This first tip is something you can build on a lot and experiment with. In short, I’ll send whatever signal I want to affect, in this case, I’ll just send the mix bus, to an auxiliary track on which I’ve inserted a linear phase EQ and isolated the mid image.
Now I can control the level of my mids with a fader, making them easier to automate or process, which will look more into in future chapters.
Let’s listen and notice how this bus, especially when used on specific instruments, can give us a lot of power over our mid-range.
The Neve Portico is a popular piece of hardware - one of its more sought-after sounds is the depth function shown on the right side of the unit. With a mid-side EQ, we can emulate the effect, which we’ll notice emphasizes the mid-range of the mid image.
This is great if you want to recreate the recognizable effect this unit has on a signal’s mid-image and mid-range.
Let’s take a listen.
If you use Saturn 2 or any other saturator that lets you process specific frequency ranges, I’d highly recommend introducing saturation to the mid image - especially some form of tube or valve saturation. This will both increase the fullness of your mids and help to emphasize transients.
Let’s try this using Saturn 2 along with some of its modulation functions and notice how the mids become full and more upfront as well as slightly more dynamic.
Another great way to make your mid-range more full is by using an emphasis technique prior to compression - in short, use an EQ before your compressor and amplify the mid-range. Now the compressor will work harder on this range, imparting more of the compressor’s character on the signal.
If you emphasize the mid-range aggressively, be sure to de-emphasize them to some extent with an EQ after the compressor.
Let’s listen and notice how the mid-range has its timbre altered in a positive way.
If you want an instrument to blend into the mix, maybe the vocals, a great way to do this is with mid-range, high-density reverb. With this SparkVerb I’ll reverberate my vocal and decrease the decay time in the lows and highs before enabling high-density reflections.
Depending on the source you may want to increase modulation, and pre-delay, which I’ll introduce here since I’m working with a vocal.
Let’s listen and notice how the vocal is subtly thickened but more importantly, how it blends in with the mix better.
On either an instrument bus or your mix bus, you can use the Gullfoss EQ to alter the mid-range of your signal dynamically. I’ll drag the high and low filters to isolate the mid-range and then use more of the recover function than the tame.
This will alter the response to reduce phase cancellation in turn, making my mid-range easier to perceive and more balanced.
Let’s take a listen and notice how we can hear more of the instrumentation than before.
A vocal’s mids can be hard to mix since each vocalist is a little different, but there are some common important frequency ranges. For example, 500Hz is associated with vowel pronunciation so we can increase it to improve intelligibility or decrease it to make the vocalist feel farther away.
From 700Hz to 1.2kHz we’ll find nasally tones that need to be addressed on a singer-by-singer basis - but once we find the right range, we can reduce to get rid of this often unwanted sound.
Then there are the super important high mids, roughly 2kHz-5kHz, which will help the vocal cut through a mix by increasing presence. To further accentuate this range, reduce 250Hz to lessen its masking effect on the highs.
Let’s listen to a vocal being processed with all of these mentioned filters and notice how the clarity and pronunciation improve.
Speaking of vocals, Soothe 2 works well at blending the vocal into instruments with competing mid ranges, and vice versa. What I’ll do it place the processor on my vocal, side-chain a competing instrument or the instrument bus, and reduce aggressive overlapping resonances in the mid-range.
In this example, the vocal will sit back farther into the instrumental, but we could place the processor on the instrumental and side-chain the vocal for the opposite effect.
Let’s take a listen to Soothe 2 on the vocal with the instrumental side-chained.
Let’s look back at chapter 1 and build on the parallel mids idea - again we’ve isolated out mids with a parallel track and linear phase EQ. Next, let’s add an upward processor like the MV2 to compress and amplify quieter parts of the signal, making the mid-range rich in detail.
Then we’ll blend these parallel compressed mids in with the original signal.
Similar to chapter 2 we can emulate the Neve Portico but this time let’s mimic the Width function. With a mid-side EQ, we’ll amplify the mid-range of the side image this time, and cause widening to the stereo image as well as make our mid-range more pronounced.
Let’s listen and notice how the effect is similar to the depth function from chapter 2, but the stereo image is widened instead of focused.
Last up let’s try to get all instruments and vocals to sound cohesive by sending everything to a parallel subtle reverb and isolating the mid-image. I’ll use a short reverb, typically an ambient one or studio room emulation, and keep the mix dial low before dialing in mids.
This will keep the effect subtle and will emphasize the mid frequencies, causing cohesion amongst all instruments. I’ll personally keep this effect around 3% but be sure to keep the wet/dry below 7 or 8% at the most.
Let’s take a listen.
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