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  •  The EvO:R-Pedia Musicians Tips Section


    Welcome to the EvO:R Tips Section. We call this section EvO:R-Pedia because it is like a complete reference library for Indie musicians...Just about every tip has been used so you won't find false promises and a series of books to buy after reading each tip. This section was put here by musicians so that people that followed can take this knowledge and use it's power.



    Back into the Basement Studio and the EQs!!
    Zork

    So far we have covered and discussed EQs on the conceptual level and we talked about frequencies, overtones, and the ten octaves of human hearing from roughly 20Hz to 20KHz and we talked about the most command rolls of EQs looking at it from the modern pop recording_EQ as a tool is used to separate timbres across the frequency spectrum in a multitrack mix. More or less we talked about "why" was EQ needed. So is time to find out "how" and "what" do we use to accomplished the task. In case you missed our previous discussion Iíll will be referencing back to some of the key point in order to keep everyone up to scratch.

    As we all know time and budget constraints in the studio whether it is my basement studio or a state of the art can create conditions that are not always ideal. You wonít always have the perfect mic at your disposal, not every acoustic guitar you will record is going to be a $2,000 Taylor and it can be detrimental to overall mental health to spend 90 minutes experimenting with how far off-axis you should mic that Fender Twin. In situations like these, eq is often your only salvation. When you have done the best you can, yet that timbre isnít exactly what you were going for, Judicious use of eq can mean the difference between greatness and um-so-so-ness.

    Itís often useful to think of mixing a multitrack recording as a kind to putting together a sonic jigsaw puzzle, our job is to take all of the "pieces" (tracks), spread them across your table (mixing console) and make them all fit into a beautifully assembled, suitable for framing portrait like a bowl of fruit or a gorgeously -rendered reproduction. When listening to a soloed track, all by its lonesome, it may, sound great. A guitar track that really spreads across the spectrum can sound wonderfully cool by itself a bass track can sound fat and punchy, if it contains everything from 60Hz to 4kHz. And all the rest of the racks are great but take all these beautiful colors together and you will likely get what you do see if you mix all of the beautiful colors from a painters palette together!! The sonic equivalent of something resembles a yucky brown goop.

    The idea is to allow each instrument to occupy is own "place" in the mix so that, like a great painting, it has powerful impact as a whole, yet you "see" (or, in our case, hear) the entire individual parts as well. There are generally four ways that producers and mixing engineers accomplish this on your favor records.

    1) Volume (the settings of relative track levels to archive timbral balance)

    2) Sound staging (the use of panning and ambiance to separate timbres in physical space

    3) Time (the use of delay and/or performance arrangement techniques to separate timbre in time (this is more key then all the gadgets we can put together)

    4) EQ (the use of eq to separate timbres across the frequency spectrum Jiss of which I knew all this before I mixed my last CD!!

    Letís say you still need the "kick" more. While the "thump" generally lies from 80Hz to 250kHz or so, Youíll find the "snap" way up there at 2 to 4 kHz. Boosting the track a little in that range allows you to bring out the beater attack and further define the kick in relation to the bass. So now when it comes time to blend the guitar part you decide to apply a highpass eq to that track to cut everything below 80Hz This leaves the guitar feel intact while leaving still more room for the bass and kick to breathe!!
    Then comes the vocals -you like it but find its getting lost in the density of the mix instead of raising the level of the whole track, you decide to boost a little around 4 kHz which is where a good deal of the articulation lies, You suddenly find that you can understand the words a lot better donít you?

    Mixing a song is like a puzzle. EQ IS ONE WAY TO MAKE THE PIECES OF A SONG FIT TOGETHER.

    Summarizing some of the options at our deposal there are dedicated outboard hardware based equalizers, software plug-ins, solid state equalizers, and there are tube-based equalizers. Every mixing console or even some of the newer amp systems has some form of EQ most mixing consoles have them on each channel strip. There are graphic EQs, parametric, some are semiparametric (also called sweepable) and few are of the software verity are called "paragraphic" this are my favorite, a hybrid implementation that combines various features!! The most basic form of EQ is on your stereo amp with the bass and treble knobs.

    The purpose of the EQ is mainly but not restricted to enhance ("boost") the frequencies we want and cut "what" we donít want. The "what" is express in terms of hertz and "how much" is express in terms of (DB) decibels.

    There is a Mystery to bandwidth. We talk about frequencies in terms of Hz but the story does not end there!! In the real world, with real sounds, made up of scabs of frequencies. It would not make any sense to boost or cut a single frequency, Most of the times we wind up altering a wide range of frequencies. EQ circuits aren't that precise and even if they made one that had a slider for each one of those frequencies you would need thousand of sliders for each possible frequencies??? Try fitting that on your rack!!. So keep in mind that WHEN YOU ARE USING AN EQUALIZER TO BOOST OR CUT a frequency you are also cutting or boosting those frequencies near by on both sides!! That frequency you are trying to alter is called the center frequency Just how much on either side of that center frequency is cut or boosted is determine by the bandwidth.

    So you can safely say that when you are boosting or cutting you are affecting a band of frequencies. Pretty simple hah? Sure and my grandma still rides a bicycle. There is a way to calculate all this stuff mathematically but I'm not one to count on that so donít ask me. But here is an example, the term Q is a way of describing the shape of the EQ response curve as the ratio of the center frequency to the difference of the upper and lower frequencies that are been affected along with the center frequency. Lets say that we want to boost at the center frequency of 3kHz and that we are boosting 12 dB at that point, you are most likely boosting 9 dB of the 2 kHz freq. and also 9dB at the 4 KHz this could become more clear if you look at your Graphic Equalizer of course this will happen in reverse if you were to cut from the same center frequency. Just to add a little to that example if dialed in a center frequency of 3 kHz and a Q of 1.5, your + or - dB bandwidth extends about 2 kHz around the 3 kHz center frequency (from 2kHz to 4 kHz is about an octave in musical terms. When you want to zero on a particular range of frequencies in your mix you will need to take this things into consideration, knowing the frequency range of the instruments in question is a must and a big plus making your task much easier. This can get more complicated if we were to take the sliders on both sides of the Eq in consideration.

    In the world of electrons and 0 & 1ís all of this bandwidth and frequency manipulation is accomplished with Either electronic filtering circuits or binary filtering algorithms, parametric filters are some time called notch filters or peaking filter. In addition to parametric filters there are bandpass, lowpass, highpass, lowshelf, and highshelf filters. The simplest filters are the lowpass (sometimes called high-cut) and the highpass (sometimes called low-cut) If you set a lowpass filter to a particular frequency it will lower the amplitude of all frequencies above that corner., letting the lowpass through unaffected and the reverse will happen if you Use a highpass filter on the same corner. Bandpass filters are a combination of a lowpass and a highpass with their corner or range set far apart to let a band of frequencies unaffected. This can be thought as Highpass are use to cut the low, lowpass are use to cut the highs and band pass is use to let the middle unaffected. To reinforce this if a lowpass filter has a corner of 2 kHz, and the rate is 6 dB/octave, then at 4 kHz is an octive higher than 2 kHz (doubling a Hertz number is equal to moving up on actave) the amount to cut will be -6dB: at 8kHz 2 octave higher than 2 kHz the amount to cut will be -12 dB: at 16 kHz it will be -18 dB Got it? With this installment I end the basics part

    Next I will get into Shelving Filters, in more detail the use of Graphic Eq a nd my favorite the use of computer based Eq with Digital Display technologies.

    Zork is Back in full force
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