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Jay Kahrs 9th March 2003 06:09 AM

Are you afraid of EQ?
It took me a while to get used to the thought of having to EQ something. For a long time everyone said track flat, do it all in the mix. I did that unless there was something that really needed EQ. Even still, I hardly EQ'd the mix. I actually remember doing one project where the drummer was amazed that I had 5 or 6 channels of EQ on a 22 track mix with another 6 or 7 channels of effects returns.

About two years ago that came and bit me on ass when I mixed a project for a band (unattended) and out of 12 songs they only liked three of them. They said the rough mixes sounded closer and the final product really changed. There was a bit more to it, like them not really knowing what they liked and what they wanted. In the end I ended up redoing 4 songs rather then the 9 that they wanted to.

But, since that project I've changed my approach and I started to EQ a bit on the way to tape. After seeing SM's reckless approach to EQ I'm not as afraid to twist those knobs way up or down if needed.

Any thoughts on this one?

mdbeh 9th March 2003 06:45 AM

Here in indierock land, there's a school that thinks you need to go to confession after using any sort of processing. (Forgive me father, for I have used 3 comp's in series...)

It gets old after a while. I still try to get the job done with mics and pres, but if EQ's going to make something sound better, I'm going to use it.

That said, I don't EQ much during tracking, save the occasional High Shelf boost ("air" on vocals) or hpf. I used to be really into printing effects during tracking, because then you're commiting to something, that's how it was done Old School blah blah blah.

I ****ed up some good performances doing that, though, so I've reverted to handling most processing in the mix. It makes me feel like a bit of wimp, but I'm less likely to permanently ruin something now...

Ideally, though, I'd still with print'n'commit.

Wiggy Neve Slut 9th March 2003 08:40 AM

Hell No....

first of all... EQ is no subsitute for proper mic placement and gain structure **disclaimer over** heh heh

But i like to know that what i pull up @ mix is mostly in 'the can'. hard choices about certain frequencies are made on the fly whilst tracking allt he while keepingt he bigger picture of the song formost in my mind when eq'ing. Rampant EQ abuse can really **** a song.. i know.. i learnt the hard way like everyone else and made the mistakes to know better. But i gennerally Cut during tracking and add a lil bit here or there but in mix mode anything goes.. so long as it sounds good!!!!


Curve Dominant 9th March 2003 09:34 AM

EQing in the tracking stage is something one comes grudgingly around to, over time, and with the benefit of experience. It's like a puzzle: You know how the pieces should fit together, so you do some advance tweaking to facilitate that fitting. Moderation is key: Everything in moderation, including moderation.

But, I'll never forget what Bob Olhsson once said: "Anytime you process audio, you make it more fragile."

Words of wisdom to be heeded.

A Reel Person 9th March 2003 10:47 AM

I EQ to tape, then often no EQ on the mix, unless there's a problem track..
I also get a certain warm & fuzzy feeling if I can get a good sound printed to tape that sounds good on mixdown with no EQ, that the sound I'm hearing on mixdown is the actual sound I got printed to tape, and [hopefully] doesn't need EQ on playback.

I also think a small amount of high freq boost on the input side is necessary to compensate for a slight high freq rolloff that you get with analog tape. We are talking about analog tape, aren't we? Haha. Otherwise, I just EQ sparingly on the input side, to get the best sound of the moment, and print that to tape.

I'm just into personal home recording, but I'm pretty happy with the sound I'm getting on my recordings.jkthtyrt

Jules 9th March 2003 02:40 PM

THING ABOUT RECORDING FLAT with no EQ IS THAT AT SOME POINT (scuse caps) it becomes painfully obvious that your recording sounds like dull muffled mud compared with mastered commercially released CDs.

Do you...Press on regardless?

It's kind of hard to switch from say, the Chili Peppers during a lunch break to ones own "puddle of mud" when you start up again...

At mixdown I DO like to show bands how I've made their mixes stand up against the competitions CD's.

At the mix do you...

1) Strap an EQ across the mix buss at mixdown to bring the brightness up so you dont go round wasting valuable EQ bands by doing the same 'brightening job' on all individual channels.

