Become a member
Become a member
Continuer avec Google

or
Log in
Log in
Se connecter avec Google

or
learning

How to use harmonic distortion in a mix

A guide to mixing music - Part 95

Today you'll see how to put into practice everything you've learned so far about harmonic distortion.

View other articles in this series...

At this stage, you have probably already used some sort of analog-emulating compression or EQ plug-in on many of your tracks. It obviously wouldn't make any sense to try to go back to what you did then. Especially considering that the glue effect is the sum of efforts and the addition of layers only adds substance to it. For the time being we will focus on the track groups. As I explained to you earlier, you need to use compressors and/or EQs emulating analog gear and have them running at the bare minimum. Choose the plug-ins so that the coloration they add matches your idea of the mix. Then follow the principles explained last week to play with the harmonic distortion.

Season your mix

The problem with harmonic distortion is the amount thereof, as we discussed in the previous article. In my opinion, harmonic distortion is to music what salt is to food. Indeed, sodium chloride is an essential element in the kitchen, but it has to be used judiciously. When a dish doesn't have any it tastes dull but when it has too much it's uneatable. Besides, salt is used at all the different stages: before, during and after cooking. And while it's very easy to put salt on a dish, it's impossible to take it out afterwards. In short, it all boils down to the preparation of the dish itself.

tipdistortion

Well, when it comes to harmonic distortion it's pretty much the same: you must proceed cautiously and wisely when "seasoning" your mix. The big difference in the digital audio world, however, is that you can always go back to any given point and take out or change the amounts of distortion applied during the mix. Hence, if you follow the method described below, you should be able to add harmonic distortion avoiding too many risks.

This way of doing things is relatively simple and consists of two stages. The first step is to listen very carefully whenever applying a plug-in that generates distortion (a "vintage"EQ or compressor, for instance). As soon as you start to hint the appearance of harmonic saturation go back a dB or so. Once you've done that to all the elements concerned, take a pause to let your ears rest. When they are ready to go again, move to the second stage and listen to the overall result, comparing the results with and without harmonic distortion. Generally speaking you ought to notice that it adds a light coloration, as well as more coherence, but that's it! The difference ought to be so subtle that a distracted listener doesn't notice the effect. If that's not the case, go back to the first step again.

I know this method is relatively time-consuming, but don't worry, your sonic perception will become keener over time and you will not have to go through this that often in the future.

← Previous article in this series:
Getting acquainted with harmonic distortion
Next article in this series:
The whys of using tape machine and console emulators →
  • angelie 350 posts
    angelie
    AFfluent Poster
    Posted on 07/10/2016 at 11:38:12
    Some time ago I noticed that some people use distortion over a vocal to make it cut through the entire mix and make it more audible / clearly... The human ear reacts on those extra harmonics and therefore no need to push the volume even harder.

    I thought it was a very need trick and if handled with care you hear the vocals without the distortion but it will be noticed by your brain.

    - angelie

Vous souhaitez réagir à cet article ?

Log in
Become a member
cookies

We are using cookies!

Yes, Audiofanzine is using cookies. Since the last thing that we want is disturbing your diet with too much fat or too much sugar, you'll be glad to learn that we made them ourselves with fresh, organic and fair ingredients, and with a perfect nutritional balance. What this means is that the data we store in them is used to enhance your use of our website as well as improve your user experience on our pages (learn more). To configure your cookie preferences, click here.

We did not wait for a law to make us respect our members and visitors' privacy. The cookies that we use are only meant to improve your experience on our website.

Our cookies

Cookies not subject to consent

These are cookies that guarantee the proper functioning of Audiofanzine and allow its optimization. The website cannot function properly without these cookies.

Website preferences

We store your preferences so that you do not have to re-enter them every time your come back (forums options, dark or light theme, classifieds filter, standard or buzz news, newsletters popups...).

Log in

This one makes sure you don't have to re-enter your credentials every time you visit Audiofanzine.

Analytics

This data allows us to understand the use that our visitors make of our website in an attempt to improve it.

Advertising

This information allows us to show you personalized advertisements thanks to which Audiofanzine is financed. By unchecking this box you will still have advertisements but they may be less interesting :)

We did not wait for a law to make us respect our members and visitors' privacy. The cookies that we use are only meant to improve your experience on our website.

Our cookies

Cookies not subject to consent

These are cookies that guarantee the proper functioning of Audiofanzine and allow its optimization. The website cannot function properly without these cookies.

Website preferences

We store your preferences so that you do not have to re-enter them every time your come back (forums options, dark or light theme, classifieds filter, standard or buzz news, newsletters popups...).

Log in

This one makes sure you don't have to re-enter your credentials every time you visit Audiofanzine.

Analytics

This data allows us to understand the use that our visitors make of our website in an attempt to improve it.

Advertising

This information allows us to show you personalized advertisements thanks to which Audiofanzine is financed. By unchecking this box you will still have advertisements but they may be less interesting :)


You can find more details on data protection in our privacy policy.