The Magic of High Pass Filters

Muddy tracks? Clean it up with Orbit!

Ok, so Orbit gum hasn’t yet broken into the audio effects industry, but give it time – they may.

So what should you do if you’ve got muddy tracks? Or maybe you’re sitting back and listening to your overall mix, and it just sounds dull and boomy. Whatever the case may be, you may want to check out high pass filters.

What is a high pass filter? It’s a filter – basically an EQ – that only lets certain frequencies through. It looks kind of like this:

Screen Shot 2013-11-06 at 8.47.43 PM


You can get a high pass with just about any EQ. Even the basic EQ in your DAW is going to be able to do this. But why would anyone want to do this?

The fact is that all of the great mixers and engineers know the importance of this simple tool. How should you be using it – and what will it do to your overall mix?

You should use a high pass filter on just about any track that isn’t supporting the bass end in your tracks. Examples are vocals, snare drums, guitars, keyboards, toms, synthesizers, pianos…

The list goes on. The only tracks you’re probably not going to see a high pass filter on are the kick drums and bass guitar or bass synth. Even then, I wouldn’t rule anything out.

So why do you want this – doesn’t it make your tracks sound thin? The answer is yes – and that’s exactly what you want!

If you’ve got a muddy overall sound – thinner tracks is exactly what you need. By cutting out the unnecessary, unwanted low end of the tracks that aren’t meant to support the low end of the recording, you’ll be making a lot of room for the instruments that you want to hear in that frequency.

Here’s what I like to do – before I even start working on a mix – I’ll set up a modest high pass filter (maybe cutting at around 6dB/octave at 80 Hz) on almost every single track. I might adjust it as I do my mix, but sometimes I just leave it alone. This really helps clean things up.

Try it out on your own mix – you’ll be surprised at what it can do for your mix.

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