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Approach to Eq

Hey everyone,

Was looking to hear from some seasoned engineers on their approach, tricks, tips on the all important Eq'ing.
Things like their opinions on eq do's and donts..

Here are some of the things I've learned, my approach..
Criticism greatly appreciated!

1. Dont try to fix something with EQ, example: make a vintage, open, round, kick drum try to sound like a modern kick tight, attack heavy drum.
2. Cut frequencies that you want less of instead of boosting ones you want more of.
3. No huge cuts or boosts unless its absolutely necessary.
3. Try to keep cuts/boosts within a 6db range.
4. Always cut first before boost.
5. Minimalist
6. Eq while listening to the combining tracks.

Comments

JohnTodd Sat, 05/18/2013 - 06:18
I'm new to deep-EQ work, but I'd like to share a few things.

1. Like Sir George Martin said, "Cut everything below 200Hz on any instrument that doesn't have the word 'bass' in it's name." (Certain exceptions apply*.)

2. Jimmy Page made Led Zeppelin a fortune by just using subtractive EQ to clean things up. Hardly ever a boost in those Zep recordings.

3. Sometimes a strong boost in a very narrow frequency band can be all that is needed to make an instrument jump out of the mix. But always trying cutting before using this boost, and always try to record the instrument with it's own natural boost before anything else.

So, I'm an intermediate EQ person. But those 3 things right there have really helped me a lot in my mixing!

-Johntodd

* Exceptions include things like: solo piano, piano in a band with no bass guitar, etc. Also, a "Bass Singer" is called "Vocalist". The word "Vocalist" does not have the word 'bass' in it's name.

All things must be used with moderation and sound judgement. If it sounds good and doesn't blow up the gear, then use it!

Davedog Sat, 05/18/2013 - 17:00
EQ alters the phase of the signal its equalizing due to latency. When you cut or boost a signal in an analog circuit you are, in effect, slowing this particular frequency down so it arrives at the output at a different time than the unaffected signal parts. Therefore, phase anomolies...Digital emulations are based on getting the least amount of latency in their operations, but it is also dependent on the cpu load and the ability of the thru-put of your computer to determine just how much latency will be present at the introduction of ANY plug-in. Some EQ's are real cpu hogs. If you're in a native system you are sharing resources with everything else going on and this is partially responsible for the "fizz" that some folks describe as hearing in their various programs as well as a good point of reference for the "muddy" part of the sound you hear. The perfect example of this was touched on in another thread some time back when several posters indicated that their mixes simply sounded BETTER when they removed all the plug-ins from their mixes. There are starting to be devices offered that "fix" the phase problems created by this as well as other types of plug-ins that are "linear" in their operation. Seek out "linear EQ plugins" as a source of some more info. Or maybe VST vs, Linear EQ.

The little labs plugs work quite well as well as using your phase checking plugs. Most major software platforms have them and once you know what they are telling you, adjustment becomes something that makes a difference. Imagine the sound becoming LARGER and CLEARER....with this INTIMACY becomes easily attainable and with comes quality.

I have a crapload of plugins to choose from. I dont use very many at all. Mostly for effect. EQ's are used to cut areas that have a lot of instruments in the same regions. You'd be surprised how crappy a correctly EQ'd guitar sounds solo'd up when it sounds perfect in a mix. Jimmy Page is a genius at this. Listen closely to his guitar sounds. By themselves....not so much....as a piece of the whole, BRILLIANT!!!
The trick is to record in phase and give yourself every opportunity at the beginning to get the sound as close as possible to what you want to hear. Then when you begin to mix and build the appropriate sounds around your tracks, you also make sure these things are in phase and the sound gets large!

JohnTodd Sat, 05/18/2013 - 17:46
Interesting.

What free plugins are there that can tell me (in simple terms) what phase problems there are? Will it tell me "your bass guitar and kick drum are 30 degrees out of phase" or will it say "there is a 45 degree phase discrepancy on your slide guitar track" ?

I've got a plugin called "Phase Bug" that lets me change the phase, but I don't know how to set it for perfect phase.

bouldersound Sat, 05/18/2013 - 19:28
I think people drastically overestimate the audibility of phase from eq. Phase is what makes eq work and you're supposed to hear it. Unless you're doing parallel eq the phase is not a big deal.

