added a crossfade between the first two regions to smooth out the transition.
The most efficient way to create a comp is to begin with the take that includes the most material that you’ll keep, and then paste the corrective sections from the other takes into it. If the better of the takes isn’t the main playlist, select the current main playlist, right-click to get the menu, and under Matches pick the take you want to be on top (see Fig. 4).

FIG. 4: Move an alternate playlist into the main position by right-clicking and selecting it under Matches.
Once you’ve created your perfect take, you can hide the playlist lanes by right-clicking on one of the name tiles for a playlist and selecting Filter Lanes > Hide All Lanes. To create a single audio file of the comped regions, select the entire solo and choose Consolidate under the Edit menu (or use Option/Control+Shift+3).
The Bounce to Disk feature is the primary way that beginner and intermediate Pro Tools users create and export a mix. However, when you bounce a mix, you are locked out of making changes to your session as it plays back in real time. In addition, many experienced 
Pro Tools users say that the audio results aren’t as high as what you’d get when you do a 
layback—in essence, re-record you entire mix as a stereo track back into Pro Tools. Once you’ve done that, you can drag the resulting stereo file out of the Audio Files folder as a pair of mono left-and-right files, or export it as a 
stereo interleaved file using the Export Regions as Files command. Remember, the file you layback will be at the same resolution as your session: You cannot create a 16-bit, 44.1kHz file from a 24-bit, 96kHz session using this method. If you need to do that, use Bounce to Disk.
You can also use a layback to create submixes and stems—any situation where you want to create a mono or stereo file from a number of tracks—either because you’ve got more tracks or voices than you can play back or because a client has asked for them. In this example, I will focus on creating a final mix from a simple multitrack session that includes audio and instrument (virtual instruments controlled by MIDI) tracks.
Although doing a layback is simple, a couple of conditions have to be met. First, you have to make sure you haven’t exceeded the number of voices you can work with in your Pro Tools session. (This is not a problem in this example session, with seven audio and three aux tracks.) Second, under the Options pulldown menu, select Link Timeline and Edit Selection and de-select Loop Record and Loop Playback.
Next, create a stereo audio track that will be the destination and name it something useful. (I’ve called it Layback in this example.) To easily locate it in the Mix and Edit windows, I’ve also dragged it to the right of the Master Fader in the Mix window. (It’ll also appear below the Master Fader track in the 
Edit window.)
Leave the layback track’s output set at Out 1-2, but change the input to an unused pair of buses. (I’ve selected Bus 9-10.) Next, change the output for every track you want to include in the layback to match the bus tracks used as the input for the layback track (see Fig. 5).

FIG. 5: I’ve routed all of the track outputs to Bus 9-10 and matched the input for the destination track.
Click the Record Enable button on the layback destination track, hit Return to start at the beginning of the session (or select the amount of the song you want to record in the Edit window), and then hit Play. You should see the meters moving in the destination track and the Master Fader.
Before you begin recording, play the track through once to make sure that none of the sections in your mix cause the meters in the layback track to go into the red. If they do, figure out which tracks are the culprit and adjust the fader levels to correct the problem. Then hit Record and Play (Command/Control+Spacebar) to initiate recording and create your mix. When it’s done, hit Save.
At this point, you may be wondering how to use insert effects on the master bus—reverb, compression, limiting—and have them print onto your layback files. To do that, you’ll use a similar technique that you used in the previous section of this article: You add an aux track with the effects before the layback destination track (see Fig. 6).

FIG. 6: You can print effects during a layback by using an aux track before the destination track.
Create a stereo aux track, assign the input to an unused stereo bus, and then assign the outputs of the playback tracks to the same bus. Next, assign the aux output tile to another unused stereo bus and match it to the input of the layback track. Finally, assign the insert effects you want to use on the aux track, Record Enable the layback track, and you’re ready to record with effects. Again, play the track once through before you record to make sure that the effects are not causing any overs or changing the music in a negative way.
As a reward for getting this far, let’s finish with something fun: half-speed record mode. Yes, it works just like it does with a tape deck: As you record, the session plays back at half-speed while your instrument sounds at the correct pitch. When you’re done recording, play the session back at regular speed, and the part you just recorded will sound twice as fast and an octave higher, just like it did when Les Paul and Frank Zappa used this technique to fill out their orchestrations.
The technique in Pro Tools is simple. Prepare your audio track to record as you normally would, and then put it in Record Enable mode. As you simultaneously hit the Record and Play buttons in the Transport window, hold down Shift (or use Command/Control+Shift+Spacebar), and the session will begin recording at half speed.
If you want to play your session back at half-time for transcription or lick-learning, Shift+Spacebar does the trick. Although you can’t record the slowed-down session using the layback technique discussed earlier, the RTAS/AudioSuite plug-in Flashback ($199, or $19.90 for 31 days) from Synaptricity ( can do it. Because Flashback records in the background as you work, it will capture half-speed playback faithfully, as well as anything you do with the Scrubber tool. The plug-in opens up a new world of sound-design possibilities in Pro Tools, and I highly recommend it.

