When you’re mixing, making your tracks stand out can be difficult. And while you might be tempted to resort to excessive EQ boosting, this is generally not the best move.
From improving your gain-staging to using subtractive EQ to applying dynamics or other processing to reining in your reverb levels, there are many ways to make your track “pop” without boosting frequencies with an equalizer.
Well-balanced Tracks Are Essential
Before you even think about touching an equalizer, you need to ensure that each track in your mix is set to a proper volume in relation to the other tracks.
If you can’t achieve a solid mix without EQ, all the processing in the world won’t rescue it.
Increasing the volume of a track produces an effect akin to boosting its upper frequencies with an EQ. Likewise, decreasing a track’s volume gives it a darker character and pushes it back further into your mix.
It’s important to remember that faders work in both directions. Rather than pushing a fader up to make a track louder, pull other faders down to make competing tracks quieter.
Using consistent levels across tracks will make crafting a balanced-sounding mix easier. Many engineers aim for an average (RMS) level of -18dB (a holdover from the analog days of yore).
Ensuring consistent levels across tracks will make identical fader positions deliver similar results for each track and using a conservative level like -18dB will give you punchy, open-sounding results.
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