Adventures In Audio

Fat, thin, bright, dull, nasal, hollow, boxy - Understand what all these tonal balance terms mean

Fat, thin, bright, dull, nasal, hollow, boxy - What do all these words mean? TONAL BALANCE is vitally important in audio and you need to learn how to speak its language. This video demonstrates with audio examples what the terms mean and what they sound like.

Automated transcript

does your audio have a good total balance or does it need fixing and if it does need fixing how would you talk about it learn audio online with audio masterclass audiomasterclass.com tonal balance is a popular term for frequency balance meaning the relative levels of the various frequencies in a piece of audio which may be a single instrument a complete music mix speech or sound effects at audio masterclass we prefer frequency balance because it specifically refers to frequency and level frequency is measured in hertz and level can be measured in decibels so it's an objective parameter as well as subjective tonal balance is subjective and there are no formal units meaning that it can't be measured objectively having said that tonal balance is a commonly used term and i'll use it here to mean frequency balance it's useful to be able to describe tonal balance in words so that producers engineers and musicians can communicate efficiently and they are informal and perhaps a little bit vague rather than formal and precise even so they are useful aids for communication so i could say the sound is rather boxy rather than the lower mid-range around 400 hertz needs to come down by six decibels the latter may be more precise but it isn't the way people normally talk even seasoned audio professionals here's a quick list of words commonly used to describe tonal balance in no particular order fat thin bright aggressive smooth dark dull or muffled air or airy harsh nasal or honky muddy presence or bite scoot or smile curve hollow or boxy coming up are audio demonstrations to show you what these words are normally understood to mean but before i get onto the demonstrations a newcomer to audio would need at least a very basic introduction to equalization to aid their further understanding so for viewers who need it this short clip will help you get a feeling for eq quickly if you are familiar with eq already then you can skip it i'll put a timestamp just here

there are a few important caveats to the demonstrations coming up one piece of music is used for all of the examples different music would react differently to eq according to the instruments used and their respective frequency balances tonal balance applies to speech and sound effects also the music used already has a fairly even tonal balance meaning that the various bands of frequencies are well balanced and need no improvement eq is used to demonstrate the problems of tonal balance so the examples are used to create tonal balance issues rather than resolve them if a piece of audio had a tonal balance problem similar to any of the examples an inverse eq curve would be required to resolve it the settings are approximate in terms of frequency and the amount of cut or boost this is due to the overall subjectivity involved some of the examples are exaggerated for clarity okay here we go

the term fat can be used for matters other than frequency balance for example a bass guitar with flat round strings can sound fatter than a similar bass guitar with round round strings but when referring to frequency balance it's often used to mean a strong low frequency region thick is sometimes used but not as often but it would normally mean the same as fat the frequency range would generally be around 100 hertz and lower

clearly the opposite of fat is thin thin generally means a weak low frequency region the frequency range involved would be around 200 hertz and

lower

bright refers to a moderate high frequency boost generally above around two to three

kilohertz

do

aggressive is similar to bright but there's a greater degree of boost again above around two to three kilohertz it isn't always bad to have an aggressive sound but it does depend on the kind of sound source you're working with an aggressive guitar solo in a rock track could work perfectly well

smooth generally means a slow roll off in high frequency energy above around 1 to 2 kilohertz not so much that the overall sound is perceived as lacking in high frequencies but not as bright as properly tonally balanced audio would be a smooth tonal balance can often be useful when audio is used as a background as a music bet beneath narration for instance

dark is when there is a definite lack of high frequency energy but not too much in the context of how the audio is used dark is generally used as a positive term again a dark sound could work well with a tonally balanced narration or in a music mix it would be perfectly acceptable for a featured instrument or vocal to have a dark tone if it works well

subjectively

dull and muffled are used when there is definitely too little high frequency content a smooth or dark tonal balance can work well if used appropriately a dull or muffled tonal balance is unless for a specific effect normally considered a fault that should be corrected

unlike most of the other words described and demonstrated here air is often used as a noun in preference to the adjective airy give it some more air said the producer to the engineer for example air is usually a boost at very high frequencies some of which will not be audible to many people the ear's high frequency response deteriorates with age it's important therefore that some of the air extends to frequencies that almost everyone can hear which would be around eight or nine kilohertz so air should be applied above that