I agree, don't get overly focused on things in isolation. What matters is the whole sound. Eq things in the mix as much as possible.

godchuanz Sat, 05/18/2013 - 19:45
I agree that you shouldn't worry too much about phase. Some people think that a linear-phase EQ is "better", but because of inherent latency, it actually causes more serious problems. Using it on the master bus would probably be ok, but I think you should almost never use it in individual tracks.

For EQ on bass frequencies, the "try to keep cuts/boosts within 6db" approach really doesn't apply. I find that you almost need to make very narrow-band deep cuts on problematic frequencies, e.g. excessive bass resonance. In fact, a HPF is a very deep cut that goes deeper and deeper as the frequency gets lower. And most people will agree that a HPF is almost non-negotiable on most tracks except the kick and bass.
(y)

kmetal Sun, 05/19/2013 - 00:54
to the op- close your eyes, turn the knob till it sounds good. the 'rules' (ie, general guidelines that have been developed over the past 60 yrs.)will get you in trouble if your too conscious of them. innocence is ok. also, cutting is good, but, must be done tastefully just like boosting. if you cut too much you end up taking the life out of the recording.

+1 more on not spending much time in solo.

the mono button is priceless, and is quite helpful in balances and eq, if the frequencies aren't masking in mono you should be quite alright in stereo.

And most people will agree that a HPF is almost non-negotiable on most tracks except the kick and bass.

i think people get way too carried away w/ hpf's. I think shelving is a much more uh, 'natural, or authentic' way to go in general. vocals, sure, hpf, hi hat, ride, go for it. there are no overtones of use on those. but automatically on guitars? violins? toms? keys!? no way. it's better to attenuate out what you don't want than too remove the low harmonics completely. that stuff gradually adds up, an contributes to a sense of fullness. shelving allows you to prevent an over abundance of that stuff, but w/ more control than just an hpf. in a good arrangement those lows will help add a sense of cohesion to the mix.

i just thinks it's too common for people going for hpf's cuz it's not a bass instrument. and now we have all these high fidelity systems w/ subs, and mixes are as thin and sterile as ever.

remember George martin (is obviously a master) comes from the time where that had to do that because they were cutting vinyl. and too much bass took up too much space literally (the grooves were bigger) and therefore time, on the side, and too much bass would break a 10K cutting needle, and likely get someone fired. and also frequencies under 200 (i'm pretty sure) were summed to mono, you didn't want anything there that wasn't necessary.

may i suggest to the OP familiarize yourself w/ the 'boost and sweep' method. it's in books. example-guitar 'whistle'. take a mid eq band, make the 'q' pretty high, like 10 or more, boost it like 10 db, and move the frequency setting around. you'll hear what sounds like a whistling sound, pinpoint the most obnoxious 1 or 2 frequencies, then use those frequencies, and cut them/adjust q, to taste. the will help ya 'clean up' your tracks if you need to.

anonymous Sun, 05/19/2013 - 03:25
bouldersound, post: 404784 wrote: I do whatever is necessary to get the result I want.

That's pretty much my sentiment. While by and large I use subtractive EQ as a matter of SOP, I can't say I've never carved out a tonal canyon... or built a mountain for that matter, either.

I would agree that if you find yourself trying to turn one instrument into another, that your best bet will always be to use the instrument you desire.

Years ago, while cutting my teeth, I was doing a session where the guitar player was using a Peavey Liberty 12 string, and I was desperately trying to get it to sound like a Rick 12 - without success.

I called my instructor ( I was still in school at the time), explained what I was trying to do, and in his "cut to the chase" answer, he told me that the quickest and easiest way to get the sound of a Rick 12 was to
"use a Rick 12". LOL

Now... one thing I do and have always done - pretty much by second nature - is to implement HP Filtering. I have a template set up within Sonar, which I start all projects from... tracks already named and inserted with the appropriate filtering and processing on each as needed. HPF's are inserted on everything but Kick, Bass, and a few other "special" tracks for occasional use of bass synths or a piano where the register will be low enough.

FWIW
-d.

JohnTodd Sun, 05/19/2013 - 06:17
I'll tell you one time I boost: to get the electric rhythm guitars to cut through the mix. It all depends on the song of course.

