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The high pass filter – your best friend at mixdown!

The high pass filter – your best friend at mixdown!

As soon as you start to put more than a couple of instruments into a song, you can very quickly find that things get a bit messy. The low-end of the bass is competing for the same space as the kick drum, higher-up it’s fighting with the guitars, and things can get muddy and indistinct very quickly. Of course, that’s what mixing is all about, but before you reach for those surgical eq tools, why not try something a little bit more humble: the high pass filter.

High pass filter - your first mixing step?

Rocky Mountain high pass filter

A high pass filter is a pretty straightforward thing, you just choose a frequency and those below that point roll away, usually at 12 dB per octave or so, but different ‘steepnesses’ of filter are seen around on various designs.

What filters are great for – both high pass and low pass – is getting rid of the parts of the signal you don’t need.

But what don’t you need? If you hit the ‘solo’ button and you listen to that beautiful recording of that acoustic guitar part in isolation, chopping its bottom end off will probably make it sound terrible. If that part is towards the back of the arrangement though, you might be surprised to find just how much of the signal you can remove and have it still work in the mix.

And as soon as you take those low-end frequencies away, all of a sudden you’ve freed up space for other instruments to sit in there, meaning you can now hear them without having to push their faders up.

Mixing with Audient and Hard-Fi

You may have heard us mention Audient before. Their stunningly wonderful iD22 interface has seen plenty of use recording organs, harpsichords and other such wonderful sounds.

Audient ASP880 at Red Dog MusicPair an iD22 with the new ASP880 8-channel preamp, and you have a really quite impressively good recording solution for the studio or taking on location.

Recently Audient have joined forces with Hard-Fi, Sound on Sound, Gobbler and Cenzo Townshend to give you the chance to win an awesome iD22 and ASP880 bundle by remixing Hard-Fi’s track Move Over.

If you haven’t already entered, you still have until the 18th of this month to download the stems, get your mix together and get submitted!

Fi-pass filter

We thought that these tracks would provide a handy example of the power of the high-pass filter. We took the tracks, arranged them in Ableton Live and pushed some faders. No compression, no eq, no automation, no esoteric effects or plugins, just a bit of reverb and some short delays.

Then we put a high pass filter on every channel and moved the turnover frequency up the spectrum to taste. No other changes were made, so take a listen to the before and after:

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[soundcloud url=”″ params=”color=ff5500&inverse=false&auto_play=false&show_user=true” width=”100%” height=”20″ iframe=”true” /]

As you can hear, the second mix just sounds a lot less ‘muddy’, the overall tonality is brighter (as you’d probably expect to be honest…) but the track just sounds a bit more ‘open’, and you can hear into it a bit more and pick out the individual instruments more clearly.

Now, you obviously wouldn’t leave things as we did in this example. Once you’ve made these changes, you’d be going back and adjusting levels again, as you’ll have made things quieter, and the whole process becomes very iterative, but it’s a good place to start…

So, embrace the filter, and download the stems from Audient today! Even if you don’t plan on entering the competition, the chance to work with a session of professionally recorded stems from a successful act doesn’t come along every day…

Audient and Hard-Fi Mixing Competition

Happy filtering!

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Red Dog Music is the UK’s friendliest musical instrument and pro-audio dealer. Between our 5000 square foot Edinburgh shop filled with an incredible range of products, and our London showroom in Clapham specialising in high-end instruments, dj and pro-audio, Red Dog Music has you covered from north to south and from performance to playback.

About The Author

Red Dog Music

Dawsons Music is delighted to announce that the Red Dog Music brand is now part of the Dawsons family. This is an exciting opportunity to bring both communities together and create a stronger, wider network of people passionate about music gear. We both share a common heritage to support musicians throughout the UK and Dawsons want to support Red Dog Music customers in their continued musical journey.

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