VST's are sounding "muddy"

Compared to professional electronic artists, my tracks lack a certain “cleanliness” about them. In professional tracks the instruments seem to be more separated while also working with each other. I am using default vst’s, and the Halion 4 vst since I am beginning to learn the software. Do I add eq? filter? any tips on how to make electronic tracks “cleaner”? Drums and heavy bass lines seem to lack a certain “punch”

Yess, it is usually so… Your 100th song will sound better.

Take a look here … http://therecordingrevolution.com

A lot of very helpful tips and guides for mixing.



The modern cubase user?

[quote=“Brian155039”]Compared to professional electronic artists, my tracks lack a certain “cleanliness” about them. quote]

Its called mixing! Takes years to “master”.
Here you can get more advance tips… :wink:


Best Regards


Freddie and I actually agree on something!!!

:open_mouth: :open_mouth: :open_mouth:

I’d like to add to that - most professional electronic artists are mixing their stuff (well, techinically the engineer is) through gear you don’t have. It’s not all about the gear - but good gear can make a difference if you know what you are doing. Then, most - if not all - of these tracks go to a pro mastering house, and get treated (or “cleaned”) even more, while again running the tracks through gear you don’t have. That mastering process helps make even more of a difference. That’s not to say that a hobbyist - or someone just starting out can’t get a good “clean” mix in their nome studio, but as my good friend Freddie alluded to, you have to learn how to mix. It’s not the VSTs that are sounding “muddy” here…


Mixing!!! I just thought my guitar tracks were supposed to step all over the snare and vocals… EQ? EQ’s are for car stereos! Sorry, I’m currently going through a self-loating process when it comes to mixing and I’m 10 years in with a few decent sized albums under my belt. A high-pass filter is your best friend!

Hi there,

I’m definitely audio’d out for the day, so I’m happy to chill out and see if I can provide some useful links or advice for you (hopefully)! As others have mentioned above, it really is all about mixing/mastering really which is essentially a continual learning cycle (which you’ve already clearly begun as you are not satisfied with what you hear) - that’s a great start! :wink:

As such your VST’s will indeed begin to sound better as you start to consider the varying ways in which the individual sounds they generate coalesce (by learning to modify them individually so that they each have space to breath)!

When you first start playing around with layering different sounds there is a tendency to just add things together and only concentrate primarily on volume/pan to separate them. Further it is really easy to be overly enthusiastic with FX such as adding copious quantities of reverb to everything - which is a sure way to muddy a mix - beware!!!).

A really useful way to consider mixing sounds is to be ‘frequency conscious’ (this will help you avoid muddy mixes)!

As an example (if you were into electronica) :sunglasses: and the VST sounds you were using occupied very different frequency ranges (i.e. a deep bass sound, a mellow mid range range pad, and a high frequency trance like arpeggio) they would naturally each have there own frequency space (to breath) so they are unlikely to step on each others toes (that is drown each other out or fight for attention) so there is a natural equilibrium or balance from the outset.

If however you have a bunch of sounds that cross over within the frequency range (i.e. a synth lead sound might still have a lot of bass energy which would then contribute to muddying both an actual ‘bass sound’ and a corresponding ‘bass drum’ beneath that also etc). So for example using EQ (like you mentioned) or a synth’s filters, you could control each VST’s frequency ranges so there is less spill to improve their clarity.

Naturally there are many different ways to improve the clarity of individual VST sounds (such as using popular dynamics processing like compression/side chaining etc). However I just wanted to provide you with a simple example that you could immediately begin to experiment with and gain appreciable results - so I hope that was clear!

A nice example of this ‘frequency conscious’ approach to mixing sounds is provided below (a wall chart featuring the frequency ranges of different instruments) just click on the picture link. This is taken from a book by Professor Bob Katz (mastering audio) and there is also a really nice simple video illustrating the concept above (he removes a ‘hot’ bass sound which is muddying a mix) - some food for thought to wet your appetite!


However as others have mentioned above you will learn much from reading online articles (such as exploring the ‘Sound on Sound’ archives - literally years of amazing articles full of quality information/tips etc) or a good quality general book on mixing.


Regarding SOS there is an awesome book on general mixing for project studios by Mike Senior (one of their reviewers) which I highly recommend (it will introduce you to pretty much everything you need to know and is very accessible) seriously consider getting your paws on this - you will find it VERY helpful!


OK, I’ve hogged this thread enough (and likely bored you and everyone else to death in the process) but I hope that was of some use to you at least - I enjoyed muttering nonsense anyway :laughing: good luck with your mixing experiments!


Kat :slight_smile:

WOW Kat,that is a great answer!

I wish I had such advice to start with or the internet. - shows how old I am - no internet in my day!information is king and mags/forums/internet are extremely useful -even in topics I found boring and probably will never use were useful, just to understand and keep up with jargon! turned out to be a good move, now I can speak muso speak!

the only thing I would add is that you shouldnt try - is to be jack of all trades, you really need additional pair of ears. or you will be going over the same loop forever and ever without noticing any anomilies until you hear the mastered version!

Thanks tex,

I find it therapeutic writing, but I’m terrible for babbling :laughing: (I could talk the hind legs of a mule) I totally agree with your comments though, I love reading too and try to absorb everything I can get my paws on (books , magazines, online articles - its all good)! I must say though that ‘Sound on Sound’ for me has always been an amazing source for quality info, I’ve got a lot of respect for Paul White and his team, the only problem is that all the lush technology makes my bank account scream/whimper every time I read it ha ha :laughing:

I think the internet is astounding as a source of information what with wonderful things like tutorials on you-tube by talented producers/musicians, an endless stream of info - and lots of choice and sources of information is good, as there is something to suit any individuals learning needs!

However its a really good point about the additional ears as well, based on which I would also add not to forget about the ‘Made By Cubase’ part of the forum which is an absolutely awesome way to get peer review/feedback from passionate musicians and producers which span the world - is it me or does this forum just rock! :sunglasses:


Kat :slight_smile:

Forum rocks!!
Sound On Sound is a timeless mag! Paul White has kept me going, I still refer to back issues for advice n techniques. then look for cash to spend! :laughing:

ye Kat bank balance does take a beating!