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EQ aha moment
Old 16th July 2019
  #1
Gear Head
 

EQ aha moment

Hey all. Recently started coming here and I gotta say this forum is full of very smart people. The internet is awesome. What was that most difficult *thing* you learned or overcame that gave you an a-ha moment with mixing and producing at a professional level?

I have been trying to go from "pretty good at producing" to professional mixer and master. I think there's just gotta be something I'm not understanding or unable to do. Muddy mixes, weird EQed vocals. Balancing every track with each other.. I made a tune I shared in another thread and was curious of some technical feedback and even plug in suggestions. I hear what I don't like but but can't target it. Thanks and feel free not to respond

https://soundcloud.com/bennyboyblue/backs
Old 17th July 2019
  #2
Gear Nut
 

I'm not at a professional level but room acoustic treatment is the most important thing. More important than any monitor or computer or desk or microphone or plugin. If you can't accurately hear what's happening in your room, you're just fumbling around in the dark making changes that don't do what you intended.
Old 17th July 2019
  #3
Lives for gear
 

The most important thing IMO is learning how to listen. It takes a lot of time and practice to learn how to hear and understand nuance, and start to intuitively know when something needs to be fixed, or just to leave it alone. Mixing happens mostly in your mind, and the biggest hurdle in new mixers is usually overcoming the desire to over-process things. Instead of EQ, compression, “tape” saturation, de-esser, M/S processing, multi-band compression, etc... maybe all that was needed was to balance things properly, then you might need a small amount of one or two of those things on some tracks, rather than all of those things on all tracks.

All the gear in the world won’t really help you if you don’t understand when, where and why to use it, and for that you need to actually listen. Mixing is mostly technical, but when it comes to the overall production, there is an art to it and that comes from taste and judgement, which again comes from listening.
Old 17th July 2019
  #4
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dokterrock View Post
room acoustic treatment is the most important thing
This is totally untrue - absolutely the wrong thing to focus on and up there with the worst advice I've ever seen here, well done - your advice couldn't be worse.

I have a-ha moments all the time, but there's no one trick you can possibly just achieve everything; there's no magic

@OP, keep learning, reading, experimenting, comparing, figuring things out - most importantly, doing whatever it is you want to get good at every single day if you can, 'practice makes perfect'. A nice analogy - learning a sport to a professional standard partially involves muscle memory, you repeat motions until they're second nature, over and over and over and over every day; drilling until you can remove your 'self' from the motion and you can find a point of focus somewhere 'above' the sport - but anyway

Like the other previous poster, simply by spending 7 to 9 years mixing guitars and listening carefully, you reach a point where your ears tell you 'the sound is too spongy' or 'its too bright', 'not enough lows' based on your taste/ preference. Things like being able to hear compression takes a long time to develop; what does each tool do, then finding good enough tools for you to use, checking your mixes on multiple systems, etc etc

All depends on what you're trying to achieve/ what you want

And stop waiting for other people to tell you what to do: by all means learn about things, but you have to be able to work this out for yourself, otherwise you're going to spend your entire life looking for feedback
Old 17th July 2019
  #5
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack101 View Post
This is totally untrue - absolutely the wrong thing to focus on and up there with the worst advice I've ever seen here, well done - your advice couldn't be worse.
LOL. Another good piece of advice is don't take things too seriously here on Gearslutz, which has the occasional weird asshole who is more interested in proving his superiority than actually helping people.

If you want to read more about the importance of acoustic treatment, I'd recommend this recent thread over on the audio engineering subreddit (and many others it's quite a friendly place): https://www.reddit.com/r/audioengine...your_money_on/

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack101 View Post
Like the other previous poster, simply by spending 7 to 9 years mixing guitars and listening carefully, you reach a point where your ears tell you 'the sound is too spongy' or 'its too bright', 'not enough lows' based on your taste/ preference.
The key phrase here is "listening carefully", which again, is impossible to do if you don't have an accurate room response.
Old 17th July 2019
  #6
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dokterrock View Post
LOL. Another good piece of advice is don't take things too seriously here on Gearslutz, which has the occasional weird asshole who is more interested in proving his superiority than actually helping people.
I just think it's misleading to make the OP think that by buying some expensive acoustic tiles or basstraps, he/ she is suddenly going to have magically better mixes