By: Shayne Byrne | Beat-Play Ambassador Ireland | @shaynewithMWL | Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC


Is it loud to you? [MUSIC HELP]

All too often we hear complaints that the sound is too loud at concerts. Further, widespread enactment of sound control regulations often requires concert sound engineers to limit SPLs to mandated levels. However, despite regulations and a growing awareness on the part of concert engineers that high SPLs are dangerous, few seem able to turn it down. Though concerts are louder than ever-and many in the music business suffer some hearing loss-there seem to be hidden forces at work that encourage engineers to turn up the volume. We are painting ourselves into a corner.

This is not a trivial problem. Results of the free screenings offered annually at the AES convention by the House Ear Institute suggest that hearing loss accumulates in our industry like black T-shirts. The averages by age show several dB of loss above 2 kHz for each ten years of age, a process that accelerates with time. For those in their 40s, the mean threshold of hearing measured was reduced by 12 dB or more above 2.5 kHz. Pushing down all the sliders on the right side of a graphic EQ simulates the hearing of the typical middle-aged audio professional.

After four hours at 95 dBA in one day, a listener’s hearing is considered at risk. under somewhat lax oSHA guidelines, exposure time should be cut in half for each 5dB increase, so for levels averaging 100 dB, over two hours is considered dangerous, and the European formula is even stricter, halving permissible exposure for each additional 3 dB. Clearly, we are able to hurt ourselves, our clients and their audiences with today’s concert sound levels.

There are many political and career forces that encourage engineers to turn it up-the guitarist’s girlfriend and the band’s manager spring to mind. Plus, the physiological and emotional impact of loud sound simply gets everyone’s heart beating faster. Bad venue acoustics or a terrible mix position often tempt a mixer to turn it up (not always a successful tactic). But there are also subtle mechanisms of human audio perception that tend to make the console’s faders “upwards sticky” and encourage higher concert levels.


The ear is not a linear device-its response varies with frequency. Hearing sensitivity peaks in the high-mids and falls off at the extremes, and the hearing curve also changes with volume, becoming slightly flatter at higher SPLs. In order to maintain a perceived balance between high and lows (and mids and low-mids, and so on) a “flat” playback system may need to be EQ’d differently for different levels of reproduction. The “loudness” control on your stereo attempts to correct this problem by applying a progressive EQ that compensates for the well-known “equal loudness contours” of human sound perception. Because our ears become less sensitive to bass and treble at lower levels, a loudness control adds bass and treble when the hi-fi system is idling.

Some research indicates that the ear is more sensitive to these relative EQ changes than to the volume change itself. As a result, music or other familiar audio sources that sound correctly equalized at one level may sound a little “off” at a different volume. When the level of a concert sound mix changes by 10 dB, it can sound as if an invisible hand is reaching over to the P.A.’s system EQ and changing the curve by a few dB in many places.

It’s no surprise that our ears are especially sensitive in the octave around 4 kHz to begin with. But as a concert gets louder, the ear gets even more sensitive there. This corresponds to the resonant frequency of the ear canal, and is the frequency range where hearing overload and damage occurs first. Ears that have sustained damage often experience discomfort at these frequencies earlier.

Many already know this and regularly take out some high-mids in the normal course of adjusting their sound system’s EQ. But do they take out enough? It’s not just the compression driver’s response that needs to be tamed. At higher volumes there’s additional driver distortion, plus the way we hear it also needs to be taken into account. Above 105 dB, the ear itself begins to distort.


Is there a step in the pre-flight process that is missing? Talking into a microphone, listening to familiar playback material or running pink noise while observing an analyzer’s display usually occur at a lower level than the system will be run for the show. Whatever method is used to adjust the system’s EQ, if adjustments are made at a lower volume than the performance, then those adjustments are likely to become inaccurate at higher levels.

