Today I have a quick tutorial about mixing synthesizer sounds. Lately I’ve been spending some time helping out people on forums. I see a lot of people struggling to mix synth sounds. A lot of people jump for tools such as eq, compressor etc to mix a synth which might not work because it’s a wrong approach.
When I saw someone asking for a Synth EQ chart that’s when I knew I have to blog about this issue. When you use a synth, you must build a good quality sound from ground up. Meaning you have to create the type of sound you want from the source.
This is where reading the manual really comes in handy. The key here is to know your synthesizer in-and-out. You have to know how to create a good sounding synth by tuning the synth’s envelopes, LFOs, resonance, oscillators, cutoff and filters without any third party processing tools.
This will take more than just tweaking a few knobs and then hope for the best. It is about creating a sound that you want rather than searching for it. You need to spend time learning how to use your favorite synthesizer.
Synth EQ Guide
I would advise you to avoid using third party plugins to process a synth sound. Always strive to get it right from the source by using internal sound design and processing tools.
Yet we have to realize that not all synths are built with good processing tools. In that case you will need to use a third party equalizer. Below is a synth eq guide I created myself by listening to different types of synth sounds and hope it helps you.
Warmth/Bottom 100Hz – 250Hz
Muddiness 250Hz – 800Hz
Presence 1kHz – 6kHz
Clarity 5kHz -7kHz
Top end 10kHz
If your sound is sounding too digital or fake then make a boost at 15kHz to make the sampled synthesizer sound more real.
A 3rd party compressor will kill the life out of your synth sounds more especially for analog synthesizers. Use the envelope or built-in compressor to deal with loud peaks instead of relying on 3rd party compressors.
My teacher, back in music production school, used to tell us that using EQ and Compression for a synthesizer is a lazy man’s job. Even the sound you’ll achieve won’t be as satisfying as compared to using envelopes and filters.
So What Do I Do?
Spend some time reading the manual of only 1 synth that you use a lot, learn it and master it. Once you’ve mastered one then the other synthesizers will be a walk in the park.
You can use third party processing tools, no one is stopping you but just know you could get better results with proper attention to sound design. Third party effects I would recommend you to use are reverb, delay, distortion or any tape saturation tool.
Everyone who’ll tell you otherwise, either has little knowledge about sound design or they haven’t tried this approach. Or even worse, they tried it for 3 minutes and gave up. I’ll be brutally honest with you, depending on your experience, it can take a while to design a good sounding synth from scratch or building it from a preset.
So spend time on the sound design part and forget about fixing stuff in the mixing stage.
Hope you understand what I’m telling you here guys because this is very important and this also applies to synth bass, VST sounds such as tom drums, kicks, piano, percussion etc. But at the end of the day, it’s all about taste or preference so do what works best for you.
Talk again soon.