How to Mix Instrument Frequencies for Best Sound

A center frequency is a frequency where maximum amplitude occurs. In layman term, it is a frequency most noticeable by the ear of that instrument. Let say voice frequencies. It is around 300Hz to 3000Hz that is wide range, but that is the bandwidth of a telephone line. It is why the telephone lines are optimized for voice transmission.

The center frequencies of that bandwidth are around 1650Hz~2000Hz. It is where the voice frequency is strongest. And during a mixing process, that certain spot in frequency range is reserved for the voice to avoid conflict with other instruments.

Also take note the amplitude adjustment in parametric equalizer are measured in dB (decibels).

EQ Settings used in the Improved Mix

Below are the list of common instruments I used to mix “At the highway” and the EQ adjustment :

Short Snare
Freq1: 100Hz, Boost 1dB, Q 1.0
Freq2: 2500Hz, Cut 3dB, Q 1.4
Freq3: 8000Hz, Boost 2dB, Q 1.0

Purpose- 100 Hz serves to fatten the snare sound; cutting at 2500 Hz will minimize conflict with vocal frequencies. Boosting at 8000Hz will add some crisp (audible snare strings)

Kick Drum
Freq1: 75Hz,Boost 6dB,Q 1.0
Freq3: 400Hz, Cut 6dB, Q 1.0
Freq4: 4000Hz, Boost 1dB, Q 0.6

Purpose- Boosting at 75Hz creates super-punch for the kick. Cutting at 400Hz can prevent conflict guitar lower bass and improves kick sound by removing the cardboard like sound. Boosting at 4000Hz can make the kick sound to be heard on small speakers such as headphones.


Freq1: 160Hz, high pass filter, Cut 6dB
Freq2: 3000Hz, Cut 9dB, Q 1.0 (Cutting this prevent direct mud sound with vocals which occupies the same frequency range)

For more details, it is recommended to read the following tutorials (as well as the related tutorials below):

a.) EQ settings for audio mixing
c.) Attaining clarity in mixing sessions

Content last updated on June 14, 2012

  • el douche

    every sound mixed frequencies depend on how they were recorded, played, tone, and what volume and pan within in the ensemble of sounds, and most ppl need to experiment with sound with their specific gear, ear, mic placement or direct line in factors, and room….some of the best beloved recordings and mixes are ‘rough intentionally and produce great results….this mixing template isnt universal and is an attempt by some amatuer musician to pontificate THEIR preferences for THEIR songs and THEIR ear…..if celine dion’s engineer gave me “tips” i wouldnt listen at all….u need to get a developed ear for what you want and just continue experimenting and a good mix wont make a bad song good if the melodies and rhythms are weak

  • Emerson Maningo

    Yeah will do. thanks for dropping by.

  • Tony Jones

    Hello! Thanks for posting such an interesting and useful blog. I have been struggling for ages to work out why my songs don’t sound right while each component is OK.
    I’ve had a very enjoyable couple of evenings working on this song to test your ideas, and it sounds much better than it did. But before I start messing with all of my songs, would you (and any other readers of the page) be so kind as to give this a listen?
    It’s not my best song (he said hastily), just one to test the production & mixing process.
    Thanks again for a great page.

  • Emerson Maningo

    There is no shortcut. I recommend to read the following tutorials carefully and try it in your production; the rest will be practicing.

    If you need more information, you can read all the tutorials in this blog, one by one. Again as I’ve said, there is no overnight success in music production and there is no short cut. Thanks for the feedback.

  • mesbah ahmed

    Dear Emerson,

    I have gone through your write up and it is great.But there are still clarifications needed as I am very new in music making.I am working with Cubase 5 and a lot of software to make great sound.But unfortunately I am not at all happy with the out come.Please give me more details as to how can I get more clear sound having distinct sound of each instruments I use.Most of the time I use Stings as lead tone, guitar,drums, flutes, sax etc.

    Please advise as to how can I get distinct sounds of different instruments using EQ /Q /Compressor/gate etc.
    Waiting for a very urgent response.