a harsh tonal balance is one that's unpleasant to the ear and would make a listener want to turn down the volume a harsh tonal balance is almost always a bad thing in this example the frequency range around two to seven kilohertz is boosted which is a band where the ear is very sensitive in order to hear speech clearly

we call this a nasal tonal balance in comparison with the human voice when the person speaking has a cold and that nasal passages are blocked we could also compare the term honky with the sound of a klaxon

in this example the frequency range around 600 hertz to 2 kilohertz is boosted

the term muddy can be used when there's too much energy in the lower mid frequency band in this example there's a boost centered on 150 hertz extending from 20 hertz up to around 2 kilohertz

again we have nouns rather than adjectives and although present is a perfectly good adjective it isn't in common use to describe tonal balance the vocal has plenty of presence would be typical usage or the snare needs more bite to achieve this a smallish boost in the region around three kilohertz or so can be applied

the scooped or smile curve tonal balance is where the low and high frequency regions are strong and there's a reduction in energy over a wide band in the mid-range this kind of tonal balance is often applied to a mix because it's common that as the individual tracks are optimized and blended together then the mid-range frequencies will build up in level and require correction it could be said that a good mix engineer should correct for this as they go along but in practice it's always likely that the final mix will require a tonal balance adjustment and the use of the smile curve is fairly common

where the scooped or small curve tonal balance is generally a fairly subtle effect the hollow tonal balance can be easily audible and require correction the hollow tonal balance is most noticeable where there's a lack of energy in a fairly narrow band one kilohertz

this is the tonal balance you hear if you place a cardboard box over your head and listen to the sounds around you it occurs because of the resonance of the enclosed volume inside the box it can also be noticeable in a vocal booth with inadequate acoustic treatment in this example the boxy resonance is centered on 400 hertz and extends from around 200 up to 800 hertz

in summary although these informal terms are not precise and are subject to individual interpretation they are in common use professionally and should be understood both for following the requirements of a client or producer or for giving instructions to an engineer or collaborator i'm david miller course director of audio masterclass thank you for listening

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@JJONNYREPP replies to @AudioMasterclass: Fat, thin, bright, dull, nasal, hollow, boxy - Understand what all these tonal balance terms mean 0953am 7.7.23 lazy intonation and lax desire to deliver one's thoughts coherently... (lazy peoples per se) is basically the basis of regional dialect. that said, the home counties plummy tongue does nothing for me, either. it is said, due to industrial revolution vs pastoral living - speech became more nasally in the cities and towns due to bellowing smog and smoke as opposed to the countryside wherein folk became more coherent.. this is not the case... we dont even take into consideration the alleged elite's desire to distance themselves from anything deemed of the lower orders - speech included. i curse my nasally vile odes but that's due to a desire to distance myself from nasally and allegedly industrial volk. not due to any aloofness.. that and the masses of crushed bone and matter situated atop the bridge of my nose after having run into a tree during the early 80's. i do wonder what my speech would have sounded like if 1: i was not brow beaten by northern-ease and 2: i had not run into that tree all those years ago. p.s that anecdote is worthy of a response in anybody's book.

@Nemura12:  Now I understand why I like my Sennheiser HD-600 so much.

@test40323:  Although used by professionals in the recording industry, these fundamental terms for communication are also very useful for layman and enthusiasts. Thank you!

@paulmcdonough9595:  What a great explanation, thank you.

@rickyblair8802:  Fat just sounded muffled to me

@markkirollos4437:  While the information contained in this video is good, the YT audio compression has definitely made it difficult to actually hear the changes you are making to the EQ. If I make the same changes on my own EQ program, the differences are much more apparent, resulting in less confusion. Just a heads up to anyone else watching this in the future.

@Dj-Jon-E-C:  Well explained interesting to lean of what the frequencies do. I know a little but this helped me more.

@user-zz9sv9fp3c:  Now I know everything. Kneel before the almighty.

@velixzeen:  Thank you for clarifying these commonly used terms and putting some numbers to them. Cheers!

