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At which point do you tend to do your subtractive eqing?
Old 6th May 2009
  #31
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Anyone moving a mic to change its sound is technically EQ'ing on the way in, right? So we all probably do a bit of that.

I like to use EQ's on the way in if I've got good ones and if I'm cutting live. Then I can place things accordingly without having to guess. If I'm piecemeailing everything together, I am probably less heavy handed, and prefer to do it come mixtime. But if I'm using some killer pre that happens to have an EQ on it, that EQ will probably be doing something, even if is just a touch.
Old 6th May 2009
  #32
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I make sure it sounds good when I track it and that means using any micpre, eq, compressor that can get that job done the best.

I never understood the idea of tracking things 'bland' without eq or effects,etc -- it's your song so if it sounds great to you, why the hell not? heh
Old 6th May 2009
  #33
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I do my best to just go with whatever sounds good at the time. To me, every day is different. I practically NEVER do the same thing twice....... unless you're talking about which mic's I use for drums. I'm also recording other people, bands, songwriters, etc., not my own music, so it can depend on whether or not I'm mixing it.

That being said....... god damn I LOVE subtractive EQ'ing! I feel like it finally "clicked" for me just recently.... as in 2-3 weeks ago. I've been able to get my mixes so much bigger, bolder, and even brighter and barely boosting anything. Kick, Snare, Bass, and some vocals. Those are virtually the only tracks getting a boost anywhere.

It's so much easier for me to hear what frequencies really are by cutting as opposed to a drastic boost. The other thing I've done for the past 2 weeks now is I haven't "swept" an EQ once........ not once. Instead I'll take good guess on where I'de like to go with a particular EQ and make the appropriate adjustment. If it's wrong, I'll stop the track, change the EQ, and hit play. If it's wrong, I'll repeat the process. I can't believe how much I've learned in the past 2 weeks. So much more than by boosting a ton and sweeping around on an EQ to find certain sweet spots or problem areas. Obviously still learning, but it's nice having finally gotten over that hill.
Old 6th May 2009
  #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post
.....But I do not understand the objection to patching EQ into the playback chain instead of the record chain.
For me its not a matter of latency or whatever other technical thing, its a matter of commiting, in my case, if i patch an eq during playback in lets say a mixing desk, then when i go to the mix not only will i not be able to replicate the sound 100% as it was, but also i wont be in the same mood as i was during the tracking process, thus loosing perspective.
Old 6th May 2009
  #35
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I think there is a larger context, and two main ways to go:

1) Track your EQ. Spend time getting your sound together while the musicians are standing around waiting patiently. Even better, use mic choice and position before reaching for the EQ. You are making a decision and committing to it. If you do this well, then at mix time you push up the faders and it's mostly done. However, if you make the band play the song 8 times while you get your act together & they are worn out and grouchy by the time you hit the red button, then you have just screwed up royally.

2) Track flat. Defer the EQing time to mix-time. If you have crap outboard gear/channel strips, this actually might be a better option. If you try to do option one, then wind up having to EQ again to compensate for the crap sounds on tape, then you are losing more detail, introducing more phase weirdness, and further messing up the sounds.

It is obviously not as black & white or simplistic as that but there is definitely something to be said for limiting your options at mix time -- as long as you can quickly, confidently and correctly make those decisions at tracking time. I like option one for tracking a live band playing together in a room. I like option two if tracking in stages... If you aren't tracking guitars and vocals until tomorrow, it's a little tougher to decide if the drums should be bright and sizzly or dark and warm today. If you have had the luxury (read: budget) of some pre-production work, these decisions can be easier.

I like to do corrective EQ in the tracking if it's needed. Even better, at tracking time you have a chance to remove the need for corrective EQ. If there are resonant frequencies in the ambient mics, try to mitigate them in the room before you touch an EQ. If a mic stand is resonating, use a different stand or break out the duct tape. If the floor tom is constantly ringing, work with the drummer to retune it or damp it appropriately. If the violinist is tapping her foot loudly and won't stop, put her on a thick carpet. If the guitar sounds dull, have them put on fresh strings. If there is RF interference on the DI bass, troubleshoot it. If you are going to wind up high-passing something later, do it now so the compressor isn't reacting to something that isn't going to be there later.

