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There IS a Thing as Too Much Brilliance!

I’ve been working on a mix for a client this past week that has a lot of drums and percussion.

Most predominantly, it has a lot of cymbal samples, and if there’s one thing this mix has reminded me, it’s that you can have too much of a good thing when you’re boosting high frequencies in general.

I tend to describe the upper higher-mids around the 8 kHz area as “brilliance.”

Brilliance is an objectively positive word. Who doesn’t want to be brilliant right?

It’s defined as:

“excellence or distinction; conspicuous talent, mental ability, etc. splendor, elegance, or magnificence.”

But it also talks about brilliance regarding brightness. That’s where you could see that term being applied in the frequency spectrum because it does brighten things up.

However, too much brightness will blind you, and I found that out the hard way while adding too much high-end brilliance to the drum track this week.

For some reason, I instinctively reached for the high-end boost to brighten things up. This EQ move lifted up the drum tracks and made the percussion more prominent, but when I checked my mix on my other speakers, the cymbal tracks sounded washed out and harsh.

Because I added the high-end boost to the overall drum bus there were two things to do:

  1. Reduce the high-end boost on the drum bus and add specific boosts to the drum tracks that needed it.
  2. Cut the harshness from the cymbal tracks and leave the drum bus boost alone.

In the end, I chose the latter because it was a simpler solution. I cut both the high-mid harshness around the 2 kHz area along with reducing the brilliance around 8 kHz.

That tamed the frequency response of the cymbals, and in addition to some fast compression, it helped the cymbals sit better with the rest of the drums in the mix.

So keep that in mind when you’re instinctively reaching for that high-end boost. You might be a bit too brilliant for your own good.

However, if you do feel like your drums are lacking brilliance, punch, and professionalism, you’d be smart to grab my Drum Mix Toolkit to transform your home studio drums into professional drum mixes.

Click the link below to check it out:

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About me

About Björgvin Benediktsson

I’m Björgvin Benediktsson. I’m a musician, audio engineer and best-selling author. I help musicians and producers make a greater impact with their music by teaching them how to produce and engineer themselves. I’ve taught thousands of up and coming home studio producers such as yourself how to make an impact with their music through Audio Issues since 2011.

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