The Misery Zone

The misery zone, what is it, why is it important. If you read my blog on competing frequencies you will see all primary notes or frequencies, also produce harmonics and resolving tones. If you look at that A 440 note, you hit on a guitar through a spectrum analyzer you will see it runs up and down the frequency spectrum. As with the A 440, all notes extend well past their primary frequency both above and below it. 

The misery zone is the one spot in the frequency spectrum that all instruments have representation in the mix. This is true for both live music and in the recording studio. It is between 180Hz and 400Hz. Because every note has some representation in this frequency range, and competing frequencies can cause masking, phase cancellation you can end up with mud and loss of bass response. It takes special care to insure these issues are handled in a way that minimizes there impact on the clarity and punch of the music. 

Live performance vs. in the studio. It is much harder to deal with this playing live but speaker placement, line processing, and levels are things that can help with this problem. Also having an arrangement that eliminates similar instruments from producing the same note or frequency will help. 

In addition to the fixes mentioned above filters can really help. High pass, bell, and shelving applied properly can go a long way cleaning up this misery zone. 

Understanding how frequencies interact is one thing every good engineer understands. It takes many hours of ear training and knowledge to understand it and lots of experience with the tools used to correct these issues. 

Understanding filters and the different types of equalization is necessary and well worth the time spend studying them. In depth, knowledge of the tools used is also critical. When selecting an engineer question his knowledge of the misery zone and the tools used to deal with it. Any knowledgeable recording or live sound engineer should be prepared to answer your questions. 

If your serious about you music and career and can’t afford a Record Producer or a professional Sound Engineer a little time spend understanding some of the critical areas that can make or break you work. It will separate you from the pack.