The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
Michael Wagener, a little question about EQ
Old 2nd August 2005
  #1
Michael Wagener, a little question about EQ

Hi Michael

Okay so first off I am really hoping this thread does not fall apart into a rant about digital vs. analog so if you want to slag X because you like Y better please save it. We have been down the road too many times.

thumbsup

Okay now that that is out of the way Michael I noticed that in your response to the preamps thread you said...

Quote:
EQ is always my last resort, especially analog EQ, it seems to "haze" combined sounds, even though I use EQs like the Great River as a creative tool, rather than a fixer.
I assume this means that you reach for digital EQ first if you need it then. My questions would be

1) How much EQ are we talking here. Are you using a touch of EQ on every track or a touch of EQ on very few tracks or a bunch of surgical EQ on one or two tracks??

2) What digital EQ's do you like? I know that you are not in DAW land but have you run into anything you like or that you come back to??

3) If you are using digital EQ's do you tend to stay away from EQ's they try to emulate things in the analog world? Are you looking for EQ's that are very clean then??

Thanks….

How about the rest of you, are you reaching for an EQ that sounds analog? Are you using EQ sparingly or over the top? Surgical or general tone shaping??
Old 2nd August 2005
  #2
Quote:
Originally Posted by not_so_new

How about the rest of you...
Yes...


Quote:
Originally Posted by not_so_new
are you reaching for an EQ that sounds analog
Only use analog EQ's and once in a while a EQ plug(Oxford GML).


Quote:
Originally Posted by not_so_new

Are you using EQ sparingly or over the top???
Both sometimes.

It really depends on the sound and effect wanted.


Quote:
Originally Posted by not_so_new
Surgical...
Yes and sometimes.


Quote:
Originally Posted by not_so_new
or general tone shaping??
Same as above.



Quote:
Originally Posted by not_so_new
Thanks…
Your welcome.
Old 2nd August 2005
  #3
Lives for gear
 
DirkB's Avatar
LOL @Thrill heh .

I personally seem to have a problem adding high-end with a digital eq. I just don't like how it sounds. I got me a Buzz MPE1.1 as my standard snaredrum brightner, to add some 3-5k and 12k hi shelf. With digital eq, I have less problem to cut or filter or add 1-2dB in the midrange.

Greetings,
Dirk
Old 2nd August 2005
  #4
I think I'm going thru an EQ phase right now, I use it a lot
Old 2nd August 2005
  #5
Gear Maniac
 

I'll eq anything, in any way, to get what i want. There's a weird stigma in the recording business about eqing, but I kindly ignore it and just crank the knobs till I hear what I like. Sometimes it's surgical, other times, it's on a bigger scale. I usually use analog eq's, but when there's a small amount of them, I'll use plugs, but I almost never boost freq's with the plugs, only cuts.
Old 2nd August 2005
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by DirkB
LOL @Thrill heh .

I personally seem to have a problem adding high-end with a digital eq. I just don't like how it sounds. I got me a Buzz MPE1.1 as my standard snaredrum brightner, to add some 3-5k and 12k hi shelf. With digital eq, I have less problem to cut or filter or add 1-2dB in the midrange.

Greetings,
Dirk
Agreed... and for the record I just didn't want to post a public PM to Michael because I think it would be interesting to the community. I am really interested in hearing his thoughts on the idea.

I think that digital EQ is harder to make sound "right" to my ears (again I don't want to fall into a digital vs. analog fight here). Digital as a tape deck, fine by me, digital as a compressor again fine, digital time effects delays and verb all good but digital EQ just has not been there for me yet. I have not tried an URS, Oxford, Hydratone etc. so I could just be missing the boat.

I was just surprised that Michael says he does not reach for EQ very much at all (at least that is how I read it) and when he does it is mostly digital not analog. I could have read the post wrong so I wanted to get some comments.

Me I have no problem reaching for a bunch of EQ, if the track needs it I use it. But I don't use it on everything. It was a hard thing to learn that I don't have to touch a track with EQ and compression and effects just because they are available.

This is one of the things I see younger guys doing and something that I had to learn when I was starting out. I still sometimes have to fight the idea that I need to make things sound better and get in there and twist knobs. I am better now but Michael's post makes me wonder if I need to rethink my approach yet still.

On the other hand, his approach is his and might not work for anyone else. I guess I am just interested in hearing his (and other) viewpoints to expand my own mind.......

thumbsup
Old 2nd August 2005
  #7
High End Moderator
 
mwagener's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by not_so_new
...I was just surprised that Michael says he does not reach for EQ very much at all (at least that is how I read it) and when he does it is mostly digital not analog. I could have read the post wrong so I wanted to get some comments...
I'm afraid you did read my post wrong, or most likely I didn't explain it right.

