SQL Tuning Tips – Making Ear Candy

Sound quality tuning tips and tricks

Using the Equalizer

  1. If it sounds muddy, cut some at 250Hz.
  2. If it sounds honky, cut some at 500Hz.
  3. Cut if you’re trying to make things sound better.
  4. Boost if you want to try to make things sound different.
  5. You can’t boost something that’s not there in the first place.

Magic Frequencies

Sense of power; felt more than heardToo much makes the music sound muddy
60 – 250Hz
Contains fundamental notes of rhythm section; makes music fat or thinToo much makes the music boomy
Low Mids
Contains the low order harmonics of most instrumentsBoosting 500 – 1kHz sounds hornlike; 1 – 2kHz sounds tinny
2kHz – 4kHz
High Mids
Contains speech recognition sounds like “m,” “b” and “v”Too much causes listener fatigue
4kHz – 6kHz
Responsible for clarity and definition of voices and instrumentsBoosting makes music seem closer
6kHz- 16kHz
Controls brilliance and clarityToo much causes vocal sibilance
Source: The Mixing Engineer’s Handbook

Instrument Magic Frequencies

InstrumentMagic Frequencies
Bass GuitarBottom at 50 – 80Hz; attack at 700Hz: snap at 2.5kHz
Kick DrumBottom at 80 – 100HZ: hollowness at 400Hz; point at 3 – 5kHz
SnareFatness at 120 – 240Hz: boing at 900Hz: crispness at 5kHz; snap at 10kHz
TomsFullness at 240 – 500Hz: attack at 5 – 7kHz
Floor TomFullness at 80 – 120Hz; attack at 5kHz
CongaRing at 200Hz: slap at 5kHz
Hi Hat & CymbalsClang at 200Hz: sparkle at 8 – 10kHz
Electric GuitarFullness at 240 – 500Hz: presence at 1.5 – 2kHz: reduce 1kHz for 4 X 12 cabinet sound
Acoustic GuitarFullness at 80Hz: body at 240Hz; presence at 2 – 5kHz
OrganFullness at 80Hz: body at 240Hz: presence at 2 – 5kHz
PianoFullness at 80 Hz: presence at 2.5 – 5kHz: honky-tonk at 2.5kHz
HornsFullness at 120 – 240Hz: piercing at 5kHz
VoiceFullness at 120Hz: boommess at 240Hz; presence at 5kHz; sibilance at 5 kHz: air at 10 – 15kHz
StringsFullness at 240Hz; scratchiness at 7 – 10kHz
Source: The Mixing Engineer’s Handbook

Additional related content:

Visit the MECA bonus tracks list
Purchase the Tantric Tuning CD