Widen Up Your Mix Using EQ (One Song One Month Challenge 6/8)

| Audio Example, Mixing, One Song One Month Challenge 2016, Plugins, Tips, Video

If you’re searching for more width in your mix, look no further than your favorite EQ plugin.

At the end of the day, mix width is really an illusion. But with some strategic EQ moves you can increase the apparent mix width quickly and easily.

Oh, and as a bonus, it sounds more natural than a stereo widening plugin.

Where You Should Be After Week 3

At this point in the challenge, you should have a full written, recorded, and mixed song. We’re almost done, can you believe it?!

Just a tip: when you think you’re done with the mix, bounce it out as an MP3 and then “live with it” for 24 hours. Listen to it on your phone, on earbuds, in your car, and play it for a trusted friend.

Take note of any thing that jumps out as “weird” our “out of balance” then come back and make those final tweaks.

Next week we’ll look at some simple mastering tips and then we’ll finally release this darn thing!

In you haven’t started your mix, or simply want to know some of my best tips on getting a great mix off the ground, go and watch my Smart Start To Mixing video right now. It’s absolutely free and a game changer for the home studio mixer!

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64 Responses to “Widen Up Your Mix Using EQ (One Song One Month Challenge 6/8)”

  1. Petr

    Hi Graham, just a stupid question.

    If the difference between the two amps was that one had more of the 1K and the second one had more of the 1.5K, you could theoretically move the guitars closer together, right? It’s hard to tell the real difference with switching the high-pass filter on and off.

    Anyway, is there a trick to prevent misusing the complementary eq? Other than just using my ears, obvously 🙂

    Btw, I am using complementary EQ if the guitars were recorded on the same amp with the same settings. I learned that from you some time ago and it has worked great. So thanks a lot! 🙂

    Reply
    • Graham

      It’s a subtle thing that helps the guitars stick out even more. The difference is both the choice of frequency and the fact that they are different guitar amps all together.

      Reply
      • Petr

        Thanks for your answer.

        My point was rather about – when the settings are the same, then any EQ change makes the two tracks more separate. But if the tracks are slightly different, you must choose the frequencies more carefuly, not to make the opposite move 🙂

        Reply
        • Aaron

          I think you have to work harder and be more mindful when the amp and amp settings are the same. You then have to use to the guitar player’s technique and style when choosing which frequencies to feature because just picking 2 frequencies will create separation but not necessarily make the guitars stand out (or sound better) in the mix. Using two different amps and/or guitars almost always allows for more choice in “featurable” frequencies, which is why it is more preferable.

          Glad you’re using what you have and figuring it out though! Keep it up 🙂

          Reply
  2. Steven Dulock

    Hey Graham, love your videos! They are incredibly inspiring and educational for those just starting out. Have you ever thought about live streaming mixing sessions on youtube? I know there are probably a lot of us who would enjoying seeing you mix a project in real time. I know I would. There seems to be a lot of stuff you’re doing with this song in particular in between videos, and it would be cool to have something to fill in the gaps.

    Reply
  3. Kenn Jackson

    Will this work on vocal stack tracks? You have great mix video’s but can you do some typical recording videos? Recording video from start to mix. Using studio one.

    Reply
    • Andrew MacDonald

      It would make sense to do the same for vocal stack tracks. I bet you could do some fun harmonic spacial mixing, depending on what you are working on and going for. It is cool what kind of ideas one can get by reading through the comments here 🙂

      Reply
      • Andrew MacDonald

        Actually that would probably work well on backing vocals in most situations I imagine.

        Reply
  4. Steve

    Thanks for making me understand and use all this recording stuff I bought and finally start to record something. Like your separation lesson. Believe it or not I could hear the difference on my iPhone.

    Reply
  5. Andrew

    A friend of mine decided mid Devember that in 2016 we would write 12 songs – one each month. Coincidentally after seeing that I became aware of these videos and it’s helped so much!