It really comes down to time constraints and how good the engineer is.

"We'll fix it in the mix" is rarely a good decision.
Old 6th May 2009
  #36
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Ethan Winer's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by strewnshank View Post
Anyone moving a mic to change its sound is technically EQ'ing on the way in, right?
Yes! And using a microphone with a presence boost is the same as using a flat microphone with an EQ set to the same curve.

--Ethan
Old 6th May 2009
  #37
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u b k's Avatar
 

the more mics I get in my locker, the less eq I need.

the more I use 2 or 3 mics on each source, the more I learn exactly what each brings to the party, and I use faders to blend a 100% phase coherent tone rather than eq to improve the fit at the expense of solidity and focus.

the better I get at placing mics the ideal distance from the source, capturing more or less air to define an element's front-to-back placement, the more things come together with less fussing.

the better I get at writing, and in particular arranging, the less I gotta worry about any of this crap.

but I'll tell you this: I have become addicted to printing everything thru old cinema engineering eq's with a little boost, like one click, on either 3k or 5k. sure it adds a little focus and presence, but mostly it adds a very old-school *vibe* to every track, something I couldn't do after the fact because I'd need a lot more channels and I'd be boosting tape hiss and console channel noise as well.

track clean if you like clean, track with processing if you like the process. but if you're not doing something because of fear, I recommend you push into the fear and do it. I'm reading 'studio stories' right now, and if there's a common theme in the tales within it's one of artists and engineers constantly pushing their limits, experimenting, and reaching beyond what's familiar in the pursuit of greatness.


gregory scott - ubk
.
Old 7th May 2009
  #38
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Unclenny's Avatar
Haven't had a thread like this in a while......all you heavy hitters chiming in on a subject many of us wish we were better at.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Benmrx View Post
I feel like it finally "clicked" for me just recently....
Me too!

I just put a second EQ plug on the 'Master' tracks of my project with a couple of cuts ( and a couple of boosts) and the tunes just came alive for me.

I'm not afraid any more! I'll do whatever it takes whenever I feel that it is needed.
Old 7th May 2009
  #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post
I defer everything to mixdown so I can tweak things in context. Those more manly than me might EQ stuff on the way in. heh Though there's no advantage to that - only a possible disadvantage if you change your mind later.

--Ethan
This is seriously a novice mindset...if you know what I mean!!!
Old 7th May 2009
  #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dantemustdie View Post
Amen. It's all about what is most efficient for your workflow and needs. If there was only one way to record audio, it would make gearslutz a lot less interesting
+1 See my signature quote!!!!
Old 7th May 2009
  #41
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Ok, on vocals for example, I tend to use some highpass and add some air with the "magic" eq in my favorite micpre/eq when tracking. I also do similar things with instruments, and maybe a little subtractive Eq. I tend to leave the really destructive stuff for the mix. It definitely can be advantageous at the pre-conversion stage. As was said before, it tends to put a smile on the face of the musicians, and inspire them while tracking and overdubbing!
Old 7th May 2009
  #42
Quote:
Originally Posted by dbbubba View Post
This is the problem in a sense.

There are just a lot of people who are working on their own who get to define their own discipline.
I was once that way except I had the keys to a pretty decent studio usually.
I guess it is where I learned the basics.

Still, it is the act of working under a tight deadline and in tough situations where you learn to really hone your craft.
You quickly learn what works and what doesn't.
Your set of "tools" gets more and more refined and your learn to use them more and more efficiently.

You can take the approach where you leave yourself lot's of time to sort it all out at mix, but the guys like me that can make it sound good quickly are going to eat your lunch.