I'm not proving superiority - I don't care what you do or think - just being blunt

I actually tried to help the guy a bunch too
Old 17th July 2019
  #7
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack101 View Post
I just think it's misleading to make the OP think that by buying some expensive acoustic tiles or basstraps, he/ she is suddenly going to have magically better mixes
Okay, but if you can actually hear what's going on in the mix without the room messing up the stereo image and causing comb filtering, you actually WILL be a better mixer. It's not magic, it's just really useful to have a good listening environment. For many, the first time they mix in a beautifully treated space is absolutely an "a-ha" moment.
Old 17th July 2019
  #8
Lives for gear
 

Putting in acoustic treatment was probably my biggest "Aha!" moment.

Suddenly, I could actually hear what was going on and could start learning how to listen. My EQ'ing became way less dramatic, my compressing became detailed in fine movements, reverb became so much faster to dial in...

Most importantly, my tracking improved vastly and I started actually doing less mixing over all!
Old 17th July 2019
  #9
Gear Addict
 
Left Headphone's Avatar
 

Your ears will lie to you. I agree that you should make your room sound as good as it can be. After that, experiment cause your room is not going to be perfect. Like it was mentioned before take off the effects and start with trying to balance your mix the best that you can. After you’ve mastered that, add some fx’s and keep experimenting.
Old 17th July 2019
  #10
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jerry123 View Post
Putting in acoustic treatment was probably my biggest "Aha!" moment.
Quote:
Originally Posted by sirjuxtable View Post
For many, the first time they mix in a beautifully treated space is absolutely an "a-ha" moment.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Left Headphone View Post
I agree that you should make your room sound as good as it can be.
Lol, well that told me!

I still disagree (suprise surprise!) but there you go OP, you just go right ahead and put your room treatment in and you'll be an amazing engineer in next to no time
Old 17th July 2019
  #11
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Left Headphone's Avatar
 

The room treatment is just the first of many steps. The OP will still have learn how to mix in that room.
Old 17th July 2019
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by musicisfun View Post
Muddy mixes, weird EQed vocals. Balancing every track with each other..

Questions for you OP.

Are you doing your own recording before mixing? Live instruments and mics? Electronic music in the box? Mixing other peoples stuff? Do you compare your mixes with professional tracks as you are mixing to help make decisions?

What is your current setup like? Monitors? Headphones? Size and setup of room?
Even before getting a treated space you can optimize what you have to work with before spending money.

Did you upload a track? I don't see a link if you did....

Like I said above, tracking has SO MUCH to do with a quality product in the end.
People talk about how good a mix is but it's the original capture that is where it all starts.
Old 17th July 2019
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack101 View Post
Lol, well that told me!

I still disagree (suprise surprise!) but there you go OP, you just go right ahead and put your room treatment in and you'll be an amazing engineer in next to no time
A room to your listening skills is like a canvas to a painter. Much easier to learn proper brush strokes on nicely woven canvas than it is on a napkin.

To your point though, it does take hard work and a lot of time, with or without treatment. Also, lots of amazing albums have been made in less than perfect spaces. We shouldn't encourage the OP to not try to get better because panels and traps are expensive, it's just something to think about as part of the big formula.

Having an acoustically solid work space will help you become a pro in 10 years instead of 20!