2) (I like this one) Strap a TEMPORARY EQ across the mix buss FOR MONITOR ONLY to bring the brightness up so you dont go round wasting valuable EQ bands by doing the same 'brightening job' on all individual channels. HOWEVER, BYPASSING IT AS YOU PRINT THE MIX

3) mix in a 'world of mud' and 'take care' of it in mastering

I've already got mastering engineers to admit that a LOT of what they do is crank in HIGH QUALITY top end onto mixes. This is simply "the truth". Its a BIG part of the job..

THANKS TO YOU GUYS kicking off a patch bay daydream!!!

Here's how I am going to mix my next project (a sort of Buzzcocks/Ramones/Oasis hybrid)

Analog mix buss
Cranesong STC-8 / or SSL comp
Cranesong Hedd A/D - 96k 24 bit
TC Finalizer 96k - SRC to 44.1 16 bit - WITH (rough) MASTERING "SMILE CURVE" including - HF BOOST!
Cranesong Hedd D/A 44.1 16 bit - FOR MONITORING & A/B switching between commercial CD's (done via AES & SPDIF switching on Hedd)


1) I wont eq HF needlessly into all individual channels
2) I print a flat, 96k 24 bit master that presents an 'open road' for any mastering engineer
3) I can A/B to Commercially made CD's
4) the Finalizer EQ settings although never actually used on the master (god forbid, too metallic IMHO) might provide some sort of ballpark guide frequencies for any future 'junior' mastering I may do later with Sony GML EQ's within a PT mastering session.

Thanks a lot guys!


P.S. Oh, and as much as possible, I record flat, but am not afraid to boost or cut a little, but try to avoid it. So, 80% flat is an estimate. This is new for me, I used to EQ everything - a lot. This method isn't natural for me, I have adopted it cause I feel it's for "my own good". So far so good.

Tim L 9th March 2003 03:09 PM


Originally posted by Jules
... Oh, and as much as possible, I record flat, but am not afraid to boost or cut a little, but try to avoid it.
This is pretty much the philosophy I go by. If I can get there without EQ then I very much prefer it. I'm certainly not afraid to use it in "large dose's" and can be allot of fun but OD'ing is real easy and never a pretty picture...

paterno 9th March 2003 07:06 PM


I always feel like you are making the record every time you commit something to 'tape', so I'm going to get it sound the way I want it to right then and there -- whatever it takes. When you push up the faders, on subsequent listens, the record should be there. For me, it makes things easier in the long run -- everyone is aware of how it sounds, and i don't need to do as much EQ later. And the 'fix it later' issue hardly ever comes up because you deal with things as they arise...


Wiggy Neve Slut 9th March 2003 11:38 PM

Slip... u r my sort of engineer! when i get to NY later this yr we gota get together for a beer!

EQ a way people.. i think it stems to th fact that a lot fo engineers are still afraid to make binding decisions. Those that were first indoctrinated with the sonic shortcomings of analogue tape were almost forced to get around the fact by using EQ during tracking to keep the integrity of the orginal performance. One we were over the intitial scary prospects of Eqing to tape a lot of engineers then gto brave an dstarted to craft the recording according to how they or the artist(i hate that there are so few people who can genuinly claim to be one!) wishes their recording to sound..


A Reel Person 10th March 2003 12:08 AM

I'm a home recordist, and I'm not going to presume to take on you pro-guys,...
because I'm not a pay or for-hire recording pro. I'm making decisions based on only esthetic and personal concerns.

For my money, I prefer to EQ moderately on the input side, for the reasons I described above, and hopefully the end result requires little or no EQ on the playback side. I don't mind to "print & commit", and that's okay with my style. I've never ruined a project by over EQ'ing on the input side, but have probably made some bad mixes by over-EQing on the mix side, YMMV.

Whether it's boost or cut, I use EQ moderately, and by rule of thumb try never to boost or cut past the +/-2:30 [knob] position. I also make a considered effort at mic placement, so input side EQ that's required is minimal.

Currently, I'll try never over-peak something with EQ, because if I find the EQ levels are riding too high, [past about the +/-2:30 postion], I'll scrutinize and reconsider EQ [& mic position] very carefully, and try to find my best sound instead with a little db CUT, & try to back it off a hair, [or change mic placement].

Currently, I'm a bit more of a purist, and I don't put a lot of processing on my signals, either on the record side or the mixdown side, but I'm always tryng to get the best, fullest, truest, live sounding tracks as possible, directly to tape.

