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Are these good EQ guidelines?
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Lie Mf B
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25th July 2013
Old 25th July 2013
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Question Are these good EQ guidelines?

There's a nice guide called EQ By the Octave at the Recording Institute of Detroit which tells about how to use EQ filters on different instruments. I found it very useful, so I wrote a summary of its contents for quicker reference -- see below. I'm not an expert, however, and I would love to hear from you, if you're an experienced mixing engineer, what you think about these tips. Anything that seems wrong or could be done better? Anything to add? Thanks in advance!


EQ BY THE OCTAVE
Short tips based on EQ BY THE OCTAVE

By Frequency
------------
"First octave" (40-80 Hz)
Barely audible, mostly in large/good stereo systems
Most common in dance and hiphop music
Can be cut entirely
Below 40 Hz can be cut entirely to avoid unwanted boomy noise

Bass range (80-250 Hz)
Often centered around 100 and 200 Hz
Can give body and fullness to guitar and bass
Can also make guitar and bass boomy
Reduce around 100 Hz on guitar to make bass clearer
If 100 Hz is reduced, 200 Hz can be raised to make the sound less lumpy or uneven

Bass presence / lower midrange (250-500 Hz)
Often centered around 300 and 400 Hz
Can give clarity to bass instruments
Can make higher ranged instruments muddy and bassdrums "boxy"
Increase on bass guitar and lower on kick drum to separate
Is often lowered on overhead mikes and cymbals to give more presence
Is often lowered on bassdrums to reduce "boxiness"

Midrange (500-2000 Hz)
Often centered around 800-1500 Hz
Often reduced on midrange instruments like guitar, piano and vocals
Increase on 500-1000 Hz to get a horn-like quality
1000-2000 Hz can make the sound tinny
Increase 800 Hz for more presence and 1500 Hz for more attack on bass guitar
Increase around 1500 Hz for more attack on the lower pitches of a rhythm guitar
Lower around 500-800 Hz on an acoustic guitar to make it sound less cheap and more "silvery"
Lower around 800 Hz on vocals to make them less nasal and get more body
Lower around 800 Hz on a snare to remove tinny, cheap sound and get more sizzle

Upper midrange (2.5-4 Hz)
Centers somewhat around 3 kHz
On the bassdrum, boosting 2.5 kHz or 4 kHz increases the attack
2.5 kHz sounds more like a felt beater (bassdrum) and 4 kHz sounds more like a hard-wood beater
Increase to increase attack or "hit" sound on toms and snare drums
Boost for more attack and distinction on lead guitar
A small boost (1-3 dB) for the vocal will increase projection
Adding too much makes it hard to distinguish the syllables of the vocal and can cause listening fatigue
Often reduced on background vocal for a more "airy" and "transparent" sound

Presence range (4-6 kHz)
Centers around 5 kHz
Makes most vocals and melody instruments sound closer and more distinct
Over-boosting causes a irritating and harsh sound

Treble range (6-20 kHz)
Centers around 7, 10 and 15 kHz
Lower 7 kHz to reduce vocal "S" sounds, but becareful not to make vocals sound dull
Increase 7 kHz to boost "metallic attack" sound of drums
Increase 15 kHz for more "sizzle" on cymbals
10 kHz and above is often used as a general "brilliance" frequency band


By Instrument
--------------
Bass guitar
Increase 100 or 200 Hz for more body and fullness
If 100 Hz is reduced, 200 Hz can be increased to make it sound less "lumpy" and uneven
Reduce around 100-200 Hz for less boom
Increase 300-400 Hz for more clarity
Increase 800 Hz for more presence
Increase 1500 Hz for more attack

Guitars
Lowest fundamental frequency is around 80 Hz
Reduce around 100 Hz to give the bass guitar clarity
Increase on 500-1000 Hz to get a horn-like quality
Increase around 1500 Hz for more attack on the lower pitches of a rhythm guitar
Increase 2.5-4 kHz (upper mid) for more attack and distinction on lead guitar
Increase 4-6 kHz (presence) to make instrument more close and distinct
Lower around 500-800 Hz on an acoustic guitar to make it sound less cheap and more "silvery"