But, this is just all advice and we all have realistic constraints in which we work so there's a grain of salt in every word here.
Old 17th July 2019
  #14
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jerry123 View Post
Like I said above, tracking has SO MUCH to do with a quality product in the end.
I sort of agree - but I'd expand that and say everything has so much to do with it - it's literally 'a chain is as strong as it's weakest link' - but you're definitely right to make it crystal clear that without good recording, you're already on a losing battle and making everything much harder - like a 'domino' effect I think i've heard it called
Old 17th July 2019
  #15
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jerry123 View Post
A room to your listening skills is like a canvas to a painter. Much easier to learn proper brush strokes on nicely woven canvas than it is on a napkin.
Pretty nice analogy, but then again, there's nothing like spending a decade painting on concrete and then being given a canvas

A nice story (kind of tangential) about Chic has the drummer being interviewed, and he's hitting cymbals and rides like crazy and they took them away, left him with a kick and snare and hi-hat and said 'learn to play them, then you can have the cymbals back'

Another (tenuous) story about interviews for a guitarist for James Brown 'can you play this?' and he played some dumb two bar riff. These guys come in and start with that riff then get to embellishing it and changing it. One guy comes in, plays that dumb two bar riff for fifteen minutes and they're like 'you're hired!'
Old 17th July 2019
  #16
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GJ999x's Avatar
Enjoy it and yeah focus on hearing what you're doing honestly rather than plugin chasing!! And seek feedback from an audience and remain humble!
Old 17th July 2019
  #17
mpr
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IMO there is nothing worse than pushing a lot of acoustic energy into an untreated room and then trying to diagnose a mix correctly. Your degree of confidence cant grow, and so neither can you.

Use headphones.

Last edited by mpr; 20th July 2019 at 07:59 PM.. Reason: Use headphones.
Old 17th July 2019
  #18
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack101 View Post
I just think it's misleading to make the OP think that by buying some expensive acoustic tiles or basstraps,
Nonsense - acoustical treatments can be done very cheaply and yet totally effectively DIY

Quote:
he/ she is suddenly going to have magically better mixes
I don't think "magic" has much to do with it, but I do think their mixes will translate better almost immediately.

Quote:
I'm not proving superiority - I don't care what you do or think - just being blunt
I will be blunt as well, denigrating the importance of acoustical treatment in this forum is giving Bad Advice to the Newbies. Every newbie will ultimately need to take it upon himself to determine whose advice to follow when the advice is in conflict, but I will say this: it will not take a whole lot of searching on this - or any other audio forum - to find out where the real consensus on room treatment lies.
Old 17th July 2019
  #19
Deleted c0657d7
Guest
My aha, more a !!WOW!!, moment, a few decades ago already, was also in the field of acoustics.
After I had treated that room, my mixes gradually started to translate, I wasn't struggling with the mixes anymore, etc., but the sudden eye opener came while working in that, still untreated, space.

I was mixing a track and working on the saxophones and picked up and moved away the tracksheet laying on the console to reach the EQ knobs.
On moving this simple sheet of paper horizontally across the board, I heard the sax sound change drastically as if someone did an eq sweep.
To be sure, I kept moving the tracksheet in front of me and the sound kept changing notably.
That's the moment that I got confronted with the impact of acoustics, coloration by reflections and the importance of acoustic treatment; if a thin sheet of paper can have this effect.......
Not to mention that I wasn't sure anymore WHICH of the colors of the saxophone that I was hearing was the true sound.

I took up an acoustics study, treated that room, later also my current studio, as well as doing acoustic treatment for other moderate sized mixing studios, and never looked back.

I've come to peace though with the fact that some people can apparently do great mixes in untreated rooms, just as that there are people that can apparently drive better when they're drunk...... I'm just not one of them.
Old 18th July 2019
  #20
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Owen L T's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack101 View Post
I just think it's misleading to make the OP think that by buying some expensive acoustic tiles or basstraps, he/ she is suddenly going to have magically better mixes

I'm not proving superiority - I don't care what you do or think - just being blunt

I actually tried to help the guy a bunch too
Okay, but what did the guy who, in your words, said room treatment would produce "magically better mixes", actually say:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dokterrock View Post
I'm not at a professional level but room acoustic treatment is the most important thing. More important than any monitor or computer or desk or microphone or plugin. If you can't accurately hear what's happening in your room, you're just fumbling around in the dark making changes that don't do what you intended.
So, literally all he said was that, room treatment (often overlooked by newcomers) is more important than monitor, computer, desk, mic or plugin. Which, sure, you could argue the toss that if your monitors are a $20 piece of junk, then room treatment won't help ... but is otherwise pretty sound advice.