I'll boost a max of 3db on my stereo (one left and one right) rhythm guitars on the part of the upper-mid that is their "transient" or "guitar pick" sound. That lets me turn them down a little at the fader to make room for all else, yet still be able to hear them.

But if I have to boost more than that then I'll go back to the track itself and work with Amplitube's amplifier settings. I use Amplitube almost exclusively, so tweaking guitar sounds is a bit easier than having to retrack them.

When it comes to acoustic guitars in the rhythm, be very careful about having too much treble. Acoustic guitars sound great with lots of treble, but as a rhythm instrument they can become too assertive in the mix if they have a lot of treble. I like my rhythm acoustics rounded off a little on top.

ChrisH Mon, 05/20/2013 - 10:27
So what do you guys think about the fact that I pretty much only use Api 560 eq's and nothing else?
Am I Creating sub frequency headroom problems because they only control down to 30 hz?
As far is it not controlling above 16K, I tend to believe that with a good signal that its best to leave anything above that alone,
unless of course you're trying to dull something down..

One thing about using a 10 band Eq is it really trains your ears to hear/know each 10 of those frequencies..
I can immediately hear when there's too much of any of those 10 frequencies, and that is something that takes allot of time
but much less time than it would take to do so with a sweepable type eq where you can get very precise.
However if there was a build up around 250 hz (which there always is) but its not quite 250 and more 300 hz, then I believe
using a different eq to scope in on it would be smart, right?

bouldersound Mon, 05/20/2013 - 11:02
You're not creating LF problems with a 10 band eq but you may not be able to address them precisely. Be aware that a filter centered at 30Hz will affect things well above and below the center. That eq is certainly useful for general tonal correction and creative adjustment, but for many things a parametric is the only way to get it done. A sweepable HPF is also extremely handy.

ChrisH Thu, 05/23/2013 - 20:34
Davedog, post: 404795 wrote: EQ alters the phase of the signal its equalizing due to latency. When you cut or boost a signal in an analog circuit you are, in effect, slowing this particular frequency down so it arrives at the output at a different time than the unaffected signal parts. Therefore, phase anomolies...Digital emulations are based on getting the least amount of latency in their operations, but it is also dependent on the cpu load and the ability of the thru-put of your computer to determine just how much latency will be present at the introduction of ANY plug-in. Some EQ's are real cpu hogs. If you're in a native system you are sharing resources with everything else going on and this is partially responsible for the "fizz" that some folks describe as hearing in their various programs as well as a good point of reference for the "muddy" part of the sound you hear. The perfect example of this was touched on in another thread some time back when several posters indicated that their mixes simply sounded BETTER when they removed all the plug-ins from their mixes. There are starting to be devices offered that "fix" the phase problems created by this as well as other types of plug-ins that are "linear" in their operation. Seek out "linear EQ plugins" as a source of some more info. Or maybe VST vs, Linear EQ.

The little labs plugs work quite well as well as using your phase checking plugs. Most major software platforms have them and once you know what they are telling you, adjustment becomes something that makes a difference. Imagine the sound becoming LARGER and CLEARER....with this INTIMACY becomes easily attainable and with comes quality.

I have a crapload of plugins to choose from. I dont use very many at all. Mostly for effect. EQ's are used to cut areas that have a lot of instruments in the same regions. You'd be surprised how crappy a correctly EQ'd guitar sounds solo'd up when it sounds perfect in a mix. Jimmy Page is a genius at this. Listen closely to his guitar sounds. By themselves....not so much....as a piece of the whole, BRILLIANT!!!
The trick is to record in phase and give yourself every opportunity at the beginning to get the sound as close as possible to what you want to hear. Then when you begin to mix and build the appropriate sounds around your tracks, you also make sure these things are in phase and the sound gets large!

I'm stressed out by the "phase" problems with eq, it explains allot why I also feel that my raw tracks at unity sound bigger, warmer, fuller and natural..
So what do I do when I need to make an eq adjustment itb? Eq it then render the solo'd track, then import that back-in in replace of the non eq'd track?
Or should I just buy a linear phase eq and ditch all my old non-linear parametric eq's?