Anyway, enough about me, & I should never say never. I'm sure if I was a pay-for-hire pro recording guy, I'd have different considerations as to what was printed to tape, and what was kept for the mix. I'd probaby then be inclined to put more on the mix side. That's if I were a pro.

However, whatever little freelance recording I've done, I still EQ on the input side, and most things are done to my own discretion, and the players just concentrate on the performance. Note, I'm referring to simple little no-pay recording gigs I've done for my friends.

I'll agree wholeheartedly, that a badly EQ'd or overpeaked EQ'd track can sound painfully bad. I've been there & done that, and through that process learned that EQ is best in moderation. Since that stunning realization, [ha], I'm EQ'ing moderately on the input side, and my no-EQ results on the playback side are very satisfactory. I'm not necessarily trying to make a commercial sounding album, but just trying to capture a true and live sound to tape.

I'm an EQ-to-tape-print-&-commit type of recordist. That works fine for me. YMMV. Everyone should do what sounds best and works best for themselves, or I suppose what the paying client is directing you to do, in certain cases. I have no personal experience in that. Interesting discussion. In a way, every recording is a challenge & learning experience. Cheers. jkthtyrt

kakaroto 10th March 2003 01:02 AM


Originally posted by slipperman

I often EQ like a MADMAN.

This after about 12-13 years of NEVER Eqing to tape.

I went nuts.

I cracked.

I joined the enemy.

I love those guys like brothers now(The enemy).


The thing about NEVER eqing to tape nowadays is that not all the mediums are quite as forgiving as TAPE is. Not to start some stupid A vs. D fight.. And PLEASE .. Im really not trying to start a fight here!! IMHO things definitly sound different coming back from alsihad and I have found that getting a better sounding signal to the machine is easier to work with later on. I feel like it is more of a fight to get things to work coming back from alsihad when they have been sent in flat. This may be subjective but IMHO the same EQ and Comp will sound better on, lets say a bass gtr, before it hits Digi, than on the way back.

Some may agree.. some may disagree.. All are entitled to thier own opinion.

The point I am trying to make is that when I started as an AE I used only analog and tracked EVERYTHING in flat. Now I am forced to use other mediums and I EQ to each as I try to see fit.

Its all one big fun game since most times clients cant tell the difference anyway... But, at the end of the day I want to enjoy the way the records I have been a part of sound.


Curve Dominant 10th March 2003 02:20 AM


posted by kararoto:
The thing about NEVER eqing to tape nowadays is that not all the mediums are quite as forgiving as TAPE is. Not to start some stupid A vs. D fight.. And PLEASE .. Im really not trying to start a fight here!! IMHO things definitly sound different coming back from alsihad and I have found that getting a better sounding signal to the machine is easier to work with later on. I feel like it is more of a fight to get things to work coming back from alsihad when they have been sent in flat. This may be subjective but IMHO the same EQ and Comp will sound better on, lets say a bass gtr, before it hits Digi, than on the way back.

Some may agree.. some may disagree.. All are entitled to thier own opinion.

I use Pro Tools, and I agree.

Pro Tools likes it when you get it right going in, with deft use of external hardware in the tracking stage. Actually, I kind of LIKE that about PT.

Especially with the whole kick/bass dilemma...I like to sort those two guys out in advance while recording, rather than deal with it in the mix.

And trim highs from anything in the "shrill" register.

Mostly cutting lows or highs, or using that trusty little HPF on the mic pre. Maybe a teeny boost at 2.9K to make a snare stick out a tad. Stuff like that.

EQ - tastes great, less filling!

chessparov 10th March 2003 02:32 AM

Should mention that I have some of Dave's AKA "A Reel Person" CD's and they sound quite good. You may not consider yourself
to be a "pro", however, you have the talent to be if you ever
had the time and inclination.

For someone less advanced like me, I think a good way to go is to
generally do any EQ cuts during tracking, and any boosts during mixing. Especially with using moderate or higher amounts of compression.

Doing a similar version of Death march Dogma too, am taking
microphones like a '57, then EQing it to sound "like" other mikes. Sort of an educational version of primitive mic modeling.

