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More on recording flat vs phase shift? Living with the mud?
Old 10th December 2002
  #1
More on recording flat vs phase shift? Living with the mud?

Recently I have stopped almost all eqing of drum mic's.. and most overdubs. This is 'new' for me.

I found this unbearably 'muddy' and dull sounding at first, but I have settled into it.

Now at mastering these days I (or my mastering engineer) take out a pair of pliars and add HF sizzle & sheen to taste.. it's often A LOT that needs to be added..

I wonder if the potential pahse shift caused by the one eq on the stereo master, is less 'troublesome' than using many individual eq on overheads, vocals gtrs etc..

Discuss.

I was able to fix the thumbscrews on mastering engineer & gearslut Brad Blackwood and get a confession that many flat recordings require very large amouts of sheen or 'super top' to get that contemporary sound.. (but I knew that anyway by watching my mastering engineer unflinchinly add a whole HEAP of it to a recent 'flat - no eq' production..

Flat recording, living with the 'mud'
Old 10th December 2002
  #2
Gear Addict
 
mplancke's Avatar
Re: More on recording flat vs phase shift? Living with the mud?

Quote:
Originally posted by Jules

I wonder if the potential pahse shift caused by the one eq on the stereo master, is less 'troublesome' than using many individual eq on overheads, vocals gtrs etc..

Discuss.

Flat recording, living with the 'mud'
You're a better man than me Jules, I can't do it. I like the production to sound like a record from day one and I've been lucky that I haven't painted myself into a corner, lately at least.

Of course I still like to pay attention to mic selection, placement and all the important things but I'm not afraid to twist the knobs to make it sound the way I want it to. It seems that most of the time compression (sometimes many compressors in a row ) gets me very close to the sound I'm looking for and tasteful application of EQ takes it to the next level.

Mark
Old 10th December 2002
  #3
It was a relief to learn that using a LITTLE eq from time to time would not get me arrested.. But I am, over all, commited to the flat method..

This month anyhow..

Old 11th December 2002
  #4
Gear Nut
 

If you know how to use eq and you know the sound you want to get, why would you avoid using one? Have you joined the Albini cult? I understand that you can get great results using only proper mic choice and placement, but often times an eq will just sound cool. That is why I have Neve, API, and Pultec eq's. They do something that mic placement cannot do. Why not use them?
Old 11th December 2002
  #5
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drundall's Avatar
 

I used to be that way, but now I'm happy to EQ the crap out of anything. Like they say trust your ears. I think it might be a good way to learn, though for people just getting into it. Makes you deal with the source more.
Old 11th December 2002
  #6
High End Moderator
 
mwagener's Avatar
There is no EQ whatsoever on my current project. We're done with 13 songs drums, bass, electric and acoustic guitars, vocals, backings and some keyboards. We still have to record a string quartett, more keyboards and soundfx. The project is in surround and that makes a whole world of difference to me, there is just more space to place sounds. I was never afraid to EQ the heck out of things, but now that I have a buch of "great" mics and pres to record with, I feel I don't need any EQ. I'm sure there will be "some" eqing in the mix, though.
Old 12th December 2002
  #7
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jazzius's Avatar
 

Re: More on recording flat vs phase shift? Living with the mud?

Quote:
Originally posted by Jules

Now at mastering these days I (or my mastering engineer) take out a pair of pliars and add HF sizzle & sheen to taste.. it's often A LOT that needs to be added..

I wonder if the potential pahse shift caused by the one eq on the stereo master, is less 'troublesome' than using many individual eq on overheads, vocals gtrs etc..

Flat recording, living with the 'mud'
What i've noticed is that eq'ing the 2-buss has a totally different sound from eq'ing individual elements.....you get a different sort of high.....i think this is because, like you said, the phase shift (caused by the eq) is being put onto all the sounds in the mix.....in fact i would think of eq'ing the 2-buss as an effect, 'cause it has a certain "sound".....
Old 13th December 2002
  #8
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blackcatdigi's Avatar
Great topic.