Also, do outboard analog eq's not have this phase problem?

kmetal Fri, 05/24/2013 - 01:08
outboard eq's adjust phase relationships the same way digital parametric eqs do. eq;ing is playing around w. phase relationships. You might find that w/ analog eq it doesn't exhibit that thinish, cold, sound, but it's a huge difference between binary code algortyhms, and moving metal parts w/ elctricity going thru them. which is why i generally eq on the way in w/ an analog eq for sound, or polish, then use the digital for what it's good generally at, cutting stuff. i mean it's not like you can't boost w/ digital eqs, you just have to use your ears and not get it into that harsh range. analog eq's can be over the top too, but in a different way. It seems from your profile that you have the ssl bundle which is killer for drum tracks. and you have some waves plugins, although i'm not sure which ones. the rennasinse eq is nice, i have the q10 one which is your basic parametric similar to what comes stock w/ everything, just maybe a hint smoother, and w/ no decernable character.

ditching all you parametric eq's for a linear phase is kinda extreme, no? it sounds to me like you just might be over eq'ing a little, or using the wrong frequencies or bandwidths. the waves neve eq, has a noticeably different character than the ssl, or the lin eq. Linear eq's have no character. There is a place for both. I have a DAW (one a of a couple) where if i just instansiate their stock eq, it changes the sound, towards the brittle thin direction. i don't use that one.

if your raw tracks sound bigger warmer and fuller and more natural, (hence better?) and any eq you use sounds worse, than it sounds to me like you did a really good job recording, and don't need any eq. maybe just a touch on a drum bus, or backup vocals bus, or whatever. They've had alot longer to tweak analog eq's than they have the modern computer based stuff. it's not like you can't create issuses and mess things up w/ outboard either, it just does different things better and worse.

you should post something up, i'd like to hear what in particular is driving you crazy.

ChrisH Fri, 05/24/2013 - 08:04
kmetal, post: 405007 wrote: outboard eq's adjust phase relationships the same way digital parametric eqs do. eq;ing is playing around w. phase relationships. You might find that w/ analog eq it doesn't exhibit that thinish, cold, sound, but it's a huge difference between binary code algortyhms, and moving metal parts w/ elctricity going thru them. which is why i generally eq on the way in w/ an analog eq for sound, or polish, then use the digital for what it's good generally at, cutting stuff. i mean it's not like you can't boost w/ digital eqs, you just have to use your ears and not get it into that harsh range. analog eq's can be over the top too, but in a different way. It seems from your profile that you have the ssl bundle which is killer for drum tracks. and you have some waves plugins, although i'm not sure which ones. the rennasinse eq is nice, i have the q10 one which is your basic parametric similar to what comes stock w/ everything, just maybe a hint smoother, and w/ no decernable character.

ditching all you parametric eq's for a linear phase is kinda extreme, no? it sounds to me like you just might be over eq'ing a little, or using the wrong frequencies or bandwidths. the waves neve eq, has a noticeably different character than the ssl, or the lin eq. Linear eq's have no character. There is a place for both. I have a DAW (one a of a couple) where if i just instansiate their stock eq, it changes the sound, towards the brittle thin direction. i don't use that one.

if your raw tracks sound bigger warmer and fuller and more natural, (hence better?) and any eq you use sounds worse, than it sounds to me like you did a really good job recording, and don't need any eq. maybe just a touch on a drum bus, or backup vocals bus, or whatever. They've had alot longer to tweak analog eq's than they have the modern computer based stuff. it's not like you can't create issuses and mess things up w/ outboard either, it just does different things better and worse.

you should post something up, i'd like to hear what in particular is driving you crazy.

Yes, I have the SSL bundle and use their channel strip when gating and or expanding is needed along with the old waves platinum bundle with Q1-Q10.
I do spend ALLOT of time at the mic and source to get it as close to perfect as possible coming in. However until about a year ago, I didn't spend hardly any time at the mic or source and relied on surgical Eq, so now that I've switched things around my natural tendency is to eq the hell out of everything. So now when I throw up my faders and everything already sounds good and works, besides some extra low end rumble from the kick drum, and some unbalanced highs from the room mic, I'm kinda at a loss, scratching my head, thinking this is too easy, so then I'm constantly fighting the urge to over eq. That being said, anything more than a couple eq cuts IS too much eq now, you helped me answer my own question, thank you.
I'll post some clips later this weekend.

bouldersound Fri, 05/24/2013 - 09:42
ChrisH, post: 405005 wrote: I'm stressed out by the "phase" problems with eq, it explains allot why I also feel that my raw tracks at unity sound bigger, warmer, fuller and natural..
So what do I do when I need to make an eq adjustment itb? Eq it then render the solo'd track, then import that back-in in replace of the non eq'd track?
Or should I just buy a linear phase eq and ditch all my old non-linear parametric eq's?