Over the years the EQs in my racks got less and less and the mic pres got more and more. In general I avoid EQ where I can, because (analog) EQs largely work on the principle of phase shift. If EQ is used on each track it makes it sound "out of whack" to me. Digital EQ does not do that, but I do NOT prefer the sound of digital EQ, I prefer the sound of NO EQ. That said, sometimes I use an EQ (especially like the Great River) for creative control, like raising a certain frequency of an instrument out of proportion to create a certain effect or mood. EQ is my last resort in "fixing" a sound. First is the mic, second the mic placement, third is the mic pre. I feel that everything sounds more "in place" when I don't use EQ during recording. In that case, everything also tends to sound a little dull, but that goes for the whole mix and I rather treat that with ONE EQ (mostly the Massive Passive on the stereo buss) than 48 EQs on the tracks.I do use the digital EQ in my Sony consoles if I have to touch up things, but that would be nothing surgical, just a little touch up.

In any case, if something can't be made to sound great with mic choice, placement and mic pre, go ahead and use EQ, that's what they are for, it's just not my first choice. I also agree with the statement that digital EQs do something weird in the high end when used with large amounts of gain, I call it scratchy.
Old 2nd August 2005
  #8
Gear Guru
 
u b k's Avatar
 

this is largely a genre thing, imo. if you track a bunch of acoustic/electric instruments from scratch, you have the benefit of using mic choice & placement, preamp choice, comp/limiting to tape, how hard to hit tape, etc. etc... as you gain experience in that milieu, you learn how to predict what is generally required to make something work within the arrangement. when it comes time to mix, less shaping is required, things tend to sit right.

then there's those of us who work more in electronic soundscapes, where the whole paradigm is different. if i lift a drum loop from an old burt bacharach record and drop it into an arrangement with a rhodes and big hall strings, odds are it'll need some eq'ing, maybe a lot of eq'ing, to sit well. ditto with any of the canned loops on cd's et al. i use stylus a lot, and i generally use two eq's in series to get it where i need it; first a cambridge or oxford for deep surgical cuts, notches, and peaks, that makes it the right general shape for the jigsaw. then a sonalksis or urs for broader sweeps and to sit it in the mix... brighter lifts it up or drops it down, midrange brings it forward or pushes it back, low mids makes it bigger or smaller.

as for digital hi's, i find that if i want to do serious lifting with a dig, i need to also use a cut to pull back the freqs that start to get offensive. in digital land, a broad q push with a targeted narrow q pullback works better than just a narrow q push, imo. narrow digital pushes sound unnatural to my ears.


gregoire
del ubik
Old 2nd August 2005
  #9
Thank you Michael....

thumbsup
Old 2nd August 2005
  #10
Lives for gear
 
DirkB's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by mwagener
In that case, everything also tends to sound a little dull, but that goes for the whole mix and I rather treat that with ONE EQ (mostly the Massive Passive on the stereo buss) than 48 EQs on the tracks.I do use the digital EQ in my Sony consoles if I have to touch up things, but that would be nothing surgical, just a little touch up.
Michael,

Do you have the eq on the mixbus also during tracking? Or do you just adjust to the fact that you and the band are listening to the overall picture a little dull and only put the eq on during mixing? And if you do it at mixing, do you put it on right from the start or towards the end?

Thanks,
Dirk
Old 3rd August 2005
  #11
High End Moderator
 
mwagener's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by DirkB
Michael,

Do you have the eq on the mixbus also during tracking? Or do you just adjust to the fact that you and the band are listening to the overall picture a little dull and only put the eq on during mixing? And if you do it at mixing, do you put it on right from the start or towards the end?

Thanks,
Dirk
I usually have a little bit of the master EQ in the Sony console (shelved up from 4K about 2 dB) when we're recording, just to open things up a bit. During the mix the MP gets set to more severe settings (it can also take those better than the Sony EQ). It all depends, really. Normally I get up a basic mix, then introduce the MP and the STC-8 and work with (against) those when writing automation.
Old 3rd August 2005
  #12
High End Moderator
 
mwagener's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by u b i k
this is largely a genre thing, imo. if you track a bunch of acoustic/electric instruments from scratch, you have the benefit of using mic choice & placement, preamp choice, comp/limiting to tape, how hard to hit tape, etc. etc... as you gain experience in that milieu, you learn how to predict what is generally required to make something work within the arrangement. when it comes time to mix, less shaping is required, things tend to sit right.

