The rule of thumb many audio experts believe is that cutting with an EQ is better than boosting. Cutting doesn’t impact the headroom available on the mix (it usually gives us more), and some EQ designs have phase issues when boosting. EQ play’s an important role in mixing and should not be overlooked.
Almost all live recording’s carry unneeded low end. Generally speaking, if its not a bass or kick drum track then the super low end is not welcome and therefore needs to be filtered out.
But, as you may wonder, in practice, when most of us hear a track that needs more low end, we don’t turn down the highs and the mids then turn up the volume. Instead, we naturally reach to boost the gain on the low end. So why don’t we cut the lows on the highs and the highs on the lows?
“Mud” is a typical term used when it gets crowded on the low end. By cutting the low end frequencies on the “high” tracks, we accomplish an overall cleaner sound to our mix and allows instruments to have their own “space” in the frequency spectrum; don’t make them fight for it and give the bass and kick drum a space to live.
Give it a try! The next time you reach for an EQ, remember to cut out the low end before boosting any frequencies in the mix. Mixing will become faster and sound better.
Here is a tutorial showing how “cutting” can make a mix sound cleaner in the overall mix.