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Mixing: EQ notch cheat-sheet?
Old 13th July 2011
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subimage's Avatar

Thread Starter
Mixing: EQ notch cheat-sheet?


GS posting newbie here. I've done my best to scour the forums and haven't yet found what I'm looking for. Apologies if I missed something.

I'm interested in basic EQ notch and mixing guidelines.

I know this is an over-generalization, but, from what I can glean after searching teh intarnets/reading mags, it seems one could follow these guidelines:

1. Bassdrum narrow boost a few dB at 50-80Hz. Gentle shelf below 40Hz.
2. Bass synth/guitar narrow boost a few dB at 150Hz. Gentle cut below 100Hz.
3. Vocals gently cut at 80Hz.
4. Narrowly notch much of everything down a few dB ~320Hz (get rid of mud).
5. Only bass drum and bass guitar / synth below 40Hz.

Don't mean to come off as too much a simpleton. Just looking for a list of guidelines to use as a base for learning.

Any thoughts?

(BTW you guys are really great. Been lurking here for years and have learned so much from you. Thank you!)

Old 13th July 2011
Lives for gear

What, a handy sheet that outlined some key points to try Eq's at

Like this you mean?

Last few pages

These guys make pretty sweet hardware and software (recently) it's not just some 'guys' opinions, these EQ bands were agreed on by quite a line up of people as detailed in the manual.
Old 13th July 2011
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steveschizoid's Avatar
There is no EQ recipe that works universally, very few rules, and plenty of exceptions to those.

My best advice: buy the Golden Ears instructional package and constantly compare your mixes to professional mixes you like.

It's a journey, and there are no short cuts.

The good news is, you like to listen, right?
Old 13th July 2011
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12ax7's Avatar

Old 13th July 2011
Gear addict
Steck's Avatar

Another GS posted this in a similar thread - even though George calls one of the frequencies out, note how he uses the EQ itself to zero in on "the frequency of interest" - this is how I learned back in the day to "find a problem" that I was hearing:

‪George Massenburg talks about the GML Dynamic Range Controller‬‏ - YouTube

(disregard the title of the video, btw - and even though this is a promo for the 8200 EQ, most other sweepable parametric EQs can be used in this way [considering they're all based on his design, more or less])

Edit to add:

>>4. Narrowly notch much of everything down a few dB ~320Hz (get rid of mud).

IMO Mud can be from 300-500hz (YMMV) and also (IMO) can be equivalent to "warmth" (I just love audio terminology, don't you?), so you don't want to over-do chopping it. (Did I say, Your Milage May Vary?)
Old 14th July 2011
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Fizzyhair's Avatar

Eq guides help you find frequencies in an instruments spectrum so you can actually learn what to listen for.
Old 15th July 2011
Lives for gear
Charts help to a degree to know general ranges, but in the long run, knowing your 1/3 octaves is going to be your biggest help. Ears, ears, ears.

Finding problem frequencies as Steck described is a common practice too, generally, this is how it'll work:

-boost EQ, adjust Q-

-sweep slowly for a few seconds-

-ah-hah! moment-

Old 15th July 2011
Gear maniac
The sweeping EQ trick that works for single tracks:

1. Open your EQ plugin on your track of choice.
2. Select a band, and make its bandwidth as narrow as possible.
3. Commence playing of your track.
4. Raise the volume of the band with the narrow Q to maximum, starting from the bass end, sweep this along the top until you notice a frequency that pokes out particularly harshly.
5. When this is found, cut the frequency by letting go of the node and using the band's gain/boost/attenuate knob for most accuracy.
6. If the cut makes the sound too thin or unnatural, try cutting less. If you notice the problem frequency still creeping in, you can also use a second node with a wider Q at the same frequency as the cut to raise the general frequencies in the area, masking the cut. You can then make the cut deeper again.

The EQ trick to unmask two tracks from each other (works on groups sometimes):

1. Open your EQ plugin on your track of choice for which you want to unmask, and again do the sweeping trick but this time find the frequency that you want to boost to bring it out.
2. Boost this frequency by 0.5dB
3. Copy this plugin to the track that's masking your other one.
4. Change the boost in the second track to a cut of 0.5dB.
5. Start increasing the boost/cuts at 0.5dB intervals to further unmask the frequencies, and set to taste.

Be wary though that although you may unmask one track using this trick you could very well mask a different track. It is therefore wise to have the whole mix playing whilst you do all your EQ. See how it sits in the context of the mix.
Old 15th July 2011
Lives for gear

Cheater's shortcut that will learn you nothing:

Install Span, EQ the big bump off.

Old 15th July 2011
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abechap024's Avatar

or even "worse" have software remove the peak for you automatically


and you know what. IT actually can save some otherwise crappy tracks
Old 18th July 2011
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subimage's Avatar

Thread Starter
Thanks guys for the great tips and pointers. I appreciate it!

And now for the psycho-therapy portion of this thread.

(I know there's a 'moan-zone' forum, but, I thought since this is still related to the original post...)

I'm so frustrated with mixing! It seems truly there are little, if any, rules to follow. Each track presents its own unique problem. And it's seemingly impossible task to unify more than one track so they sound alike. Ugh! It's easy for me to write songs, though I'm having a difficult time mixing them. (Not even thinking about the work of mastering yet). But, I'm eager to learn.

1. How long do you give your ears per session? (I know ear fatigue is real.)
2. When you are most frustrated, how do you work your way out of it? (Coffee break?)
3. As you get more experienced, do you not get frustrated as often? (Likely not?)

Thanks again for all your help.

Old 18th July 2011
Lives for gear
ears2thesky's Avatar
The process of creating a finished recording can be challenging because it requires skill in several ares. The composition and arrangement are obviously extremely important and often dictate specifics of the rest of the process. Having an encyclopedic knowledge of music and production history and techniques will greatly assist the recordist. It is this key aspect that is rare and usually distinguishes the top of the profession from the pretenders and wannabees. There is an amazing amount of information available these days, so if you are truly interested in learning more about what has been done and how it was accomplished you can find this out with a bit of research.
Ideally when I bring up a mix I should be able to put all faders at unity and have a decent mix right there. The closer to this scenario I start with usually determines how easy the rest of the mix will go. If I don't have to work too hard to make recorded tracks sound right, then I'll move right through the mix quickly and experience much less mental and psychological fatigue. So while it is helpful to have a big bag of tricks available to massage tracks, the fewer of them you have to pull out the better off you'll be. Therefore the gear selection (from instrument/amp/cabinet to mic/preamp) and location/placement/volume/isolation are as important as any aspect of mixing tracks later on.
If you are having a lot of frustration getting a mix to sound right, the main problem is probably with the recording of the tracks themselves. If translation to real-world listening conditions is the biggest problem, then monitoring equipment and/or control room acoustic treatment are most likely the culprits.
It really does get easier as you gain more experience. Keep your mind and ears open and never stop learning.

Oh yeah... If it sounds good it is good.
Old 20th July 2011
Gear interested
XanderRoseberry's Avatar

Hey man, I'm somewhat new to the industry. But if there were rules all over the place, mixing wouldn't be any fun or anywhere near as rewarding. AND we'd all be out of a job.

Learning what mud sounds like and how you like your kick to sound and weather or not the snare ring is at 5k or 7k or both is just part of the process.

Keep on keeping on. You'll get it if you are willing to learn and listen.
Old 20th July 2011
Lives for gear
OP, you'd do best to learn your 1/3 octaves if you haven't. They'll help you 4578998345x more than an EQ cheat sheet.
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