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I'm doing some essays in EQ with a recording I made the past year: violin and bass drum (the drum doing a percussive accompaniment) playing dance music. It is folk music.
I have done yesterday some search in this Forum about EQ and I found the following:
(I quote)
1-JoeH : “I use it (eq) sparingly, if at all (low end, rumble removal)”
2-Cucco: “lightly enhancing a certain frecuency on an individual instrument”

FifthCircle: “using a touch of EQ to make things sparkle is just the icing on the cake that make a good recording sound really great”

The low end (1) was not a problem, but, can you give some recommendations about that “touch of EQ” (2) for lightly enhance and make sparkle the violin ?

The violin is played almost always in first position –between G in 4th string and A in 1st string.
It was recorded with a pair of Schoeps (Cardioid pattern) in XY configuration, 2 feet 45º to the left the violin, 7 feet 70º to the right the bass drum.
Dacs Clarity as mic preamp. Recorded in an open place (no reverberation).
Thanks in advance,


Cucco Mon, 05/07/2007 - 07:52

It's all about context.

In the sound itself, we must be able to hear what it is that needs fixing to request or require some EQ.

In the quotes, I personally cannot recall what it is that I said that in response to.

In other words, it's all about context.

In recording, I rarely find myself using EQ. If I do, it's (9 times out of 10) used to remove low end rumble from AC or cars/trucks. Very rarely do I use it otherwise (occassionally on spot mics within an ensemble. For example, on a woodwind spot, I don't need frequencies under 100 Hz, so I cut them).

This should probably go in the Acoustic Music Forum.


anonymous Mon, 05/07/2007 - 20:19

I forgot to mention that there was a puntual mic, too, for the violin: a Sennheiser MKH 50, 25 cm to the bridge.

I said the low end was not a problem. But, I think, if the range in wich the violin plays is between 200 and 800 Hz, for a lightly enhance of it, it is supposed that I should eq with a few dB that range ?

What about "air" in the recording ?. Do you lightly enhance the top range of the spectrum ?

Kind regards.

Cucco Tue, 05/08/2007 - 07:54

Hey Oak -

A couple things -

First, while the fundamentals of the notes 'g' (below Middle C) and 'a2' are technically within that range (although a2 is 880 Hz, not 800 and you mention that the violinist stays in first position "most" of the time - first position extends all the way to b2 on the E string and if they strayed, there's a lot more notes on that E string.) any case, EQ doesn't always have to do with fundamntals. For extreme low-end bloom (or to reign back some boominess) you could boost or cut frequencies as low as 60 to 80 Hz and have quite a bit of effectiveness. The most obvious sounding range for boost and cut for low range on the violin will be between 140 Hz and 300 Hz.

For "air" you will definitely not be dealing with frequencies in the violin's fundamental spectrum. In fact, you can add "air" to a violin recording by boosting rather high (in some cases, I've had luck with boosting as high as 5-7kHz). Be careful though. Any boosting above 800 Hz puts you in a danger range. What might sound like a pleasing sheen on your speakers may translate to an ice-pick to the ear drums on someone elses.

Gentle, subtle slopes are almost always the key.

My favorite EQ for adding "air":
In the box - UAD Pultec Pro
Out of the box - Crane Song Ibis

Both of these EQs can deliver a lot more high frequency beauty than anyone has a right to expect from an EQ.

EQs that don't do it for me on high-end "air":
Manley Massive Passive (works BEAUTIFULLY on mid and bass signals or subtractive in the high, but something doesn't quite get there on the high stuff when boosted much - cymbals are the exception)

Waves Q-series - brittle sounding when pushed

Sony Oxford plug-ins - similar to the Waves - brittle when pushed.

That's the range of my experience with EQs with the exception of some other minor players which would have no place touching a violin recording.



ghellquist Tue, 05/08/2007 - 11:10

I think previous posts has said most of it.

Only want to further emphasize one thing -- EQ is one of many tools you can use. Each tool is used in order to achive something. Unless you know what you want to achieve there is no standard solution.

In classical musical recording the purpose is generally to try to get a sound close to the actual performance. Minus subways and buses passing by (hence the high pass).

In pop music you do whatever you want to in order to reach the sound you want. EQ, compressor, distortion, phaser, vocoder or just about any tool. Anything is allowed.

It is sort of like Alice in the Wonderland asking about directions and getting the question back "where do you want to go?".

So where do you want to go with the sound. Also makes me think of an old saying: "if it ain't broke don't fix it".


anonymous Tue, 05/08/2007 - 15:09

Thank you very much for your valuable advice, misters. Cucco, thanks specially for your precise advice about theory, practice and gear.

Answering ghellquist observation -what you want to achieve- my "aesthetic", the sound I want, is similar to clasical music, in the sense of get a sound "close to the actual performance", as you said.

The musical function of each instrument is very clear and differentiated: violin as foreground, drum as background.

I believe I can -with the help of the puntual mic - put the violin in the foreground without problem.

My interest was in some advice on how to enhance and sparkle in some way that instrument.

What a long and difficult learning is equalization. Need a profound and true knowledge about sound and instruments. Similar to orchestration in classical music.
It was a pleasure to post in this Forum, thanks again. Oak

Zilla Tue, 05/08/2007 - 15:28

When trying to make instruments "sparkle" you may need to increase the amplitude of hi freq components (eq). But in some cases this will make the instrument sound harsh or screechy. Maybe then its not the amplitude of the hf that needs to be increased but rather its duration. Try applying tasteful amounts of brightish reverb just behind the instrument . This will cause a small amount of hf information to persist longer, integrating with the original components and (hopefully) creating sparkle.

FifthCircle Wed, 05/09/2007 - 11:46

As usual, Zilla speaks the truth... I'm not sure where that quote of mine may have come from and what the surrounding thread was about, but....

When I mention sparkle- it isn't necessarily talking about high frequency content and adding something to the top end. Rather, I meant that to make something sparkle is cleaning up something that is almost perfect. When you clean a dirty window, things will sparkle more- you even out the sound and clarify things.

If you find that you are recording and the first thing you do is reach for the EQ, then you probably aren't using the right mic and/or the right preamp. Get the sound right first and if you need a bit more refinement, then reach for the EQ.

In a studio session, I almost never reach for EQ. Rather, I take the time to make sure that every sound is right going to tape. In a live situation, I don't always get to place my microphones in the best locations due to space concerns, etc... Usually only then do I find that I'm reaching for the EQ to make stuff sound the way I want.