Also, do outboard analog eq's not have this phase problem?

What you have to understand is that it is the phase that causes the eq, not the other way around. All analog eq filters will result in phase changes. THAT'S WHAT THEY DO and it's okay. That whole business about eqing and rendering a track is a dead end based on a misunderstanding of what is really happening and what matters. Linear phase eq has its place but isn't going to be some kind of magic bullet. You are way too wrapped up in believing phase is causing some problem with your sound when it's probably something completely different. If you think your recordings sound better before you eq them then don't eq them.

Davedog Fri, 05/24/2013 - 10:44
"Doctor, it hurts when I do this....."

"Well, dont do that."


You've answered your own question. Spending the extra time on placement and capture will ALWAYS trump anything surgical needed on the other side.

My point about the phase sift from using EQ's (yeah yeah, its what happens....its how eq works) is using a lot of the same EQ on a project will phase shift things in a different way than an individual track will or even a mult'd sub-group. Wisely chose HPF going in solves so many things at mix.

In the "OLD DAYS" EQ wasnt something used much on tracks going in. There simply wasnt much EQ to be found on any consoles. Maybe a little high/low sweetening ..maybe a couple of notches at particular frequencies. EQ's were primarily used in cutting vinyl.

I dont think ditching your EQ's is the way to go, but since you've now seen both sides of the coin, you will be able to make important decisions regarding its use. Also be sure your Waves is up-to-date. V9 will bring a lot of revelations about clarity to things. Yeah it costs a bit to do but its so worth it.

Kurt Foster Fri, 05/24/2013 - 11:35
should I just buy a linear phase eq and ditch all my old non-linear parametric eq's? Also, do outboard analog eq's not have this phase problem?

there's a common misconception that various gear will "improve" a signal is some way. i had a client who referred to my LA2a as the "goodulator". "Everything you put through it, sounds better" ... sorry. a signal at it's first inception is the best it will ever be. anytime you process it with anything, it will be degraded. so any eq no matter which kind or pedigree will not improve the sound, it only modifies it. purest approach is a mic preamp / console with no eq and getting the right sound through mic choice and placement. this is how classical recordings are made and is also the way they made records in the 50'. if you look at those old studios in the pictures available you would find at most one or two outboard EQs in the racks to be patched into the console when absolutely need.

anonymous Sat, 05/25/2013 - 05:32
and is also the way they made records in the 50'. if you look at those old studios in the pictures available you would find at most one or two outboard EQs in the racks to be patched into the console when absolutely need.

which were usually located directly to the left of a half pack of Luckies and an overflowing ash tray. LOL :cool:

Kurt forgot to mention that the EQ's weighed as much as a Buick, and could also double as a hot plate to keep your coffee steaming, or, in a pinch, to boil a pot of bass strings. :tongue:

I personally don't have a problem with using EQ as a corrective measure .... in my opinion, that's what it's there for, and yeah, sometimes you are forced, by scenario, to use it to an extreme.

Truthfully, it's pretty rare these days that I receive tracks to mix that sound great to start with - and in turn require very little EQ. Most of what I'm forced to work with is not recorded in a good sounding room using quality pre amps, or nice mics which are thoughtfully placed by an engineer who knows what they are doing.

To the contrary, the bulk of what I have to work with is the direct result of your average ( or should I say below average) "home studio" recording rig.... a project tracked in a basement somewhere, using budget pre's and cheap mics, and "engineered" by a home hobbyist who owns a PC or Mac loaded with a cracked copy of PT or Sonar, and who doesn't really know much (if anything) about the craft.

