Why does your Mix sound “Muddy” ? Why does it sound a little boxy ?
Let us now answer all these questions above !
Muddy or Mud or Muddiness is a common problem amongst Mix Engineers. The first step to tame this issue is to understand your Mid-range and most of all understanding your EQ.
The Mid-Range is a region where almost every instrument has its place. Conservative attenuation or boosting these problematic frequencies will give a defined place for every instrument in the mix.
“Every instrument you deal with has a fundamental frequency in the 250-500 Hz range.”
Now what are fundamental frequencies ? They are “the lowest frequency produced by the oscillation of the whole of an object, as distinct from the harmonics of higher frequency”. Woah ! What does that mean ? For example, if I play an A note, 440 Hz is the fundamental frequency of that note, but that’s not the only frequency present. The sound of that note is made up of that fundamental frequency combined with a complex mixture of harmonics at higher frequencies. These higher frequencies are what we use to differentiate that note from another note being played.
While mixing, the fundamental frequencies of most of the instruments lie between 250Hz and 500Hz. So there is a huge build up of those frequencies which directly affects the mix, hence the muddiness. Usually, the Mud in the mix is not due one particular instrument. It is mostly caused by too many instruments building-up in the same frequency region. Bling !
What do we do about this now ?
The usual mistakes that we see in most students is that they reach out for those high frequencies and boost them up. Well guys, if you already know the problem, we’d say, first remove the problem. Why don’t you guys try cutting those Low-Mids out of those unimportant elements, keeping only those instruments that you think need to be in the Mid region.
The best way to do it by first selecting that Low-Mid band with an EQ. Then do a huge boost and sweep the frequency up and down till you find that mud. Once you find the spot, cut it by at least 3db first and give it a listen. In most cases, a 3db cut is all it takes. It might take a little practice, but once you get a hang of it, then it’s all yours.