The next step is to soundcheck the band. Individual instruments and voices are checked through the P.A., and then the entire group plays a few songs together, usually at a louder level than when the system EQ was set. Adjustments made to individual channel EQ incorporate the overall response of the system and the operator’s hearing at these higher levels. Some engineers soundcheck at an even higher level than they intend for the show because it’s easier to hear and quickly make adjustments. This process of adjusting channel EQ during soundcheck results in EQ corrections that overlay the system equalizer’s settings.

Now, the ability of the system EQ to be correctly adjusted in the first place is another discussion entirely, but let’s suppose it was perfect at the level you first checked it and listened to your CD. At the new, higher levels used for soundcheck, the ear’s response has changed a little, plus distortion in the system has increased. The P.A. gets a little more boomy, muddy and harsh, plus there’s the sound coming directly from the stage. Channel EQ used to make each instrument sound “good” by itself and in the mix incorporates everything heard at this level (with the room empty, but again another story, another time). You may even make a conscious, well-intentioned effort to take the master level down a few dB after soundcheck, because you know that you soundchecked a little too loud.

Well, now it’s show time and you’re relaxed and ready to move to the other side of your brain and simply mix the show and become one with the music. You’ll spend a few moments in the first song deciding if the system EQ is okay, but then you’ve got to get right to mixing and become the fifth Beatle, playing with effects, riding solos, checking inserts and tweaking the lead vocal. Somehow it never sounds quite right until the volume creeps up past a certain point.


one more aspect of hearing perception is that the relaxed listener is comfortable with higher levels. This means that levels used during the tension of getting soundcheck together are raised without alarm when mix engineers (and band) relax and get “into their space” as the show progresses. When this physiological effect is combined with the better fit that channel EQ settings from soundcheck make with the system EQ as it’s turned up, it’s easy for levels to make their way past the loudest settings used at soundcheck.

Many recording engineers make efforts to manage control room levels, knowing that if it sounds good low, it will sound good louder, because it gets fuller, warmer, a little less bright, and articulation in the high-mids improves vocal presence. This is an important part of the studio engineer’s craft, since he or she has no control over the level at which the final product will be heard. one tool that helps is a good pair of near-field monitors. For live shows, lower soundcheck levels can also help the mix sound better lower, but it’s up to the band and engineers to work together by reducing stage volume as well.

One final thought on system optimization is that, ideally, it is a good idea to check the impulse response of a sound system. With the advent of computer-based analysis, it is possible to examine the phase response of concert systems. Correct alignment of not only the various speakers in a system, but also of the components in each frequency band, can result in a response that is less blurred and more coherent, improving intelligibility and transparency. For each speaker component, when wavelengths get larger than the transducers producing them, the signal lags behind. This is most apparent in subwoofers, where waveforms the length of a truck are coming out of 18-inch drivers. It is not uncommon for ten or more milliseconds of delay to be required on the mains to get them lined up with the subs. Dynamic instruments are more easily discerned when their reproduction has a singular arrival, allowing lower mix levels to sound good.

And on the subject of subwoofers-the least efficient transducers that take up the most space-perhaps it’s time to rethink their use. Most reflex enclosures are tuned for the octave below 100 Hz, with response falling rapidly below that where the ear is also least sensitive. If these are adjusted at relatively low playback levels, when the concert starts the subwoofers may be too boomy and lack enough headroom for accurate performance. Additionally, distortion above the crossover point can further skew their response when driven to full output. Turning them down and carefully equalizing and aligning them with the mains can add more perceived power. Cleanly extending the lowest octave is one of the last great challenges to accurate sound reinforcement.


Many live sound engineers are familiar with the experience of listening to the tape of a loud show, only to find that what had seemed like a good performance was in fact plagued by out-of-tune instruments and off-key singing. Though the deficiencies of such live recordings are often blamed on the necessarily incomplete nature of board tapes-we are talking about “sound reinforcement,” after all-this only explains problems with mix balance or EQ. Critical bandwidth, the ability to discern tone or pitch within a range, is affected by high SPLs and, as a result, many singers will pitch slightly flat in loud environments.

This extra reason why louder sounds better is also a barrier to improving the performance. If you’ve been in search of the missing “suck” knob, here it is. As volume increases, what might have sounded out of tune or off-key now sounds okay. The widening of critical bandwidth makes it harder to discern tones that are close to each other when it’s louder. Similarly, cramped rehearsal spaces can give false impressions. Another example is garage bands that go from clubs to larger venues and have trouble getting their sound right.


