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I recently recorded an acoustic guitar track that has great mids and high end, but was very bass shy. I could make the track sound more complete by using a really broad bass boost that was on the order of 18dB at the lowest frequencies, falling ski slope style to normal at the low mids.

It sounded good, but my intuition was that this was too much use of EQ.

I am curious to hear from others in this regard. Does the amount of EQ above sound excessive? If so, what kind of problems might I encounter because of it? Has anyone successfully used even greater changes of EQ?

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TheJackAttack Tue, 11/02/2010 - 14:49

It's not ideal but the finished product is the deciding factor. Many of us say you can't have too many microphones for this reason. Very few microphones work great on everything-maybe none. Some mic's are specialized to timbre and situation. For instance, if you were using Shure 57's instead of those EV's you would not need 18dB of bass boost. If you were using AT 4051's you wouldn't need it either and the space would be expanded.

anonymous Tue, 11/02/2010 - 21:26

The room is indeed very dry, but it does not seem to suffer from some of the bass problems that small rooms can suffer from. I put this down to having corners loaded with pseudo bass traps (guitar cases) and many large objects that create diffusion, like desks, cabinets, and my speakers. As outrageous as this will sound, for all of my many recording equipment shortcomings that I have outlined in several of my posts, I own a pair of huge Tannoy GRF Windsors with 15" MG's, that I won at an auction a few years back. Apparently, I was the only one smart enough to go home and do some research before auction day (I knew nothing about tannoy up to that point) I use a very early Bryston 2B to drive them (also won at auction) and a Carver C3 preamp.

In any event, the room does not have any patently obvious bass problems. In fact, I just made my first serious attempt at recording bass, and it was remarkably good, so good that I think it will be my regular setup. I used a Hofner acoustic bass (no, not the Beatle bass, but basically a jumbo style acoustic body) with a built in pickup, and one EV676 loaded right at the soundhole. The pickup gets me the transients and definition, and the mic rounds out the sound, adds some color from the frets, and quells the clinical sound of the pickup. Bass may well turn out to be my strong suit. In any event, I hope others do not mind my talking out loud at times. I do this both for my benefit, and to see if anything jumps out at readers.

Now 3dB is pretty modest to say the least. Based on that, I will certainly revisit some of the things I am doing.

Big K Tue, 11/02/2010 - 21:38

Most settings you can make with any EQ are not fitting, above doing any good and are, indeed, lifting eyebrows.

In the case of this acoustic guitar...
if you intend obtain a natural sound just with more bass,...listen to the guitar and find out how it actually sounds. Applying a Low shelf EQ can hardly be the right approach, there.
You might raise some frequencies obove their natural levels, that you don't want. Below the lowest note "E" at ~82 Hz, there is not much "music" going on and boosting this range too much - compared to the natural frequencies - raises unwanted noise like handling noise of the guitar during play.
Also, the first 5 notes of a guitar (E to A), for example, have a range of only ~ 28 Hz (always plus their harmonics...). Some chords have several notes in a relatively small frequency range and boosting a wide shelf-shaped bass area down there makes a guitar sound unnatural, quite easily... Remember , all the higher harmonics of those notes are untouched by the LoEQ and will sound out of balance.
Another topic would be the choice of EQ. If I remember right, I have about 35 different EQs ( Hw & Sw ). Some are very good only on certain sources, others can be used for a wider area. But very few I would be happy to use on all material. Which one are you using ( they all have a life of their own..;-)
To obtain a balanced rich tone from your guitar by using EQs, rather then by choosing the right microphone and positioning, you should use a bell shape EQ and apply it carefully. You will have to find out about the Q factor, gain and frequencies using your ears.

Now, to some other wide and important topics you should jump into: Microphones, positioning, monitoring and room acoustic... Till you have learned a bit about all this... use your ears and compare to the real thing..... Sometimes less is more...Try different mics and positions, with multiple mics watch out for phasing problems and cancellations.
I don't want to sound like a smart arsch, but this is a complex and complicated job, even with just one guitar, and needs some studying, experimenting and collecting of the right tools....

TheJackAttack Tue, 11/02/2010 - 21:38

Generally I try not to use to much parametric eq at all. I might use some surgical notching and sometimes that can get pretty extreme but I'm trying to remove particular frequencies at that point. EQ in budget situations is often used to make up for not having the correct gear for the job in the first place. So in that regard, using 15dB boost or cut is fine if that is the gear you have and can't afford better.

