Is EQ evil
Old 22nd January 2004
  #1
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Thread Starter
Is EQ evil

Back when I first started recording I picked up what I think might have been some bad habits. One of my friends told me that some of the engineers he had worked with took every instrument and gave it it`s own frequencie space and boosted/cut to give it it`s own space in the mix.
I started doing a lot of this along with cutting almost everything in the low freq range to leave a lot of room for kick and bass.
I got pretty good at finding the little area where an instrument seemed to shine and boosting that area or cutting around that area.

It seems to work O.K. for me but I`ve been reading around here for the past couple of years that some engineers use very little and only if really necessary. Usually with these people micing something correctly in the first place is favored. (as it should be anyway)

I`m starting to think this may be the way to go but I have a hard time letting go of the low cut idea.
Should I just go with setting the original instrument sound so it doesn`t conflict with the lows before it hits the mic ?

Also what exactly are the phase issues with too much eq.
I always assosciated phase with timing problems such as you have with different drum mics at different distances.
How does it apply to EQ.

Sorry if these sound like silly questions but I`m very self taught and I`m still finding better ways of doing things.

Thanks.

Kevin
Old 22nd January 2004
  #2
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faeflora's Avatar
 

Just do whatever sounds good man. Cut, boost, change levels, pan, compress, mix in FX, do whatever you do to make it sound good.

That's my approach.
Old 22nd January 2004
  #3
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NathanEldred's Avatar
EQ is not evil, it is just a way to get where you want things to go when they aren't right. But you are right in thinking to get it as close as possible from the source before it even hits the mic. Then the right placement, mic/pre/adc choice can go a long way towards eliminating or greatly lowering the use of EQ.
Old 22nd January 2004
  #4
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Bob Olhsson's Avatar
I think part of the story is that analog tape always seemed to shave off around half of the eq. I used. The settings I used to use almost always sound way over the top in a digital recording.

As for need, it depends on what mikes you use, if you are tracking more than one performer in the same room and how far away the mike is. In a "real" isolated studio, I used to use much more distant miking than is possible without getting muddy in most project rooms. It comes down to using your ears and staying away from formulas.
Old 22nd January 2004
  #5
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Cutting sounds natural - boosting sounds phasey and unnatural - to me.

If you clean up the mud and other problem freq, boosting HF shouldn't be all that necessary - works for me anyway.
Old 22nd January 2004
  #6
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faeflora's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by bassmac
Cutting sounds natural - boosting sounds phasey and unnatural - to me.
word.


most of the time
Old 22nd January 2004
  #7
CV7
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My Massive Passive is EVIL GOOD!!!
Old 22nd January 2004
  #8
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I eq a fair amount. The drums get most of the eq, usually consisting of cutting low mids and boosting upper mids for punch. Maybe the kick snare and toms will get a boost of +3 to +6. If I use the U47 on vocals, it might need about +2 at 12k for some air and I'll filter out sub lows. The bass may need a bit of mid cut and some extra grind in the 2k area. Overheads I filter to about 400Hz and may add a tiny bit of cymbal sheen at 12k. Backup vocals I'll carve out whatever sounds right when I monitor them with the lead vocal.

I try to use analog eqs as much as possible. Software eqs make things sound flatter and tend to put a veil on the sound. Especially boosting upper mids with most any software eq (even the Oxford) makes things sound TINY to me. I'd take even the Allen and Heath Mixwizard eq over any software eq any day.
Steve
my tunes:
http://www.blacklinerock.com/music/R...NEROCK.COM.mp3
http://www.blacklinerock.com/music/K...NEROCK.COM.mp3
Old 22nd January 2004
  #9
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Kenny Gioia's Avatar
 

What you are doing is what I refer to as "Carving Out Mixing". If done well there is definitely a place for it. In a dense mix, it is quite useful and neccessary. If AE's are saying they don't use this technique in a very busy production, than they are lying.

The thing I don't like is when mixers carve out sounds in a very open or sparse production. For Example, The Wallflowers first CD has a snare drum sound that is clearly made for a busier mix. It's really compressed and thin and would totally stand up in a dense production. But it's not needed here.