then there's those of us who work more in electronic soundscapes, where the whole paradigm is different. if i lift a drum loop from an old burt bacharach record and drop it into an arrangement with a rhodes and big hall strings, odds are it'll need some eq'ing, maybe a lot of eq'ing, to sit well. ditto with any of the canned loops on cd's et al. i use stylus a lot, and i generally use two eq's in series to get it where i need it; first a cambridge or oxford for deep surgical cuts, notches, and peaks, that makes it the right general shape for the jigsaw. then a sonalksis or urs for broader sweeps and to sit it in the mix... brighter lifts it up or drops it down, midrange brings it forward or pushes it back, low mids makes it bigger or smaller.

as for digital hi's, i find that if i want to do serious lifting with a dig, i need to also use a cut to pull back the freqs that start to get offensive. in digital land, a broad q push with a targeted narrow q pullback works better than just a narrow q push, imo. narrow digital pushes sound unnatural to my ears.


gregoire
del ubik
Agree completely, good point
Old 3rd August 2005
  #13
Lives for gear
 

michael do you generally place your Massive before or after STC-8 on the mixbus.

Thanks
Ron Florentine
Soundswest Studio
Old 3rd August 2005
  #14
High End Moderator
 
mwagener's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by ron florentine
michael do you generally place your Massive before or after STC-8 on the mixbus.

Thanks
Ron Florentine
Soundswest Studio
After.

In a mastering situation it would probably the other way around, because the compressor/limiter is supposed to catch all the peaks created by the EQ, but I route it back through the HEDD with the "Tape" process on the A/D which rounds off those pesky peaks nicely.

I feel that the EQ after the comp makes up for some of the compression and creates a little more dynamic again. That is totally just MY impression, I could be wrong, but it just seems to sound better that way.
Old 3rd August 2005
  #15
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

A real important reason for not going crazy with eq. is that you can't really trust any monitors too far.

It's real easy to correct for the shortcomings of a particular monitor environment while creating problems in the mix that will affect most other listening locations. Things can be eq'd close enough that a musical balance "sort of" works acceptably in the control room but will be absolutely wrong anyplace else. The same is true of compression. The combination of changing the mike placement and the volume control almost always translates between listening environments and broadcast compression the best.
Old 3rd August 2005
  #16
Lives for gear
 
Ruudman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Exsanguis
I'll eq anything, in any way, to get what i want. There's a weird stigma in the recording business about eqing, but I kindly ignore it and just crank the knobs till I hear what I like. ...I'll use plugs, but I almost never boost freq's with the plugs, only cuts.
Isn't that also a stigma (generally speaking): never boost a digital eq?

I agree that the highs are weird for the most part, perhaps with an exception of MDW.

ruudman
Old 3rd August 2005
  #17
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruudman
Isn't that also a stigma (generally speaking): never boost a digital eq?
Yeah, it is, except the difference for me is that I like the sound that I get from sometimes going crazy and abusing analog eq's, whereas I've never ever liked boosting on digital ones, no matter what type or frequency range it is.
Old 3rd August 2005
  #18
Over the many years of watching other engineers apply EQ I've noticed one consistant trend:

Most add EQ to attempt to correct, rather than to enhance a track.

This usually makes me believe that something is inherently wrong with the sound of the track because it needs to be "fixed".

EQ phase shift is normal and part of the filter process. Out of band or non-linear phase shift is what most analog EQ's do that upsets some. An analog EQ with loss-less filter caps and very low distortion amplifiers will always beat a digital EQ. With an analog EQ's 120 db or more dynamic range, digital has a hard time keeping up. As you boost digital EQ the non-EQ'ed part of the audio spectrum actually looses resolution as it's amplitude is lowered as is bit resolution. One also has to deal with the limited resolution of the A/D converters that sample the audio before the EQ process.

Jim Williams
Audio Upgrades
Old 3rd August 2005
  #19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson
A real important reason for not going crazy with eq. is that you can't really trust any monitors too far.

It's real easy to correct for the shortcomings of a particular monitor environment while creating problems in the mix that will affect most other listening locations. Things can be eq'd close enough that a musical balance "sort of" works acceptably in the control room but will be absolutely wrong anyplace else. The same is true of compression. The combination of changing the mike placement and the volume control almost always translates between listening environments and broadcast compression the best.
Great points. On the other hand I have heard great mixes that translated very well and that had tons of EQ. I would say it can work in some situations but less EQ is probably safer unless you know you have a radical issue that needs a fix'n.
Old 3rd August 2005
  #20
So Michael without speaking for you I would sum up your approach as this. With a little luck and a little skill in a prefect world you would like to get to a situation where you don't touch a digital or analog EQ other than over the 2 buss or as an effect on a given track. I assume this accurate.

