What is causing mud in my production?
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Old 04-08-2017, 04:33 PM   #1
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What is causing mud in my production?

Hello,
I've been making electronic music for a year now, anything from dubstep, to future bass, to house, etc. I've run into the same mastering problem ever since i started producing, and that is having "mud" in my final mix. what i mean b mud is an awful tone in around the 150 hz range. I've tried everything against it, and my only idea anymore is it has to be coming from my limiter.
here's my mixing and mastering process:
-I cut all tracks (besides kick drum and basses) at 150-200 hz.
-I never mix basses, and when i do, i eq the bass out of one of them so they don't clash.
-For mastering, the first thing i do is eq. i do a sharp cut from the lows that you cant hear (25 hz) and eq the highs you cant hear. i cut about 3 db from 150 hz and cut a little around 2500 hz.
-I also hi pass the lows out of the side signal.
-I then use a multiband compressor as normal.
-I use very low mix exciter to add some silver.
-the last thing i do is use logic pro x's stock limiter. i put the output on 0 db, put 24 ms of lookahead time, and set the gain around 5 or 6, just before it starts causing distortion.
in the end, i STILL HAVE that awful mud...
what do i do? could it be a product of the limiter?
i also tried using a linear phase eq (to keep the phase and loudness) to cut out 150 hz, but it still sounds muddy. please help me.
Thanks, Austin

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Old 04-08-2017, 04:52 PM   #2
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Re: What is causing mud in my production?

Do you EQ your reverbs/use a reverb with EQ available?

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Old 04-08-2017, 05:25 PM   #3
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Re: What is causing mud in my production?

hey bud, i hear ya, no pun intended lol...

im not really sure i can just type up a receipt for you to have full and deep sounding kicks... i lack years and years of REAL experience in a studio, to say do this this and this and you be okay...

i can though make a kick sound good... it takes time, idk what systems i have discovered yet... that would translate this easily to anyone else. but i can try

first thing i do is not use a limiter ... or a maximizer ... in the eq and mix phase. rule number one.

second thing i do is find a good kick sample!!!!! i cannot stress this enough, you cannot polish a turd so make sure you are using the best sounding samples to begin with.

third thing is a general rule of thumb, less is more.

i set up a kick sample, usually in a drum machine vs a loop player, i externally route it, so i can easily organize its processing. i use one kick sample and maybe maybe if it needs it, one parallel kick channel.

i find that -2 db on the mixer works @ 600 hz, this is for the low shelf. so 600 hz and lower is a flat line -2 db. i HP the kick @ 1.5k hz and i LP the kick @ 40 -60 hz depending on over all tone of the low end with the bass included.

i like my kicks around 40-50 hz with my bass riding around 60-180hz
the biggest tip i have here is keep 10 hz difference between kick LP and bass LP ... so there is 10 hz space between the two, or more! example. my kick rides around 45 hz, while my bass is LP @ 10-15 hz higher... so bass would have a LP @ 60 hz.

I use compression on the kick, but i keep a low threshold, fast release, and a mid level ratio. this way the kick is as loud as i can get it, first, and second, i want the compressor to barely signal on when the kick hits. I turn the knob till my led lights up, and then back it off till it turns off, and i listen to this range here, where the kick gets loud or soft, in this 6 db range... i find 6 db is the range (mixer and monitors in my room) to where i can hear no compressor, and then just barely hear it, but sense its loudness more... this is the window i want. i dont want to hear the compressor, but i want to hear that the kick is louder...

i like to include the mid bass with the kick, i said i rolloff HP at 1.5k hz give or take 500 hz... depending on how it sounds...

when i test the kick, i test the kick WITH the bassline(s) running as well... with the snare as well.

if i use a higher freq kick, then i swap the bass freq as well, i use a 80 hz kick where the bassline is at 40 hz... but never closer than 10 hz ... of each other. i dont use other effects, but i do use dynamics processing.

on the bus for the drums, i then add a second compressor... no eq, and send to the master section of the mix rack... not the mastering process.

