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EQ effects home recordings more than commercial recordings

I'm noticing that recordings I mix sound good (even instrument levels, nothing sticking out in a bad way, etc) on many different systems when the EQ is left flat, but as soon as I play with the EQ it creates massive changes to the sound, (ie. certain instruments go away or become overwhelming). EQ adjustments on commercial CD's don't seem to have this problem in general...

Why does a home stereo EQ seem to affect my home produced recordings more than
it affects commercially recorded material?

And what can I do to fix it?

Is this some fundamental principle of mixing/mastering that I'm missing?

What types of tools should I be using to remedy this situation?


anonymous Mon, 03/06/2006 - 19:27

It might be better if you could post a song or an extended area of it so that we have more to go on. Mastering engineers will do the best mastering, you can read all about how and why all over this forum. If you choose to finalize the project yourself you really should be listening to play back on many types of systems.

EQ on any system will do exactly what you describe, infact on the 2-bus it in a way acts as yet another mixing stage of sorts. The being if you cut a lot in the sub 150Hz range, well then you might have a real hard time hearing the bass and bass drum. same thing with mids, cut or boost here you will change how loud objects are in this range (vocal, guitar, piano...).

Compression will help control items that may be poking out at times and keep them more in control when lots of eq is applied. I would encourage you to use compression also, don't not just slam it through a brick wall limiter and call it done.

Post some of your work if you don't mind and we will have more to go on. I suspect the issues are more in the mix stage?


anonymous Mon, 03/06/2006 - 20:35

Just for reference, I record mainly for my own enjoyment so it consists of cover songs
and some original material from the band I play with in my spare time. I don't plan on having
a career in music or recording.

Here's the tools I have to work with:
Alesis FireWire mixer
Sonar 4 Producer with Cakewalk and Sonitus plugins
PodXT Live (for recording direct)

Right now I tryout the mixes I do on 2 different home stereos, 4 different computer speaker setups (2 with subs/ 2 without) and my factory car stereo.

Anyway, I have 2 files you can download. The biggest thing that bothers me is that
it seems home stereo EQ's have a much more drastic effect on my material than it
does on CD's I buy and I'm trying to figure out why....

cover song-Metallica, Fade to Black
(somewhat produced, no vocals, drums are samples of my drum kit)
Some song changes happen around 1:00, 4:00, and 5:00

original song-The Hunger
(still working on mixing, no vocals, and drums are programmed for now)
Some song changes happen around 3:00 and 4:20

I also have a frequency analysis screen capture for the original at:

anonymous Mon, 03/06/2006 - 22:08

Thanks for posting the recordings it helped me a lot in being able to help you with your question.

I listened to both and found very like traits with each. Playing seemed to be good quality so I don't see that as much of an issue at all, just from a few listens through the orignal let me point out what I hear which might help you generate a mix that will translate better to other systems and eq curves.

1. Drums are to far back in the mix, this song has a heavy drive feel to it and I feel that the drums need to be present to help add a punch to the song. typically for this type of music the bass drum will be more defined(snap) you have a great thump just needs an added attack to complment the snare. The hat seems a bit low in the overall drum mix.

2. There really seems to be no HF above 12kHz. This is limiting your mix field and causing insturments to take up the mid range area. By this you are limited to how defined you can make each item in your mix. Each part needs it space so that the brain can hear it. If they are not seperated in frequency space you have lost the control to make it sound good when it is eq'ed on a home system or other.

3. Stereo spread is too small. It sounds like you have over dubed some guitar parts. Often with this type of music this is done many times through different amps but keeping great sonic balance (frequency) and time with each take. If you have 2 or more of the same guitar tracks pan them off to the side and free up some of that center for other tracks to use. The wide sound comes from the slight time and frequency differences between tracks. On the stereo note, if you could pan the drum over heads that would help a lot also I think.

4. Maybe cut mids on the guitar, some place between 800-1.6kHz but try the other stuff first. Bass guitar is a bit muddy (250Hz range) more attack(compression and/or upper mids) on it might help bring it it out in the mix.

5. shorten reverb size (rt60 and predelay). If reverb is on you 2-bus take it off and apply it to items that need it only (bass and bass drum don't).

Be sure to listen at different levels, often this will do you as much good as listening on other systems as our hearing changes with volume. The mental picture I get from the balance on this is standing near the rythem guitar rig in live hall with the bass on the other side of the stage. I'm a live engineer at heart what can I say... Over all great sound, keep it up!


anonymous Thu, 03/09/2006 - 14:29

Thanks for the comments...I'll try them out and see what happens, and try to post an update if I get a chance. The problems with panning may come from the fact that I have to do most of my mixing with headphones since the only time I have to work on this stuff is late at night. The really wide pannnig just sounded too unnatural for me. And to compound that, I hardly ever listen to CD's/Mp3s with headphones so I have no real idea what they sound like.

I think I'll listen to some CD's I like and maybe try to emulate them for now just to see if
that helps....