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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!!
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.
Mixing a song is like a puzzle. EQ IS ONE WAY TO MAKE THE PIECES OF
A SONG FIT TOGETHER.
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
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
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
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
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
Zork is Back in full force
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