@simonhickie7589:  Excellent demonstration of the effect of changes to different parts of the audio spectrum. I have home-brewed speakers which comprise open baffle bass drivers plus distributed mode mid/treble loudspeaker panels. I use a miniDSP HD as an active crossover and REW to tailor driver responses and overall room EQ. With EQ, the system will play flat down to about 35hz. it still tends to sound a little thin at the bottom end, perhaps because OB bass and DML panels load the room differently from traditional 'point and squirt' speakers. Perhaps, therefore, the overall response needs a bit more of a boost in the 'fat' region and over a smaller frequency range than I'm currently giving it.

@dangerzone007:  Why use EQ anyway. (EQ fixes nothing according to the honest Audiophile) so why use it?

@soundssimple1:  Discovered channel mid 2023, going thru many past vids. Found this excellent example. Thanks.

@klauskujawa7858:  “ TREMENDOUS CLARITY”: #1 my 58 year old hearing is great, I could hear every example the video demonstrates! #2. I prefer “Flat” in every example which makes sense given that it is the same when listening at home- my stereo amplifier settings 95% of the time are set to flat, or bypass tone control all together. Very helpful video sir, excellent content and I am continuing to learn from the videos on your channel….cheers!!!👍from USA

@spectrelayer:  Great subject! This issue is one that I paid close attention to while developing the process I market to postmaster audio. The AI has seemed to adopt a different curve than most engineers end up with. I suspect that this may be because many mastering headphones have a bump at the extreme ends and mastering is being biased away from the ends unintentionally. Hear the difference for yourself here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mLhbOygKkOM

@Kris_M:  I'm surprised how well that piece of music and some headphones demonstrate the different tonal balances.

Is there a name for when there is a clear trough between low and mid, and between mid and high? I've got that issue in my car and it sounds terrible.

@andymouse:  Wonderful....cheers !

@wiebl5266:  I really appreciate this video you made, thank YOU x 10! I know a lot of things you say but when I hear it, the disclarity in my mind disappears. Thank you. I particularly appreciate the term AIR and NASAL, and the boosting of sound range differentiates the speakers that we buy. Thank you so much.

@audiomez:  The jazz population would go insane with those descriptors

@audiomez:  Ah! Aren’t you edging into timbre??

@audiomez:  You left out strident. Lol

@RUfromthe40s:  this sounds like after masterizing the recording it doesn´t allow to change the sound that much with a weak equalizer

@RUfromthe40s:  this makes no sense what are you trying to prove with this, don´t really understand

@davidedeluca9692:  Why he seems create by an I.A. 🤔

@yettamon956:  thanks for knowledge, now I understand more about listening music and how to describe it

@alexrichardson9125:  It has been so nice to 'at last' understand why my system sounds the way it does. I will get onto my EQ circuit tomorrow! Thank you so much.

@RUfromthe40s replies to @alexrichardson9125: normally people don´t understand what the equalizer do to the music and also equalizers sold for home systems are very bad ,in the 80´s i bought a kenwood that also had the reverb ,and it felt better than others till today ,the dbx equalizer is better in a way that if someone does know how to work with it ,it includes a lot of frequencies that can be changed but this is a professional equalizer ,at home i don´t use any, if one knows when hearing music what frequency should be changed for the better this when playing cds,it´s easy but most of the users never really undertstood what it does to the music ,those V shape equalization decrease what already is decreased so it looks so bad having it on one´s system, it can be seen in several videos on youtube or it could ,this new youtube it´s kind of a deal that stole everyone in this planet

@barrymckockiner8737:  The song picked has literally nothing playing on the highs and lows. I couldn't pick a worse example

@Hypurr1:  The bright/airy sound is why many people turned Dolby off when playing back cassettes. They liked the ~10db boost that Dolby applied to the high end when recording.
I find quite a few shows I've attended the last decade or so have a harsh sound. It's very annoying and makes me want to jump in the booth and correct it. I just keep thinking, "can't they hear that? What the hell is wrong with them?" Then I realize that they grew up in the generation that equated distortion with volume when they are totally unrelated.

@RUfromthe40s replies to @Hypurr1: i remenber when dolby apeared ,the decks had a lack of highs ,so people record it with dolby but listen without also increasing the noise ,i myself when home recording never used dolby or any other nr. system, it sounds better and no noise also one can record with the volume louder using the quality of the deck at 100% not limited by a NR.

@MiguelCruz-cm1fe:  Hi.

@BenceToldi:  Köszönjük!

@passenger62:  To me, 'air' or 'airy' refers to the arrangement - whether cluttered or sparse.