in the master section of my eq/mix rack i have three eq, one before the third compressor and two after.

no limiter... no one should be limiting anything in their pre mastering phase anyway... lol it would seriously kill the DR and you would have a squeezed song that may be loud but wont sound good on a high fidelity system, or stereo system. preserving dynamic range in the eq and mix is the priority. we limit in the master phase here.

i sometimes run a stereo splitter in the master section as well, so i can easily compare mono vs stereo, and control my spread overall here according to freq. lows are mono, and mids and highs are somewhat spread.

you want a fast and snappy kick, with a narrow freq range, somewhere between 40 - 320 hz to be the audible part.

now... that is only the mechanical part... it will sound different room to room even with the same computer, and settings... so another huge implication of error or conflict would be in your studio!

what monitors, with or without a sub? sub settings? room treatment? etc...

when i eq in the master section on my eq/mix rack, i never use more than 3 db on the lows... or highs... I often will take away on the shelf, while boost specfic ranges with the other two eq, where it needs it, but only to get back to 0db. i start my eqing by taking away not adding. and i start in the rack or eq phase.

when i export this i export without limiter. and there is hardly any compression going on, just enough to hear the sample increase volume and tighten up, but not enough where i hear the compressor. we do this later in the mastering phase... in the mastering rack. when you export your wav file, do so with 4-6 db headroom. from your highest peak to 0 db...

which next, you will upload your wav file into and here you can add limiter and compressor to shape the sound for loudness and final eq the low, mid and high range. remember, when you eq the high, it will effect how the low sounds, and vice versa. less is more. go back and forth between your ideal setting and compare while each time getting closer to the middle. and use your ears... this is the hardest part for me because there is no way to tell you how this will sound... hope my blabbering helped some.

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Old 04-08-2017, 05:27 PM   #4
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Re: What is causing mud in my production?

Quote:
Originally Posted by austincox02 View Post
Hello,
I've been making electronic music for a year now, anything from dubstep, to future bass, to house, etc. I've run into the same mastering problem ever since i started producing, and that is having "mud" in my final mix. what i mean b mud is an awful tone in around the 150 hz range. I've tried everything against it, and my only idea anymore is it has to be coming from my limiter.
here's my mixing and mastering process:
-I cut all tracks (besides kick drum and basses) at 150-200 hz.
-I never mix basses, and when i do, i eq the bass out of one of them so they don't clash.
-For mastering, the first thing i do is eq. i do a sharp cut from the lows that you cant hear (25 hz) and eq the highs you cant hear. i cut about 3 db from 150 hz and cut a little around 2500 hz.
-I also hi pass the lows out of the side signal.
-I then use a multiband compressor as normal.
-I use very low mix exciter to add some silver.
-the last thing i do is use logic pro x's stock limiter. i put the output on 0 db, put 24 ms of lookahead time, and set the gain around 5 or 6, just before it starts causing distortion.
in the end, i STILL HAVE that awful mud...
what do i do? could it be a product of the limiter?
i also tried using a linear phase eq (to keep the phase and loudness) to cut out 150 hz, but it still sounds muddy. please help me.
Thanks, Austin
That sounds like an awful lot of severe processing. It's hard to give you any real advice without know the specifics of the song, but my guess is you're doing more harm than good with all that. Specifically H/LPFing everything. You're cutting all the air out of your mix. I've found some tracks barely need any major adjustments, some need lots. Some respond better to mild fader adjustment than compression. I've done some that literally don't need anything because I balanced my sound design on the front end and then just got my levels right. So much of it depends on the quality of your starting sounds.

You should do things as you need them, not as a matter of process. Start with raw tracks, take every last plugin or process off, and start A/Bing each change. That's a good starting point for learning what a song needs.

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Old 04-08-2017, 05:38 PM   #5
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Re: What is causing mud in my production?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Artificer View Post
That sounds like an awful lot of severe processing.