    Thanks and regards
    Mesbah Ahmed
    Bangladesh( a tiny country beside India)

  • Emerson Maningo

    Great tip. Thanks for your suggestion!

  • Home recording

    Hi, nice info here. One of the best advice i received some time ago was to hi pass all instruments including, in some cases, even the bass and kick. Also you can trim off some of that super high frequencies on some digital instruments especially for warmer cleaner sound.


  • Emerson Maningo

    Hi Jeffrey,
    Boosting and strengthening the bass can be done at the mastering stage (after you have mix your vocals and the instrumentals). You can use a variety of plug-ins to accomplish this job. Currently I am using Waves plug-in. You can read a sample demonstration here:
    In that post, someone ask me for help on how to strengthen the bass and overall mix. So I am using a EQ plug-in with some settings to do the job. Hope the information in that post would be useful to you.

  • Jeffrey

    Hey Emerson,
    I’ve been reading your blogs/tutorials and you have some great information. I was curious if you could help me with my mixing. I do Hip Hop/Rap music and I record my vocals at my home while using Instrumentals I get from various producers. I’m new at mixing but I notice that different “Instrumentals” have various frequencies and i’m trying to find the best way to boost the bass. On some tracks the bass is low and when I try boosting it seems to peak. I wondered if you have and guidelines for “Frequency boosting or cutting” so i can make the bass in my tracks hit deep and hard.. I Hope this all made sense to you


  • Emerson Maningo

    Hi Elijah,
    I would suggest you work on getting a good EQ setting first. You could get some tips here:

    I would suggest you cut the rest of the instruments in the vocal frequency range to give way for the vocals to shine. What you have been experiencing is that the vocals have been masked by the piano. You can get some insights on how to deal with masking here:

  • Elijah

    Hi Emerson

    First I want to thank you for your post as I do believe this will be key to me getting a better mix however, I do a lot of tracks that include piano and am have trouble getting the piano to sound full without overpowering the vocals. I’ve tried panning but unless it’s a hard pan, takes away from the fullness. Any suggestions?

    thanks in advance!

  • Tony Jones

    Hi Colin
    Thanks for your thoughts, and coincidentally I have tried to mix “from the ground up” with a new version. I’ve tried to mix the drums, then bass, then vocals, and only push the guitars up finally & only to such a level where they don’t intrude too much.

    This process has been very helpful, and this isn’t my best song, so I’m going to head back to my old recordings to try to help them along.
    Merry Christmas to you all!

  • Colin Adams

    Hey, Tony. I'm developing my mixing skills too… I'm by no means an expert, but I'll offer what advice I can. The first thing I'll say is your song is catchy– I like the energy! I notice is that the "groove" is a little hard to follow… it seems like the timing of some of the instruments are a little off from each other. A good way to solve this is to turn up the metronome while you're recording, so you can more easily follow the beat, or play a drum loop in your headphones while you record the various instruments– a loop is much easier to play along to than a metronome, and will save you a lot of hassle down the line trying to align rhythms. Once the audio is recorded, you can use what Logic calls the "strip silence" tool– it deletes the "silence" it detects in your audio, and then you can align the slices to the rhythmic grid in your DAW. Once everything is rhythmically aligned, the song will really groove! The second thing I noticed– the drums aren't very present in the mix… that's not necessarily a bad thing, because your bass is easily heard and keeps the bottom end full. But raising the volume of the kick and compressing the snare a bit will help bring out the drums more. I like what you did with the panning on the drums– reminds me of the Beatles– they had some unconventional panning techniques as well, partially due to the limits of their technology. Overall, a great mix! Hope I helped at least a little bit… Look forward to hearing more from you.

  • cuong

    hi, i love your tutorial. But i use fl studio, how can i edit freq and Q like you? My Q setting just control from 0 to 1?

  • Zach

    Hey, great site. It’s amazing how much info you have put out there; thanks!

    My question is: I’m recording Roland electronic drums straight through my USB interface & into Cubase LE4 & I was wondering what you would suggest as far as EQ’ing the drum track, since I can’t separate the kick, snare, etc… My pop/rock band is going to record an EP & I’m doin’ it all in my bedroom which is a headache but I have recorded tracks this way before & they were decent quality (although missing something). Thanks.