This is another one of the things I've gone completely 'full circle' on... Highly subjective matter. I'll play devil's advocate.

Used to be a big proponent of NEVER using any eq while tracking, and as little as possible in the mix. People that did eq going down made me crazy!
Of course, this made for some long mixing sessions. Lots of 'fixing in the mix' and agonizing over endless tweaking possibilities...

Life is too short.

These days, I'm all about commitments. I eq the piss out of anything that needs it and I do it while its going down. In fact, I'm becoming somewhat of a 'guerrilla' recordist. I try to make decisions as early as possible, and get them the hell outta the way.
I purposely paint myself into the corner so as not to be left with unlimited options. I'm enjoying the limitations. I don't get bogged down with too many choices. I just trust my gut instinct, make all these little leaps of faith, and when I push up the faders it sounds like it's supposed to. Or at least it does THIS WEEK... Of course next week this may bite me on the arse!

A big YMMV on this one.
Old 14th December 2002
  #9
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chap's Avatar
 

eq

I find that small amounts of eq and compression are safer than huge amounts of either at any time.
I prefer to master with Calbi who seems cool with this and often works with small amounts in the final process. I also find that most of my mixing eq is high pass stuff rather than slamming a track.
Of course, I'm not afraid to hammer the kick drum from time to time. I also run all my pre masters through either the SLAM! to Massivo or the Vari Mu to Massivo so I have a good reference going in.

For rock stuff, it doesn't hurt to play with the saturation filter on the Apogee Trac2.

Also, this new stem mastering thing helps with the 'no eq' thing because one thing doesn't affect the other.
I gotta go eq something - oh, yeah - my checkbook.
Old 15th December 2002
  #10
Gear Guru
 

I seem to recall an equalizer- the Night Pro EQ3 I think it was- that claimed virtually NO phase shift.

I think there were supposed to be some plug-in algorithms with the same ability.

Ask your minister/priest/rabbi if it would still be a sin to use an EQ if it didn't introduce phase shift.


What about a bass roll-off switch on a mic- is that an EQ? does it cause phase shifting?
Old 15th December 2002
  #11
"What about a bass roll-off switch on a mic- is that an EQ? does it cause phase shifting?"

ooooh - good one!

Anyone know?
Old 15th December 2002
  #12
Here for the gear
 

It would, wouldn't it? Doesnt it work like an "onboard eq"?

Joz
Old 15th December 2002
  #13
Gear Maniac
 
Mats Olsson's Avatar
 

I prefer to work the source, the room, the microphone selection/placement, signal chain etc before I use EQ. A good constructive dialogue with the musician is also often very rewarding.

I'm not against EQ's, but my philosophy is that if I have to add EQ, something in the signal is not right in the first place. I'd like to use EQ for shaping sounds rather than for correction.

I also believe that my method saves time when it comes to the mix, especially as I also prefer to track as much as possible live and straighten out most blending problems before I press the rec button.

(FWIW, my background is in live sound and have been known for being pretty anal about the timbre of the source. For the last 12+ years I have focused on recording.)

This is a great topic, please keep it coming!

/Mats
Old 15th December 2002
  #14
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chap's Avatar
 

roll offs

I'm a musician first and while an admitted gear addict, the technical part is alternately fascinating or boring (it's me). This thread is a good one. Having said that, most of my 20 or so outboard mic pres offer various shelfs and roll offs. The same can be said for most of the tube mics I use. So I have to wonder, with the rest of you, if roll offs, hi pass and other 'less active' forms of eq would introduce phase artifacts. It certainly is preferable to high pass a singer than to deal with rumble and plosives later on. Those both require eq. to fix.
I also find that in a final mix, if I want great bottom ( a fella likes great bottom) it pays for me to clean up the collective muck that acummulates on tracks that don't have any valuable information below 100hz. Witness the 'British' acoustic guitar sound vs. American. I'm speaking in broad terms here but Johnny Mars and the Sundays sound way different than Tom Petty or Gillian Welch. All of them sound great but the 'Brit ' sound seems to knock more bottom and add more shimmer to the layers. This is just an observation and not an attempt to start an us vs. them. I like it all.
Which one sounds more 'phasey'? Go, cats, go.
Old 15th December 2002
  #15
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toledo3's Avatar
 

I've always thought that the second you even put a mic up on something you're equalizing it; just without an "eq." So, I have no problem with equalizing while tracking.