In fact, they know very little. Although, it seems that they always manage to know just enough to be dangerous. LOL

fwiw
-d.

mrcoldstone4 Mon, 02/10/2014 - 07:54
My first step is probably the most important and definitely the most likely for me to implement: Frequency Cuts.
Philosophically, I think of this as simplifying the signal closer to its essence. For voice there is usually low frequency information that gets recorded but we can’t hear. It is good to filter out that stuff. When directional microphones are used up close, proximity effect may be audible. When the presentation will have a limited high frequency response, I like to use a high roll off too. If there are “ugly” frequencies in the recording, I’ll use a parametric to find and minimize those. Anything that doesn’t benefit the end result may be minimized using equalization.
[[url=http://[/URL]="http://2stoneproduc…"]2StoneProductions: 3 Tips on Eq-ing Vocals | The start of Eq-ing Vocals[/]="http://2stoneproduc…"]2StoneProductions: 3 Tips on Eq-ing Vocals | The start of Eq-ing Vocals[/]

ChrisH Fri, 05/02/2014 - 11:59
Kurt Foster, post: 405019, member: 7836 wrote: any eq no matter which kind or pedigree will not improve the sound, it only modifies it. purest approach is a mic preamp / console with no eq and getting the right sound through mic choice and placement. this is how classical recordings are made and is also the way they made records in the 50'. if you look at those old studios in the pictures available you would find at most one or two outboard EQs in the racks to be patched into the console when absolutely need.

What about low frequencies though? I don't understand how someone could get around having excessive low end build up on something like a close mic on a kick for a metal band where you want to capture the attack but because of the proximity you also capture enough low end to make your hair blow back. Or bass, ect..
Will you elaborate how you can do that at the mic?

I've spent days at the mic getting the perfect drum sound but I still end up having to eq the bottom end.

Kurt Foster Fri, 05/02/2014 - 13:16
well don't close mic. use omnis when possible. if you must go directional, a lot of mics like RE20's, 421's / 441's, SM7's have built in HPF's ... i go there first. while the old boards didn't have much eq built in to them, they did usually have HPF as well along with rudimentary +3 / +6, -3 / -6 eqs. if they needed more they would patch in a Pultec .. read the article on Tom Dowd Boswell posted ... he goes into a lot of this.

Davedog Fri, 05/02/2014 - 13:28
Kurt is correct about this approach. One thing that might differ is the room involved. The early recording studios had well conceived sonics going for them as well as size. Mic choice was another thing that the average home or project studio might not have a plethora of. This does bring up something that all recordists can do to greatly improve their recordings and abilities. Learn what your mics actually do. Learn their patterns and subsequent frequency responses within their pattern. This makes choice and placement more of an art and greatly decreases the need for more stuff in the chain at capture or mix.

anonymous Fri, 05/02/2014 - 13:42
Remember that the mic isn't "hearing" the source the way that your ears are. We don't listen to a kick drum with our heads stuck inside the shell - well, I did know a dog once who did that, he was one strange pup....

Anyway, if low end is becoming problematic, you can always use an HPF - either on the way in, or, afterwards during mixing. It's common practice. I don't really use them on kick drum much, because I want those lower frequencies to be there.

It also varies greatly depending on which mic you are using. If you are using a condenser on the kick, you are far more likely to have to deal with the sound around the kick as well... the room and its reflective character can add frequencies you may not want. I like using a dynamic on the kick, (my go-to is an EV RE20, but I've used a 58 plenty of times too) but, I don't shove the mic directly up against the inside of the beater head like a lot of guys do, I place it either just outside the sound hole, or, just outside the kick if there's no head.

But...Metal is a different beast ... typically, metal guys really wanna hear the "smack" of the beater hitting the head, (or in some case, a piece of plastic taped to the head to add more "click") and if you are using a dynamic, like a 58 or similar, because of it's directional character, you'll get a lot more of the source directly in front of the mic, and a lot less of the sound around it. Dynamics also handle high SPL's very well.

The caveat to that would be one of the most-used mics for kick drum - the AKG D112 (I'm not a fan but that's for another thread). The D112 was released as an "improvement" to it's predecessor, the D12, and was designed to capture more low end than other dynamics. It has a pretty good rise down around 100Hz - with another hype at around 4k for "snap". So, if you are using a D112, then you are getting a lot more low end from the inherent characteristic of the mic itself before it even sees your input/EQ, far more than you will with a mic like a 58. The 58 also has a presence hype in the 3-6k region, but the low end starts rolling off before 100Hz.