    Reply
  6. Bill Rexford

    Great advice. I used different guitars to achieve the stereo separation. I will have to try the EQ trick.

    Reply
  7. Brent Rains

    Yea…..that was helpful. Very helpful. I was wondering how to get that “pull” feel on the guitars in the stereo feel, and hearing you mute and unmute the Eq’s allowed me to hear that “pull” in action.

    Question…..I was not in the survey, but I have followed along with the process and have a decent song in my opinion. Was I supposed to register or anything?

    Reply
  8. Jack-E

    AAaaahhhhh!

    I lost 4 hours of work on Saturday with computer problems so I’m struggling to get back on pace. Thank God for backups!!! I finally got the last of my xtra (sweetening) instruments recorded late last night, so tonight and tomorrow I’m going to have to get the rough mix done. Coffee time!!

    Quick question Graham; are you rendering your EZD2 drum tracks to wav and processing with separate VST’s?
    I would normally do this but time might have me using the in-app effects with a simple stereo track.

    Thanks for the input.

    JackE

    Reply
    • Graham

      Yes I rendered them out to wav files so I could mix them. Wasn’t necessary, but gave me more control.

      Reply
  9. Al

    This is a great tip, thanks. I am forever trying to widen my mix to match what I am hearing on commercial releases. This will help tremendously. I do have a question. Some of the best widening I have heard on vocals is on Taylor Swift’s ‘Blank Space’. Do you think this was done with EQ as well? It’s just amazing to me how wide the vocals are, but they are still the main focus of the song. I would love to know how to do that. I realize that their are multiple vocals, but when I pan and then use widener plugs, I get nowhere close. Thoughts?

    Reply
  10. Chris Fezzler

    Done. Critical listening and lots of small tweaks for big impact on Master channel to see if I can improve. I lose perspective at this point and seem to chase an illusive “wow” sound but never get there.

    Is it me? After being as careful as my equipment and talent allow, I record with an EQ-on-the-way-in mindset, add some subtractive EQ (primarily Hi Lo shelves), some panning, volume, a little delay/reverb and my mixes seem to be as good as I can get at this point. When I start adding all those fancy plug-in tricks I tend to get more mud and while my “raw” first mix is “raw” it doesn’t seem to get better.

    No being a singer, chasing my vocal now. If we post these, I hope that people understand some of us are just hobbyists in out man caves having fun making personal or local art.

    Reply
  11. Prahlad

    Graham – you’re doing such a great service for all of us music lovers, sharing all of this awesome content for free… These videos are extremely valuable, helpful and inspiring. Thank you!

    Reply
  12. Chris Willson

    I got a bit lost. Are all tweaks being done on one eq unit per guitar track? If so, it seems that some of the original boosts are cancelled by the carving. Or did you use a different eq module for the tweaks? Way behind on this, as I started late. However, thanks for the suggestions! Some great ideas!

    Reply
  13. Kurt Weber

    I think there’s some serious apprehension building up for us “man-cave” recordists. I’m not a terrible songwriter, but my song is….okay. Chords, okay. Vocals , okay . Mix, okay. Now I have to put all of this mediocrity on display for the whole world.

    But…this is a Lesson. Not a masterpiece. If we each learn one technique or make one improvement, that’s at least 12 potential positive changes in a year. Not a bad return on Graham’s gracious sharing of his time and skills.

    Reply
    • Liquid Solids

      I wouldn’t sweat it…like you said, this is a learning opportunity. I don’t believe there’s any requirement to share your song if you don’t want to. I haven’t released any songs yet either, and it’s definitely scary. Having fun making music is the most important thing. But if you end up with something you’re proud of, then put it out there! If not, it was a good learning experience and you’ll do better next time. Cheers!

      Reply
  14. John

    Hi Graham
    I used my Epiphone Es339 with split coils, humbucker on one track, single coil on the other. Very different sound and tone. I can see how complementary eq carving would help, but probably is more useful when the guitar tones are more similar.
    This really is an amazing challenge!
    I am really looking forward to next weeks steps, even if is slightly terrifying to put my song ‘out there’.
    John

    Reply
    • David Soto

      La guitarra acoustica con esos pedales suena muy bien! como tipo synth! muy interesante su cancion!