  • Emerson Maningo
  • Emerson Maningo

    Hi flstudiojunkie,
    Yep sure. I am planning to add a video tutorials in the future. As of now, its just text. The tutorials do include some screenshots for better illustration. Thanks for visiting

  • flstudiojunkie


    Is there a possible youtube or video ? This is what I am searching for. Its ok for you pro’s but for us amateurs we need visual aids… lol… a video demo would be great…



  • Emerson Maningo

    Hi Aden,
    I just wrote a tutorial about my mixing tips on disco house music. You can read it here:

  • aden

    I’m somewhat following these methods currently, I’m using ableton instead of FL studio so it isn’t coming out quite the same.

    Thanks for any help!

  • aden

    Hey man, create thread. I was just wondering if you had any filter or EQ tips for mixing and mastering sample based french house or disco house. For example:

  • Emerson Maningo

    Hi Leo,
    You can apply parametric equalizer 10Khz Q=0.8 -3dB for all instruments EXCEPT vocals, cymbals and hi hats for which high frequencies are important. If still sounds irritating, try to increase the cutting from -3dB to -5dB. If all fails, its time to re-record the track properly and adjust the EQ just before recording it.This should permanently fix the problem.


  • samkad

    Hi Emerson! Just to say thank you for all these good advices. I have a small studio at my house where I get some people coming in for recordings yet I have a lot to learn when it comes to frequencies especially. So please don’t turn your back on people like us who find it very hard to go to college for this course. thanks for the tips once again! Samkad London.

  • leo

    Hey. I’m having trouble with piercing frequencies. Irritating. Mostly with my hi pitched guitars, keyboards, analogs etc.
    How do I even it all out so that there is no discomfort?

  • Kronos

    Hi. I am doing a recording with a 4-piece band (Guitar, Bass, Drums, Vocals). Our BOSS BR-1200CD recording console only has 2 simultaneous recording inputs. Consequently, I am sending my drums through as such: Kick – Directly into the BOSS unit. Snare/Two overhead mics using “recorderman” micing arrangement – submixed through a Mackie VLZ-32 mixer with sweepable mid EQ settings (100Hz – 8kHz sweep, and static mid adjustments at 12kHz and 80Hz). This will create one channel for the kick and one channel for the rest of the kit, in the BOSS unit. All the other instruments will be recording directly with the BOSS unit.

    My question is: How can I maximize the sound quality of the drums using this type of setup, while maintaining EQ pockets for the other instruments?

  • Jon


    I have a question, first off I read all your tutorials and they are GREAT! I really appreciate you taking the time.

    Anyway my problem is I lost my hard drive and I was finishing beats before we starting doing vocals. (I do hip-hop pop not like rap) Anyway everything is done in Cubase and or Reason and I usually mix with both Cubase and Reaper and Audition. The problem is I only have the final mix down of the instrumentals in wav format thank god but I never really adjusted them for vocals I was waiting. I just did a high-quality mixdown of them to show my artist. Well thats all I have no I dont have separate tracks and I have a lot of syths and other instruments in there. What would you recommend I do before I mix them down?

    Thanks, Jon

  • Bozo

    Hello all,I like all those info,can i get some info on mixing a Rap song?Thank you.

  • peyman

    thank’s problem because of the compressor I used in multiband.when i bypass that,distortion is gone.thanks for your suggestion.can i ask you again for another problem?

  • Emerson Maningo

    Hi Peyman,
    OK, first since you are mixing house and pop music, you do not need to use any hi pass filter. A high pass filter will pass the frequencies above a specified cut off frequency:

    So if you use a high pass filter, it will remove all the sub-woofer frequencies of the kick which is important in house and pop music.

    If your kick sound distorted, try removing the filter and the compressor in the kick track; then increase the track volume while applying these parametric EQ settings

    Boost 3dB 50Hz Q= 1.0, Cut -6dB 400Hz Q=1.4

    It should remove any kick distortion (unless your kick is already recorded as distorted) while maximizing the punch on the bass. Does the above suggestion solved your problem?