If you are plagued by low end problems when miking the kick, you may want to use a mic with less hype in the lower range. And, don't be shy about using an HPF, either. It works wonders in adding definition and clarity to a mix... and it can be used on virtually all tracks... vocals, guitar, snare, toms, piano... the only difference would be the corner frequency of each instrument... the roll-off point will vary depending on the instrument.

FWIW

d/

Davedog Fri, 05/02/2014 - 15:04
Metal is one of the most demanding mic placement genres despite the relative volumes at which most metalists want to record at. You'd think that all that volume would overwhelm any nodes in a room or at least mask them at the mic level.
And then theres the real need for extreme clarity in the chain simply due to the large amounts of inter-harmonic relationships in the sounds wanted and the speed at which things are being played. You can't really do this with anything low-grade, plate-starved tube, or mics without a healthy spl. Fast recovery, transistorized, with deep soundscape capable of being rolled off in particular frequencies without losing the muscle or the overall tone is the thing.
If you need to EQ, HPF, re-amp, replace or side-chain to get the clarity without loss of tone and size then thats where you go. The skills involved here are deep to do it well.

bouldersound Sat, 05/03/2014 - 09:53
Modern metal drums are largely replaced with samples. All you need is a clean signal to use as a trigger. Worrying about tone is almost irrelevant.

I go against the flow here when it comes to eq. Microphones are filters. Most directional mics' responses change with distance. There's no getting around the need to close mic stuff I record so there is going to be proximity effect and I'm going to need to compensate for it. Fortunately working ITB there are some fantastic filter plugins that allow me to offset the bass boost rather precisely, with a low shelf cut that mirrors the boost far better than any HPF.

anonymous Sat, 05/03/2014 - 11:01
I'd say, in my own experience, that perhaps what has given me the most amount of hair-pulling moments track wise, was bass guitar, and its EQ. And style-wise, I'm referring to all over the spectrum of music.

Definition on that instrument can also be very reliant on the part itself. I've recorded so many acts where the "bassist" is really doing nothing more than what the guitar is, but just an octave down. Having an actual distinct part for bass goes a long way in helping define it in the mix.

Still, there are times when certain notes jump out over others, and sometimes dramatically. I recently worked with a Hoffner, (violin body) and while it certainly had "that" vintage McCartney-esque kind of tone, it was murdering me to successfully get it to sit evenly in the mix, even with compression. I finally ended up having to actually draw volume envelopes - which as you know, can be very time consuming. But, in the end, it was about all that worked for that particular track.

I almost always use subtractive EQ - as opposed to adding frequencies. It may be because this was the way I'd been taught, but it also makes more sense to me to sculpt tone that way. Adding frequencies means that you are also adding gain, and it can get away from you pretty fast if you're working with a fairly dense mix.

IMHO of course.

kmetal Sat, 05/03/2014 - 11:52
I think, it's not stressed enough that you need diligence when you cut frequencies too. It is very easy to cut too much, making things sterile, or kill, warmth, and character.

I'm a big user of subtractive eq, but defineatley am careful w it like boosts. Also I think it takes a while to identify what is masking what, and whether a boost here or a cut there instead is the way to go.

As far as triggers go, it's pretty common place for me anyway, to layer in samples on a lot of songs, and almost always metal ( which usually gets fully replaced), it's just tough to get a lot of drummers to have consistent beater attack which is critical for metal, but even for rock and funk, that low end can't move.

I also eq on the way in, boosts and cuts, so I try to compensate for anything ugly at that point, after the mic choice/placement. I tend to save notch filters and really tight eq for the plugins.

Davedog Sat, 05/03/2014 - 14:41
Donny. There's only one way I have found to be successful recording Hofner (and some others) and that is to record it through an amp as well as a DI with a transformer output. Kinda like Geoff Emerick recorded Paul......I did a session with one that we used a Deluxe Reverb turned really low and the output on the Hofner about 6. It still had that woody thud but it also had clarity. Bottom can be had at mix. Sometimes in a much better way.

I don't mind HPF'n the whole thing.....sometimes.........

You get on the other side of that 'warmth' thing and it can sometimes scare you to give up the clarity for the frequencies. I have become a fan of re-amping things. Sampling. The DAW will generously allow all kinds of source manipulation with 'other' sources some of which can be special in a layered sort of way.