Sparse arrangements should have big fluffy sounds that take up the full EQ spectrum. Mostly because it's available. Listen to some Aimee Mann records.

My wife and I were listening to a Van Morrison CD (Moondance) the other day and she inquired why I don't make my drums sound more like his. Very 70's sounding, almost recorded with one or two mikes. I basically explained that with the music I do (pop/rock) that you wouldn't hear those drums in my mixes.

My advice to you:

Definitely don't solo each track and start carving before you consider the entire production. There is no correct EQ for each instrument in every song.

How many times have we mixed a bands three song demo and been so excited when you get to song 2, because the board is already set up from song 1 and all the tracks were recorded exactly the same way. Only to realize that it's not that easy. You still need to rebalance and change some EQ.

Start off by not carving things out at all. Record sounds as naturally as possible while considering the style of music you are recording. Eq, but subtle amounts.

See how good you can make a mix with little to no carving. And then slowly carve as needed. When it sounds like you can hear most instruments cleary (they don't all have to be in your face) and the balance feels right, you are done.

My theory is that the more you carve, the more modern it sounds. But it also loses a bit of timelessness. Some mush is a good thing. It's like a grilled cheese sandwich. You don't want to taste the cheese seperate from the bread. You want them to become one.



Peace
Old 22nd January 2004
  #10
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is eq evil ??????????
not at all - although some engineers could easily be referred to as evil maybe.
forget what others say you should do and shouldn't do. carving out a mix so its magical IS the art form if it brings forward the musicality. thinking about any sort of dos and donts will only comprimise your work , and you will sound bland like all the other engineers who say " hey if i have to add more than 2 db of any frequency , i'll change the mic ". please know that that is bull. do your own thing , and for what it is worth , people have looked at the settings on my desk and said that it looked really wrong and that i was manipulating the sounds too much - that it was not proper engineering. then they say they cant understand why it sound so good. because there is musical and not musical extreme settings. if the sound is great i wont change a thing , although that is very rare. to me , its all a cartoon. a great drum sound today sounds like a completely natural drum sound , and at the same time sound nothing like a real drum sound at all , if you know what i mean. as far as cutting all the bottom out of everything in a mix except the bd and bass - you mean like andy wallace?????? you are doing the right thing - keep on your own path. MVHO
s
Old 22nd January 2004
  #11
Gear Head
 

EQ

I agree with Stealthbalance - keep doing your own thing. One thing you will find generally though is that the higher quality the eq the less phasing you will hear. Certain eq's such as the EMI's which are outrageously expensive sound great - the more you cut or boost the better it sounds. Others sound like shit immediately just by being introduced into the chain, whether they are engaged or not. The key is "Listen" and do what sounds right to you. If you think about it, some great records have been made on crap gear and some crap records have been made on great gear - beat up the players on the tracking session and make the song feel right. Once a performance is magical the recording medium becomes less relevant. However, the perfect situation is recording a magical performance on great gear and having 1+1 equal 3. There is you multi-platinum!
Old 22nd January 2004
  #12
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chrisjin's Avatar
 

I would say EQ is both good and evil....I think a lot of it depends on the style of music and what you want to go for....

Using lots of equalization results in a more tweaked sound vs. minimal eq generally results in a more natural sound...with the passive stuff you can eq without getting tweaky...sometimes you want tweaky...I read this interview with Rupert Neve where he said that he actually regarded all the neve modules that everyone loves the most as "effects units"...

sometimes you want or need things more tweaked out..with the right color and phase shift added it can be exciting...with nu-metal for example...it makes it sound wild and evil....it would be too dull without any tweak...in that case the minimal approach with EQ would be to tame....

on the other hand, sometimes that does not fit the music..you may want to use more tube stuff too... too much eq would sound too slick for the artist...

This is one of the things (of about a thousand) that I admire about Andy Wallace...I remember first noticing it between Nirvana's Nevermind and Sonic Youth's Dirty...Also more recent examples could be Linkin Park and Rage Against the Machine...He is very conscious of the aesthetic of the band and goes for the blend he thinks is approriate...I can't think of any other mixer that really has the command of this that he has...