Another mechanism at work is the masking of one frequency range by another that is proportionately too loud. In the frequency response of a sound system, smooth peaks are preferable to sharp ones. It is increasingly understood that graphic equalizers do not have sufficient precision for smoothing out the response of sound systems. Their controls fall at fixed intervals on standard ISo frequencies, unlike the system’s response peaks, which-surprise!-rarely match the ISo marks. In the course of setting individual channel EQ, you often see many of the same boosts and cuts across the board, which simply act as corrective adjustments to the system EQ.

If a system is optimized for a smoother response with precise parametric filters, perhaps the best use of a graphic is to quickly re-contour the P.A. to help its response at louder levels. In fact, this is how you find the best mix engineers using their graphic during a show. All EQ is subjective.

Perhaps a more precise system EQ tool for mix engineers would be a set of filters centered at frequencies where human audio perception changes with different sound pressure levels (with additional facility to compensate for increased component distortion at higher levels). It is worth noting that we are now seeing crossovers on the market with dynamic filters available on each output, and a few live engineers already use a mastering EQ across their mix bus.


Last but not least, the amount of headroom in contemporary sound systems has become a panacea for a multitude of sins. All of the previous suggestions may not have as much of an impact as a good, active mix. Move the faders, feel the force, Luke. In the past, engineers were forced to mix around the limits of their systems. Back in the days when mixers brought elements up and then back down, hundreds instead of thousands of watts were sufficient for quality sound. Today we often see the insertion of many channel compressors in attempts to create a console that mixes itself. It’s not unusual to find younger engineers “mixing” without touching the faders.

A static mix must be higher in volume for all its elements to be heard. Employing an active mix, as an alternative to simply achieving a balance where everything is heard equally, can help the show sound better at a lower volume. What would happen if the lighting guy just turned all the lights on? organize the order of your input list so that individual channels can be turned up AND down without taking your fingers off other faders. As a last resort, you could try using your VCAs to mix. Eight fingers, eight faders. Cool, huh?

One final thought: You have heard the show hundreds of times, know all the words and need something extra to make it exciting, but your audience may have different needs. Try mixing for them.


Now all this may fall on deaf ears. Sure, I know some of you are already damaged goods, but it doesn’t have to get worse. Some of the best engineers have hearing problems and manage to compensate. The important thing is to manage your daily exposure so it doesn’t get any worse. It is possible to have a loud show that isn’t damaging. Recently I was the system tech at an outdoor show with a headliner whose engineer had mixed top arena rock bands for years. When the sound cop finally showed up halfway through the set, he was forced to turn the volume down 10 dB. Because of outstanding engineering skills and mixing chops, the show sounded just as good at this lower level, perhaps better. I’ve heard this year’s lack of sell-out shows attributed to everything from high ticket prices to competition from entertainment alternatives. Is it possible that the decline of tickets sales in an otherwise growing economy can be attributed to disgruntled concertgoers? A quarter-million tiny hairs suspended in fluid, winding through the coil of the inner ear. This nonrenewable asset is our most precious resource in the concert business.

By: Shayne Byrne | Beat-Play Ambassador Ireland | @shaynewithMWL | Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC

Will Gray – Broke* Documentary – “Introducing Will Gray” [FILM & MUSIC]

Every single aspiring independent artist, band, producer, or musician should pay close attention.  We all know that the music industry has undergone extreme changes, and it continues to change in this current age of transition.  Labels are folding, music is free, and the digital age is upon us.  What do we do?  Can artists still do this, be happy, and support themselves?  All these questions and more are discussed in Will Gray’s Broke* Documentary.  However, Will didn’t just wake up one day and decide to do a documentary about the struggles of emerging artists.  He has been living it for over a decade.  Broke* is about the music industry, and what it takes to thrive as an independent artist or music executive in search of their big break.  The documentary features interviews from industry names like Don Was, John Legend, Isaac Slade from The Fray, Seth Godin, Kelly Clarkson, and many more.  After sifting through 300+ hours of footage and more than 60 interviews, Broke* has been created and directed with perfection.  In fact, the film won the Special Jury Prize at the Nashville Film Festival this spring.  “The film digs beneath the clichés and standard storylines to reveal an industry struggling to find a new identity and an artist who’s simply trying to establish one.”  The question: “Can a new act be “broken”?”