Just starting to understand why less is more on EQing,
as the replicator method doesn't sound as natural, using the
limited gear at my disposal.

Chris 10th March 2003 02:33 AM

As usual another good Gearslutz topic. :)

"To EQ or not to EQ, that is the question"

Now I do not think anyone will argue that EQ can be a great tool in shaping a sound. And as was implied it can also save your bacon when you are stuck with a problem track.

But I am of the belief that EQ can also be a crutch and it certainly is not a silver bullet. Garbage In will almost always equal garbage Out, unless you throw enough plug-ins at it. Now days that called a hit record. :)

The point is this... when I have to crank in 10, 12+... db of EQ in my opinion I have failed, assuming I did the tracking. Does this mean I am not quick to reach over and give the EQ a big twist, of course not but it always makes me question my mic selection or placement. It always makes me think back about what I could have done differently during tracking to give me the sound I needed in the mix. Reaching for the EQ is easy but learning the sublties of a mic locker is part of what I love about recording.

In my opinion many young engineers have been brought up in a world of "fix it in the mix". Their entire view is based on plug-ins and post production not preproduction. Now I certainly do not put EQ in the same category as post production but getting the right sound BEFORE I hit the big red button is becoming a lost art.

The other argument for using moderate levels of EQ are technical issues. EQ can introduce all kinds of phase shift issues regardless if you are using analog or digital EQs. The cheaper the gear the worse the problem. Also there is no free lunch and EQ can increase noise problems as well.

You are ALWAYS better off if you are able to shape your sound as close to the source as possible. Mic selection, instrument choice, new strings etc. are always my first choice. And if not, then I always have those pretty EQ knobs. heh


A Reel Person 10th March 2003 03:16 AM

Thanx chess, & nice to see you hitting the boards again.
;) Anyway, I've considered moonlighting in pro audio & recording, FWIW, but I'll hold out with my present so-called career, until further notice. If my present career implodes, I'd consider recording as a second career, either studio or mobile. I've considered setting up a commercial practice/recording studio venue, with multiple recording rooms. I have certain dreams and ideas of recording that go a bit beyond home recording, of course.

For now, I'll stay with the well paying steady gig. I'll continue to practice, record & hone my home recording techniques, basically just for fun and my own amusement. I appreciate your comments, chess, and rock-on! Right on!C'ya! jkthtyrt


> Again, I'm a bit of a recording purist. I'm big on having a good live room sound, good mic placement, a little moderate EQ here & there, a few soundchecks, & roll tape, and hopefully end up with something that's [coherent], fun, exciting to listen to and dynamic, with a full bodied live sound that's also easy on the ears.

That's not too much to ask for, is it? Haha.

I rely heavily on my ears, and when in full record/mix mode, spend hours & days of critical listening, tweaking away, rerecording, remixing, etc. I just do home recording for fun, but I'm obviously trying to achieve the best production vaule as possible, given the limitations of my gear and talent as a producer, engineer & musician. Beyond that, for me it's all for fun.

chessparov 10th March 2003 03:32 AM

Sure thing Reel.


Fuzzy Logic 10th March 2003 03:42 AM

Exactly SM!

Good mic placement and EQ is god!
I take a very similar approach when EQing the Kick.

Keep EQing, especially when tracking to analog....

Like SM said, there's tons of reasons why you should do it.


Originally posted by slipperman
Well, I've posted about this many times on PSW and I don't want to bore anybody here but.....

I often EQ like a MADMAN.

I've got so many reasons for doing this I don't know where to start....

This after about 12-13 years of NEVER Eqing to tape.

I went nuts.

I cracked.

I joined the enemy.

I love those guys like brothers now(The enemy).

Now I appear to be engaged in a desperate battle to out-EQ anyone in the history of the craft.... KIDDING. KIDDING.

Things I have been known to do.

Chop 30Db off overheads below 120Hz.
Chop as much as 10-12 Db at 250-350 on the same.
Chop another 4-6 Db WIDE on 400-800 as I'm making the other hacks.
(MadMoosely saw this on the record I'm doing now and almost fainted).