  • peyman

    I want to know what frequency is best to set for hipass filter in mixing kick(in house music and pop)when i solo the low frequency in multyband compressor in mastering,my kick is distort.when i cut 60Hz in the kick,i dont have any problem in low frequency,but my kick dont have punch.what can i do?
    thank you

  • Emerson Maningo

    Hi Host Dad,
    Are you comparing the output of your mixing with the music that you bought from a store? If yes, you are comparing it wrongly because the output of your mixing is understandable to sound weak because it is still not “mastered”.
    The CD you bought in stores are already mastered so they have the fullness and full volume.
    If you like your recording to sound as professional as possible (with umph!), I recommend to mix your project carefully and then submit the mix to a professional mastering engineer.
    The engineer will translate your mix into something like you can hear in CDs you bought in stores.

    Good luck.

  • Host Dad

    Great site! I have a problem getting the mix to have fullness. When I compare it to professional mixes, it just does not have the sound that comes from store bought music. The volume is there, but no umph!! All instruments are clean and distinct and vocals are clear. I’m not sure what the problem is. Any ideas???

  • Emerson Maningo

    It is nice to know you learned something that improves recording/mixing quality. Thanks anyway for visiting my audio recording blog. Cheers.


  • Emerson Maningo

    Hi Norberto,
    “Is it because the signal becomes louder, and so getting closer to clipping point?” Yes partly the main reason is that boosting introduces a lot of artifacts in digital editing which are not desirable if overdone. It is why I always limit my boost to 6dB.
    If it really needs to be more than 6dB, I simply re-record it and pre-set the EQ on the guitar or any instrument having issues.

  • Emerson Maningo

    Hi Da Bliss,
    About your inquiry: “I will always find out that my volume is very very low and when i try to boost it will always clip or distort so.what do you advice me to do?
    Some few tips:
    1.) After mixdown, make sure the maximum peak level is around -3dB so that when you compress or boost in mastering, it won’t still get distorted.
    2.) Make sure your mixdown does not contain any clipping (red marks in the audio meter).
    3.) Check the volume after boosting, the average sound level should not exceed -13dB.

    If problem still persists, I recommend to have your mix fully mastered by a professional mastering engineer. I hope this will help.

  • Dr.PhillyBlunt

    This is a really useful board for amateurs such as myself. I do know a little bit about mixing/mastering but of course many of my mixes still end up sounding muddy and dual. One thing I have noticed is that shaping the stereo field is really useful and adds fullness. A small delay between each side of the shaped stereo field also helps things pop out.

    I’m putting this on my fav list.

    Thanks guys.

  • Tomii Sonic

    Any frequency guidelines/dial-ins/gear recommendations you could give me for working an extended range guitar into the mix? [in case any of this info is relevant, I play an Ibanez 8 string guitar (low Eb G# C# G# C# F# Bb Eb) through a Mesa Rectifier head (8ohms), Traynor 4×12 cab vintage 30’s, beginning at an EQ with the bottom rolled off, into a clean boost in front of the Pre,] We are a rock band, 80’s Pop meets Nu Metal..for lack of a better term.
    We are working in Logic(18-20 hour days, trial and error)trying to add Hz’s of Strategy, and subtract Db’s of “what the hell are we doing?”
    Thank You!!

  • Norberto

    I’d appreciate it if you could please explain why it is exactly that EQ boosts (of more than 6dB) would cause distortion.
    Is it because the signal becomes louder, and so getting closer to clipping point?

    The reason for me asking is that I have the custom of re-adjusting my gain for every EQ change that I make.
    So, if I boost any frequency, I would turn down the gain of that channel to keep my singals at nominal level. Consequently I’d gain up when I cut the EQ.
    Not to advice extreme EQ-ing, but could you tell me if such a practise would eliminate the distortion problem, or has it nothing to do with it?

    Many thanks in advance.