There is lot of gear out in the world and the largest percentage of it is under-utilized.
Somone already ate my lunch.

heh

So I decided to have a nice, leisurely, mid-afternoon dinner, like they did back home on the farm on Sundays.
Old 7th May 2009
  #43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beyersound View Post
Ok, on vocals for example, I tend to use some highpass and add some air with the "magic" eq in my favorite micpre/eq when tracking. I also do similar things with instruments, and maybe a little subtractive Eq. I tend to leave the really destructive stuff for the mix. It definitely can be advantageous at the pre-conversion stage. As was said before, it tends to put a smile on the face of the musicians, and inspire them while tracking and overdubbing!
Yeah, all the extra stuff that makes them smile can be done on the return if you know you probly won't use it in mix., or, if you even suspect you might not want to backtrack later.
Old 7th May 2009
  #44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikymike View Post
This is seriously a novice mindset...if you know what I mean!!!
LOL, I'm 60 years old and I've been doing this stuff professionally for about 40 years. And you?

Any joker can say "you're wrong," but it takes actual knowledge and expertise to say why something is wrong and, more important, what is right. heh

--Ethan
Old 8th May 2009
  #45
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Yep, there's a million ways to skin a cat.
Old 8th May 2009
  #46
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I like to make a commitment at some point like in the "old days". We're all creatures of habit and we do tend to do the same things in a cycle. Ethan is right and I'm not arguing his point because I completely agree. I just find that I mix better if I make commitments before editing and mix down. Just a personal thing that I do. If I hear 400 cycles ringing in my kick, I really hate trying to sit there and listen to it during the complete tracking process. I almost always know when I'm going to apply high pass filters on an instrument or vocal. Just personal preference for me to do minor eq and compression.
Old 8th May 2009
  #47
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Quote:
This is seriously a novice mindset...if you know what I mean!!!
Very funny! Ethan is one of the best on the forum. I've spent multiple hours reading Ethan's DIY acoustics.
Old 8th May 2009
  #48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by memphisindie View Post
Yeah, all the extra stuff that makes them smile can be done on the return if you know you probly won't use it in mix., or, if you even suspect you might not want to backtrack later.
I meant the stuff that you want to keep for the mix. I have a whole virtual monitoring console for the stuff that is only for foldback (effects, etc). You can gain meaningful headroom and add some analog "air" eq without having to convert again, add noise, etc, if you commit to some highpass and eq while tracking.
Old 8th May 2009
  #49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beyersound View Post
I meant the stuff that you want to keep for the mix. I have a whole virtual monitoring console for the stuff that is only for foldback (effects, etc). You can gain meaningful headroom and add some analog "air" eq without having to convert again, add noise, etc, if you commit to some highpass, and eq while tracking.
Tiz true.
That's the kind of decisions that should be made on tracking, and what the heck, if you want an effected or drastically yet questionably EQ'd track too there's nothing wrong with multing one to another track and printing it too, it may be perfect or close, I just like to keep a clean track around, but, yeah, get the junk out of it too, helps with the gain staging/headroom/compression later.
As long as the cat is skinless at some point, hey.
Old 8th May 2009
  #50
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just my input.

i use subtractive EQ, in all stages, when tracking i use it mostly for acoustic "anomalies", but try to keep it subtle.

when mixing, its the first thing i do, again to reduce these acoustic anomalies, that are either unpleasant or out of style.

when mastering (not that i am a mastering engineer) i use it, if needed for mix recovery.

when using subtractive EQ, i try to isolate a very specific frequency, and their subsequent consonant harmonics such as octaves, fifths, fourths, and thirds. i try to reduce a moderate amount of amplitude in all these intervals and the fundamental, it works better for me than to reduce a vast amount of amplitude from the fundamental. obviusly the goal is to make it sound better so one has to do whatever it takes, even if its not well seen from other engineers, i think the technique is there to make your life easier. just never tweak blindly. (in terms of concept, because tweaking blindy is unbiased)

when using subtractive EQ for aesthetics, i just follow my intuition, regarding the approaching concept.

pardon my spanglish.heh
Old 8th May 2009
  #51
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Quote:
Originally Posted by analog modeling View Post
i use subtractive EQ, in all stages, when tracking i use it mostly for acoustic "anomalies", but try to keep it subtle.

