High Pass Filtering: Your #1 Mixing Tool
In this video I thought I would talk about high pass filtering. It’s super important and I think it’s definitely one of the most used tools mixing engineers, recording engineers should be using. It’s something I don’t hear a lot of around on the web and stuff with younger guys, so I thought I would just talk about it a little bit.
I’ve got a session here. I’m using high pass filters on everything. It’s going to help give you clarity, it’s going to help give you separation. If you notice, a lot of your mixes just have a lot of mud, and you can’t get things to sound really clear, dump high pass filters — literally on every single track.
I’ll give you some guidelines. Basically what’s going to happen is either A, you just don’t need that low information, because you’ve got to make room for bass guitars and kick drums or whatever, or B, there may not be — you know, you may have a vocal that doesn’t have a lot of low information on it, but there’s still a lot of low end build up, and say if you have, you know, sixteen vocal tracks stacked up, all of that stuff is going to accumulate, and it’s going to stack and stack and stack, and it’s going to create a lot of nastiness you don’t want in your mix.
So just dump a high pass filter on. It’s going to get rid of that. Basically high pass filters filters the high frequency information through. You know, you set the curve to a point, and it’s going to cut out all of the low information.
For instance, here’s the little — some rhythm tracks here.
A little country rock thing.
If you notice on these SSL channel strips, I pretty much go to 50, even on the kick drum, because really, in rock kick drums, you don’t need anything below 50. It’s not going to the club or anything.
Snare drum, 50, hi-hats, I’m going to 120, you know, 50… 50 is a good starting point. Rooms, 50, and it will really clean up a lot. Even this bass guitar track. You can see I’m high passing at 47, because I don’t need it really subby, and if I didn’t have that on every single one, the low end is going to get a little out of control.
Just an example, I’ve got an organ in here.
There’s a lot of low end stuff we don’t need there, because we’re not going to hear it in the mix. Really all we want is the top end information.
So what we can do, we have an EQ here, and we will use — let’s use this bx_cleansweep. This is essentially a high and low pass filter.
This is a free plug-in. If you go to plug-inalliance.com, go download it. It’s really cool, but it’s essentially a high pass and a low pass filter.
So with this one, it’s on an organ. So we can go as high as 150 maybe. Let’s listen to that.
Bypass it on and off.
Really cleans it up. The bass gets a lot more room to do its thing. And again, this is just a really quick example. Let’s bypass it on and off. Here we go.
It cleans up a lot of stuff, and that’s just one EQ move.
I will say this, with filtering — so with low information, in my opinion, you can go a little steeper on your curves. With high information, high frequencies, you probably want to be a little more gentle with the curves. You know, 6dB per octave, 12dB per octave on your high pass filters.
But with low information, you can get — you know, if you want to just make it really steep and not have anything below a certain point, you can do it. You know, feel free to.
Vocals, a lot of times, I’ll high pass male vocals 100 to 150Hz, female vocals, you can go even up to 200. The trick is just to grab the filter and bring it up and listen really careful so you’re bringing it up, and then as soon as you hear it sort of start to cut out low end, kind of dial it back a little bit. That’s sort of the trick to figuring out where to put it.
But acoustic guitars, 150, 100Hz. Electric guitars, 75Hz. Drums, 50Hz. You know, acoustic drums, as a great way to clean stuff out. Even with the overheads and rooms, depending on the sound you want, you can go higher than that.
Bass guitar and rock stuff, just to get that tighter sound here, you know, I’ve got a high pass filter at 47Hz. All of these things help, and I’ll do that on every single track for the most part. It’s a great tool to use. You should literally high pass everything to a point.
So anyways, just think about it. Maybe try a little bit of it in your mixes. See how it goes. I guarantee it, it’ll help you out with cleaning out that mud, cleaning out a lot of stuff in tracks you just don’t need.
A lot of times, if it’s recorded right, like with an acoustic guitar, all I need to do is high pass it. It’s a really beautiful thing.
So anyways, high pass filtering, that’s my shpiel on it. There’s a mixing giveaway that’s still going on. Go to the website, download the stems, you’ve got until May 3rd, and you can win a copy of SSD4 EX from Steven Slate Drums. Really cool. We’ve had a lot of people download the stems and I’m looking forward to doing this, and we can do another one after this.
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