And you jumped all over him for giving that sound advice.

Which was uncool.

And, also: wrong.

Another poster said:

Quote:
Originally Posted by jerry123 View Post
Putting in acoustic treatment was probably my biggest "Aha!" moment.

Suddenly, I could actually hear what was going on and could start learning how to listen. My EQ'ing became way less dramatic, my compressing became detailed in fine movements, reverb became so much faster to dial in...

Most importantly, my tracking improved vastly and I started actually doing less mixing over all!
Which is precisely WHY treating the room is so important. I had a similar experience with my own room - it's a legit thing!
Old 18th July 2019
  #21
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Owen L T's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack101 View Post
Lol, well that told me!

I still disagree (suprise surprise!) but there you go OP, you just go right ahead and put your room treatment in and you'll be an amazing engineer in next to no time
Not one person on this forum has suggested that room treatment will make someone "an amazing engineer in next to no time". What many people, with many years' experience, have said is that the room is a huge factor, that treating it is critical - and we've all done so because this is one area that beginners often overlook, or skimp on, while spending everything they can on this or that plug-in, or wondering whether to upgrade their mic/pre-amp/converters.

For some reason, you seem intent on misstating other peoples' remarks, then picking a misguided fight with that misstatement.

How is that "helping" the OP?
Old 18th July 2019
  #22
Gear Head
 

It is easy to get overwhelmed by all of the extremely precise plugins we have now (specifically eq). My biggest aha was never touching an eq/compressor that has a visualizer. I am not saying that pros don't use them, but the biggest step in making my ears intuitive was only using plugins that have hardware style knobs on them. Also makes workflow easier when you can't adjust q's or knees, and you just know what a plugin sounds like.
Old 20th July 2019
  #23
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Dr. Mordo's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by musicisfun View Post
Muddy mixes, weird EQed vocals. Balancing every track with each other..
The hardest thing to learn in the beginning is EQing. The key is to eliminate all the frequencies you don't actually need, then choose what frequencies each instrument will dominate.

This is why I love SSL Channel Strips - set the HPF and LPF as high and low as you can before you really hear it in the mix (don't solo). Then, most sources can use some cutting around 200-300hz - bass is the only thing I never cut there. Finally, figure out where the attack lives for each instrument - approximately 3kHZ for guitars, 5kHz for drums, 8KHz for vocals - and make sure the instruments aren't interfering with each other (i.e. too much vocal content at 3kHz). If there is a ton of vocal content at 3kHz, I'll cut the vocal in that range and maybe boost the guitar a bit if it needs it. Don't be afraid to turn the knobs until it sounds good.

Then if I want track compression, I turn the threshold all the way up, then turn up the ratio until I have 3-6db of gain reduction (classic SSL compressor trick) and set the release to taste.

Once you get the eq sorted, it much easier to set levels because the instruments aren't fighting for the same frequencies. The SSL is so flexible I can comfortably mix an entire album with just the SSL Channel Strip, a decent buss compressor, and a reverb.

As far as room absorption, get some headphones to check your mixes on. My room is small and essentially half a cube so I can't stuff enough absorption in to make it worthwhile, so I use headphones quite a bit. I currently have the beyerdynamic dt 990 pros, and I would not buy them again. They are usable, but very sibilant so I have to be careful not to underemphasize the high mids. I have read the dt 880s are much more neutral, and the Sony mdr7506 are supposed to be a cheap classic so I'll probly pick up a pair of them soon.
Old 20th July 2019
  #24
Gear Head
 

The song did not post before, it can be found here https://soundcloud.com/bennyboyblue/backs
Old 20th July 2019
  #25
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Mordo View Post
The hardest thing to learn in the beginning is EQing. The key is to eliminate all the frequencies you don't actually need, then choose what frequencies each instrument will dominate.