Hack a kick 10-15Db at 300 narrow.
Notch super-narrow at 70-90Hz.
Then boost the heck outta 40-60 narrow.
Hi-pass at 30-50.
Hack same drum just as much at 600-900 Really narrow.
NOTCH 1.75-2.8k range 6-8Db. while simultainiously boosting in the 4-6k range the same amount very narrow.
Low pass the whole mess at 9-10k up to 15k.

Hack everything off a snare at 100 down with hi-pass.
Cut, notches or boosts can be any number of bizarre combinations.
For SM57 snare.... Nothing like a SEVERE narrow cut at 8k with a MASSIVE VERY narrow boost at 15k with the low-pass clocking in at 12k. Yes 12k. BELOW the boost. I Love the havoc this stuff plays with the harmonic content and phase coherancy.

I could go on forever.

I go NUTS on

I love taking a mic that is NOT working AT ALL and FORCING it to work. The kids at my shop go crazy laughing as I engage in two of my favorite games.

'Death March Dogma micing' Where a common mic for a particular application is selected, placed in the 'usual' spot and the mic choice AND it's placement CANNOT be changed. Once it's up... It's up... It cannot be moved. All EQ fixes.

And 'Random Fatalist Micing' where a intern or band member is sent into the mic locker to select a mic which we must then place and EQ. until it works.

We ran a 'RFM' drill today on a new record for a pretty well known indy hardcore-punk band starting in my 'B' room. Lloyd(The shop's part time accountant) selected an RCA Jr. Velocity Ribbon(He thought it looked like 'Orson Wells') for the hi-hats. Just getting any isolation and directionality from the thing proved just about impossible. At the genius suggestion of the asst. engineer on the session we ended up suspending a staff members motorcycle helmet over the mic to 'Channel' the hats into the thing. It sounded positively CRAZY. However, in a humiliating public defeat, accompanied by much jeering and booing from the assembled mob, I ended up relenting and hanging a Royer R-122.... But it was fun while it lasted and I've discovered some really inobvious mic choices in the course of the these type of shenanigans.

Ya gotta have some fun or you go mental.

Or maybe it's "Ya gotta go mental to have some fun".



Remoteness 10th March 2003 05:24 AM

I always EQ to tape, especially when it's analog tape. I EQ to digital, but have been holding off more and more these days.
As many may already know, I record a lot of live stuff. I usually record the sound check unEQ'd, then spend a bunch of time after the sound check (is over) getting the stuff sounding great for the live 2mix.

If the 2mix is not critical, I will EQ to the digital multitrack four out of five times.

Jay Kahrs 10th March 2003 07:35 AM

Well, I think there's a reason EQ can go to +12 or +15. If you need it 'ya got it right? On the song I just mixed I ended up boosting about 8 or 9dB at 80hz on the bass amp track and I've got the dbx Subharmonic Synth going too. I won't pretend to think that my **** doesn't stink, but people like what I do. Hell, I most of the time I can even listen to what I do and not get really freaked out. But, I feel that if I have to EQ to extreames at more then 2 bands something is ****ed up. Still, there's some kind of buildup on this project that I can't put my finger on and it's bugging me. At what point do you say "screw it, let mastering take care of it"?

cajonezzz 10th March 2003 08:18 AM


Originally posted by Jay Kahrs
I've got the dbx Subharmonic Synth going too.
Hey Jay , where did you get this box? I heard one in use the other day by a local engineer. I had never seen one. He said it came out of their home audio gear? what can you tell us about it?

Wiggy Neve Slut 10th March 2003 11:42 AM

When EQing there are some things to keep in perspective.. well i try to heh heh heh heh

Generally the 'Cheaper" the EQ the more reason NOT to EQ. The shortcomings of cheaper EQ will increase the amount of phase shift and generally sound **** regardless.

Different EQ acts differently and sounds different. There is a reason a pultec does what it does so well yet it may not be suited to another task that a different EQ will work better. I mean there are times when as much as i love 1073's i have yearned for another EQ ( but they still rock!).

I try to put the amount of cutting and boosting to the back of my mind... cos in general terms it sometimes get scary but **** it.. if it sounds good it is!!!!! and @ the ned of the day thas what counts!

Slipperman... u seriously gota try out the CLM dynamics db500 'Expounder' dynamic EQ... its sounds like its right up your alley!hittt hittt hittt


sonic dogg 10th March 2003 05:24 PM

GAWD I love reading this kinda dirty stuff....okay so old school advocate here..not for any particular reason, just want to get a take on this...