Drums
Reduce 250-500 Hz (bass presence) on overhead and cymbals for more clarity and presence
Reduce 250-500 Hz on bassdrum to make it less boxy
Reduce 250-500 Hz on bassdrum and increase it on the bass guitar to increase separation
Reduce around 800 Hz on a snare to remove tinny, cheap sound and get more sizzle
On the bassdrum, boosting 2.5 kHz or 4 kHz increases the attack
2.5 kHz sounds more like a felt beater (bassdrum) and 4 kHz sounds more like a hard-wood beater
Increase 2.5-4 kHz (upper midrange) to increase attack or "hit" sound on toms and snare drums
Increase 7 kHz to boost "metallic attack" sound
Increase 15 kHz for more "sizzle" on cymbals

Piano and Organ
Increase 250-500 Hz to get more clarity in lower range
Increase 4-6 kHz (presence) to make instrument more close and distinct

Vocals
Increase 200 Hz for more fullness, or lower it for more distinction
If a treble boost make vocals thin or small, increasing 200 Hz can restore fullness
250-350 Hz can be increased for more distinction and fullness, especially on female voices
Lower around 800 Hz to make vocals less nasal and give the more body
A small boost (1-3 dB) on 2.5-4 kHz (upper mids) will increase projection
Adding too much upper mids (2.5-4 kHz) makes it hard to distinguish the syllables and can cause listening fatigue
Reduce 2.5-4 kHz (upper mids) on background vocal for a more "airy" and "transparent" sound
Lower around 7 kHz to reduce vocal "S" sounds, but becareful not to make vocals sound dull
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25th July 2013
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Its good.
But remember the less you have to eq the better, I think panning etc solves alot of problems.
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And mic choice, placement, and room treatment solve even more.
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This might be useful as far as suggesting specific frequencies to start with approaching EQ, but don't assume that these are indeed the important frequencies. For example when approaching acoustic guitar you need to consider whether it's on a steel-stringed, 12-stringed, resonator, acoustic classical nylon-stringed, Ovation, or flamenco, played with fingernails, fingertips, picks or ebows – and what role the guitar track has in the context of the song. What part of the guitar's range is the player playing in? If they're playing melodies on the high E string around the 12th fret it's pretty different than if there is a lot of open E chord playing. What I'd do for flamenco guitar that's supposed to be foregrounded in a mix would be very different than what I'd do for an acoustic rhythm guitar part that's buried in a mix. I don't low cut featured instruments nearly to the extent I do ones that are more background in the mix, as you lose impact.

It's a good guide to help you get started finding initial frequencies to play around with, but you need to spend the time getting used to sweeping frequencies to find out precisely where the boom, presence, etc is in any part.

Also - the specified frequencies in the vocals section are almost wholly inaccurate - and again, are you faced with a soprano, alto, contralto, tenor, baritone, or bass?
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26th July 2013
Old 26th July 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oudplayer View Post
I don't low cut featured instruments nearly to the extent I do ones that are more background in the mix, as you lose impact.
What you have said is true.
Except some time sometimes low cutting non-featured instruments makes then stick out even more.
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Old 26th July 2013
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Thanks for your replies!
Yeah, I'm definitely using my ears all the time and trying to come up with what's best for my own mixes. As a beginner it's sometimes difficult not to read too much into guides like these, so thanks for the reminder.

Quote:
Originally Posted by oudplayer View Post
Also - the specified frequencies in the vocals section are almost wholly inaccurate - and again, are you faced with a soprano, alto, contralto, tenor, baritone, or bass?
I don't know if it makes sense to try to come up with starting points for vocals in general, but do you have any frequencies/guidelines for vocals to add?

Remember, the "By instrument" part of these guidelines are written by me from the guide at the website. I might have been to quick to translate stuff from octave-oriented tips into instrument-oriented ones.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lie Mf B View Post
Thanks for your replies!
Yeah, I'm definitely using my ears all the time and trying to come up with what's best for my own mixes. As a beginner it's sometimes difficult not to read too much into guides like these, so thanks for the reminder.