  • Da Bliss

    Thanks very much sir for all your lessons…. But my problem is when i finish mixing and export for mastering,i will alway find out that my volume is very very low and when i try to boost it will always clip or distort so.what do you advice me to do?

  • Emerson Maningo

    Hello Ivan,
    I just written a detailed a blog post pertaining to Phase Cancellation in Audio Mixing & Mastering: How to prevent this.
    Thanks for dropping by.

  • Ivan

    Can you please explain what is a “phase cancellation” problem ?

    I think I have this problem in a song. When I check my mix in mono, my guitar tracks (left and right) disappear. Is this phase cancellation ?

    If so, how can I fix that?

  • Vihar

    Thank you very much for your reply! Yes I kept trying around those frequencies, and if I removed enough the bad resonance went away but so did the fullness. Finally it turned out that the cabinet impulse responses I’ve been using for the DI recorded guitar were too muddy, even when playing the guitar track by itself, without the vocals. I’ve found new, flatter sounding ones so it’s much better now. The panning idea works great! I also put two slightly different sounding impulse responses of the same guitar cabinet on the left and right side, so I have a nice subtle stereo depth thing going on. Thanks again for your pro advices, and keep it going!

  • Emerson Maningo

    Hi Vihar,
    OK what you are doing is a bit tricky. If I will to EQ your mix, I would do the following:

    -6dB cut (high pass filter) at 200Hz
    +2dB boost Q=1.0 at 3000Hz
    +2dB boost Q=1.0 at 15,000Hz

    Guitar tracks:
    -6dB cut Q=1.4 at 3000Hz
    -3dB cut Q=1.4 at 800Hz
    -2dB cut Q=1.4 at 200Hz

    I think the problem is a “mud” between the bass frequencies of the vocals and guitars. Both tracks do have bass frequencies. The solution is to cut the vocals bass frequencies using a high pass filter, leaving only the guitar. Since vocal structure is still strong at the following vocal frequencies, I cut the guitar at 200Hz, 800Hz and 3000Hz to avoid masking problem.

    Also consider panning the tracks, I place the vocals at the center (setting =0) and guitars at -50, +50 (left and right) in stereo). Panning can also avoid mud. Try that, and see if it solves your mixing problem.

  • Vihar

    Hi Emerson,

    first of all, thank you for making this great site! Anyway, I’m an amateur trying to get a nice sounding mix for a one clean guitar (roland jazz chorus clean) + one vocal duo. I thought that since the guitar is the only accompanying instrument, I should cover all bases with it, including low end, mids and highs, leaving some window for the vocals only. But when I listen back to it through the home stereo, it resonates it and has kind of a boxy sound. I figure I’m doing something wrong, but is hi-passing the low end radically the only solution, or how could I get a smooth, “wide range” sound with all the frequencies needed? (I’m using Reaper.)

    Thanks in advance!

  • Emerson Maningo

    Hi Yao,
    Sure, please post the YouTube URL where the raw recording (still not mixed) can be found. I will listen to it and write a detailed constructive comments on the mix and post it in this website.

  • yao

    Hello, I thought this was an extremely useful page. Currently a friend is mixing the recording he did for my band, even though it sounds alright, the band agrees precisely on what you say here, seperating the frequencies so it has a less muddier sound. However, unfortunately we can not seem to agree with our friend and among us, on how to make the instruments and voice sound “in different planes”. I was wondering if you would be willing to listen to a part of the track and give us some advice or tips on how to acheive what we want. Thanks.

  • Oren Hodge

    Thanks Man…will try that and see how it plays out.

    much respect,


  • Emerson Maningo

    Hi Oren,
    The live band mixer guy is not doing well the job. If you play live and using a mixing console, here is what I suggest to make your vocals clear no matter how loud those other instruments:

    First: You need to cut 3000Hz using the mixing console for these instruments (guitar, keys, sax), the amount of dB depends on your ear, but I suggest -3dB to -6dB cut. By cutting frequencies on those instruments, you are making a hole in the overall frequency spectrum at 3000Hz, this room is for the vocals to properly sit in the mix.

