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Mix a pop song – 7c – Sound Enhancement

EQ can also be used to ‘boost’ or ‘cut’ certain frequencies to enhance the sound.

Most musical instrument sounds can be described as containing the following (in order):

* Sub harmonics (low bass components)
* Fundamental note range
* Upper harmonics
* High harmonics

When using EQ for general “enhancement” of the sound, you are normally staying well away from the fundamental note range, and are either boosting (or cutting) frequencies in the other three frequency bands to create general effects such as these:

  • Boosting/cutting the sub harmonics can make a sound warmer or colder.
  • Boosting/cutting the upper harmonics can make a sound seem louder/softer without changing the actual level.
  • Boosting/cutting the high harmonics can make a sound more/less “dazzling”.

Surprisingly, this kind of activity rarely results in the instrument “leaping out” of the mix in its high or low registers as you might expect. Most of the “interesting” low and high harmonics which can be “excited” with careful EQ are usually either much higher than the highest tonal “register” in which the instrument plays, or not quite as low as its low harmonics are. If you do have a problem, then a bit of judicious “counter-EQ” using a narrow bandwidth on the edges of the fundamental note range can correct the problem without compromising the effect overall.

Whatever you do with regard to “sound enhancement”, remember that it is how the sound is perceived as part of the final mix that matters. Don’t spend too long listening to the sound in isolation – the chances are that when you place it into the mix along with everything else, a lot of what you’ve done may not be audible and will need changing anyway – either more or less extreme – for the overall effect you desire to be heard properly in the final mix.

I’ll discuss “Sound enhancement” in more detail in the section “Equalisation and Processing The Main Parts” coming up in a moment.

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