when mixing, its the first thing i do, again to reduce these acoustic anomalies, that are either unpleasant or out of style.

when mastering (not that i am a mastering engineer) i use it, if needed for mix recovery.

when using subtractive EQ, i try to isolate a very specific frequency, and their subsequent consonant harmonics such as octaves, fifths, fourths, and thirds. i try to reduce a moderate amount of amplitude in all these intervals and the fundamental, it works better for me than to reduce a vast amount of amplitude from the fundamental. obviusly the goal is to make it sound better so one has to do whatever it takes, even if its not well seen from other engineers, i think the technique is there to make your life easier. just never tweak blindly. (in terms of concept, because tweaking blindy is unbiased)

when using subtractive EQ for aesthetics, i just follow my intuition, regarding the approaching concept.

pardon my spanglish.heh
Your Spanglish is better than most American's English!
Old 8th May 2009
  #52
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For certain things I know that various frequencies will not be required so I either use HPF or LPF in the tracking stage. I also use shelving during tracking - again, only if I am certain that certain frequencies will not be used.

For example, I will cut the low end of guitar tracks knowing that I want to leave room for the kick and bass.

Outside of the above, unless I am using something as an effect, then I wait to EQ until mix time. I only use EQing during tracking when I know what I want and there is a reason for it - as there many times is.

Hope this helps.
Old 8th May 2009
  #53
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post
Well, you can reverse any EQ curve if you make detailed notes...
That is not right Nathan. You can never restore the phase anomallies you introduce whith an exact reverse curve. Its easy. Chain a couple of EQs (that use identical boost\cut curves) in series. Then cut and boost with exactly the same gain, Q, Freq. The more bands you cut and boost, the more your sound is ruined. In fact this is a good test to check what the effect of phase relationships distortion is to a sound (In extream terms).

I also prefer to save all eqing for mix stage. I apply them in the playback chain though when recording. But Im all plugin guy. Whith hardware though the latency and complexity can become an issue. So of course do the unavailablity of multiple devices in most cases.
Old 8th May 2009
  #54
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I swear that some of you guys come off like you are paralyzed by fear when tracking.
Old 8th May 2009
  #55
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No. In fact I never fear to be thoughtof as a mike placer. If the client needs and asks to know that my role in a recording session is not useless, because I dont seem to be all in action all the time, I explain that in fact the opposite is true. Id be often most useful to avoid action as much as possible and focus on them performing.
Old 8th May 2009
  #56
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Riv View Post
Personally, I think that's kind of the point. Why do we need "a way back"?

Just my opinion, but I've never seen the advantage of waiting until everything is done to commit to ~some~ things. It helps everyone decide what parts to add, where things are going, and what needs adjustment in the arrangement to make that happen.

And I don't agree 100% with EQ-ing the playback having "none of the downside." Again, it's an excuse to use the way back machine...


Riv
because you may not make the right choice. Tracking is a tiring process and especially after a long day it's easy to screw things up. Eq's is something that doesn't involve one track, it's about mixing all the parts and I'd assume not to know what a particular track needs until I have all the remaining elements of the song.

BTW what are the disadvantages of EQ-ing the playback ?!? Cause I've found none so far....
Old 8th May 2009
  #57
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rashman View Post
You can never restore the phase anomallies you introduce whith an exact reverse curve. Its easy. Chain a couple of EQs (that use identical boost\cut curves) in series. Then cut and boost with exactly the same gain, Q, Freq. The more bands you cut and boost, the more your sound is ruined.
I just tried that and the sound was identical with both EQ's in or both EQ's out. This makes sense because a properly designed digital EQ does indeed give exactly complementary response curves and phase response. More to the point, phase shift is not audible in usual amounts anyway.

Anyone who would like to hear how audible phase shift is, download this freeware VST plug-in:

Leslie Sanford Phaser

Set Feedback and Modulation to 0, Left and Right Frequency the same and near the middle, and Wet/Dry to full Wet (slider all the way to the right). Then disable Sync and Quad, set Mod Source to None, and select 4 or 6 stages which gives far more phase shift than you'd get from any gear in a normal situation.

