Spectrum analyzers bring an extra eye to a mix and offer a visual representation of a mix.
While mixing is (and ultimately should be) done by ear, using a spectrum analyzer can greatly ease the process of mixing.
The spectrum analyzer will show the frequency spread of your mix, reveal possible areas with either a lack or abundance of frequencies and give you hints whether you have achieved a nice mix balance.
Many modern EQ plugins have a spectrum analyzer built in as well.
How to: Use the spectrum analyzer in various scenarios
1. Insert the spectrum analyzer plugin on your master bus so it will analyze the whole track.
2. Balancing the low end and the high end: how does the low end (40-200 Hz) compare to the high end (1-20 kHz) on the analyzer. Are they roughly at the same level or are they way off in level? For example: if the bass end is way below the high end in the spectrum analyzer, you could bring the high end elements down in the mix to compensate for a more balanced and pleasant-sounding mix.
3. Finding loose peaks in the mix: sometimes, sudden peaks can throw the mix balance a bit off and introduce too much dynamics.
The usual scenario would include an unprocessed vocal, which is very dynamic by its nature. Peaks are easily spotted in a spectrum analyzer by finding scattered, uneven “pillars” in frequency and volume.
Further action can be taken either with the fader or a peak-taming compressor, if needed.
4. Finding frequency “dips” in the mix: if your mix is lacking certain frequencies, you can spot them as “holes” in the spectrum.
This helps you to spot problematic areas and potentially fixing them by boosting frequencies in these areas with an EQ or adding new instruments for a fuller sounding mix.
Perfecting the Creativity
1: Never mix solely by looking at a spectrum analyzer, but take note of the visual hints given by it and try to listen accordingly. The spectrum analyzer shouldn’t be trusted in every case, because if it sounds right, it is right.
For example: if a spectrum analyzer reveals to you a series of dramatic peaks in the mix, you should try to pinpoint which sources of audio are causing those peaks and further determine whether the peaks are a good or bad thing. In the end, trust your ears. If you like how things sound, leave them alone.
2: Insert spectrum analyzers on instrument group buses such as drums and music to look and analyze the frequencies in the specific instrument groups, getting a macro-level picture of the frequencies.
Thanks Guys and always remember to keep the Creativity perfected.