      Reply
  15. Chuck T.

    Initially my rhythm guitar tracks were both Epiphone Les Paul and overly distorted for what I wanted. So later I ditched those and chose the Strat bridge pickup with Gretsch mid switch for contrast. I used a modeled fender deluxe on both. I may try that eq idea to widen these 2 guitars because I had a new brainstorm and I’m doing a bit of tracking tomorrow. These elements will need some elbow room. I usually ‘save’ tracks regularly and yesterday I spaced and the computer crashed after doing most of the backup vocals. The recovery file wasn’t there so I flew in all the tracks that were missing out of song…much fun because I didn’t write down my punch in points. I did figure it out but that meant not being able to finish my tracking. So “Save” or whatever works for your software. Still I look to be finished on time!

    Reply
  16. 'G'

    Nice tips. I’ve already been doing the edge thing albeit a little differently. I like the EQ thing a lot. Will start using that big-time. Thanks Graham!

    Reply
  17. Geoff Kabzinski

    Awesome idea Graham.
    I’ve been doing this with my Bass and Kick to help them sit together in the same space. I can’t wait to try it on Vox and anything else that may help.
    Up to the sweetening stage now of my 1mth/1sng challenge.
    Thanks heaps mate.

    Reply
  18. Jonas Wagner

    Hi Graham, great advice, but I think the low cut has an even greater impact on widening the signal than the complementary EQ-thing. Thanks for all your help, tips and thoughts

    Reply
  19. David Sawyer

    Hey Graham
    Just watched your guitar stereo eq video, great tip, thanks. I used your two guitars panned in my song and while tweaking the mix I had guitars panned hard left and right. I found that instead of panning hard left and right, that by panning them at 9 and 3 o’clock they seemed to sit better in the mix and become more present / fatter without being over bearing. Maybe it’s just my ears but I would be interested in hearing your and the groups thoughts on this. Best wishes to all.

    Reply
    • Jon Gorrell

      Hi, David

      I used to do what you’re suggesting (closer panning) all the time before I took one of Graham’s courses on mixing. I no longer do that as I found that panning hard left and right on guitars and keyboards gives me a clearer (what some call more “professional”) mix without question. My strongest critic is probably my wife. The first time I had her listen to a mix she had heard previously, now panned hard left/right I could tell by the smile on her face and her nod while listening through headphones that I had found a definitive difference that resonated better with the listener. Perhaps that “overbearing” feeling you’re getting is too much volume on the wide-panned tracks? I know I love heavy guitar music but I also find it is detrimental to have the vocals seeking for sonic space when guitars are too dominant. Play around with it and see what you get. I hope this feedback helps a little.

      Reply
  20. Steven Braud

    This proves my theory of ” The Sum of Subtilties ” It’s the little things that you do to a mix that will ultimately make it great. It took me a long time to learn that there is no one thing that will make the difference of night and day in a mix! A little push here, a little pull there, more of this, less of that and you will arrive at a great mix. Just don’t get to hung up on the tweaks that you don’t ever finish your project! Thank you for all of your effort and keep up the good work Graham!

    Reply
  21. Dennis

    Your speaking voice is soooo relaxing. Aside from that, ever since I’ve been using 100hz or higher low cuts, I’ve noticed lots more separation between sounds. I haven’t had a chance to do the EQ carving like you did in this video, I usually don’t have that many similar sounds like the two guitars you had going on that it obviously does work well on. But I definitely hear it working in your mix and if ever do a mix with two guitars or too very similar sounds at the same time, I will definitely remember this. Thanks, Graham Cracker ♥.

    Reply
  22. JF Remillard

    Hi Graham. Just a word to say that this song of yours has a great hook in the chorus. I just can’t shake it off!