@tylergates4075:  What is the song being used, its so good. Sounds like Paul Hardcastle

@AudioMasterclass replies to @tylergates4075: It's just one of my musical doodles. DM

@polmorgan3533:  I'm fifty seven and i find i have to cup my hands behind my ears to hear the real sound of my mixes. Thank you for all your good advice it has helped me a lot even though some i don't agree with... haha maybe i'm just a prick. thanks Mate.

@polmorgan3533:  You have a great perspective thank you for sharing it.

@polmorgan3533:  I thank you for your good advice my friend I have been thinking a lot about what you said on my last post, thanks.

@digitaltrash_:  Hollow 1K is hardest to hear, but lacking of it can dramatically make mix lifeless and not real.

@adornohorkheimer:  This is simply one of the greatest videos on youtube about music reproduction. Now I know why I like (and don't like) some sound profiles. Thank you so much!

@miketheperformer5972:  Finally someone explains these terms in a way I can understand them!

@mattiasbb3k466:  Excellent job, well done!👍✅

@dhpbear2:  I've heard 'air' used to describe heavily boosted bass. I guess because it 'moves more air'?

@erikmolnar6585:  It's balanced. Aside from that, what do you think of the Giles Martin White Album 2018 mix? Are mids on Beatles represses dull and the mix muddy overall? Do they need to bake the master tapes and let a real engineer remix them??? I know I'm off topic, but with all these Beatles, Giles Martin boxes, are they grails or total fu*king Bollocks? I got the White Album box, and it sounds fine if there is nothing else to compare it to. I most definitely love buying a record nobody has ever owned or played so I enjoy playing it, but f**k me, it sounds muddy af

@92trdman:  To learn this, prepared a good headphones or loudspeaker with as less coloring or less characteristics as possible...

@scottlowell493:  Lack of tonal balance is also what fools some people into thinking something is more detailed or clear than it is.
Focal clear headphones lack low bass, so the mids and treble sound clearer. Quad and Klipsch la scala have no low bass at all, and they are described as "fast." They sound thin to me. The original la scala are aggressive, shouty and harsh. The quad don't move much air, and owners will proclaim they make other speakers sound "Bloated and slow". I consider quads thin and etherial. Quads and la scala need a sub and eq to balance. Elac Debut reference 6 sound dull and muffled to me. While the midrange and bass are nice, the treble is so weak that it doesn't balance them out. Final audio Sonorus IV and VI, Some Beyer dynamic, Sennhieser 700 and 800 (not s) have a sharp 7-9khz and I call them "death by treble" headphones. Muddy? Beats and bose products.

@RemyRAD:  Now look wait a minute. There's only one thing to remember here. And it's a mantra. I've lived by. Since 1979. And that is:

An Ounce of Punch. Is Worth a Pound of Sound. And that came from Media Sound Studios, NYC. The home of Bob Clearmountain. To name a few hit engineers from there. And I'm sort of one of them. I maintained and tweaked everything. I modified equipment. I improved equipment. And then I would substitute for other engineers who didn't show up to do recordings. Because most of the assistant recording engineers were unreliable flakes. And us maintenance guys. We had to be thorough, complete, knowledgeable, on the ball, on-time and always at the ready.

And so if you live by that, motto. That mantra. And you engineer in that manner. You don't need to think about anything else. And you can tell.. That's why Bob Clearmountain''s recordings and mixes sound the way they do. So do mine, mostly. It's a thing you learn. A simple thing. And other simple things. Even though Bob Clearmountain also recorded Simple Mines when others were Tears for Fears. As Bob was also, Born, in the USA. And recorded the Springsteen man and Max Weinberg. Whom I've also recorded. What a lovely guy. Un-neurotic, humble, complementary, speaks quietly. I recorded him at the Stone Pony in, Asbury Park, New Jersey. Same place where Linda Ronstadt got put on the map. And I knew I was on hallowed ground. At that legendary place. That was so cool! When we were still all young and beautiful. The good old days. The days we thought would never end.

