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How To Use Mid Side EQ When Mixing

clarity eq equalization mixing Jul 09, 2021

Mid side EQ isn’t just for mastering, it’s used in mixing to create more clarity and separation between instruments. In this video, I’ll explain what mid side EQ is and how to use it on the high mids to separate a piano from the guitars in a busy chorus. 

A very powerful, yet often confusing EQ technique, mid side processing is a tool you can use to create clarity and separation when mixing. Mid side EQ processes the stereo field differently to a regular stereo EQ and allows you to adjust frequencies in the centre of a stereo track independently of the sides.

In this video I explain exactly what mid side EQ is and demonstrate how you can use it to clean up the mid range to bring more clarity and definition to instruments without boosting the faders which might otherwise result in the mix getting too loud and creating distortion.

Not just reserved for mastering engineers, mixing engineers and music producers can use it too!

Video Transcription

Mid Side EQ is one of those mixing topics that you explore usually once you've got a handle on using regular EQ. It's a pretty powerful EQ technique that tends to be associated more with mastering than mixing. It can be confusing initially. So in this video, I'm going to explain exactly what Mid Side EQ is and how to use it to bring separation and clarity to the mid-range in a busy mix.

Hi, I'm Sara Carter from simply mixing .com, where each week I bring you simple, practical advice to help you get better at mixing over the past few months, I've been putting together some mixing courses to help beginners get to grips with EQ compression and effects, in a kind of mixing basics series.

The courses, I'm very excited to say, will be available soon on the Pro Mix Academy dot com platform and the following video is a lesson taken directly from Module three of the EQ course. What exactly is Mid side EQ? Well, it separates stereo in a different way to the traditional left right. Mid represents everything in the centre of the stereo field, side represents everything in the left right, but excluding the centre mid information. And this gives us the opportunity to EQ just the centre information or just the side information, and this helps us get a clean, tight, low end or give a mix more width.

Right, I've got an example of where I've used Mid-Side EQ in a mix and it's quite busy mix, there's quite a lot going on. We've got guitars, keyboards, bass, drums, vocals. There's quite a lot to squeeze in. So this is where I start to think about the best ways, really, to make instruments be more present in the mix rather than just using level, just using the fader. So let's have a look. What I've done here.

What I'm working on is the piano. So the piano comes in, in the choruses and in the choruses are also electric guitars as well as everything else. So I need to start think of a way that I can make this piano heard without just pushing the federal because you push the fader up the piano and then suddenly the guitars aren't loud enough. So you push the fader upon the guitars and then the vocals aren't loud enough and you can see how things just start to stack up and it all gets out of control pretty quickly.

So we just need to think about the stereo spectrum a little bit, sort of out of the box, if you like. Let's have a listen to what we've got here. So I'll play from the chorus into the chorus and see if you can hear the piano.

OK, so it's there, but it's kind of buried, so Mid side EQ is a great way, especially with pianos and well, any instrument that is a stereo instrument, because we can start to explore the side of the stereo field, if you like, to, to be able to make that piano a little bit more audible. Let's just play this again and I'll solo at this time so you can kind of tune your ears to what the piano is playing.

OK, so this is what I came up with and it looks like that. It looks a bit scary, but it's not scary at all, what I've done here is I've got a filter at 120 to cut, to cut out all the kind of low stuff around here that's going to be getting in the way of the bass, the kick drum and the guitars as well. So I've cut everything below 120. And I did that by using the filter technique that you you'll see in another video.

Now, what I want to talk about is this mid-side that I've done here. Now, what I've found is that piano, really, our ear picks up the piano really well at about three K three kilohertz. So what I've done is with the Mid side channel, I've cut 2 dB worth of three kilohertz and on the sides I've raised it by 6 dB. So if you can imagine the centre, the centre sort of thin wedge, that is the mid frequencies, I've pulled out a little bit of 3kHz.

That's giving me room for the guitars because the guitars are in around about that area as well. So I've created space with the guitars there and the vocal, of course, the vocal is that is there, too. So I've pulled out two from the mid, from Mid-side sliver of information, and then on the side, that's everything on the outside of that, except what's in the mid, on the sides I've boosted that by 6 dBs. So take a listen.

I'll do a sort of before and after and you can, you'll hopefully hear the piano much clearer without and it's going to be sound as though it's in his own space rather than cluttering up with the guitars in the vocals.

OK, hope you heard that when I un-bypassed it, so let me let's run through it, go through it again this time I'll start with the EQ on and then I will bypass it.

OK, that for me works really well, and it's enabled the ear to pick out the piano and we can hear it that little bit clearer in this particular instance. I also felt that because of the kind of inconsistency of the piano and it being such a busy part, piano is going to benefit from some compression as well. So even though we're not covering compression, I will add the compressor so you can hear the final, sort of, mixed piano chorus sound.

OK, so that's Mid side EQ, I hope that's giving you an example of how powerful and useful technique it can be and it's certainly worth looking into a little bit more and thinking about if you're working with a mix that's layered with lots and lots of different types of instruments and elements and it's all starting to sound a bit crowded. If you want to learn more about my EQ Essentials course and get on the waiting list, check out the link below. In the course, you'll learn everything you need to know to begin using EQ like a pro so go check that out. Sign up and I'll see you in the next video.



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