    Reply
  23. Anthony

    Nice vibes, am actually hearing the difference between those guitars. For some reason I have been using this trick for a lil while on bass and kick (the eq part of it) but I never try it on guitars, it sound real good on guitars thanks a lot.

    Reply
  24. Eduardo

    Great trick, and it is really much more elegant than using just a stereo wider that will shake the sound side to side, or cut the center. I mean, in this case, you have the chance to enhance what is the best for each and take advantage of that.
    Thanks a lot.

    Reply
  25. Michael Jensen

    Hey Graham, you hit another one out of the park. This has been helpful. I knew this trick but hadn’t been using it. I was too busy trying to use EQ to correct a couple frequencies I didn’t love on the individual tracks rather than remembering this trick. I remember you teaching it in the JumpStart series and I loved it.

    Thanks for bringing me back to the basics. This will be the first song i’ve ever recorded on my own that I actually share with the world. You are amazing.

    Reply
  26. Joshua Hall

    Graham,

    Great as usual!

    This morning I uploaded my single to CDbaby.com – which is what I usually do for my monthly singles (12 straight months and counting). That means that I have already made the music video that will end up on my YouTube channel, a single Cover, and of course Mastered the song. Your advice to mix down and listen on your phone, earbuds, other stereos, and in the car is spot on. Eventually, there comes a point where you have to say – it’s done.

    Thanks for inspiring!
    Josh

    Reply
  27. Walt

    That’s great Graham! I’ve done complimentary EQ, but never tried it for getting width – great idea!

    When I’ve done complimentary EQ, I’ve also added parameter modulation to the equation. Using your guitar example to explain this – what I would do is modulate the 1.5K cut in the left guitar with the amplitude of the right guitar and then modulate the 1.0K cut in the right guitar with the amplitude of the left guitar.

    Again, though, I’ve never tried to get width this way, but rather to cut a frequency spectrum hole in instruments for vocals to fit into – but only when the vocal is there to fill it. It has been pretty effective, but those vocals were close to the center, so I never thought about using this EQ modulation for width.

    I wonder how adding the modulation would sound in this case you’ve shown when trying to add width – very interesting idea!

    Thanks for all the great ideas! I write many of yours down in my list of ideas to think about for all mixes (not that every mix needs every idea, but there are so many good ideas to consider, I forget to consider many of them without a list 🙂 .

    Thanks for sharing this!

    Reply
  28. Tyler Wysong

    Amazing tip!! Thanks so much for the in-depth and very informative videos! My mixes have improved so much because of your coaching.

    Reply
  29. Patrick Wallace

    Graham, thank you for another great tip. There is nobody here in England offering such an inspiring service to us budding sound producers. Great stuff.

    Reply
  30. Sal DiGuardia

    So I’m waaaay behind but trying to catch up quickly…

    Friday I “recorded” guitar parts. I’m using samples and loops but using the same principals. Spread rhythm guitars (same loop) on 2 different tracks and ran them each through their own cabinet as well as some lead guitar parts that I played. Same idea: 2 tracks of midi, same performance, ran through two different cabinet and virtual amps and the difference is incredible!!!!

    I’m working on laying down vocals now but it hasn’t been coming together so I’ll have to do another vocal session tonight and see how far I get…

    The good news is the song is already mixing itself and with just a tiny bit of cleanup it may be one mixed better than any of the songs I just released on my EP. ( Oh… Right. I also released my record in the middle of this challenge which has been a little more on my plate than I might have been ready for. )

    Anyway…. I’m looking forward to mixdown this week and releasing the single. I’m excited to have more music almost done!!!

    Reply
  31. Charlie

    Great Job. Wondering I am trying to do this with a grand piano. Trying different eq’s but somehow it sounds better when I leave it center without doubling it and panning left right. Having a hard time as I know what I like and can’t seem to compliment the eq. Any suggestions?

    Reply

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The Power Of Mix Buss Plugins (One Song One Month Challenge 5/8)

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