This is one of the most important questions that comes to every aspiring music producer’s mind when they get started in mixing music and equalization.
Most times you will try to balance them but still, in the end, the question will need to be resolved.
There are so many studies that have been conducted based on popular songs, discussing if you should make the treble higher than the bass.
The short answer to this question is yes, yet many producers end up making the mistake of having the bass higher than the treble.
There are many ways to equalize an audio track. The most prominent way to do it is to analyze the track based on balance rather than frequency cheat sheets. This is the most effective form of finding out if your audio track requires more bass or more treble.
When you look at different tracks of the same genre you will find that only certain frequencies in the treble are boosted.
This might not be the case when you analyze tracks from other genres. This is one of the reasons why you should make it a hard and fast rule to always keep the treble higher than the bass.
Yes, treble should be higher than bass in an audio track. This will result in a balance in the audio track, and will additionally eliminate problems such as low-end rumble, mid-frequency muddiness, and vocal projection.
Knowing that treble should be higher than bass is one thing. Understanding why treble should be higher than bass will help you to make better use of equalization.
In this article, I will walk you through the reasons why treble should be higher than bass in equalization. Let’s get started shall we,
Top 3 reasons why treble should be higher in equalization
- To balance the low-end rumble
- To reduce the mid-frequency muddiness
- To better project vocals in the mix
Let’s look at this one by one.
To balance the low-end rumble
When you have the bass higher than the treble, it will result in a lot of problems. One such problem is low-end rumble. The low end is nothing but the frequencies below 440Hz. These frequencies are stronger and longer in propagation through space.
Even when mixing low end for an audio track, a music producer has to be careful about how he equalizes the low end. Even a small amount added might overpower the treble and ruin the entire song.
This is one of the reasons why the feature roll of below 30Hz is available in equalizers in audio production software. This roll, of below 30Hz allows you to clean all audio data below 30Hz, making it cleaner for listening. The audio below 30Hz can not always be heard by a human ear and can only be felt by vibration.
Low-end rumble is also cleared by finding the frequencies of kick and bass in an audio track that is being processed. Boosting only the key frequencies of the bass and kick using the equalizer from audio production software will balance out any extra frequency from the low end and disturb the overall equalization of the song. Usually, these frequencies are between 50Hz and 250Hz.
If you don’t allow yourself to check these values while equalizing, you will end up with a track with zero balance between treble and bass. The kick and bass in the song will also not work together to provide a cohesive result.
To reduce the mid-frequency muddiness
One of the biggest problems for music producers is the muddiness that you will find in the frequency spectrum of between 400 – 800Hz. This region tends to be the most problematic area for a lot of mixing engineers as well.
This problem of having too much muddy frequency escalates when you increase the amount of bass you have in your audio track.
This is one of the main reasons why you shouldn’t increase the bass higher than the treble in a song. The region between 400-600Hz has frequencies from a lot of bass elements and the bass portion of instruments in the treble. These are problematic when boosted above the treble.
The mid-frequency region is usually noise if you listen only to the 400-800Hz range. Without these frequencies, the song would sound like it’s coming from a robot.
The song won’t have any character. A producer needs to work on his skills so that he does not mess up the mid frequencies in a song or audio track. This starts with keeping the treble higher than the bass.
The frequency range of between 400 to 800Hz is also called the life region for certain instruments such as the piano. You will find that the bite or the hit of the piano lies in this region. This is yet another reason why you should not boost your treble over the bass.
To project vocals better in the mix
Vocals are an important part of the audio track. The message of the song is usually carried through the vocals. Whenever you are increasing the bass of a song, you are lowering the ability of the listener to listen to the vocals.
The vocals lie in-between the 700- 3k Hz frequency range. This is also called the voice range. This is the region that gets overpowered when you are increasing the bass in a song as well.
You cannot expect to increase the bass and have crystal clear vocals. Mixing vocals in a song is the hardest part of music production. You can check our in-depth guide on how to mix vocals here.
The 5k to 8k Hz is the region where you will find most of the sibilance or brilliance of the vocals which can be equalized. Boosting this region too much would also result in a harsher sound.
Vocals are the VIPs of a song. When you mess it up, you can’t just simply recover them. It takes precision to nail the vocals perfectly. Adding more bass to an audio track above the treble will make the song sound bad.
Ultimately there is no best equalizer setting for vocals. Every small change you make in an equalizer will affect the sound quality of the vocals. Adding too much bass is the start of the disaster.
Sometimes you have to be careful of the excessive build-up that you might create in the treble as well. This will take away the sheen or the so called brittleness (in mixing terms).
Does treble affect bass?
Yes, treble affects bass by lowering the vibration in the sub-woofers of a speaker system. From the point of view of mixing an audio track, treble helps to maintain balance throughout the whole track without tiring the ears of the listener.
What should bass, mid and treble be set at?
Bass mid and treble should be set at a ratio of 4:5. This is irrespective of the system they are used. Having a 4:5 ratio gives more control for the treble to shine through the bass mid, which are usually muddy.
What do bass mid and treble do?
Bass mid and treble are the meatier portion of a frequency spectrum that is most audible to the human ears. Our ears are designed to be more attracted to the bass mid and treble frequencies.
What’s better treble or bass?
Neither is better. Listening to any one for long hours would cause issues to your hearing. Having a balanced equalization will result in your ears having a longer life.
What are the best bass and treble settings for the TV?
The best bass and treble settings for a TV usually lie In between 45 and 55 percent. The treble should be always around 55 percent and the bass around 45%. This will yield a cumulative balanced frequency spectrum that is better to listen to.
People always think that increasing the bass in a song is going to make it sound better. The reality is the opposite. You should always have the treble higher and allow the bass to compliment it.
If you try to get nerdy and look at the wave propagation of bass and treble, Bass waves are longer and treble is shorter. This makes bass stronger even at lower volumes.
Making sure that you are always balanced in the bass when the mix is presented in an equalizer will help you get a quality mix.
Always keep your treble high and bass low.