Sample Frequencies

Written by Makke

All right boyz and girlz(?), what have you learned today? Nothing?! Ok, then it's time to start learning! So let's see what good old Makke has written for you today. Oh! How to make your track sound more professional! How nice. And the article starts - NOW!

One thing that many trackers don't seem to care about is if their samples 'work together'.

Most of my time when tracking goes to finding the best samples from different places (ether ripped, sampled from CD's or from other places). But the best samples won't do if they don't work together.

What I mean with work together is that the samples are in different frequencies, and the secret of getting tracks to sound more pro.

First let's talk a little about frequencies.

The low frequencies are the ones with MUCH bass. For example the 32Hz frequency is that one you feel up you butt at cinemas. Like when the T-rex in Jurassic Park walked next to the car, and you felt in your every step it took. Those are the really low frequencies.

The middle frequencies are the ones that people normally talk in, or an acoustic-guitar plays in. And the high frequencies are the ones that make your ears hurt. Like when babies are screaming or somebody scratchs their nails on the blackboard in school. Or perhaps does the 'fork on a plate' trick. :)

Ok, so now we know a little about frequencies. Let's move on to the tracking.

A track is actually divided into three frequency areas. The bass-area (32Hz to 1kHz), the middle-area (1kHz to 4 or 8kHz) and the high-area (4-8kHz to 16kHz). These tracks should NOT be mixed together.

What the hell do I mean with NOT mixed?!

Well. Let's take a look at the different samples in a basic track.

The drum samples: Hi-hat (open), Hi-hat (closed), B-drum, S-drum, Tom-Tom, Crash.

The rest: Bass, Lead, Strings and some other small samples that can build up the track.

Now, which of these are really bassy? Yes, the b-drum, and the bass. They are the ones which build up the bass-area. No other samples should be allowed to interfere with the bass-area.

To get the bass-area to sound as good as possible you should use a b-drum that works well with the bass. This is very important! The bass and the b-drum should not be fighting each other, they should work together to build up the bassy areas. You might want to use more than one bass, and that's ok. But the two basses should not sound to alike, yet they should be in the same frequency area.

Ok, so now we've got the bass-area, let's move on to the middle-area!

Which samples are the middle are then?

Hmm: leads, strings, and other melodic instruments.

One important thing in this area is that the different samples shouldn't sound TOO much like each other. The strings should cover the high and low parts of the middle-area. This will make the track sound fuller, or fat or what ever you want to call it. Then the lead should be in the middle or high parts of the middle-area. Preferably the higher part, because the lead should be heard clearly, and not smear together with the other 'melodic' samples that builds up the middle-area.

The snaredrum should also be somewhere in the middle-area. If it's in the higher or the lower depends on which sound you want to get.

Then the high-area which consists of hi-hats and crash. No other lead or strings should be in this frequency area, because then they'd sound really squeaking and probably do damage to your ears rather than pleasure.

It might be a little hard to understand, but listen to some good sounding tracks and think of what I've said here. I think you'll understand better then.

Listen to the bass-area. Which samples are there? Listen to the middle-area. Which samples are there? And then listen to the high-area.

Think of this when you sample as well. Cut all the bass-frequencies on the crash and hi-hat samples. You don't need those frequencies. Cut most of the high-frequencies while sampling bass-samples.

Ok, you learned something out of this. :)

- Makke / Comic Pirates / Hugi