Will Gray is not only a great director for his documentary Broke*, but he is an amazing musician that combines folk and hip-hop to create some truly incredible, fresh, and intelligent music.  His influences range from jazz greats like Miles Davis to pop icons like Michael Jackson.  “Will Gray is an independent Hip-Hop/Americana artist who has shared the stage with acts ranging from Erykah Badu, Twista, and Jurassic 5, to Justin Townes Earle and Los Lonely Boys. His original songs have been licensed by MTV, Ford Motor Co., Warner Bros. Records, Playstation, and Motorola.”  This is music that I feel speaks to everyone musically, and conceptually.  Will Gray released his debut album “Introducing Will Gray” under the production of Grammy Award-winning producer T Bone Burnett.  Check out one of my favorite songs from the album called “Back to the Wall:”

Will Gray may be one of the most influential artists of this generation; not because his music is number one on the charts (although it certainly could be), but because he is grabbing the industry by the horns and showing the world what it takes.  As the industry continues through a transitional period, this film gives an inside look at how music executives, producers, and artists feel about its current and future status.  Will music survive the digital age?  Will true and significant art be able to endure pop culture?  What is the breaking point, if it still exists?  As music continues to thrive upon the feel-good listener, Will Gray’s music explores new musical concepts as well as lyrical concepts untouched by the mainstream.   Please explore what this artist has to offer at  Check out the Broke* Documentary, and buy “Introducing Will Gray.”

By: Steve Harpine | Nashville Ambassador | @Steve_MWL | Beat-Play & Music Without Labels, LLC

3 Great Microphones For Recording Vocals – Under $300 [TECH]

I’ve put together a small list of mics that can get you started with recording vocals at home. These are some great, versatile microphones for anyone who is looking to record vocal tracks on their personal recording setup.

Shure SM27

Hands down this is just a great mic to own. It sounds awesome on whispery, intimate vocal lines as well as other instruments. Pick one up for recording vocals and you’ll find yourself micing guitar and drums with it as well.

Get it from Amazon: Shure SM-27

Blue Bluebird Large Diaphragm Cardioid Condenser

This is truly a great mic and it’s a steal for the price. It’s actually shocking that a microphone of this quality can be purchased for under $300. The Bluebird is built with a Class-A discrete amplifier circuit and the clarity can be heard in recordings. If you’re looking for a mic that will add a bit of character without sacrificing clarity to your vocal recordings, this is it.

Get it from Amazon: Blue Microphones Bluebird Cardioid Condenser Mic

Studio Projects C1

Studio Projects microphones are severely underrated. They get the job done and can compete with mics that are twice the price. The C1 sounds great and doesn’t have an over-hyped high end like many other microphones in this price range.

Get it from Amazon: Studio Projects C1

By: Shayne Byrne | Beat-Play Ambassador Ireland | @shaynewithMWL | Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC

Promote Your Content On A Custom Facebook HTML Page [MUSIC HELP]

Having a page on Facebook today has become a very important source for independent artists to connect with the majority of their fans on the internet. With only a few musician based apps on Facebook, such as Reverbnation’s “Band Page” and Root Music’s “BandPages” App, it’s hard to project your content in the creative and original manner you wish to. The Static HTML application for Facebook is the only legitimate way to achieve that overall customization you need to stand out.

To get started you must first download the Static HTML App to your Facebook Page. Once you’ve downloaded go to the NEW tab titled “Welcome” on the left side-bar of your page. This is the edit page where the code can be input. You will also notice a second text field located below the initial one. This allows you to place similar content via code for Fans only, forcing non-fans to “Like” your page in order to view your exclusive content.

Static HTML Edit Screen

Static HTML Edit Screen

Here at Music Without Labels we have been searching for a few coding options to help bring a number of different content types to the Facebook Landing Page for all viewers to experience, current and new. The Static HTML application allows you to use a number of different codes such as CSS, Javascript, and of course HTML, giving you all the possibilities available with most custom websites. This walk-through will show you the steps taken along with the code used to obtain the page you currently see below. We hope this article will give you the insight you need to go off and customize your own page.

Music Without Labels Static HTML Page

Music Without Labels Static HTML Page

Taking a look at the image header located at the top of our Music Without Labels Facebook page titled “The Beat-Play Experiment”, you will notice it is linked to our blog at Here is the code for this linked header image.

Static HTML Source Code [HEADER]To personalize this code with your own image simply upload your image to a preferred online network (Facebook will work great for this), then replace the link in RED with your specified URL. To change the hyperlink in the image swap the GREEN text with your own link. The BLUEtext represents the title of your image which appears in the meta data.

Now all you have right now is a header image. I know, nothing really too big, yet. Looking at the main show located below the header image, you’ll notice a background image (with curtains), a soundcloud player in the middle, and 3 image links (social media buttons). Once again I’m going to begin by giving you the overall code we used then guide you through some of the steps to customize everything yourself.