This is why I love SSL Channel Strips - set the HPF and LPF as high and low as you can before you really hear it in the mix (don't solo). Then, most sources can use some cutting around 200-300hz - bass is the only thing I never cut there. Finally, figure out where the attack lives for each instrument - approximately 3kHZ for guitars, 5kHz for drums, 8KHz for vocals - and make sure the instruments aren't interfering with each other (i.e. too much vocal content at 3kHz). If there is a ton of vocal content at 3kHz, I'll cut the vocal in that range and maybe boost the guitar a bit if it needs it. Don't be afraid to turn the knobs until it sounds good.

Then if I want track compression, I turn the threshold all the way up, then turn up the ratio until I have 3-6db of gain reduction (classic SSL compressor trick) and set the release to taste.

Once you get the eq sorted, it much easier to set levels because the instruments aren't fighting for the same frequencies. The SSL is so flexible I can comfortably mix an entire album with just the SSL Channel Strip, a decent buss compressor, and a reverb.

As far as room absorption, get some headphones to check your mixes on. My room is small and essentially half a cube so I can't stuff enough absorption in to make it worthwhile, so I use headphones quite a bit. I currently have the beyerdynamic dt 990 pros, and I would not buy them again. They are usable, but very sibilant so I have to be careful not to underemphasize the high mids. I have read the dt 880s are much more neutral, and the Sony mdr7506 are supposed to be a cheap classic so I'll probly pick up a pair of them soon.
SSL Channel Strips plugin looks legit. I was thinking of getting fab filter EQ to try and work on it. Similar plugin?
Old 21st July 2019
  #26
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Dr. Mordo's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by musicisfun View Post
SSL Channel Strips plugin looks legit. I was thinking of getting fab filter EQ to try and work on it. Similar plugin?
I'm not familiar with any Fabfilter products, but google led me to a graphic eq, which is nothing like the SSL. Most of the genius of the SSL design is the interface; the Fabfilter will sound the same as the SSL once you get it dialed in, but the different interface would make it much more difficult for me to dial in.

The principles are the same for any eq - use filters to eliminate unneeded highs and lows, then selectively emphasize and deemphasize high mid freqs to clarify the role of each instrument.
Old 21st July 2019
  #27
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bitman's Avatar
300hz cut on the bass guitar cleans up a lot of stuff.
Low passing virtual instruments. (SOS tip)
Old 21st July 2019
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Mordo View Post
..Then if I want track compression, I turn the threshold all the way up, then turn up the ratio until I have 3-6db of gain reduction (classic SSL compressor trick) and set the release to taste. ..
Not sure I follow. Typically the threshold being all the way up, wouldn't it be well above the track's levels? ..or maybe you meant all the way down, with a 1:1 starting point? Thanks.
Old 21st July 2019
  #29
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Dr. Mordo's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wayne View Post
Not sure I follow. Typically the threshold being all the way up, wouldn't it be well above the track's levels? ..or maybe you meant all the way down, with a 1:1 starting point? Thanks.
Well, now that I think about it, you are right to be confused.

On the SSL Channel Strip, if you turn the threshold "all the way up" (crank the knob clockwise) you are actually decreasing the threshold to -20. And yes I start with the ratio at 1:1 (counter-clockwise on the SSL) then adjust to taste.

Honestly, it's such a habit pattern at this point I didn't even consider that fact that turning the knob up in order to decrease the threshold might be confusing. This technique was a big "a-ha!" moment for me on how to best use the SSL Channel Strip compressor.
Old 21st July 2019
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Mordo View Post
Well, now that I think about it, you are right to be confused.

On the SSL Channel Strip, if you turn the threshold "all the way up" (crank the knob clockwise) you are actually decreasing the threshold to -20. And yes I start with the ratio at 1:1 (counter-clockwise on the SSL) then adjust to taste.

Honestly, it's such a habit pattern at this point I didn't even consider that fact that turning the knob up in order to decrease the threshold might be confusing. This technique was a big "a-ha!" moment for me on how to best use the SSL Channel Strip compressor.
Thank you. I've never tried that approach -working from 1:1 up, rather than threshold down'.

Well, there was 'find the absolute lowest ratio on the Yamaha GC2020 some forty years back. But that was more 'preservation, 'anything more sounding like a*s.
Funny now how that, would kick in here
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