(my original post was slightly insane, so I had to edit it...I haven't slept in a couple of dats...)
Old 22nd January 2004
  #13
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
Something I've never forgotten was the answer Armin Steiner gave me when I asked him about what he thought of the new parametric equalizers.

He said that he didn't think much of the idea because of the demands that much control put on monitoring. To him there were favorable and unfavorable combinations of console equalizers and monitors. He liked Neves with Altec 604s but absolutely not with JBLs. He also liked Auratones with JBLs but not with 604s. To him, it was all about the RESULTS of making a particular combination monitors sound good using a particular equalizer within certain limits. I've often wondered if there wasn't also somewhat of this sort of thing going on with NS-10s and SSLs.

I was taught to use "cut" eq. the very first time I was shown how to patch in and use a graphic equalizer in 1965. I think a lot of why it works so well is that it avoids the risk of filling in the holes in the response of a particular set of monitors.

I think the quality and accuracy of monitors becomes a very big deal as you increase the flexibility of eq or you try to use "boost" eq. beyond 3 or 4 dB.
Old 22nd January 2004
  #14
eq isn't evil, just be careful. If your working with dense productions it's pretty much unavoidable. It's one of the reasons why I'm big on not printing w eq.
Since I know there is a high probability that I'll eq in the mix. I'll always try to get the sound w mic choice and placement and help from the player. If I can't, then I'll eq. Also its better to eq without soloing, try to hear what your doing in prospective in the track.
Old 22nd January 2004
  #15
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Jason Poulin's Avatar
 

Cut if you want it to sound better

Boost if you want it to sound different









Jason
Old 23rd January 2004
  #16
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kevinc's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Thanks a lot for all the great posts guys.
I really am starting to gain a little more insight on why I`m doing some of the things I`m doing and other things I should be trying also.

I think one reason I`m starting to question my apparent overuse of eq is when I chack back in on a mix I did the day before.
I tend to listen to the same song over and over again while I`m playing around with things until I get it as perfect as I can get it.
Then when I get back to it a day or two later I`m always kind of shocked at how much I overdid things especially in the higher end freqs.
I suppose when your ears get tired that`s the first thing to go.


I am trying to do more cutting than adding these days but it feels so much more natural to add still. (except the low cut stuff)

My own stuff tends to be Funk/Reggae influenced music with a lot of different instruments blended together.

The problem I always find is getting the sounds to blend but also being able to hear what everything is doing which is where I tend to overdo the eq I think.
I get too attached to how the parts interact and I have a lot of trouble designating a part to just sit in the background unheard.
Before I know it I`m going against my more purist principles and eqing and automating the heck out of everything to bring out a few silly little parts that nobody really notices anyway.

It`s actually kind of a relief to be able to sit back and just record a good rock band with just drums bass and guitar. (and get paid!)
Although that`s just as hard to get sounding good in a lot of ways.
Kevin
Old 23rd January 2004
  #17
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stealthbalance's Avatar
 

[QUOTE]Originally posted by kevinc

I think one reason I`m starting to question my apparent overuse of eq is when I chack back in on a mix I did the day before.
I tend to listen to the same song over and over again while I`m playing around with things until I get it as perfect as I can get it.
Then when I get back to it a day or two later I`m always kind of shocked at how much I overdid things especially in the higher end freqs.
I suppose when your ears get tired that`s the first thing to go.
----------------------------------------------------------------
here's something that helps me and might help you. it improved my mixes by huge amounts. when i mix , i mix for the most part at very low volumes . the thing is that i do check at loud volumes , and sometimes very very loud volumes- but only for about 30 seconds to a minute , then i turn the volume right back down again. its just enough to tell me whats really going on at extreme volumes, i say to myself " ok , i understand " then back to the balances and rides at hand.
it takes a lot of dicipline but the results are much better for me. no more over eqing , especially that top end you speak of. also , i try to mark off just a couple of volume marks and only listen at those settings. if you are constantly listening at different levels back and forth , i find that my balances keep changing. my 2 cents - good luck.
s
Old 24th January 2004
  #18
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barforama's Avatar
Quote:
Originally posted by Jason Poulin
Cut if you want it to sound better

Boost if you want it to sound different

I like that . Very wise
Old 25th February 2004
  #19
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Brandon Hook's Avatar
 

I'm not sure if this picture will attach...I didn't know how to convert it to JPG so I hope this works....