Static HTML Source Code [BODY]In order to harness the remote background image we used a table which you can see starts the code. This leaves the GREEN text that follows to be the image URL and the dimensions. (NOTE: Facebook pages have a maximum width of 520 pixels.) Proceeding the background part of the code comes the content within the table, which displays on top of the background image. The BLUE text code represents the centered soundcloud player you see on the MWL Facebook Photo above. You can embed all sorts of online content from a number of different services including Youtube, Vimeo, Mixcloud, Soundcloud, and more. Simply copy the embed code from the media you want to post and paste it directly where the BLUEtext is in the code.

Just like the header link image at the top of the page, we used a similar code and added 3 linked images, in RED, within the table. To choose a specified area on the page we used ‘absolute positioning’ which allows you to alter the pixels to a specified location. (This takes a bit of saving and checking your work, so be patient.) The first URL in the code presented in YELLOW refers to the linked URL. Following this URL are the parameters for image positioning and size from TOP, LEFT, WIDTH, to HEIGHT. The second URL in YELLOW refers to the specified image URL (Must upload image to online server to obtain URL).

With so many different variables in this layout there are multiple areas for customization. Creating personalized images and using the codes to strategically position links and images will open a whole new wave of promotion throughout your Facebook Page. Now you are able to deliver content to your Facebook fans in your own way. So we encourage you to get out there and test this code for yourself and don’t be afraid to try different content types and layouts. Please comment with any of your own examples and be sure to contact me with any questions concerning the process. Also, to ensure that your new HTML page is the ‘Default Landing Tab’ go to your “Edit Page” and select “Manage Permissions” on the left then select the new tab in the specified drop-down field.

Written By: Mark G. Valente | Online Marketing Director | @MarkwithMWL | Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC


To understand EQ and its intricacies you need hands-on experience, but to help you get started, here’s a table of general uses and the different ranges that EQ can affect. As every sound is different, though, these are necessarily very general guidelines…

Kick Drum

Any apparent muddiness can be rolled off around 300Hz. Try a small boost around 5-7kHz to add some high end.

50-100Hz ~ Adds bottom to the sound
100-250Hz ~ Adds roundness
250-800Hz ~ Muddiness Area
5-8kHz ~ Adds high end presence
8-12kHz ~ Adds Hiss


Try a small boost around 60-120Hz if the sound is a little too wimpy. Try boosting around 6kHz for that ‘snappy’ sound.

100-250Hz ~ Fills out the sound
6-8kHz ~ Adds presence

Hi hats or cymbals

Any apparent muddiness can be rolled off around 300Hz. To add some brightness try a small boost around 3kHz.

250-800Hz ~ Muddiness area
1-6kHz ~ Adds presence
6-8kHz ~ Adds clarity
8-12kHz ~ Adds brightness


Try boosting around 60Hz to add more body. Any apparent muddiness can be rolled off around 300Hz.If more presence is needed, boost around 6kHz.

50-100Hz ~ Adds bottom end
100-250Hz ~ Adds roundness
250-800Hz ~ Muddiness Area
800-1kHz ~ Adds beef to small speakers
1-6kHz ~ Adds presence
6-8kHz ~ Adds high-end presence
8-12kHz ~ Adds hiss


This is a difficult one, as it depends on the mic used to record the vocal. However…Apply either cut or boost around 300hz, depending on the mic and song.Apply a very small boost around 6kHz to add some clarity.

100-250Hz ~ Adds ‘up-frontness’
250-800Hz ~ Muddiness area
1-6kHz ~ Adds presence
6-8kHz ~ Adds sibilance and clarity
8-12kHz ~ Adds brightness


Any apparent muddiness can be rolled off around 300Hz. Apply a very small boost around 6kHz to add some clarity.

50-100Hz ~ Adds bottom
100-250Hz ~ Adds roundness
250-1kHz ~ Muddiness area
1-6kHz ~ Adds presence
6-8Khz ~ Adds clarity
8-12kHz ~ Adds hiss

Electric guitars

Again this depends on the mix and the recording. Apply either cut or boost around 300hz, depending on the song and sound. Try boosting around 3kHz to add some edge to the sound, or cut to add some transparency. Try boosting around 6kHz to add presence. Try boosting around 10kHz to add brightness.

100-250Hz ~ Adds body
250-800Hz ~ Muddiness area
1-6Khz ~ Cuts through the mix
6-8kHz ~ Adds clarity
8=12kHz ~ Adds hiss

Acoustic guitar

Any apparent muddiness can be rolled off between 100-300Hz. Apply small amounts of cut around 1-3kHz to push the image higher. Apply small amounts of boost around 5kHz to add some presence.

