FL Studio HOW TO guide: Clean up the sound mix with Fruity Parametric EQ 2
One thing that plagues many mixes is frequency muddiness and a lack of separation between musical elements. Luckily FL Studio / Fruity Loops makes it easy to remedy this by using the Fruity Parametric EQ 2. Too much going on at any audio frequency range will cause problems of overlap, cancellation, sonic mud buildup, and a general lack of cut and definition in the final mix. This FL Studio tutorial will help you solve these problems in with your audio mixes.
Most times this comes from too much low and low mid sound frequencies clashing in the song by instruments that have no business being in that area of the audio spectrum mix. High frequencies can be an issue also and you should be on the lookout to filter these out of elements that don’t need them to make room in the upper range. Generally every sound you use in your music tracks will have unwanted frequencies that will benefit from being cleaned up. Even if you can’t actively hear any frequency funk going on, trust me there is mud in there somewhere on pretty much every sound that will additively cloud up your final mixes. The Fruity Parametric EQ 2 is a powerful tool that allows you to carve out these unwanted frequencies and get your samples, loops, and music projects sounding clean.
The best way to see this in action is too load up a sample or VST instrument into a new FL Studio project. I think using something simple like a single snare or hi-hat sample will work great. I’ve uploaded a snare drum sample that I recorded that can be used in this demonstration if you want it, but anything you have will work.
So, load up your sound into the step sequencer in FL Studio and assign it to its own free mixer track. You can do this easy by left clicking on the sample channel in the step sequencer until the Channel settings window pops up then clicking the little down arrow in the top left corner and selecting “Assign free mixer track”. This will put the audio sample into a dedicated mixer channel that will allow it to be tweaked individually.
The Fruity Loops mixer window should popup automatically and have the channel highlighted for you. If not just open it by going to VIEW up in the top left of FL Studio and selecting Mixer or pressing the F9 key. Now, in the first effects slot click the little down arrow button and add a Fruity Parametric EQ 2.
The Fruity EQ 2 should now open up, if not just click its name in the FX slot. Now add some hits or notes into the step sequencer and press play. Watch the parametric eq 2 and you should see it lighting up to show the frequencies of the sound on every hit.
Right click on the number 1 little EQ band bubble and goto “Type” then pick “High pass”. Then right click it once more and goto “Order” then choose “Steep 8”. This will give you a steep high pass EQ that can be used to get rid of all the mud that the sound does not need.
Now while playing the sound in Fruity click and hold on the little FREQ knob circle in the lower right of the Parametric EQ 2. When clicked and held you can drag your mouse around and make precise adjustments to exactly where you want to cut the frequencies in the sound.
Just think of the EQ high pass as a wall that is only going to allow sound that is higher than the frequency you choose to pass and block out all the frequencies and noise below wherever you set it. I find that the best way to clean up a sound source is to just play the sound by itself and then raising up the FREQ knob until it makes a noticeable negative effect on the sample and then backing back down a bit.
For the example sound sample, I pushed it up to around 180 Hz. It could probably go a little lower or higher without getting too thin, but this spot seems to effectively keep out all the lower frequency junk that is useless to this specific sound while still maintaining its overall character. You should notice in the parametric EQ that everything below this point is nice and clean with no trace of any faint audio energy happening. This opens up a clean space for all the low frequency sound elements to sit and be heard more clearly.
And there you have it! Simple, quick, and effective tactic to clean up your music. It might not seem like much, but doing this type of equalization cleanup really helps gets you one step closer to having that professional shine on your audio projects. You should of course stick a low pass EQ type on the upper frequencies of most sound elements and take out everything in the upper range that is not needed. Just do the same steps as above except select “Low pass” & “Steep 8” for the Type and Order of the EQ bubble. Filter out all the subtle mid/high frequency noise in things like the kick drums, bass, pads, and anything else possible to make more audio room up there for the hi-hats, cymbals, and synths to live uncluttered. I personally put a high and low pass EQ like this on every single sound in my project and cut out everything possible that is not needed.
The snare sample in this example did not have too much mud in those lower ranges, but every little bit you can remove helps toward improving the quality of the final mixdown. Other sound sources will be even more noticable when you clean them up. Remeber that you want to remove everything above and below the sound until it starts having a drastic effect on its character and tone. That’s when you know that you found the sweet spots to cut high and low. I try to push those high and low pass EQ cuts as much as possible to bring out the fundamental clarity and punch of every sound source while leaving plenty of sonic space for everything else.
Mixing and mastering music is all about doing a bunch of small things like this that add up to a much better final product. Luckily, FL Studio allows for this type of sound manipulation pretty easy using the build in audio frequency plugins and effects such as Fruity Parametric EQ 2 and the other Fruity Filters. Just like you need to balance sounds in music production in volume and by stereo position, you also need to balance them in frequency. You’ll be surprised how much better all the instruments, samples, synths, pads, and loops sit in the mix by tightening up the sounds using this equalizer method. So trim off all that audio fat and hear your mixes become lean and mean.
Also, feel free to use the snare drum sample I made and provided above to demonstrate this tutorial for any music production project you want. It’s not the best sample in the world, but it could work well for something I’m sure. Peace.
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