You should do things as you need them, not as a matter of process.

this right here.

and because you are dealing with harmonics. every song is going to have different sounds, samples, and over all different settings that need to be adjusted...

i use a little reverb on some drums, forgot to mention but i do that after i get things eq'd and in the final mix process. and i do mean, a little... barely noticeable if i can help it.

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Old 04-08-2017, 07:10 PM   #6
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Re: What is causing mud in my production?

The best thing about electronic music is that you can start your mixing with sample selection and sound design. My goal is to write/design/arrange that doesn't need much EQ. If you build the track so everything is in its place. Which more or less works for the music I make.

I know some genres like Brotstep or some Drum and Bass has so much going on its not possible to arrange the track that way. You might look into sidechain EQ to avoid masking in a busy track.

+1 on too much master bus processing. Just as an example LPF the highs then adding an exciter is somewhat redundant. Just don't filter the highs ;p

I don't mess with EQ on the master, I always go back to the mix if something doesn't sound right.

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Old 04-08-2017, 07:15 PM   #7
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Re: What is causing mud in my production?

Quote:
Originally Posted by relic View Post

I don't mess with EQ on the master, I always go back to the mix if something doesn't sound right.
to clarify, i did this after i achieved a mix... not before. which any issues at this phase should be addressed in the mix. before i send for mastering though i can add slight tonal changes, again as long as i am not limiting before the mastering.

edit: to add, the reason being is if you say, have a piece of analog or a replica in vst and want to add some warmth, or tone, the vst plugin itself without any or little change can add significant quality to your overall sound. i just so happen to have had purchased a collection of very fine compressors and eq's in reason's rack extension. they were on sale and i got all six. i couldnt help myself. and man, the warmth is amazing... im not shooting for much eq but more so the tone and dynamics from the equipment.

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Old 04-08-2017, 07:18 PM   #8
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Re: What is causing mud in my production?

You might be assuming the wrong frequency. Are you sure it's 150hz? Might be 75hz or 235hz. A hipass or hicut or whatever might not be working. you're getting a buildup somewhere in there, so take things as a whole and locate the areas that need work...like Pensado will often do, I will bypass all the master channel plugins, slap an eq on there with a graphical spectrum meter and then lopass the entire mix down to where you only hear the sub-300hz stuff. You'll get a better picture of what needs to be worked on that way by only hearing the low end and lo mids.


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Old 04-08-2017, 10:52 PM   #9
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Re: What is causing mud in my production?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lotus_Jewel View Post
hey bud, i hear ya, no pun intended lol...

im not really sure i can just type up a receipt for you to have full and deep sounding kicks... i lack years and years of REAL experience in a studio, to say do this this and this and you be okay...

i can though make a kick sound good... it takes time, idk what systems i have discovered yet... that would translate this easily to anyone else. but i can try

first thing i do is not use a limiter ... or a maximizer ... in the eq and mix phase. rule number one.

second thing i do is find a good kick sample!!!!! i cannot stress this enough, you cannot polish a turd so make sure you are using the best sounding samples to begin with.

third thing is a general rule of thumb, less is more.

i set up a kick sample, usually in a drum machine vs a loop player, i externally route it, so i can easily organize its processing. i use one kick sample and maybe maybe if it needs it, one parallel kick channel.

i find that -2 db on the mixer works @ 600 hz, this is for the low shelf. so 600 hz and lower is a flat line -2 db. i HP the kick @ 1.5k hz and i LP the kick @ 40 -60 hz depending on over all tone of the low end with the bass included.

i like my kicks around 40-50 hz with my bass riding around 60-180hz
the biggest tip i have here is keep 10 hz difference between kick LP and bass LP ... so there is 10 hz space between the two, or more! example. my kick rides around 45 hz, while my bass is LP @ 10-15 hz higher... so bass would have a LP @ 60 hz.