100-250Hz ~ Adds body
6-8kHz ~ Adds clarity
8-12kHz ~ Adds brightness


These depend entirely on the mix and the sound used.

50-100Hz ~ Adds bottom end
100-250Hz ~ Adds body
250-800Hz ~ Muddiness area
1-6hHz ~ Sounds crunchy
6-8kHz ~ Adds clarity
8-12kHz ~ Adds brightness



1. Increase to add more fullness to lowest frequency instruments like foot, toms, and the bass.
2. Reduce to decrease the “boom” of the bass and will increase overtones and the recognition of bass line in the mix. This is most often used on bass lines in Rap and R&B.


Increase to add a harder bass sound to lowest frequency instruments.
Increase to add fullness to guitars, snare.
Increase to add warmth to piano and horns.
Reduce to remove boom on guitars & increase clarity.


1. Increase to add fullness to vocals.
2. Increase to add fullness to snare and guitar (harder sound).
3. Reduce to decrease muddiness of vocals or mid-range instruments.
4. Reduce to decrease gong sound of cymbals.


1. Increase to add clarity to bass lines especially when speakers are at low volume.
2. Reduce to decrease “cardboard” sound of lower drums (foot and toms).
3. Reduce to decrease ambiance on cymbals.


1. Increase for clarity and “punch” of bass.
2. Reduce to remove “cheap” sound of guitars


1. Increase for “clarity” and “pluck” of bass.
2. Reduce to remove dullness of guitars.


1. Increase for more “pluck” of bass.
2. Increase for more attack of electric / acoustic guitar.
3. Increase for more attack on low piano parts.
4. Increase for more clarity / hardness on voice.
5. Reduce to increase breathy, soft sound on background vocals.
6. Reduce to disguise out-of-tune vocals / guitars


1. Increase for vocal presence.
2. Increase low frequency drum attack (foot/toms).
3. Increase for more “finger sound” on bass.
4. Increase attack of piano, acoustic guitar and brightness on guitars.
5. Reduce to make background parts more distant.
6. Reduce to soften “thin” guitar.


1. Increase to add attack on low frequency drums (more metallic sound).
2. Increase to add attack to percussion instruments.
3. Increase on dull singer.
4. Increase for more “finger sound” on acoustic bass.
5. Reduce to decrease “s” sound on singers.
6. Increase to add sharpness to synthesizers, rock guitars, acoustic guitar and piano.


1. Increase to brighten vocals.
2. Increase for “light brightness” in acoustic guitar and piano.
3. Increase for hardness on cymbals.
4. Reduce to decrease “s” sound on singers.


1. Increase to brighten vocals (breath sound).
2. Increase to brighten cymbals, string instruments and flutes.
3. Increase to make sampled synthesizer sound more real.


Low Bass: anything less than 50Hz

This range is often known as the sub bass and is most commonly taken up by the lowest part of the kick drum and bass guitar, although at these frequencies it’s almost impossible to determine any pitch. Sub bass is one of the reasons why 12″ vinyl became available: low frequencies require wider grooves than high frequencies – without rolling off everything below 50Hz you couldn’t fit a full track onto a 7″ vinyl record. However we do NOT recommend applying any form of boost around this area without the use of very high quality studio monitors (not home monitors – there is a vast difference between home near field and studio far field monitors costing anywhere between £5,000 and £20,000). Boosting blindly in this area without a valid reference point can and will permanently damage most speakers, even PA systems. You have been warned!

Bass: 50-250Hz

This is the range you’re adjusting when applying the bass boost on most home stereos, although most bass signals in modern music tracks lie around the 90-200Hz area with a small boost in the upper ranges to add some presence or clarity.

Muddiness/irrational area: 200-800Hz

The main culprit area for muddy sounding mixes, hence the term ‘irritational area’. Most frequencies around here can cause psycho-acoustic problems: if too many sounds in a mix are dominating this area, a track can quickly become annoying, resulting in a rush to finish mixing it as you get bored or irritated by the sound of it.

Mid-range: 800-6kHz

Human hearing is extremely sensitive at these frequencies, and even a minute boost around here will result in a huge change in the sound – almost the same as if you boosted around 10db at any other range. This is because our voices are centred in this area, so it’s the frequency range we hear more than any other. Most telephones work at 3kHz, because at this frequency speech is most intelligible. This frequency also covers TV stations, radio, and electric power tools. If you have to apply any boosting in this area, be very cautious, especially on vocals. We’re particularly sensitive to how the human voice sounds and its frequency coverage.

