Hi Hats/ Cymbals - How Loud in the Mix and How Much EQ?

Zen Cat

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Merry greetings!

I'm just finishing off my demo CD and am very happy with all of the levels in my mixes, except for the hats and the cymbals. Well, not so much unhappy, as just unsure. Having only had a chance to play my tracks thorough a small rig once, I am constantly worrying about how much damage one could potentially cause with loud, over EQ'd high hats on a large rig!
<shudders as="" the="" thought="">

When I listen to really well produced tracks, I'm always impressed at how clear the hi hats sound without actually being too loud and harsh.

What I normally do (I use Cubase SX 2) is to find the sweet spot on the channel EQ and then boost that frequency whilst cutting out all low frequencies. I then pull the volume of the channel down the more I boost the EQ.

What sort of tricks does everyone here use? Do you compress your hats? Do you have them all running through a group channel?

How do you ensure that they won't be too loud and harsh on a big rig?

Any help and advice gratefully received!


:ibiggrin:</shudders>
 

andrew

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If I we're you I'd do the opposite - get rid of the harsh frequencies, keep the ones you like -obviously do a low cut where you feel it's right ...

Don't worry about the 'big rig' thing - if it sounds good on a pair of reference monitors then it will sound good on a properly set up 'big rig'.. of course there will be some differences in the sound so you might learn something about the tune that you hadn't already realised, but this is why you should play your music on as many different setups as possible - your goal(or the mastering persons goal) is to make it sound good on all of them.

Andrew
 

Zen Cat

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Cheers for the reply Andrew!

At the moment I listen to my tracks on four different systems:

My computer (Tannoy Reveal Nearfield Monitors powered by a Samson Servo 170 Power amp)

My iPod (With those cool little Sony earphones with the rubber earpieces that block off external sounds)

My Car stereo (which is crap!)

My Hifi (a little Sony unit with decent-ish speakers)

So far the tracks sound good on all of them! It's really just the hi hats that I'm not sure about.

When you say I should get rid of the harsh frequencies, do you mean actually cut them or just don't boost them?
 

jamez_23

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Zen Cat said:
When you say I should get rid of the harsh frequencies, do you mean actually cut them or just don't boost them?

I am sure Andrew means dont boost freq's, just cut the one's that are nasty ...... try to work by cutting freq's rather than boosting them ......

If the ones you are left with are then too quiet ..... turn up the sound !! :iyes:
 

andrew

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bookmarked those links J

A sweep through the frequency range of the sound with a peak eq - (high Q, level on maximum) helps you find the harsh spots in the sound, which to get an overall nice sound in your tune you need to get rid of. (cut to varying degrees)

I'm a bit wary of using eq to boost as I've read that, to quote the article I've linked below
"as a general principle, it is better to cut than boost". This tutorial has been linked a few times on psyforum and although on the d&b site applies to dance music production in general

Check it out at :

http://www.dnbscene.com/articles.php?mode=display&id=74

Andrew
 

Zen Cat

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Good article. Have printed it out and will mull over at home...

I always boost the EQs on my bass and my kick... in fact on most things and it seems to work... A while ago I had a kind of tutorial session from a mate of mine who produces Hard House, DJs around the world and had had numerous tracks released. He boosts the EQ on almost all of his channels and advised me to do the same.

So, to decide which method I prefer, I'm going to take on of my tracks, create a new version, and then try using subtractive EQ on it instead and see if it sounds better!

Will let you know the results! :ibiggrin:
 

nik

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i use the same monitors as you zen cat and i know that with this particular setup you have to mix the frequencies around the hihat to a louder level than feels normally natural.
there's alot to be said for mixing at lower levels and i completely agree with the link JP. Though on the other side of the coin when you mix at lower levels your not feeling the balls of the track. mix loudly for it to be played loudly and it will sound really BIG.
but true it wont sound so good at lower levels.
 

andrew

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Zen Cat said:

Will let you know the results! :ibiggrin:

look forward to hearing em - i think you can probably get good results either way.. it's just a matter of trying and listening and retrying and listening... and probably sharing your thoughts with other people who are similarly into audio as yourself/ourselves

nothing to say that the sound you're generating by boosting certain frequencies is NOT going to work in the context of the tune you're creating. up to you as an artist

Andrew
 

Darren Lynch

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Most psy tunes I've heard favour quite a 'silky' hats sound, achieved by rolling out the harsh frequencies, this leaves you with lots of high end detail dancing around which doesn't conflict with anything else. As people have already suggested, turn your monitors down, boost the mid range level and then sweep through the frequencies until you locate the real 'clank' sound and then apply cut. This will give you an airy hat sound very different from the more metallic sound of hats featured in, say, acid techno.
 