So to accomplish this I see it as three main parts, the tone of the source, the equipment used and mic placement.

Of these three which do you choose to change first and how much effect do you think each has towards your goal of less or no channel EQ??

Do you move the mic around first or do you put a mic up and just know that it is not the right thing off the bat? Do you choose the pre first or get the mic and the placement down the switch out the pre. Are you overly critical of placement, some are and some are not.....

I have my opinions about the above but I am curious to see what Michael's (and everyone's) take is. For the everyone else I know that each is going to effect the other so no wise a$$ remarks from the peanut gallery. heh
Old 3rd August 2005
  #21
I use no EQ when tracking. I use flat mics which are very neutral. The idea is to have the tracks play back like it's live in the room. It's sort of like mixing to 2 track, except I've stored the performances on the hard drive using again, very neutral converters. I save any flavouring for mix down.

That's what the inserts on the console are for.

Jim Williams
Audio Upgrades
Old 3rd August 2005
  #22
Lives for gear
 
DirkB's Avatar
I tend to record flat also, but somethings, even when miced properly, just don't sound like it sounds in the room. A sm57 on the snare, which I love for the snap it gives me, just needs some brightening, I have yet to encounter a situation where it didn't at least needed 2-3 db at 3-5k. I prefer doing that with an analogue eq. A inner kick mic most of the time benefits from a couple of db low mid cut...

But then again, I find myself using less and less eq overall anyway, although I tend to filter a bit on a lot of the closed mic tracks.

Greetings,
Dirk
Old 3rd August 2005
  #23
Lives for gear
 
cdog's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by DirkB
I tend to record flat also, but somethings, even when miced properly, just don't sound like it sounds in the room. A sm57 on the snare, which I love for the snap it gives me, just needs some brightening, I have yet to encounter a situation where it didn't at least needed 2-3 db at 3-5k. I prefer doing that with an analogue eq. A inner kick mic most of the time benefits from a couple of db low mid cut...

But then again, I find myself using less and less eq overall anyway, although I tend to filter a bit on a lot of the closed mic tracks.

Greetings,
Dirk
100% agree Dirk, I always feel that snare has sooo much more "pop" when you're sitting right in front of it. I use a 421 on the snare because I like lots of low mids that give it a nice thumpy Tom Petty type sound, but I always have to crank the 12k shelf to get some more "pop" which is crucial to getting a lifelike sound. "Flat" does not always mean "natural sounding."
Old 3rd August 2005
  #24
Lives for gear
 
dokushoka's Avatar
 

While there is a tremendous amount of information here (all of which is invaluable) I am noticing a funny trend.

It seems like everyone is trying to move towards an equlibrium, ie. trying to establlish an "accepted best way to EQ" or that "digital eq sucks for boosting highs" etc.

This is silly. We each have ears. If it sounds right, it is right. Sometimes I use my board EQ to boost the highs, sometimes I use a plug in to do it. I try both and see which one sounds right. Don't stress out so much about the status quo. If you start wondering why things work for you, you'll be able to better refine YOUR working process, and THAT is what will help you the most.
Old 3rd August 2005
  #25
Quote:
Originally Posted by dokushoka
While there is a tremendous amount of information here (all of which is invaluable) I am noticing a funny trend.

It seems like everyone is trying to move towards an equlibrium, ie. trying to establlish an "accepted best way to EQ" or that "digital eq sucks for boosting highs" etc.

This is silly. We each have ears. If it sounds right, it is right. Sometimes I use my board EQ to boost the highs, sometimes I use a plug in to do it. I try both and see which one sounds right. Don't stress out so much about the status quo. If you start wondering why things work for you, you'll be able to better refine YOUR working process, and THAT is what will help you the most.
I agree completely... BUT (you knew that was coming right). I started the thread fishing for answers from Michael because.. if you always do the same old thing you will always get the same old results right?

thumbsup

To put it another way, I have been doing this recording thing for quite a few years now and I have developed my "thing." It works for me but that does not mean my "thing" is the best way to work. It might not even be the best way for me to work and I just don't know it yet.