High Range: 6-8kHz

This is the range you adjust when applying the treble boost on your home stereo. This area is slightly boosted to make sounds artificially brighter (although this artificial boost is what we now call ‘lifelike’) when mastering a track before burning it to CD.

Hi-High Range: 8-20kHz

This area is taken up by the higher frequencies of cymbals and hi-hats, but boosting around this range, particularly around 12kHz can make a recording sound more high quality than it actually is, and it’s a technique commonly used by the recording industry to fool people into thinking that certain CDs are more hi-fidelity than they’d otherwise sound. However, boosting in this area also requires a lot of care – it can easily pronounce any background hiss, and using too much will result in a mix becoming irritating.

Okay when thinking about mixing and EQ never lose sight of the purpose–which is to create an intelligible mix with clarity and power.

Surprisingly this technique works really good for getting that low end down. When I am done with a mix I usually run another high-pass filter over the whole mix around 55-60hz to eliminate a lot of frequencies that you can’t really hear or feel–and aren’t reproduced on most stereo systems. This low end mush can really sap a power amp and speaker of its ability to pump. Once cleaned up it is amazing how punchy your tracks will be, without any apparent loss of low end.

I do a similar thing with a low pass filter on most of the instruments as well to eliminate any extraneous high frequencies. I usually start rolling off guitar around 8khz gently, the kick drum around 6khz, toms around 10khz and snare around 12khz. The only things I want to inhabit the area above 10khz are cymbals, high hats–and most importantly–the “air” of the vocals.

It is amazing how much vocals can cut through a mix and still keeping a high sheen on the overall mix using this method. Your separation is often enhanced as well. And you don’t have to resort to awful harmonic exciters like BBE and Aphex… which are usually poorly used and can sound very sour to me.

After I have filtered my frequencies I actually begin to EQ things. Now I have a few rules of my own when it comes to using EQ that keep things under control. Once again, these are just guideline rules that I occasionally break but I have found that they are applicable for me 90% of the time:

1.) Always use a parametric EQ. Graphic EQ’s are for wusses.

2.) When boosting Q must be wider (less than) than 2.

3.) When cutting Q should be narrow–from 1.5 or greater.

4.) No cut or boost may be greater than 6db +/- in any case (occasionally broken for cutting).

5.) 75% of my boosts are less than 2 db. 90% are less than 4 db of boost.

6.) Never cut more than 8db of anything unless notching out specific small frequencies.

7.) It is okay to occasionally “pile on” a wide Q boost or cut with another narrower boost/cut if you need a radical increase in that particular frequency (this makes it sound more natural and less like a resonant peak).

Okay, when I am using EQ–which I admit I do a lot of *subtle* EQing–I always aim at doing one of two things:

1.) Remove the ‘bad’ qualities of the sound such as rattles, hums, hiss, muddy frequency areas and so on.

2.) If there are no bad qualities that need to go, then accentuate the positive elements.

After I have taken care of those problems I then move on to actually mixing the instruments together. I always ask myself “where does this particular track live?” and aim towards cutting other tracks that intrude on that area by a few db’s. The idea is to cut away parts of interfering signals to allow certain instruments to shine in particular bandwidths. This is my general schema (these are relative and only guidelines–individual mixes/use may vary):

80hz – rumble of the bass
100hz – thump of the kick
200hz – bottom of the guitar
250hz – warmth of the vocal
350hz – bang of the snare
400hz – body of the bass
500hz – clang of the high hat
600hz – clang of the cymbals
800hz – ping of ride cymbal
1000hz – meat of the guitar
1200hz – body of the snare
1400hz – meat of the vocal
1600hz – snap of the kick/plectrum on guitar (attack)
2500hz – wires and snap of snare
3000hz – presence of the vocal
4000hz – ring of ride cymbal/top end of bass guitar
6000hz – sizzle of the high hat
7000hz – sizzle of the cymbals
8000hz – top end of the kick
9000hz – brightness on snare and cymbals
10000hz – brightness on vocal
12000hz – air on vocal
14000hz – air on cymbals

Hopefully this helps. I didn’t give away too many of my secrets.


Remember this is a guideline – NOT A ABSOLUTE GOSPEL TRUTH TO EQ! It is best to use your ears. It is your greatest and most valuable tool!

By: Shayne Byrne | Beat-Play Ambassador Ireland | @shaynewithMWL | Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC