Explanation of "MUDDINESS" (mixing)
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Old 12-12-2012, 10:03 AM   #1
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Explanation of "MUDDINESS" (mixing)

I have been getting more deeply into mixing as of late and needless to say I have many questions.

One thing that bothers me is the term "MUDDINESS." I understand the term mud to mean unclear and dirty. Also that mud tends to be between 300hz-1000hz depending on your instrument/sound (right?).

The thing that I don't understand is that mud has negative connotations. So does that means thats its always bad? Or should it be sculpted out of all sounds? Do all sounds have mud? Do two different sounds playing together create the mud? Why is their an obsession with mud in mixing? Also what sounds are supposed to occupy this dreaded muddy mid range? And how do I make them sound good?

I'll use a common problem with my mixing and my solution to try and specify. So for example say I mix a typical saw/square synth bass line say around A1 with an electronic piano sound like an rhodes or wurli around A2. I've been noticing if I cut the synth bass around 300-500hz about 6db give or take the Piano sound can breathe a little. I always attributed this to the fact that A2 is around 220hz and its letting the fundamental through a little more. However the two sounds still tend to clash. Should I just put the piano up an octave?

Anyway In my research I've found that everybody talks about this magical mud and I just want to make more sense of it. I dont really know if anybody can help me but any advice will be appreciated. Ty for your time

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Old 12-12-2012, 11:20 AM   #2
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Re: Explanation of "MUDDINESS" (mixing)

muddy usually refer to " too much bass/mid bass " to a point where you can feel it acting on the compressor or just taking too much place and stealing other instruments space , for higher instruments ( bell , pluck , keys , high synth ect ... ) its usually resonance , despit that you can also have resonance on bassy stuff

be aware that in an untreated acoustically room you gonna get natural muddiness and resonance ( sound reflection ) so its pretty hard to have objective cuts to get ride of them in that situation

one of the easy way to get things clean is if for example you have a big ass bass playing , split it into two part , one sub bass and one mid/high bass , so that way you're more in control of the sound space after processing , for high frequency stuff its pretty easy to cut out the resonance as you can clearly hear/see them

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Old 12-12-2012, 12:57 PM   #3
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Re: Explanation of "MUDDINESS" (mixing)

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Originally Posted by essenthy View Post
muddy usually refer to " too much bass/mid bass " to a point where you can feel it acting on the compressor or just taking too much place and stealing other instruments space , for higher instruments ( bell , pluck , keys , high synth ect ... ) its usually resonance , despit that you can also have resonance on bassy stuff

be aware that in an untreated acoustically room you gonna get natural muddiness and resonance ( sound reflection ) so its pretty hard to have objective cuts to get ride of them in that situation

one of the easy way to get things clean is if for example you have a big ass bass playing , split it into two part , one sub bass and one mid/high bass , so that way you're more in control of the sound space after processing , for high frequency stuff its pretty easy to cut out the resonance as you can clearly hear/see them
also, frequency masking is a big part of "mud".

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Old 13-12-2012, 03:04 AM   #4
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Re: Explanation of "MUDDINESS" (mixing)

Bare in mind that muddy is referring to a tonal balance, not specifically just the presence of low mid frequencies.

Very basically, muddy refers to too much low end, and not enough high end. Typically this is due to low mids dominating a mix.

There is no need to always duck low mids. It depends on the sound. If balanced correctly, the same freq spectrum that make a mix sound "muddy" can give sounds depth and power....

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Old 13-12-2012, 03:20 AM   #5
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Re: Explanation of "MUDDINESS" (mixing)

In some of my mixes, my drums and bass is usually higher on the EQ compared to mids/high ends. This range is usually from 50hz-250hz, and graphically, there is a large hump here that other sounds do not peak at. Would this be considered "muddy"?
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Old 13-12-2012, 12:29 PM   #6
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Re: Explanation of "MUDDINESS" (mixing)

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Originally Posted by kebn View Post
In some of my mixes, my drums and bass is usually higher on the EQ compared to mids/high ends. This range is usually from 50hz-250hz, and graphically, there is a large hump here that other sounds do not peak at. Would this be considered "muddy"?
Very?

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Old 13-12-2012, 01:04 PM   #7
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Re: Explanation of "MUDDINESS" (mixing)

Accumulation of "300Hz-ish heavy" sounds.
Low shelving out everything (single channels or grouped channels) that doesn't need these lower frequencies. It will save you alot of hassle. Even highpass certain things to make up alot more room for the bass, kick, snare, toms, etc.
Bass, kicks, etc have alot of energy in the low end. They can almost be put there alone, while many other sounds/instruments have their sweetspots higher up in the spectrum.

edit: D'oh! Correction (thanks aeoR!).

Last edited by Evelon; 14-12-2012 at 06:29 AM..

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Old 13-12-2012, 01:18 PM   #8
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Re: Explanation of "MUDDINESS" (mixing)

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Originally Posted by Evelon View Post
Accumulation of "300Hz-ish heavy" sounds.
Low shelving out everything (single channels or grouped channels) that doesn't need these lower frequencies. It will save you alot of hassle. Even lowpass certain things to make up alot more room for the bass, kick, snare, toms, etc.
Bass, kicks, etc have alot of energy in the low end. They can almost be put there alone, while many other sounds/instruments have their sweetspots higher up in the spectrum.
i was actually waiting for you to enter this thread.

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Old 13-12-2012, 01:25 PM   #9
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Re: Explanation of "MUDDINESS" (mixing)

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Originally Posted by gbsr View Post
i was actually waiting for you to enter this thread.
I was actually waiting for a thread like this so I could sing my melody.

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Old 13-12-2012, 11:52 PM   #10
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Re: Explanation of "MUDDINESS" (mixing)

I always attribute it to fundamentals too close to each other, and how the range of most melodies have fundamentals that lay in the mud region.... That, or cheap mics/proximity effect/bad room treatment with acoustic recording. I'm surprised at how much of an instrument you can low cut and still recognize it due to the upper of the harmonics and timbre. I usually cut between 200-500 depending on the instrument, just up to the point where it sounds 'thin', then bring it back a few db.
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Old 14-12-2012, 01:09 AM   #11
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Re: Explanation of "MUDDINESS" (mixing)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Evelon View Post
I was actually waiting for a thread like this so I could sing my melody.
I'm actually dissapointed by the absence of any analogies on your end.. also, you meant highpass not lowpass.

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Old 14-12-2012, 03:28 AM   #12
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Re: Explanation of "MUDDINESS" (mixing)

in the mix, solo one track/sound. listen.
then bring everything else in.
said track/sound should be just as distinguishable.

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Old 14-12-2012, 04:45 AM   #13
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Re: Explanation of "MUDDINESS" (mixing)

Good reminder of how i know all that was said in this thread but ignore it too often, if not almost all the time. Oddly enough i usually have a 'void' between 250-300 hz and about 700-800 but that is almost certainly due to the genres i usually dabble in.
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Old 16-12-2012, 08:52 PM   #14
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Re: Explanation of "MUDDINESS" (mixing)

I tend to scoop the 500hz area in just about everything to remove mudiness.
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Old 16-12-2012, 09:11 PM   #15
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Re: Explanation of "MUDDINESS" (mixing)

If you're finding the need to dip low mids in the same frequency areas ALL THE TIME there's 3 reasons for that

1.you suck at mixing and are not very good at selecting sounds that collaborate with one another well (the keyword is well)

2.your room sucks and it gives you a very "muddy"interpretation of what is going on there and or your monitors or both (ported monitors for example) thus you over compensate by dipping shit where there are no problems

3.you're putting too many sounds in the same octave playing at exactly the same time (arrangement)


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