I am always looking to expand my mind and grow as a person and as a producer/engineer. Picking the brains of a great like Michael and all the other wonderful people here is a good way to view other ideas outside of my box. In the end these methods may not work for me but just learning about them will help me grow, that is my goal.
Old 3rd August 2005
  #26
Lives for gear
 
dokushoka's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by not_so_new
I agree completely... BUT (you knew that was coming right). I started the thread fishing for answers from Michael because.. if you always do the same old thing you will always get the same old results right?

thumbsup

To put it another way, I have been doing this recording thing for quite a few years now and I have developed my "thing." It works for me but that does not mean my "thing" is the best way to work. It might not even be the best way for me to work and I just don't know it yet.

I am always looking to expand my mind and grow as a person and as a producer/engineer. Picking the brains of a great like Michael and all the other wonderful people here is a good way to view other ideas outside of my box. In the end these methods may not work for me but just learning about them will help me grow, that is my goal.
Totally understand, and, to be clear, my comment was much more a generalization and actually in no way aimed at you. I am constantly analyzing the way I work and always asking questions of my peers, just like you.
Old 3rd August 2005
  #27
Quote:
Originally Posted by dokushoka
Totally understand, and, to be clear, my comment was much more generally and actually in no way aimed at you. I am constantly analyzing the way I work and always asking questions of my peers, just like you.

It's all cool, that is what I assumed you were talking about (hope I didn't sound defensive, not my intent).
Old 3rd August 2005
  #28
Lives for gear
 
mr.gefell's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mario-C.
I think I'm going thru an EQ phase right now, I use it a lot

been there ..done that.
Old 4th August 2005
  #29
High End Moderator
 
mwagener's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by not_so_new
So Michael without speaking for you I would sum up your approach as this. With a little luck and a little skill in a prefect world you would like to get to a situation where you don't touch a digital or analog EQ other than over the 2 buss or as an effect on a given track. I assume this accurate.
Yes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by not_so_new
So to accomplish this I see it as three main parts, the tone of the source, the equipment used and mic placement.

Of these three which do you choose to change first and how much effect do you think each has towards your goal of less or no channel EQ??

Do you move the mic around first or do you put a mic up and just know that it is not the right thing off the bat? Do you choose the pre first or get the mic and the placement down the switch out the pre. Are you overly critical of placement, some are and some are not.....
If I'm not 100% certain (based on experience) which mic to use, I go through a selection of mics that I think make sense for the particular source, and some oddballs, which I've never tried on that source. I set them up all in the same place in relation to the source, one after the other. I use the same mic pre for each mic (the ones int the SONY console are just fine for that, because they are fairly neutral). Then I record a track at the same level with each mic in order to compare the general usefulness of each mic on that source.

After I find the best mic for the job, I have the assistant move it around while the instrument is being played, to find the right placement. The assistand has to wear headphones where he/she can hear me talk in the control room, so I can yell "stop" when the mic is in the right spot.

Then I try different mic pres to see which one transports most of the "mood" of the instrument into the control room. Most of the time I'm happy at that point, but if not I use a little EQ to help it along. Doing things in that order keeps me in most cases from having to go back and change the mic or the position later. Compression gets used to get control over high dynamic sources or as an effect (overcompression on acoustic 12 string, drum room etc.)

The whole thing takes a lot of time and concentration, if no time is available, i might go for what worked in the past and use EQ if needed. Whatever works heh
Old 4th August 2005
  #30
Lives for gear
 
dokushoka's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mwagener
Yes.


If I'm not 100% certain (based on experience) which mic to use, I go through a selection of mics that I think make sense for the particular source, and some oddballs, which I've never tried on that source. I set them up all in the same place in relation to the source, one after the other. I use the same mic pre for each mic (the ones int the SONY console are just fine for that, because they are fairly neutral). Then I record a track at the same level with each mic in order to compare the general usefulness of each mic on that source.

After I find the best mic for the job, I have the assistant move it around while the instrument is being played, to find the right placement. The assistand has to wear headphones where he/she can hear me talk in the control room, so I can yell "stop" when the mic is in the right spot.

Then I try different mic pres to see which one transports most of the "mood" of the instrument into the control room. Most of the time I'm happy at that point, but if not I use a little EQ to help it along. Doing things in that order keeps me in most cases from having to go back and change the mic or the position later. Compression gets used to get control over high dynamic sources or as an effect (overcompression on acoustic 12 string, drum room etc.)

The whole thing takes a lot of time and concentration, if no time is available, i might go for what worked in the past and use EQ if needed. Whatever works heh
Just out of curiosity, what are the musicians doing through this whole process? That can't be very exciting for them!
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Forum Jump
Forum Jump