April 26, 2016

High-pass vs. Low-pass Filters

Electronic filters are often used to remove parts or emphasize them so that they can be heard better. These filters are often used by audio specialists who mix music or edit the recordings of artists. Those who work in the biz will know that there are two types of filters – the high-pass filter and the low-pass filter. Immediately, we would probably ask ourselves what the difference between the two are and which one is better. Before we answer that, let’s first get to know what these filters are.

High-Pass Filters

The High-Pass filter is the type of electronic filter that allows high frequency waves that are above a certain boundary or a cutoff frequency to pass through. This in turn, would reduce the low frequencies and also prevent them from passing. Other names for high-pass filters would be low-cut filters or bass filters as they would often filter the bass part of a sound.

Low-Pass Filters

The other type of filter is known as the Low-Pass filter. This electronic filter, on the other hand, is the opposite of the high-pass filter which allows frequency that is below the cutoff frequency to pass through. This, in turn, will let the filter reduce the high frequencies that are above the cutoff frequency. Other names for this low-pass filter are treble filters or high-cut filters.

The Uses of an HPF (High-Pass Filters)

As stated above, the HPF is used to turn the treble up and reduce the bass (hence its other name, the bass filter). Now, the thing about the bass sounds that stay in the lower frequency area is that they often give a very deep sound which can sometimes be quite heavy to listeners (unless you like heavy metal sounds).

Many DJs would use HPFs to lessen the bass sounds in their songs so that the song will sound lighter on the ears. HPFs are useful for songs wherein the vocalist is a tenor (singers like Michael Jack or Steve Perry) because a tenor’s voice doesn’t really sound good with bass elements like the kick drum or bass guitar. An HPF is usually good for making lighter songs that will not put too much emphasis on the “strong” sounds that the bass produces.

high pass filter

Source: http://prince.org/msg/8/383721

The Uses of an LPF (Low-Pass Filter)

The LPF is the total opposite of the HPF wherein the LPF will try to reduce the higher frequency sounds or the treble sounds and try to increase the bass sounds or the lower frequency sounds. When creating electronic or rock music, the bass is very important because it makes the song heavier. If you cut the bass from the song, then it won’t give out a “strong” feel that makes listeners want to dance or headbang.

LPFs are also good at neutralizing the distortion sounds that come from an electric guitar (distorted guitars can give off a screeching noise if the treble is way too high) by adding a little bit of bass. If you are the type of audio specialist that likes to make a song sound “strong” and “heavy”, then the LPF is good for you. You can emphasize the sound of the bass to get that heaviness you want.

low pass filter 2

Source: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news

Which One is Better?

I wouldn’t really say that one type of electronic filter is better than the other. By reading the differences above, you can see that each of them have their own respective features and benefits. The filter that you would use would really depend on the kind of song that you want to produce and on your own style of music mixing. If you want a lighter song, use an HPF to reduce the bass. If you want a heavier song, use an LPF to reduce the treble. You can even use both of them together if you want! You can make one part of the song lighter and then turn things up a bit by making the bass louder a minute later. A lot of DJs do that when playing music in the club. In the end, the choice is up to you. Choose the electronic filter that will suit your desired output.

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