--Ethan
Old 8th May 2009
  #58
I try to get 75% of my EQ'ing out of the way while I'm tracking. Get THE SOUND now. Ethan has pointed out that there is no advantage to doing this, but disadvantage if you change your mind later. I'd point out that EQ'ing prior to tracking has several key advantages:

1.) It *GUARANTEES* you are getting the sound. No funny surprises at mix time when you realized you should have been harder on the mic placement because EQ isn't bringing to the table what you figured it would.

2.) It puts more *USABLE SIGNAL* to "tape" as it were. You are recording what you need frequency wise and getting the proper level on THAT. It is more efficient gain staging in the long run.

3.) Saves *TIME* when you are mixing. If you've ever gotten sick of spending 8 hours EQ'in' and compressin' and foolin' about with the tracks trying to make them sound good laying down finished sounds is the only way to go. Mixes turn out better and faster because you are spending more time on balance and automation, and less on "is there enough top end in this kick?"

4.) If you are using *HARDWARE* laying final sounds is the only way to go. It is a 'force multiplier' for your outboard. Unless you happen to have a ton of LA2A's or whatever laying around for mixdown--why not get it on every track it needs to be on? One could make the debate it doesn't matter in a strictly DAW/plugin environment and you'd be right; that's why I like to track with ample outboard but have no issue mixing in PT.

5.) It saves you from making bad decisions "because you can." There is usually a strong reason *WHY* you were attracted to a particular sound when tracking--being married to that sound keeps you from "screwin' the pooch" later down the line when you attempt to 'improve' things. I find the end product is more visceral and characterful when you are forced to make tough decisions at the onset. There is nothing more paralyzing than having ALL THE OPTIONS ALL THE TIME. Paint yourself into a corner and roll with it... if know what you are doing when it comes to making records this is not a disadvantage.

6.) It forces you to be a better engineer. It forces you to use stronger mic setups, better source preparation and to work faster--but with better results. It saves the clients money. It saves CPU cycles if you're mixing in a DAW because now you don't need 5+ plugins per channel to "get your sound."

7.) In this age of bazillions of 50/hour ProTools + C24 studios clients are going to be *IMPRESSED* that their songs sound LIKE A RECORD from the moment you hit record. Do not underestimate the importance of the FEEL of a project. The ability to move quickly, cleanly and certainly through a project builds client confidence which fosters CREATIVITY. Sure, you can spend a year making a 'perfect' record that sounds brilliant, but lacks spontaneity, inspiration and most importantly--FUN.

8.) Clients perform better and are inspired to play their best when the monitored sound rocks... like it does when you are laying down "finished" sounds. You want the clients so excited they are laying down this awesome sounding record that they are jumping up and down with enthusiasm. Try that with safe, generic, save-ass sounds.

Just my opinion. Personally I think "having all the options all the time" is the leading cause of boring sounding records. Take a chance, roll the dice!
Old 8th May 2009
  #59
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Ethan Winer's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by James Meeker View Post
I'd point out that EQ'ing prior to tracking has several key advantages:
I don't know how many different ways I can say that you get the exact same result patching an EQ into the playback path. At least with DAW software anyway. For analog tape and hardware consoles and EQ I agree there are advantages to adding FX as you record.

I am all for getting sounds early on! It makes playback and overdubbing more fun. It also lets you work on the mix as you record over time. But with DAW software you can make your decisions early and also change your mind easily later.

--Ethan
Old 8th May 2009
  #60
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post
I don't know how many different ways I can say that you get the exact same result patching an EQ into the playback path. At least with DAW software anyway. For analog tape and hardware consoles and EQ I agree there are advantages to adding FX as you record.
Which is why I hate tracking "straight" to a DAW without outboard. Mixing it makes no difference to me because today's plugins sound great and there are some significant automation and routing advantages in an all-digital environment.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post
But with DAW software you can make your decisions early and also change your mind easily later.
Which is precisely why I prefer to track with ample outboard equipment.
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