I use compression on the kick, but i keep a low threshold, fast release, and a mid level ratio. this way the kick is as loud as i can get it, first, and second, i want the compressor to barely signal on when the kick hits. I turn the knob till my led lights up, and then back it off till it turns off, and i listen to this range here, where the kick gets loud or soft, in this 6 db range... i find 6 db is the range (mixer and monitors in my room) to where i can hear no compressor, and then just barely hear it, but sense its loudness more... this is the window i want. i dont want to hear the compressor, but i want to hear that the kick is louder...

i like to include the mid bass with the kick, i said i rolloff HP at 1.5k hz give or take 500 hz... depending on how it sounds...

when i test the kick, i test the kick WITH the bassline(s) running as well... with the snare as well.

if i use a higher freq kick, then i swap the bass freq as well, i use a 80 hz kick where the bassline is at 40 hz... but never closer than 10 hz ... of each other. i dont use other effects, but i do use dynamics processing.

on the bus for the drums, i then add a second compressor... no eq, and send to the master section of the mix rack... not the mastering process.

in the master section of my eq/mix rack i have three eq, one before the third compressor and two after.

no limiter... no one should be limiting anything in their pre mastering phase anyway... lol it would seriously kill the DR and you would have a squeezed song that may be loud but wont sound good on a high fidelity system, or stereo system. preserving dynamic range in the eq and mix is the priority. we limit in the master phase here.

i sometimes run a stereo splitter in the master section as well, so i can easily compare mono vs stereo, and control my spread overall here according to freq. lows are mono, and mids and highs are somewhat spread.

you want a fast and snappy kick, with a narrow freq range, somewhere between 40 - 320 hz to be the audible part.

now... that is only the mechanical part... it will sound different room to room even with the same computer, and settings... so another huge implication of error or conflict would be in your studio!

what monitors, with or without a sub? sub settings? room treatment? etc...

when i eq in the master section on my eq/mix rack, i never use more than 3 db on the lows... or highs... I often will take away on the shelf, while boost specfic ranges with the other two eq, where it needs it, but only to get back to 0db. i start my eqing by taking away not adding. and i start in the rack or eq phase.

when i export this i export without limiter. and there is hardly any compression going on, just enough to hear the sample increase volume and tighten up, but not enough where i hear the compressor. we do this later in the mastering phase... in the mastering rack. when you export your wav file, do so with 4-6 db headroom. from your highest peak to 0 db...

which next, you will upload your wav file into and here you can add limiter and compressor to shape the sound for loudness and final eq the low, mid and high range. remember, when you eq the high, it will effect how the low sounds, and vice versa. less is more. go back and forth between your ideal setting and compare while each time getting closer to the middle. and use your ears... this is the hardest part for me because there is no way to tell you how this will sound... hope my blabbering helped some.
95 percent of this is bullshit im sorry just is.
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Old 04-08-2017, 11:51 PM   #10
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Re: What is causing mud in my production?

Do a checkup on your monitoring environment.
If you are in the wrong type of indoor architecture, it will always sound bad.
This is especially the case with high ceilings or if your speakers are aimed at your gut instead of your ears.

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Old 05-08-2017, 02:28 AM   #11
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Re: What is causing mud in my production?

Quote:
Originally Posted by joem View Post
95 percent of this is bullshit im sorry just is.
what? lol, its true, wrong or right its what i do to get a nice sounding kick in my room and headphones. im sure there are other ways too...

is it because you use FL?

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Old 05-08-2017, 02:54 AM   #12
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Re: What is causing mud in my production?

oh i was wondering, because of the styles of music.... would be there only one way to make a kick or is there like many ways, i guess you can slap three limiters/maximizers on there and pump it full of compression and reverb maybe some bit crusher and distortion too, why not. shit i bet with the use of computers and some cool plug ins, it could sound like some of the shit i hear at these clubs.

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Old 05-08-2017, 05:18 AM   #13
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Re: What is causing mud in my production?

You know, words are such a bad way to convey sound. Given as how it's not for self spamming purposes, post up a link of what you are working on right now that has too much mud.

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Old 05-08-2017, 02:16 PM   #14
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Re: What is causing mud in my production?