Anyways...I've hopefully included a pic which depicts how a notch filter will effect phase response of a signal. Similar results are achieved when boosting frequencies as well, however the wider the boost, the less noticeable the phase shift. Steep boosts or cuts will yield very aggressive phase shifts. So my thoughts on how to use EQ are as follows...don't worry about the phase issues, if it sounds good...it is good.

Notch filter on the top graph, phase response on the bottom

hope this paints a clear picture.
Attached Thumbnails
Is EQ evil-filter-phase.jpg.jpg  
Old 26th February 2004
  #20
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dim light's Avatar
 

I will never use EQ again!

/the audiophile 2496
Old 26th February 2004
  #21
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kevinc's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Thanks Brandon.

I forgot about this thread.

I`ve kind of taken all these suggestions (as well as others from other threads) and threw em in the pot with the stuff I was already doing. (still not sure what kind of soup I`m making though)

With that in mind I just try to make it sound good whether I`m adding or subtracting but I`ve kind of added more subtraction as opposed to almost all addition.

I`m also finding that I`m way more conservative with the eq these days than acouple of years ago.

I tend to think that`s a good thing but I also wonder if I`m just getting old and chicken.

Hopefully it`s just cause I`m tracking things better in the first place with better mics.
Old 26th February 2004
  #22
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Boogle's Avatar
Here's an article might interest ya...

role of eq

(PDF) file
Old 20th April 2005
  #23
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Staycenator's Avatar
 

EQ advice

Great question man. Anyone who snubs you for asking is just hiding the fact that they had to ask someone at one time or another too. Nobody is just born knowing this stuff.

The first thing I want to advise you to do is if you have anybody who knows a little about treating a room's acoustics to more accurately reflect what your mix is actually "saying", do so as soon as you can. In other words, if you are eq'ing some of your work in order to make up for frequency holes or abnormalities in the room that you work in, getting that problem situated first would make all of the difference in the world right out of the gate. It blew my mind the first time that I didn't have bass frequencies jumping all over the place. I mean, let's face it, mixing is all about interpretation-yours, and if you can't see the forest for the trees(frequency anomalities), it will always be an uphill battle.

The other thing that I would say is that, while it is true that there are no set frequencies for each instrument, there are fundamental frequencie ranges, that together with harmonic frequencies for each key/note, make up the instruments you have recorded. For example, we all know that standard tuning is alwaya in A440. Well, if your song is in the key of A, then you know that there are harmonic overtones in A that are divisible by 440(i.e. 55 in the sub bass, 110 in the bass region, 220, 440, and 880 in the low mids, region 1680 in the high mids, 3520 in the presence range, and 7040 and 14080 in the air/sizzle range). You should take out a calculator and add up these same ranges(fundamentals and harmonic overtones) for each key. I end up looking to these alot for getting more definition for bass(usually recorded direct anyways), vocals, and piano. So for instance, in subrtractive eq'ing, if you know that the key is in A, there will more than likely be alot of buildup at 220 due to all of your mid(mud)range instruments. So that would be the first place that I would start to dip-at least in the general area. For additive eq, like on vocals(if anyone says they leave vox alone, they are lying, although with the right mic, you might not have to do much at all, other than a little air & prescence). It's also a good idea to learn where each instrument's fundamental note begins, and the harmonics kick in, so this chart would be a real help when trying to decide where to boost/cut on instruments like bass and guitar, even vocals.

Also, don't be afraid to come up with something radical while experimenting. I have some eq's that if you saw them you would think I was crazy, but when you hear it within the context of the song, it works.

And I am a huge hp/lp frequency guy. What I do alot is I use the Waves Paz Frequency analyzer just to see where an instruments hotspot/lowspot is. Also, this will show you where, for example, your guitars are tapering off, or where annoying frequencies are sitting on a particular instrument. I prefer this to sweeping, if possible. And it is way easier on the ears.