That being said, I don't go "crazy" on the eq- I rarely make adjustments that are more than +/-4db during tracking. I will use bass cuts liberally though. For whatever reason I've never been big on adding eq to drums during tracking- it's usually vocals, d.i bass, guitars, keyboards, etc.
Old 16th December 2002
  #16
Here for the gear
 
ericswan's Avatar
 

EQ

I have no qualms about using any amount of eq or compression during tracking if it will get me where I need to go. I try to make decisions early on in the process as to what the sound should be and learn to live with that. That said, I find I don't use that much eq, prefering to experiment with mic/preamp/placement until I get close to what I want to hear.

I am a fan of cutting low end on stuff as this will help with the mud factor during the mix. I will usually low cut vocals, snare drums, guitars and horns. I think your ear is much less sensitive to any phase shift on lower frequencies.

I will also subtly boost high end on stuff going to the 2" at 15 ips to help override tape hiss. Obviously not necessary at 30 ips, with NR or in the digital world.

And though this doesn't apply to digital recording, what do you guys think about tape machine bias & eq? I know that Steve Albini will set the bias differently on seperate tracks of a 24 track machine to get them to sound different for various instruments.
Old 17th December 2002
  #17
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
The project I'm cutting right now has very little EQ. A little top to the overheads and room mics, a little 3khz out of the OH and some 5khz out of the rooms. I added a little bottom to the bass DI and I'm EQ'ing both kick mics but I'm still not happy with the sound were getting. I think it's a placement issue that I'll work out in the next hour or so. Still, while I thought it was bright enough I brought a CD out to the car and it's painfully obvious that it's not.
Old 18th December 2002
  #18
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bassmac's Avatar
 

The interesting thing about that Jay... is your mix sounded good - to you, until you compared it to a commercial CD. (haven't we all been there) But does that make your's bad - or just different?

I realize that many people here receive their paychecks based on how well their stuff compares to the latest radio hits, but...

In addition to loudness. Do you think that things have gotten just a little too bright these days? Maybe a combination of less analog, more digital, more mixing for MTV, etc. (?)

I think older records with less top end are a lot more pleasing to listen to.

Maybe that's the problem, records aren't being made to listen to... they're made jump out of the radio/TV and smack you upside the head.


Old 18th December 2002
  #19
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cram's Avatar
 

I EQ during tracking like a crazy person. Since I mix most of the projects I record, I like to get started on the mixing process right from the start. Cut, cut, cut, like a disturbed teen. Cut, cut, cut, like a cosmetic surgeon. Cut, cut, cut, like Loreena Bobbitt.

Of course I still obsess over mic position and pre-amp selection, but that is now just another step in the tonal shaping selection process.

I used to be in the 'EQ BAD' school until I got tired of constantly futzing with stuff during mixing. If you know where it's gonna end up in the tonal spectrum, why not put it there to begin with?

And then there are the guys who are using hi-pass filters on their mics, boards, whatever, and then they turn up their noses at EQ because of phase shift? Hysterical.

fuuck
Old 18th December 2002
  #20
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Knox's Avatar
 

I don't eq much at all.

I think of the Algee brothers, and how they used to have BIG eq nads. Those guys are not scared to eq the crap out of something. But, they seem to get away with it. (Higher Ground / Steve Winwood . . I hate the way that thing sounds so 'hyped') It doesn't sound as natural to my ears when there is a lot of eq.

Maybe I don't trust myself with a lot of eq.

It's also the kind of music I record these days. When I used to do some midi stuff I was always trying to eq stuff into place. Especially if it were loops.