I don't know if it makes sense to try to come up with starting points for vocals in general, but do you have any frequencies/guidelines for vocals to add?

Remember, the "By instrument" part of these guidelines are written by me from the guide at the website. I might have been to quick to translate stuff from octave-oriented tips into instrument-oriented ones.
For vocals (well for a lot of instruments but especially vocals), I use an EQ with a spectral analyzer built-in to find out where the fundamental frequencies of the specific vocal part are. If the lowest pitch has a fundamental of 400hz (higher female vox, for example), boosting 200 might not increase the fullness of the track in the way you hope! If it's a baritone or bass male singer and they recorded with a mic with a lot of proximity effect, I will use the spectrum analyzer along with my ears to hear whether or not the interaction of voice and mic produced too much or too little boom/bloom, especially in the 150-200hz range. Also, the 3rd-5th partials can be very important as they help with the clarity of vowels, that's the 1.5k-3k zone, but you may find you need to boost in part of that band and cut in other parts - find the "sweet spot."

Consonants are a very much overlooked part of vocal sound and incredibly important in certain languages. I don't have a chart handy but search around the linguistics and psychoacoustic websites to find charts of the key energy range for plosives, nasals, fricatives, etc. You might need a lot more "h" and "ch" but less "sss" and "sh" in a track. A lot of that is dependent upon the mic technique of the singer; if they know how to sing to a studio mic, much less mucking about will be needed. Consonants don't tend to change as much from singer to singer, but are gender-specific.
I'd split out vocals into high/low female vox, high/low male vox, and add a 5th entry for background vocals, as there are sometimes different strategies you use when you specifically don't want a particular vocal to "pop" in a mix.

hope this helps...
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I know this link has been put up here before, but it bears posting again. All you need is ears and a monitoring system you can trust.

Why do your recordings sound like ass? - Cockos Confederated Forums

There are no perfect set guidelines for equalization as EVERY situation is different. Read through these threads and you'll learn a lot.
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I think you have too much... There's no real rules to mixing and those are rules.. Maybe lil tips but that's too much to be just tips lol
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I appreciated the guide...
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I'll propose a few for ya.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lie Mf B View Post
By Frequency
------------
"First octave" (40-80 Hz)
Barely audible, mostly in large/good stereo systems
.. Can be cut entirely
Below 40 Hz can be cut entirely to avoid unwanted boomy noise
Shure plenty of systems start rolling off', but 'barely audible'? And blanket cuts? Low E on the bass guitar is 44. Add a 'sub range, below 20-30 maybe?

Quote:
Reduce around 100 Hz on guitar to make bass clearer
If 100 Hz is reduced, 200 Hz can be raised to make the sound less lumpy or uneven
Quote:
By Instrument
--------------
Bass guitar
Increase 100 or 200 Hz for more body and fullness
If 100 Hz is reduced, 200 Hz can be increased to make it sound less "lumpy" and uneven
I feel as if it should be cautioned ('noted in the hierarchy) not to place things like these, 'complimentary eq' in general, ahead of 'listening, combing tracks in different ways, and then following where their tone contours actually lead.
For example ".. Increase on bass guitar and lower on kick drum to separate.." again IF that's how the tones direct it. It presumes a lot to imply track contours actually fit these approaches.

Quote:
Vocals
.. If a treble boost make vocals thin or small, increasing 200 Hz can restore fullness.. "
Or look at other things in the mix, and/or in the vocal itself.
Perhaps in reducing 'fullness or weight' elsewhere it would turn out the top end was fine - or closer to it, not to mention the level and freq needed could then shift on you.
Actually this is the kind of thing that could be included as a 'thought process in general to preclude or at least coincide with the other methods tips.
Perhaps a note' that track eq, a lot of the mix process can be sort of a circular path; The bigger obvious stuff first, revisiting and fine tuning'.
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