How to avoid a muddy mixdown?


Often times I am faced with a problem where I lack a decent amount of mid-range warmth in my sound. When producing a track with this in mind I am then often faced with a muddy sounding mid-range. How do people deal with this? I am aware that the 'mud frequency' is around the 200-300hz mark is it wise to literally eq this out? If so is it best to do this per channel or across the whole mix? Will this reduce any mid-range warmth?



Posted 2012-09-21T16:05:28.710


2Perhaps this should migrate to the AV stack? – None – 2012-09-21T17:54:46.450

Most definitely! – NReilingh – 2012-09-21T18:32:25.807

The MUD has a lot to do with the source material. What are you mixing? – filzilla – 2012-09-21T19:24:23.287

@filzilla Many things, mainly samples and output from various synths, samplers etc. – None – 2012-09-21T20:07:50.513

Hmm, odd, looks like my accounts haven't synced together (I'm showing up as Magrangs here). – None – 2012-09-21T20:11:40.880

You can ask to have them merged - local mods may be able to do it, if not then SEI devs can. – Rory Alsop – 2012-09-21T21:31:07.607



As we tend to work with up to 50 separate tracks before mixdown, including synths, drums, live instruments, vocals etc.,getting this right is essential in my band.

Core to our approach is compression and equalisation:

  • Every channel has a compressor added for final mixdown to ensure we have a predefined range per channel
  • Each channel has an equalisation profile (sometimes with a temporal component) to ensure all frequency ranges have an equal weighting, so while I may play my guitars live with a fair amount of bass, in a studio mix I cut almost all my bass and mids as these areas are full of bass guitar, synths and some drums. Similarly, our bassist plays quite a trebly mix on stage, but in the studio we cut all his mids out and leave just enough treble to let his slap ring through (this varies - eg a song designed to sound fat will have more mid and bass etc, but you get the drift)

So if you are getting a muddy mix, see how many tracks are all competing in that 200-300 Hz space and start to cull them one by one.

Rory Alsop

Posted 2012-09-21T16:05:28.710

Reputation: 5 762

Thanks for the info. I guess this is a process that is different for every track and there are really no 'hard and fast' rules. What do you mean by "temporal component" by the way? – None – 2012-09-24T11:37:49.013

p.s. sorry I can't accept your answer at present as somehow my accounts haven't merged properly! – None – 2012-09-24T11:38:41.540

By temporal component, I mean that in a final mix you may have changing equalisation throughout the track to balance the natural variations that happen when playing. – Rory Alsop – 2012-09-24T12:26:02.133

Would you eq out the 200-300hz on all tracks or would you leave some non-competing tracks in that range to cover the whole audible frequency spectrum? I guess cutting out all of it can take the 'body' out of the sounds? – None – 2012-09-24T13:18:15.370

I would decide which track I wanted to be forefront in that frequency range and pull the others down, not cutting out everything in that range. – Rory Alsop – 2012-09-24T17:42:47.587

Yep, makes sense. Thanks for your answer. Cheers. – None – 2012-09-25T08:08:47.260


Generally mud in mixes isn't a problem with a specific instrument or sound, its a general problem of too many instruments with content in that mid range. For instance you could create a mix where the only instrument playing in lets say 200 - 400hz is a synthline, but in reality guitars, drums, bass, etc all have different components of their sound which can extend into this range. One solution is to totally cut this content from these sources, but this will have a nasty side effect of killing some of their harmonic content and making them sound weird. It also likely leads to thin mixes like you were describing, your earlier problem of cutting away too hard in that region.

My approach with this is to listen to my mix and decide on which instrument I want to have occupy this mid range region (normally with some form of eq visualiser). I will then apply complimentary eq, I will slightly dip the other instruments in that region, unless I am sure they should have no content there - in which case I use a filter or a notch to cut that area out of them. This approach stops them from sounding strange, and still gives a strong mid range to the mix as a whole (Try to avoid cutting more than about 3db over an octave range, this way you shouldnt leave anything too thin).

As a final note, when you cut 200-300hz across the entire mix, you are actually cutting that range in every instrument, its like applying a cut on them all seperately. This really doesnt solve your problem of having clashing instruments in that range. You will have the same mud, just quieter. An effecient option could be to bus all the other instruments except your chosen one, for that range, together and cut the mid range on those all at once. That would still leave the one instrument in the mid range.

Philip Graham

Posted 2012-09-21T16:05:28.710

Reputation: 156

How do you use the eq visualizer for that? – atoth – 2015-03-26T22:34:46.303

1The visualiser on your eq should show you how much volume you have in ech of the frequency ranges. You can then determine which frequencies in the 200-300 range are the problem issue for any given part in your mix. – Philip Graham – 2015-03-31T08:30:14.007