I also feel it has alot to do with the control room. If the control room is right sonically, I find I don't reach for much eq. Think about it . . if the control room sounds right and transfers right, and you put a great mic / mic pre combination in front of a great instrument, it SHOULD sound right . . . What's to eq?

This control room sounds REALLY good, but like Jay was talking about . . . sometimes things are a little dark, which I don't really mind.
Old 18th December 2002
  #21
Gear Guru
 

My name is JoeQ. I am an eqholic. I cannot pass up an opportunity to EQ stuff, even on the Way In. When mixing, I am always eq'ing everything, often drastically, frequently more machete than scalpel.

But sometimes I like use "NO EQ" almost as an "Effect" on certain tracks. For example, I find that percussion parts like hi hat, shaker, bells, the occasional hard strummed acoustic, are more dynamic, less mushy, without EQ. I say to myself this one track shall be spared the machete so that its dynamic detail can be heard.

I don't know if I could go Cold Turkey and do the whole drum set "NO EQ".
Old 18th December 2002
  #22
urumita
 
7rojo7's Avatar
 

there's nothing like it! when the "band" comes in and the tracks are and it sounds like a record already.
they don't have problems with the cues and they're hyped on the sound and ready to do another take.
even if you don't eq it to "tape" you have to mix it good so the artist stays hyped or it turns into a mediocre session. it's better to have your **** together
I prefer an engineer who commits with the artist and/or the producer to a sound, and that's the way it will sound for ever and ever amen. i'll even record with and print effects. commit, eqs effects, mixes all add up to an atmosphere in which the artist performs and creates. if it can be improved or corrected afterwards so much the better. I often mix with the same verbs and effects i've tracked with.
the concept of scratch track doesn't exist (except if someone who's not the performer lays it down as a reference)
if you stuff the vibe with nose in the air engineering techniques you won't have anything good to record. it's better to have your **** together
creativity is the issue, an engineers duty is to capture creative inspired moments from artists in the best manner possible, according to that artist's and/or the producer's wants.
it's already bad enough to have ego-tripping artists, but ego-tripping engineers are totally unacceptable.
Why do you think so many musicians have opened their own studios and self produce their own material?
as far as phase shifting goes, if you use the part of the knob that has the minus sign on it there shouldn't be many problems ex. dip 200-350 Hz by 4 db and raise the volume by 3 db instead of tweeking the hifreeking.
mics. in cardioid sound hideous closer than 5 ft from anything, but it's become a style. there's a lot of mud right there. with omnis you can work with distance more than with direction and obtain clearer signals and as long as ther're no speakers around can be used pretty safely with optimum results (and less mics. in general)
in culo long live mud, adapt your act.
Old 19th December 2002
  #23
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Ivory Force's Avatar
 

some thought about recording with[out] EQ :
- all microphones do change the spectrum content of the audio source they record, either in phase and amplitude.
- even the air between the source and the microphone is actually a non flat filter, so that changing the position of your mic changes the phases relationship
- some mics contain a filter, which is oftenly not flat in its phase response

so, as you can see, there is a lot of very complicated filters between your audio source and your recorder (which is itself a filter, even if it is digital because A/D conversion implies filtering).

i guess adding a filter in the chain is mainly a matter of taste and situation! (i know, this is not a very original conclusion )

cheers
Old 19th December 2002
  #24
"In addition to loudness. Do you think that things have gotten just a little too bright these days? Maybe a combination of less analog, more digital, more mixing for MTV, etc. (?)"

I believe an all flat tracked rock session, with mild eq on mixdown, WILL require a HEAP of HF to be added to sound 'competitive' against other contemporary mastered releases. I am not saying this practice is bad, merely that I believe it necessary in the pop/rock music field today.