Why can't I go back in time if I want to? I would like to relive my early professional childhood.
RemyRAD

@RemyRAD:  Audio doesn't need fixing. If it already sounds great during the tracking session. Then it practically mixes itself. Especially if you are tracking with,, judicious EQ, pushing into an, 1176 in radical mode. And tracking it that way. You don't need to undo anything! No. You just roll with that on mix down. It'll all fall into place, nicely. And then you can add extra gobbledygook of EQ, limiting, expansion, gating some reverb some time delays and slaps. And check the mix on the, Joint Scale. Does it require one or more joints to sound good? You have to find out. And this must be done in a graduated, process. After the first playback. You graduate to a second joint and playback. Until you get through all variations. That you can remember.

The following day. You will find a mix you can use. To repair. Realize it now sounds great. Bottoboom Boughta Bang, Zippy due DAH Day! Yabaddabadoo and I love you!

Your guitar amplifiers will always sound much better. When you reverse the polarity on the speaker. It is not protruding out toward you from the front. Everyone makes this mistake. Those that have figured it out. Those are the guitar amplifiers that sound great when recorded. Like bigger than life sound. Because they are not sucking away from the microphone diaphragm. Like everybody else's is. The same thing with your hi-fi speakers and your control room monitor speakers. It's a terrible faux pas. I consider it the world's largest Pro Audio Technical FUCK Up of all time! The math nerds got it backwards. They think they are forwards. They are not. People have lost the capacity to cohesively think things through in 3D. And it's a strange regression of most modern human beings. Modern current Homo sapiens. Who get something outstandingly wrong. Believing they are right. Makes me realize. There are 2 different species of Homo sapiens on the planet. Homo sapiens 1.0. Who only can call on their, left or right hemisphere of their brain matter. Which greatly interrupts normal functioning. From that of Homo sapiens 2.0. Like most of us. Who are more evolutionarily advanced. And we gained the ability. To use both hemispheres of our brain matter. That do automatic, error code checking. Against each side. And we arrive at answers. Through logical thought. Homo sapiens 1.0. Do not have that capability nor capacity. They are mentally limited. Due to earlier evolutionary, not yet fully human, DNA.

I definitely know I am onto something here. I'm a retired genius engineer. And not engineering the things I once did. Your mind wants to compensate. And you begin troubleshooting other technological dilemmas. And arrive at answers.

And so while I am neither an official academic scientist nor Dr. I have been one hell of a remarkable, miracle, Engineer. Who's had quite a career. And while I have not always been 100% right. I've also never been wrong. And I approached troubleshooting, much differently from that of, limited, Academics. That have no capacity to think out-of-the-box. At no capacity to actually, think cohesively. And… Well… I get that capability from over 150 IQ. And with MRI photographed severe traumatic brain injury damage. That doesn't look like a living functioning person. And the doctors just look at me shake their heads and shrug their shoulders. And have no idea why I am alive, intelligent and as functional as I have recovered to be. Least of all myself? Except for the possibility?


I can only now assume. That I am so terribly, hideously, brain damaged. The trauma so severe. That I don't know. That I'm supposed to be brain-damaged? I am so terribly brain-damaged. That I'm a real moron. And go about life like nothing's wrong. Ha! That's funny. I am that much of a brain-damaged retardant. I don't know I'm supposed to be a retard? Can somebody instruct me? I mean there's a reason why I only wear flip-flops now. Hot weather. No more worrying about tying my shoes. I don't purchase shoes with laces. Except sneakers. And those you just leave tied in a knot. That won't come out. And you use them like Loafers. Because as you can see. Even black guys that have expensive sneakers. Don't know how to tie their shoes. As it is a very intricate and complex function. When you are upside down and underwater. And not worry your shoes should be. Though I think they do float? And that's like my preservers on your feet. So you couldn't float to the surface. Feetfirst and attach a flotation collar. They will retrieve your head later. That popped off. And fell on the ocean floor again. Not to worry. The cold will help to preserve it and the saltwater will help to, pickle it. So it stays nice and crunchy. When retrieved.

I'm sorry. This post does not include any, Air Sickness Bags.. Please aim for the floor.
RemyRAD

@soberhippie:  1:24 How is it that "woody/tinny" aren't among those?



I'll see myself out

@MusicChannel-rf5zz:  Thanks.Can I use it on a vocal track?

@prospektraks:  The articulation of these videos is spectacular. I've been making, mixing and mastering music for a quarter of a century now, and I still quite enjoy watching these videos.

@Seiskid:  Super helpful tutorial. Simple. Clear. Great examples.

