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Chapter 3: Low-end Damage Limitation

AUDIO FILES (To download all WAV examples at once: 59MB ZIP)

  • LFSineTones: (Ex03.01:WAV/MP3 bp) Do not play this at high volumes or you may damage your speakers! This file contains a chromatic scale of sinewave tones spanning 24Hz-262Hz. In conjunction with the Table 1.1 in Section 1.4, you can use it to work out the resonant frequency of a speaker's port.

  • ConeFlapper files: ConeFlapperOut (Ex03.02:WAV/MP3 bp) is a section of R&B-style backing track with well-controlled low end. Now compare it with ConeFlapperIn (Ex03.03:WAV/MP3 bp). Do not play this at high volumes or you may damage your speakers! In the latter version a strong subsonic element in the kick drum eats up around 3dB of extra headroom in return for negligible audible change.

  • Kick-drum Low-end Lag: Here are two examples of kick drums with sluggish low frequencies. The first (Ex03.04:WAV/MP3 bp) is more obvious, the second (Ex03.05:WAV/MP3 bp) more subtle. Compare these with the following versions, which have been processed to reduce the lag: first (Ex03.06:WAV/MP3 bp) and second (Ex03.07:WAV/MP3 bp). For more information on the processing used, check out these two Mix Rescues: article 1, article 2.

  • Restricting Low-end Contributions: A good example of the 'simplify the problem, simplify the solution' tactic mentioned in Section 3.5 can be heard in this Mix Rescue. Here the three main electric-guitar layers (Ex03.08:WAV/MP3 bp; Ex03.09:WAV/MP3 bp; Ex03.10:WAV/MP3 bp) were all high-pass filtered to make way for the bass guitar (Ex03.11:WAV/MP3 bp), which itself was high-pass filtered to leave the bottom octaves for a sub-bass synth part (Ex03.12:WAV/MP3 bp). By combining all these elements (Ex03.13:WAV/MP3 bp), you get an ensemble sound which still provides plenty of low end, but in a way that allows you more easily to work around low-frequency monitoring problems in your listening environment.


  • Affordable Spectrum-analysis & Level-metering Plug-ins: Voxengo’s freeware SPANMac LogoWindows Logo and Melda's freeware MAnalyzerMac LogoWindows Logo are very good for spectrum analysis, although I personally use Stillwell Audio’s affordable SchopeMac LogoWindows Logo most of the time. For fully-featured full-band level metering, check out Sonalksis FreeGMac LogoWindows Logo and Tischmeyer Technology's freeware TT Dynamic Range MeterMac LogoWindows Logo. There's also LSR's freeware LVLMeterMac LogoWindows Logo and Sleepy-Time DSP's freeware Stereo ChannelWindows Logo which both provide nice stereo moving-coil displays for those who like the way that type of meter responds.


  • Audio Metering: If you'd like to know more about the mechanics of using audio metering, check out this nice little FAQ.

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