"Living with the mud" - "life in the flat lane!"

heh
Old 19th December 2002
  #25
Gear Head
 

Jules,

I totally think that recordings have gotten way too bright these days. I had suspected this for a awhile, but it really came to focus when I listened to the very natural, unhyped sounds of the O' Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack. it's kind of out of hand really. Too bright and way too compressed.
Old 19th December 2002
  #26
High End Moderator
 
mwagener's Avatar
It seems to me that the whole spectrum has shifted towards the higher frequencies. Where is the nice 35Hz low end that used to kick the sh*t out our speakers. Now everybody has subwoofers in their home, but we can't find any super low end on records anymore, well at least in Pop and most Rock, the good folks doing HipHop are still fine in the low end department. I remember Ozzy walking into the studio during the mix and by the time he got to the door and hadn't even heard anything yet, he was already shouting : MORE BASS, I WANT MORE BASS"

Basically I don't really care what's out there right now, especially in terms of sound, because I don't like most of it. I don't want to follow that trend and I'm staying away from super compression and super high end. Hey, maybe it's going to be "the new" sound for 2003 heh

dfegad on highpass filters
Old 19th December 2002
  #27
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Knox's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Jules
"In addition to loudness. Do you think that things have gotten just a little too bright these days? Maybe a combination of less analog, more digital, more mixing for MTV, etc. (?)"

I believe an all flat tracked rock session, with mild eq on mixdown, WILL require a HEAP of HF to be added to sound 'competitive' against other contemporary mastered releases. I am not saying this practice is bad, merely that I believe it necessary in the pop/rock music field today.

"Living with the mud" - "life in the flat lane!"
Interesting . . . The first time I listened to Brendan's mix on the last Stone Temple Pilots record I thought it was really dark (almost too dark) . . . next to things I had heard on the radio, like Creed and crap like that. Then I really got into it and realized how cool it was that it wasn't 'hyped'. That my ears were getting used to the 'hype' that I had been hearing on everything. That I had been semi going for more of that 'hyped' sound on some of my mixes (because clients were bringing in reference cds that I was trying to "match") and I was not enjoying them as much after going back and listening a week or two later. Plus, I realized that I was fighting more as I mixed . . . not organically letting things fall into place.

I was mixing a band ala Stone Temple Pilots and thought I would go back and give it another good listen recently . . . . . It sounded real. The right things were carrying the high end, but guitars etc were thick and down there. Sounded like it was tracked fast without a lot of eq and mixed fast. Which he does. Not my favorite Brendan mixes . . but it has it's vibe and it was / is cool.

Now . . . that said. Brendan is a friend and I know he mixes on an SSL. Are there times that I would like to hear more of an open, airy and round bottom . . . . old Neve sound on some of the stuff he does? Sure. Simply a characteristic of the desk more then eq. Does he need my opinion? I think he is doing ok with out it! *smile*

I agree Jules . . to sound competitive (that's subjective and I assume you mean "pop", as it says on your post), maybe you do have to eq things half to death. Though, as you know . . . eveyone is not looking to sound like everyone else and "compete". To me, damn near everything you hear these days is eq'd within an inch of it's life. It's refreshing when you hear something that isn't.

Thank God for the people that aren't trying to sound like everyone else! To me, the most interesting tracks /artists / producers are the ones, (just like the old days with Hendrix etc) . . that aren't trying to sound like everyone else.

I guess if a person wants to sound like Creed, Shania Twain or Matchbox 20 (more pop oriented) . . . look for lots of eq. Not saying it's a bad thing btw . . just we all do different things and we all look for different aural scapes. I guess it's not my thing per se.
Old 19th December 2002
  #28
Gear Addict
 

Jules, you've posted on a few occassions on your struggle with learning to record without eq. I wonder why you chose to start doing things this way? Is it just an experiment, or are you committed to this way of working for some reason? Have you found it to be better overall, or is the jury still out?
Old 20th December 2002
  #29
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bassmac's Avatar
 

I think Jules is just burned out on mixing, and want's to see how much he can get away with having the mastering dood clean up.

heh
Old 20th December 2002
  #30
SawSlut
 
OzNimbus's Avatar
 

If I had my way, an equalizer's knobs would only go to the left...

I haven't used boosting EQ in the last 3 years.
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