@NaresvaraDas-rv8hp:  Very useful. Any chance of a similar class with voice only?

@AudioMasterclass replies to @NaresvaraDas-rv8hp: I don't see why not, but I tend to make videos on whatever interests me in the moment. If the thought sticks in my mind for a while, then I probably will. DM

@erlonbailey8398:  Thank you, Paul McCartney.

@k.nyerereture6726:  This is useful, but I think it might be great to also explain the different tonal balances by add and cut of dbs. I like though to know where across the hertz each tonal balance can be affected. I imagine it is best to play by ear to know the add and cut of dbs. Could you mate, also suggest the tonal balance by instrument piece?

@RasheedKhan-he6xx:  Absolutely stellar! I'm not an engineer, I'm simply the audience but I've struggled all my life to communicate clearly with other enthusiasts (for example when discussing equipment or rooms). We all know the terms but most apply thrm incorrectly. I'm going to share this video far and wide. I do have a, question though : what do the terms "wet" and "dry" and "fast" or "sluggish" mean?

@IllusionistBeatsOfficial replies to @RasheedKhan-he6xx: Wet and dry refer to the level at which an effect is operating on a sound. The 'wet' signal is the one with the effect applied. The 'dry' signal is the original, unaffected signal. The 'wetness' of the sound is the extent to which the effect is affecting the signal. I have no idea about fast and sluggish

@RasheedKhan-he6xx replies to @RasheedKhan-he6xx: @@IllusionistBeatsOfficial Cheers! I certainly wouldn't have guessed that on my own.

@IllusionistBeatsOfficial replies to @RasheedKhan-he6xx: @@RasheedKhan-he6xx no worries!

@charlesbonkley:  14:12 - I see what you did there.

@paulmertens5522:  Thank you! Straightforward but essential stuff with clear examples!

@veerpaldodave9811:  👍

@billcaruso7050:  Thank you for illustrating the tonal descriptions that people use to describe spectral shapes of sound.
In a recording studio, these descriptions might be useful, but in an auditorium, I don't see the value of these descriptions since multipath fading causes a plethora of frequency nulls and crests throughout the auditorium and since the locations of people affect the frequency response of a room.

Years ago, I built a scalar audio network analyzer using a sinewave generator, a wideband flat amplifier, an oscilloscope, and a wideband microphone. It was controlled by a laptop driving a GPIB bus. The program sweeping frequencies included a calibration sequence to ensure the tones heard by the microphone were adjusted from 10Hz to 20kHz to be flat.

Result: there were dozens of nulls in a typical house room and hundreds in an auditorium! What's more, the entire spectral response changed drastically as people were added to the room and moved around! Also, these spectral responses changed as the microphone was moved, as expected.

Point is, you can never adjust equalization to the satisfaction of 90% of people in a room, and those 10% who are content with the spectral response will change as people move around in the auditorium.

There is therefore no point in trying to be precise with your language describing these sounds. The spectral responses of a large room are too numerous and varied to allow simple descriptions like this. The descriptions only have meaning in small highly dampened rooms of a recording studio and in the subsequent mixing of recording tracks.

I still thank you for giving us some idea what these crazy descriptions look like spectrally and how they might sound. This has been driving me crazy for decades!

@bentzcang1447:  Sound totally no difference from my mobile phone speaker. I guess >80% of listener in this world use mobile phone to listen to Music now a day. 😅

@_b7090:  You're really good at explaining the various topics, bur exposition style sounds too formal and verbose, with that said I love this video, it has helped me realized some important facts about sound that I think will always help me out.

@AudioMasterclass replies to @_b7090: I agree, I'm not so good on camera, but I practise. You will find my more recent videos better I think, and I might come back to this one sometime and remake it. DM

@slaammz9132:  I need to do some more ear training to hear the subtler differences, especially Hollow tones. Thankyou !!

@vietnammg:  3:40 This old man is still living in the 1950.. You can't use the word "fat" It's offensive. It should be something like "plus size".. like "wow that's plus size synth tone", not "fat"

@AudioMasterclass replies to @vietnammg: You can't say 'plus size' anymore, it's 'tailored for comfort'. DM

@williambraddell8052:  I'm only just up to the start of the thin section but am I weird for preferring the flat mix to the fat one? The lowshelving on the fat mix seems to suck the life out of the mix to my ears.