I hope some of this pshycobabble helps-this forum is awesome, and I hope others witll dive in like Stealth and Bob Ohlsson have. I learn alot from these guys. Good luck!
Old 20th April 2005
  #24
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Poulin
Cut if you want it to sound better

Boost if you want it to sound different
Jason

I love that!!!!
Old 20th April 2005
  #25
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not_so_new's Avatar
 

Wow it is old thread week, blast from the past...



Quote:
Cut if you want it to sound better

Boost if you want it to sound different
Quote:
Originally Posted by PRobb
I love that!!!!
Hummm... well it is an interesting idea but not completely accurate is it. "Cut if you want it to sound better" implies that by using an EQ the source will always sound better and that is just not true.

I am a firm believer that EQ is okay and I use generous amounts of it if the track needs it but one of the hardest things to get away from as a rookie was the need to EQ everything just to fiddle with the knobs. I still fight it years later as a matter of fact.

I would change this quote to read "Cut if you need it to sound better, boost if you need it to sound different leave it alone if it sounds good already."
Old 20th April 2005
  #26
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Oh.. and to take that quote one more step, I would say..

"Cut if you need it to sound better, boost if you need it to sound different leave it alone if it sounds good already and never make the above decisions in solo"
Old 20th April 2005
  #27
one man, ONE mic pre
I say if it has a frequency range that is bugging you, cut it.
If it has a frequency range that it's lacking, boost it.

I don't get the "cutting is BETTER" concept.
WHY is it?


I believe in doing whatever it takes to make it sound great.
If that means a lot fo EQ, I EQ.
If I can do it at the amp or guitar or other ways, I do that first.
But I'm not shy to EQ.
If it starts to sound bad I'll be the first to know.


Evil?
EQ is a bit like capitalism, it isn't intrinsically evil but it's often used that way.
Especially in America {g}

I DO think that treating EQ "conceptually" rather than artistically is a mistake.
For example the idea of "needing" to carve a space for each thing instead of just listening and EQing as needed.
I've seen some guys who don't want to add 3k to the piano because that's what they added to the guitar.
It shouldn't be about RULES.
Old 20th April 2005
  #28
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Vari-Mu's Avatar
 

I think the whole carving thing can be overdone anyways. I like mixes where things blend rather than are always completely distinct in terms of frequency content. Obviously the elements that you're building the mix around usually need a bit more differentiation.

I still prefer the old fashioned way of doing this via mic placement.... I think that since the 70s people have been using eq as one of the elements ( along with reverb etc.)for arranging the soundstage artificially during the mix rather than in real space during tracking as it used to be done. I'm not at all sure that the results are always, or even usually, better. But obviously records are being made in very different environments and financial circumstances than they were way back then so this approach is probably unavoidable.

Plus now we got all this cool gear....we gotta use it, right?But bypass switches are still very useful features, for me at least.


Also,I like bleed.

Cheers

Vari-Mu
Old 20th April 2005
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CV7
My Massive Passive is EVIL GOOD!!!
+10 Hit Points for the D&D reference
Old 20th April 2005
  #30
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Quote:
I say if it has a frequency range that is bugging you, cut it.
If it has a frequency range that it's lacking, boost it.

I don't get the "cutting is BETTER" concept.
WHY is it?
Well I guess that goes to the physical hardware you are using to some degree doesn't it?? I mean a 1081 EQ is going to sound great no matter how you cut it (pun intended) but a Mackie EQ will add more artifacts when you are adding gain then subtracting.

Even when using bad digital EQ's (not that there are a ton of good digital EQs or anything .... ) I find that boosting introduces way more phase inconsistencies then cutting. Way back when I was forced to use a 02R and the only way the EQ was usable was by cutting. You need a little boost at 4k you would cut a bit at say 200 or 400 and then raise the track level by a db or two to compensate.

This is not to say that I never boost at all. I have no fear to use EQ if that is what the track needs, I just tend to try and do other things first like different mics, different placement or some cutting first. Maybe that is because I grew up on such bad equipment….



I guess the point is I think by cutting you are minimizing the effect of the EQ's sound on the source. You still get some of the sound of the EQ good or bad just by passing the signal through it but you are not getting as much of the character when you cut, and trust me there are many hardware and software EQ's that I don't want the character of.
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