Its good to have large simple parts comin out'da speakers.

ChrisH Wed, 05/14/2014 - 15:07
Davedog, post: 414395, member: 4495 wrote:
If you need to EQ, HPF, re-amp, replace or side-chain to get the clarity without loss of tone and size then thats where you go. The skills involved here are deep to do it well.

Can you elaborate on the technical side of side chaining with metal?
I only ever use side chain compression.

Davedog Thu, 05/15/2014 - 16:32
If you already use a comp in a side chain simply add an EQ to it. Front or back (pre comp/post comp) will make a huge amount of difference and what you like will be the determining factor as to whether this is something you want. As an aside....I don't know whether a lot of metal guys are using EQ's in the side chain for metal and my statement was meant as a point to using fast recovery high-end gear to get it to sound great. Even if you replace everything, the accuracy of the capture will still matter. Try replacing something recorded on so-so gear and then try it with a high-end capture. Which one has a better definition?

kmetal Mon, 05/19/2014 - 21:32
I don't sidechain compression for metal, but I have been using a parallel bus w some eq and compression on it. I always use samples on the kick, and usually the snare, to keep them from disappearing. I tend to send the OHs, kick snare, and toms, but I've found that things can get mushy if I send the room and hat mics to the bus. I don't really have a science for it but I watch the GR meter and make the needle move a couple db.

Metal and hip hop are similar In the respect that the kick drums are very consistent. The only thing I technically would sidechain Is the vocals by using a d essr. I like to ride the faders on the mid range stuff like snares and guitars after the overall balance is decent, but no obvious rides, where w a pop song might have some more exaggerated rides on vocals, and chorus's.

Weirdly enough my most challenging tasks w metal dudes is guitar sounds lately. I use an old style mentality of put a 57 near it, but usually I gotta turn down the gain, cuz things cut nice when evrythings going live, but it can lose power on the recording.

Also, and I say this as I'm finishing up a death metal ep, it's hard to leave things ugly like they should be. I'm not saying sound like sh't, but a clear picture of something mean. It's a delicate balance overall but I shy away from side chaining much because everything needs to be so strong constantly, that nothing would be ducked when another element enters. The vocals can take a lot of volume editing just cuz of the the range, from super low, to high highs, maintaining power/presence can be extreme. So I err on the side of editing for this kind of stuff. As opposed to using sidechaining to regulate levels. But that's just me.

Also, I've been duplicating the bass track and processing the two differently, one for overall "there ness", and the other for some definition.

anonymous Wed, 05/21/2014 - 09:08
Davedog, post: 414424, member: 4495 wrote: Donny. There's only one way I have found to be successful recording Hofner (and some others) and that is to record it through an amp as well as a DI with a transformer output. Kinda like Geoff Emerick recorded Paul......I did a session with one that we used a Deluxe Reverb turned really low and the output on the Hofner about 6. It still had that woody thud but it also had clarity. Bottom can be had at mix. Sometimes in a much better way.

I don't mind HPF'n the whole thing.....sometimes.........

You get on the other side of that 'warmth' thing and it can sometimes scare you to give up the clarity for the frequencies. I have become a fan of re-amping things. Sampling. The DAW will generously allow all kinds of source manipulation with 'other' sources some of which can be special in a layered sort of way.

Its good to have large simple parts comin out'da speakers.

Dave... could you do me a favor and walk me through what you think the best approach would be for the Hoffner on a production that was more "jangle - retro" than the last track I used it on?

In terms of miking a cab, I do have a bass cabinet with a 15" ( I think it's a Celestion) and a 4" mid range... I would probably use an old Peavey ( solid state) bass head I have lying around in storage...

Mics avaiable are U87, UU89, RE20, AKG 414EB's and various 57's, 58's and Senny 421's.

As far as giving you a "style" example, as opposed to Macca, I'd say closer in the vein to Marshall Crenshaw, The La's, etc., or any other more contemporary jangle-pop stuff.
(I'm not saying that these guys used Hoffners... I'm just giving you an example of over-all style).

If it would help, I could also borrow an LA2 for a day or two. :)

Any thoughts you have would be of great benefit to me and would be much appreciated... ;)

d/
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