Low End – what is Low End and how to Analyse it

Whenever I have been called into a studio to assist a producer in managing frequencies for pre-mastering I have always been surprised at the fact that people seem to want to assign a frequency range to the low end of a track. Every track has its own qualities and criteria that need addressing based on the entire frequency content of the track, before a range can be described as the low end.

Some producers have great insights into interesting low end frequency ranges, but these ranges are relevant only in the context of a track’s genre. If we are talking about a heavy Hip Hop track that uses 808 kicks supplemented with sine waves, then the low end of that track will vary dramatically from mainstream EDM (electronic Dance music) that typically incorporates stronger kicks supplemented with ducked bass tones.

So, working on the premise of a frequency range will not help you at all. It is far more important to understand the frequencies required for the low end of a specific track, and the interaction of these frequencies with one another as well as with the additional elements/frequencies that share the range.

To fully understand how to manage low end frequencies we need to look at frequencies, some of the problems encountered with manipulating frequencies, and some of the terminology related to this subject, in far more detail, and the first step is to use a spectrum analyser customised to display exactly what we want for the mix in question. The saying ‘use your ears’ is all well and good but if you are trying to understand what is happening at frequency level and within a busy mix context you will need additional tools that engineers created for exactly these kinds of situations, and there is no better tool to help you to evaluate what is happening at frequency level than a Spectrum Analyser.

This video explores how we perceive the low end of a mix, how to evaluate what is happening at frequency level using the tools available to us and what actions we can take to address any issues exposed by the anaylser.

Topics covered in this video are:

  • What does Low End refer to
  • Analysing Low Frequencies
  • Using Spectrum Analysers
  • Understanding Responses
  • Understanding Peak versus Average