@davelordy:  I'm one of the few people who can produce a mix that is fat, thin, bright, dull, nasal, hollow, boxy and (my speciality) muddy.

@andreashultgren1482:  Probably the best and most useful tutorial I have ever seen since I started music production three years ago. Thank you.

@missumemories8777:  You saved me thank you 😭🙏🏻

@AudioMasterclass replies to @missumemories8777: You're welcome. DM

@fancha831:  exceptional content, thanks

@AudioMasterclass replies to @fancha831: Glad you think so!

@errorsofmodernism7331:  Very good explanation with no frantic arm waving or histrionics

@Lauraraksin77:  Hollow has always been an issue for me to listen for in any sound source. Any tips to really distinguish that particular frequency band?

@AudioMasterclass replies to @Lauraraksin77: Dips in the frequency curve are always harder to hear, and probably therefore less to worry about because your audience is in the same position. I'd say experiment with your EQ on a variety of sound sources, comparing dips at various frequencies against flat.

@musicsound2683:  3:38 Tonal balance: Fat
4:36 Tonal balance: Thin
5:20 Tonal balance: Bright
5:59 Tonal balance: Aggressive
6:49 Tonal balance: Smooth
7:44 Tonal balance: Dark
8:40 Tonal balance: Dull/muffled
9:30 Tonal balance: Air/airy
10:34 Tonal balance: Harsh
11:26 Tonal balance: Nasal/honky
12:21 Tonal balance: Muddy
13:07 Tonal balance: Presence/bite
13:59 Tonal balance: Scooped/smile curve
15:07 Tonal balance: Hollow
15:57 Tonal balance: Boxy
16:52 Summary

@felixpalmersteinhauser6856:  i find hollow the most difficult to identify

@cloud9savagehenry:  Very helpful.

@brianvassallomusic:  Very useful and simply explained . To keep handy. Thanks

@anantwashere:  Thank you so much.

@AudioMasterclass replies to @anantwashere: You're welcome. DM

@Papa33J:  Dude, thank you for this great explanation. I was missing something and I believe I may have it now because of this cool vid.

@steveb9564:  First time visit and this is new to me. Fantastic stuff, understood it all. Jam packed and very well presented. Subbed!

@JamEZmusic86:  Hi, you say (smoother or Darker) can be a good thing, high frequencies are rolled off perhaps for background music with voiceover. But is it common to roll off the frequencies on everything other than a vocal? Especially if the song has no drums, but instead is just an acoustic guitar only arrangement?

I never can tell if the tradeoff is a good thing. You lose the airy acoustic guitar/pick attack at 10k but the vocal takes a huge leap forward and becomes very intelligible and intimate along with a nice warm overal sound.

I actually really liked the low shelf boost at the start of the video (thick or Fat) demonstration. I would guess you lose a ton of headroom but my ear loves warmer mixes, and that boost didn't seem to blow up the low end while listening on my low end heavy speaker.

@AudioMasterclass replies to @JamEZmusic86: It's usual for finished product to have a full-range frequency balance. So if the high frequencies are only in the vocal, that can be OK. But rather than roll off the high frequencies in the instruments, you might try a dip at around 3.5 kHz, lowish Q, just a couple of dB. That will keep the high frequencies in the instruments and at the same time allow the vocal to come through. DM

@JamEZmusic86 replies to @JamEZmusic86: @@AudioMasterclass I really appreciate your response. That is some great advice and it helps me more than you know.

Thank you

@themarcos150591:  I took a 2 year long course with Point Blank Music School and they never showed us anything so helpful. Thanks, sir.

@AudioMasterclass replies to @themarcos150591: Thank you for your comment. I'm pleased to be of help. DM

@dezolatestation:  this videos will be my live changing stuff in 2022,

@lalitojuarez21:  great video

@AudioMasterclass replies to @lalitojuarez21: Glad you enjoyed it. DM

@MalikAmer87:  What a great video thanks 🙏

@AudioMasterclass replies to @MalikAmer87: You're welcome. DM

@Links71:  Nice

@georgemartin1324:  I would have liked to hear tonal balancing individual tracks- if a mix is bad- just adjusting overall mix eq won’t fix it