Quote:
Originally Posted by joem View Post
95 percent of this is bullshit im sorry just is.
im just wondering if this is his advice or if he is gonna come back and school us all on how to make a phat kick... ?

just after posting this i made this last release track with a muddy kick,

all i did in the end was adjust the eq curve on a graphic eq, to help curve the mid slap area so its a lil quieter.

idk why but i went back thru some old guides AND i did a few searches for some new guides, on making kicks... and i dont see much wrong with what i stated. other than one huge thing... which is: this kick is for my house tracks. and i need a low and phat sounding kick,

this guy could be making dubstep. or techno, or ambiet, maybe miami bass.... in which case i could see where he is coming from.

i think the trick is using the tools you have: turning knobs till it sounds good. thats really where im at anyway, i never went to school for music theory or engineering.

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Old 05-08-2017, 04:54 PM   #15
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Re: What is causing mud in my production?

Techniques to sound good (mixing) take a lifetime to master.
I went to college for it, and still needed further education via books and magazine articles and online tips and watching documentaries. All of it has been essential.

And none of it matters if you don't protect your ears also.

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Old 05-08-2017, 06:09 PM   #16
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Re: What is causing mud in my production?

To the OP, what order filter do you use for your instrument hipasses. I use 48 db/oct filters and sound still gets through under the cutoff. You might not be cutting out as much low end as you think.

+1 on the soloing your master channel under 300 hz, I also do that for 200 and 100. Really lets me hear stuff I might otherwise miss and check how my unfiltered (lower filtered actually) basses blend up to my filtered instruments.

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Old 05-08-2017, 06:35 PM   #17
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Re: What is causing mud in my production?

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Originally Posted by White Noise View Post
To the OP, what order filter do you use for your instrument hipasses. I use 48 db/oct filters and sound still gets through under the cutoff. You might not be cutting out as much low end as you think.

+1 on the soloing your master channel under 300 hz, I also do that for 200 and 100. Really lets me hear stuff I might otherwise miss and check how my unfiltered (lower filtered actually) basses blend up to my filtered instruments.
Can't really steep/deep cuts cause resonance build ups at the cutoff frequency though? I used to do really steep cuts with filtering rates like that and was never really happy with the result. These days I use a very gradual slope, I get much better results to my ear.

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Old 05-08-2017, 10:36 PM   #18
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Re: What is causing mud in my production?

The "corner frequency" of cutoff of a filter is actually where it drops to -6 dB, not where it drops to "zero". At least, that's what they taught us in recording engineering school.

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Old 05-08-2017, 11:04 PM   #19
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Re: What is causing mud in my production?

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Originally Posted by relic View Post
Can't really steep/deep cuts cause resonance build ups at the cutoff frequency though? I used to do really steep cuts with filtering rates like that and was never really happy with the result. These days I use a very gradual slope, I get much better results to my ear.
There's a bunch of different kinds of filters, so I'm sure that's true for some. I use izotope Alloy 2 for most of my EQ, the filter setting I use in there is: highpass, flat, 48db (sometimes less, but 48 is as high as the slope goes). It's not perfectly flat above the cutoff, but it is very close. I find I use more shallow slopes if I want to let some lower end through (such as on hihats, where I set the filter as high as 2khz), or I lower the filter. It may mangle phase to accomplish that for all I know, or they might be linear phase filters (with delay), I've never read up on the technical details of alloy. I know the brickwall filter in there works really poorly in most cases. It behaves more like what you're talking about when used as a hipass, with the most unfortunate added result being that the filter gain actually pinches the cutoff like a band reject with one side very low, but still letting stuff through. Makes a solid lopass though.

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Old 06-08-2017, 08:34 PM   #20
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Re: What is causing mud in my production?

I watched a few mastering tutorials that came with a computer music magazine and the engineer was showing how he sweeps narrow high boosts to the master track to find lover frequencies usually between 200 and 300 that have a large resonance (like a low whistle) and cuts those a few DB. It has helped me a lot make some room for the low bass and clean up the mud as well.

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