So yer workin this session with some kinda young guitargod...and in searching for the 'sound' goin in ,you stumble upon the eq'd the crap out of it fantasy noise that makes your hair stand up...this you stick with cause its jumpin off the tape(or outta da box) now OTHER elements are seemingly puny and weak and need a tweekin...and so on and so on......SO....

Isnt this all the proverbial dragon with its tail in its mouth?

I would have no problem makin decisions about my crap going in, but doing so with others stuff seems like a risk of never doin anything again unless you get lucky........

How about those 'OLD DAZE' in rock music where the consoles didnt even have eq but the sound came bustin down yer speakers.........

Bob O. must have a take on this........ok..just my over 50 rant....

Fabricoh35 10th March 2003 07:09 PM

I always read all this stuff about try not to use eq, be careful with compression, only use really good equipment etc and then they always said "oh and use your ears".

I am finding more and more that the two don't go well together.

Good mic placement, getting good sounds to tape is critical, I totally agree.

Beyond that my new approach is to do what ever it takes. I have a sound I am going for and if I need to use 30 compressors in sequence to get it...thats what I going to do. In the end I need to be able to listen to this stuff.

I am going for the big picture now and using my ears. If I can get what I want for the big picture with a 5.99 toy reverb that that's what I'm using. I don't care anymore. Sure its not pure but it's listenable (to me anyway).

If a piece of equipment is not giving what I want and I have a choice then I get rid of it and try something else. Nope no more "rules" for me.

A live show with natural sounds is great because it is raw and energetic and most of all FORGETABLE. Your brain blends the sounds into something good and then forgets it during the next song. Live albums most always stink because live performances when played back over and over show you how bad it really sounded. But when you were there your brain and ears tricked you and you thought it sounded great.

When recording you have to make something that sounds good, play after play after play. IMO that does not always mean making it sound like it did when it was played.

My new motto..."Do what you gotta do"

Dave Martin 10th March 2003 07:25 PM

What some of you may be forgetting is that if you're tracking with a whole rhythm section, you can kind of hear what needs to be done with EQ, but a lot of guys are building a whole project one instrument at a time. That's when EQ'ing to tape gets a little iffy - the guitar you thought sounded so great when you laid it down may well not fit at all when you've finished adding 4 more guitars, 6 tracks of percussion, 10 tracks of vocals and an organ.

Or you may EQ the crap out of the kick drum and later realize that it's awful when you add bass - then what? Drastic cutting of the frequencies that you boosted the day before?

I'm not trying to be argumentative - just pointing out another side to the story.

chessparov 10th March 2003 07:54 PM

Another facet I've learned recently is that the "classic" dynamic microphones
like the 57, 421, M88, et al, seem to be more forgiving with EQ than most of
the "budget" condensers. They also seem to better cover up the fact that a
budget parametric (Aphex 109) is being used. Even so, I can tell the difference
in sound quality, especially if it's more than a 3 dB boost, or a 4.5 dB cut.
Guess that the Speck parametric EQ is the lowest priced for top level use
right now, based on end user comments.


Dave Martin 10th March 2003 08:26 PM


Originally posted by chessparov

Guess that the Speck parametric EQ is the lowest priced for top level use
right now, based on end user comments.

The Speck is a nice little box (I prefer the transformer version to transformerless), but I'm not sure that 'top level use' really means much (at least, not to me). Is it a Massenburg? Nope. But it certainly is useable, (even in places that I would never want to take a GML parametric, like a live gig...).

cram 10th March 2003 09:49 PM

I Do...
If you know how it's supposed to sound, why not do it right from the start.

Commit Dammit!

chessparov 10th March 2003 10:22 PM

Dave, my coming from the valley of Alesis and Behringer
can make any upgrade seem like "top level use". :)


Dave Martin 10th March 2003 11:38 PM

Re: I Do...

Originally posted by cram
If you know how it's supposed to sound, why not do it right from the start.

Commit Dammit!

Sure. Unless you you're doing it wrong without knowing it.

cram 10th March 2003 11:40 PM


Sure. Unless you you're doing it wrong without knowing it.
Well, then you just EQ it again >>>Cough<<<

mezed abduction rollz