@AudioMasterclass replies to @georgemartin1324: Yes it would be useful for me to cover EQ on instruments and vocals, however I needed something with the full frequency spectrum to make this demonstration. Regarding a bad mix, yes there's only so much you can do with EQ. I would say that in mixing, the aim should be to get a good overall frequency balance with EQ in the channels. However, it's a rare (good) mix that can't be improved still further with EQ in the master. In fact that's one of the functions of the mastering engineer - to improve the frequency balance and make it compatible with existing commercial releases. DM

@adriancambier7464:  Thank you for this amzing content sir. Really one of the best youtube videos explaining all these commonly used adjective among producers. Now, I can watch my prefered youtube and understand exactly what he means when he uses all of these terms.
Another question if you permit sir: where do sit the terms "boomy" , "hooded" and "tiny" compared to the terms you evoqued in your videos.
I would say "boomy"= fat and "hooded"= smooth and tiny= combination of thin and harsh. Would you agree?

@devinschmid2043:  This reference song makes me want to play a mobile game

@gorespentwell4489:  Paul mcartney dat you ?

@mikul3122:  Legendary video

@RobertMurphy-wm3ge:  Absolutely excellent video. This is the most comprehensive video on this subject I've seen.

@AudioMasterclass replies to @RobertMurphy-wm3ge: Thank you for your comment, which I appreciate. I should say that I didn't invent any of this - these are just terms that are commonly used. But if my explanation works, then that is very pleasing. DM

@jn2400:  1:19 I must have it all wrong cause that sounds so harsh to my ears I'd see that as a resonance frequency, guess I have no idea what I'm doing anymore.

@AudioMasterclass replies to @jn2400: I'm not sure which part of the video you mean because there is no demonstration at 1:19. I will say however that all of these terms are subjective and different people will hear things differently. My demonstration tries to strike an average that most people will agree on, but not everyone will agree and in your own work you should trust your own judgment. DM

@childhoodforever223:  Thank you so very much Sir.

@AudioMasterclass replies to @childhoodforever223: You're welcome. DM

@nebstaism:  its amazing how dull the mix sounds after boosting the highs like that

@Vikotnick:  Can I just say that the original audio has quite a low cut so if some people with more experience listens, keep that in mind.

@MounsieurCriard:  Thank you so much, it helped me a lot

@AudioMasterclass replies to @MounsieurCriard: You're welcome. DM

@jean-baptistegrenouille1611:  Excellent video, thank of you from Cali Colombia.

@AudioMasterclass replies to @jean-baptistegrenouille1611: You're welcome. DM

@Bakemono1CC:  interesting, coming from there, if you have time to lose (? and think it could be fun) search the video "B&W PI7, KEF Mu3, Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro... best TWS true wireless earbuds?" and try to qualify the buds tonality starting at 7mn40s (it's just an idea by the way, not a request ;-))

@BloodSavedMe:  The best video about EQ on YouTube

@vincentvandeperre1670:  it seems like i cant hear the diffrence on the hollow part :/ are my ears fucked ?

@BukanIbuMu replies to @vincentvandeperre1670: Yep

@SouthYarraMan:  As ever, the words of David Mellor are very informative and accurately focused. Excellent graphics.

@iandean9392:  Frequency balance - a limited view, surely

@AudioMasterclass replies to @iandean9392: Thank you for your comment. I didn't invent the term 'tonal balance' and I'd say that whatever tone is, it depends on a lot of things, down to the thickness of a guitarist's plectrum and how worn it is. However it does seem to be commonly used to mean frequency balance, such as in Izotope's Tonal Balance Control plug-in, so that's where I am with this in this video. DM

@TeaDrinker3000:  This is the best video I've ever seen on the subject matter. Thank you so much for your work!

@AudioMasterclass replies to @TeaDrinker3000: Thank you. DM

@peekpen:  Got a specific 'boxy' tone I want for a guitar effect on my synth + vox genre-type tune. Didn't know you existed or even spoke my language. I'm still teachable. Hurray!

@raphaelmpiperno:  Thank you so much!

@AudioMasterclass replies to @raphaelmpiperno: You're welcome. DM

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Thursday March 10, 2022

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David Mellor

David Mellor

David Mellor is CEO and Course Director of Audio Masterclass. David has designed courses in audio education and training since 1986 and is the publisher and principal writer of Adventures In Audio.

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