    Second: Using your mixing console, boost your vocals at 3000Hz only, 2dB is recommended, and I think 3dB is too hot. Depends on your ear.

    If your mixing console comes with parametric equalizers effects, then set the Q to 1.4 for all frequency adjustments. 3000Hz is the only frequency your mixer needs to tweak to get the job done.

  • Oren Hodge

    Hi Emerson,

    I have a 5 piece band (guitar, bass, keys, drums, Sax along/w vocals) that play live music. However, i am having a hard time hearing myself when i sing with the band as it seems that my vocals get drowned out in the music no matter how much gain i have. the other two guys who simply sing back up come through crystal clear and always louder than me even though my volume on the mixer is louder. is this a problem of frequency? if so, can you suggest a good frequency for voice that can cut through the mentioned instruments or let me know if 1650Hz~2000Hz is ideal no matter the voice type.



  • Emerson Maningo

    Hi John,
    If you need to add delay to the mix. It is a good practice to add some space and ambiance to your stereo mix particulary melodic instruments except bass or those panned in the center (though with some creativity you can apply delay to vocals in a doubling technique) , so I suggest this method ( i use this technique in my mix):
    a. In your mix, say you are mixing tamborine… put one track to the left and one track to the right.
    b. After that, put a small delay to either of the track (either left or right). A small delay could be 10 ms or 5ms or even 15. Do not overdo as it will ruin the sound. Only put one delay on one track, minor stereo differences creates some spacey sound improving the ambiance.
    c. Experiment some settings until you have notice that it sounds full and spacey.

    Do this with all melodic instruments. In my experience, I prefer to add delays on melodic tracks and those that are not panned in the center. It is not always required to add delays, if you decided that it push or improve the song, then use it. Thanks for reading and commenting my post.

    Emerson R. Maningo

  • John

    Hi Emerson

    I have problems knowin wen to add delay to my mix. Just finished recordin instrumental 4 my song(5 tracks: kick, snare, bass, panned tamborine, melody and a slightly panned synth sound). As far as am concerned it sounds pretty tight already. However because most tracks nowadays need effect I think I might have to add at som point. Wuz wondering if u can suggest to me a way I can use delay without loosing the feel of the track and without overusing it. Basically scared of slowin down the tempo?( Note. This song has a pop feel and the bass drives the song.)

    another question. Am considering using a flanger effect on my vocals. backup or lead I haven’t decided yet however wuz wonderingif u can suggest the best way to do this without causing phase cancellation, I.e do I just put it on the track or do I use an aux. Any help is appreciated.

  • Emerson Maningo

    Hi Jeff,
    You need to separate them in tracks in order to mix them properly. Do not mix them together then do frequency adjustment, instead, separate those tracks first using your multi-track editor then do frequency adjustment.
    Give them frequency assignment, for example I have 3 synths,
    a. Bass synth —> from the lowest to 300Hz
    b. Mid range synth —> 300Hz to 5000Hz
    c. Treble synth —->5000Hz to above

    So when I mix them, for 1st track Bass synth, I do a low pass filter at 300 Hz, so it means it pass all frequencies below 300 Hz and attenuate above (which I do not need because it is a bass)…I do the same for mid range and treble.

    The result is a cohesive mix.

  • Jeff

    Hello, I have problems mixing synths,I do understand frequencies to some extent when it comes to synths or when i create them.My question is how can i separate the instruments apart to my production.I have friends who feel i play everything on the same frequency,but yet i play them in different parts or octaves of the keyboard?

  • Emerson Maningo

    Hi DZ,
    Thanks for commenting the post. Anyway it is true provided it will create distortion above 5dB. I have met some amateurs recording well below the standard and that results to weak sound. Boosting it any further (during EQ) does not guarantee positive results and that in case, will be re-recorded.
    I will not recommend boosting above 6dB if it causes some distortion in the resulting mix or some clippings. If you are in doubt try turning the volume up and see if distortion occurs.

  • DZ


    I’ve read sources that say you should consider re-recording a part if you need to boost any frequency more than 5db. You are suggesting boosts a good bit higher than this. Is there any truth to what I’ve read?