Zen Cat

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Darren Lynch said:
Most psy tunes I've heard favour quite a 'silky' hats sound, achieved by rolling out the harsh frequencies, this leaves you with lots of high end detail dancing around which doesn't conflict with anything else. As people have already suggested, turn your monitors down, boost the mid range level and then sweep through the frequencies until you locate the real 'clank' sound and then apply cut. This will give you an airy hat sound very different from the more metallic sound of hats featured in, say, acid techno.

I applied this technique to some of my tracks yesterday and was getting good results with the running and tapping closed hats. However I'm always wary of cutting too much from the open hats on the off beat, because they can sound a little weak when one cuts the harsher frequencies... Still need to play around with them some more.

In any case I conducted a little experiment whereby I took all the EQ boosts off the percussion on one of my tracks and cut the harsh EQs instead. It certainly seems to have cleaned up the sound considerably! And the hats definitely sound more silky and more psy.

I still find myself boosting the kick, the bass and the snare, which always seems to benefit from a little boost to give it extra snap.

I'll be working more on them tonight after work.

I wish I could spend 24/7 working on my tracks! Oh well... gotta work.
 

BeatNik

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In my opinion, e.q. boosts can sound just as silky, as long as they're precise... plus if you use 2 e.q's it's possible to cut notches out of a boost as well (may be abit of a waste of e.q's though :Wink3: )

With the notch e.q'ing which Andrew was talking about (where you take a high Q notch and sweep it slowly through the frequency spectrum removing 'crap' frequencies) remeber that when you do that on basslines don't remove all of the low freqs which sound bad, as it WILL take away the punch and power of your sub... most of the bass power comes from these frequencies - just reduce them slightly.

For me, when mixing the hihats its very important to let them have full use of the upper freqency range, hipassed where you feel necessary but all the way to the top (even above the synths)... this gives them the typical clarity needed. However try some subtle short decay reverb, can make the hats sit much tighter in the mix, can remove some harsh elements.

Nik
 

Zen Cat

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BeatNik said:
In my opinion, e.q. boosts can sound just as silky, as long as they're precise... plus if you use 2 e.q's it's possible to cut notches out of a boost as well (may be abit of a waste of e.q's though :Wink3: )

With the notch e.q'ing which Andrew was talking about (where you take a high Q notch and sweep it slowly through the frequency spectrum removing 'crap' frequencies) remeber that when you do that on basslines don't remove all of the low freqs which sound bad, as it WILL take away the punch and power of your sub... most of the bass power comes from these frequencies - just reduce them slightly.

For me, when mixing the hihats its very important to let them have full use of the upper freqency range, hipassed where you feel necessary but all the way to the top (even above the synths)... this gives them the typical clarity needed. However try some subtle short decay reverb, can make the hats sit much tighter in the mix, can remove some harsh elements.

Nik

It never feels right to cut the EQ on basslines... I always end up boosting them at least a bit. I really feel that the one area of my tracks that I really need to sort is the hi hat EQ. I usually have a smidgen of short decay reverb on them in any case, but your suggestion of pushing them further up the frequency range definitely makes sense. I'm still not entirely sure just how loud they should be compared to the other elements of the tracks, as they tend to cut through the sound anyweay and therefore can be turned down quite a bit... but how much.

It's so frustrating sitting at work and wanting to try out all these new techniques. I'm usually quite knackered when i get home and I always need to do a little mini-meditation to get myself in the right frame of mind to work on my tracks!:irolleyes
 

andrew

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hey zen cat - i know what you mean by waiting to work on your music, but be thankful for your appreciation for music, and for having the equipment to make it - 10 years ago you would have needed a lot more kit to do what you want to do and there wouldn't have been a forum full of people who would help u or probably an internet connection at your work, so be thankful for times we live in!!! we're all on a journey, enjoy it!!!

Best.

Andrew
 

Zen Cat

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andrew said:
hey zen cat - i know what you mean by waiting to work on your music, but be thankful for your appreciation for music, and for having the equipment to make it - 10 years ago you would have needed a lot more kit to do what you want to do and there wouldn't have been a forum full of people who would help u or probably an internet connection at your work, so be thankful for times we live in!!! we're all on a journey, enjoy it!!!

Best.

Andrew

Well said, sir! :iyes:

At times I have envied my mates who are on the dole and spend all day working on their tracks, but I do love my job and without it I wouldn't have had the money to buy all my equipment. The fact that I can use the internet at work also allows me to spend time in this fantastic oasis of knowledge. It's safe to say that since joining Psy Forum I have made a quantum leap in production techniques!

Now if I can just sort this bloody hi hat EQ issue I'll be signed in no time!! :Grin:
 

andrew

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I'd be lying if i said it's always easy for me to turn off the studio at night when i gotta work the next day ;-)
 
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