Davedog Thu, 11/04/2010 - 14:33

Just for the sake of dsfining 'boost', 3db is twice as a boost at a given frequency of 15db would amount to getting it 5 times as loud as it was at 'flat'. This is , of course, relative to the frequencies present and their respective 'loudness levels' which would be unknown without the proper measuring devices. So, 15db of incease might simply be bringing a certain frequency to 'flat'.

My point is this. In using EQ the main thing to watch for is phase anomolies and the creation of sonic buildup in frequencies you are boosting. While in 'solo' you may feel the guitar needs more low/mid and you boost it relative t itself but when you bring it back to the mix it doesnt quite fit simply because there is already something else that is boosted in that frequency range , either through EQ on that instrument of the natural range of its musical voice.

Nothing is ever too much nor too little as long as the result sounds good with everything else you have going.

BTW. I always cut the lows from all guitar tracks except during solo sections. The competition in the mids and low mids with rock combo instrumentation is fierce and there needs to be room made for everyone to have their say.

audiokid Thu, 11/04/2010 - 17:09

Well equalizer shelving is one thing, and e Q ing is another animal. What is the Q we're establishing here and for what purpose? Reasonable amount is not 15 db. Its straight jacket and surgery at that point.:wink:

I can see a 15db cut in HP LP shelving but if I was doing this to make a pocket for another instrument with a graph at say 1.6 k or 2.5 I would keep the other freq on each side no further away than 3db, always! And then you can see how much 15db would be at this point DEAD MEAT!
Its my experience that dramatic cuts or boosts above 6db, you should be thinking about re recording something or fixing it in other ways for sure. 15 db, I would toss it and/ or find better, maybe notes that fit the mix or something. I have done large boost on kicks for a big thump with a high end parametric but that's not called eq. Its called something other than eq'ing and it was just to wake up the people on the 8 floor.
15 db holes in instruments to fit others in... I'm sure you don't mean this?
I would only attempt such surgical extreme with a narrow q to do something totally rash like get the bullet out.... like removing a standing tone or more commonly ,nasty bad sss at 6 or 8 k because the entire recording chain and room is whacked with cheap gear.
Good room, finer mic's , finer pre, finer converter, monitors and balanced notes with space in a song avoid a lot of that nasty reasons to reach for an eq past ...

But, who knows. I'm always learning.


Big K Fri, 11/05/2010 - 04:47

Just an info to "Q"

The Quality Factor, or "Q", of a filter is a close relative to bandwidth. It is defined to be the center frequency divided by the bandwidth in Hertz. For example, a filter centered at 1000 Hz that is 1/3-octave wide has -3dB frequencies located at 891 Hz and 1123 Hz respectively, yielding a bandwidth of 232 Hz. Q, therefore, is 1000 Hz divided by 232 Hz, or 4.31.
So the lower Q is, the wider the influenced frequency range around the set center frequency is. Surgical narrow filtering of, e.g., hum or CRT line frequencies (at 15.625 Hz PAL or 15.735 Hz NTSC), is called notch filtering, done with relatively high Q factors. The Q factor may range from 0. 1 to somewhere at 16, or even more...

Also watch
[[url=http://[/URL]="http://www.uaudio.c…"]Cambridge EQ | Analog and Digital Audio Products and Plug-Ins | Universal Audio[/]="http://www.uaudio.c…"]Cambridge EQ | Analog and Digital Audio Products and Plug-Ins | Universal Audio[/]

Big K Fri, 11/05/2010 - 05:09

As audiokid already stated: room acoustic and proper monitoring is absolutely essential.

In a balanced room with good speakers you can and should go for what your ears say and not what
any dB level EQ curve or, even worse, any colourful, fancy frequency spectrum meter tells you.
Just in the beginning you all too easily fall for. . "Hey, that can't be, that looks too extreme..."..
We work with ears and visual feedback is secoundary...

Well, does it sound the way you wanted it? In a proper environment for mixing, what ever the setting is, if it sounds good, it is right!
If you come to drastic settings it is worth rethinking if there is something wrongly routed or set, of course. But, in general use your Lauscher ( ears )

If you do not have a balanced acoustic in your room and/or improper monitors you can never rely on what you hear is what you get.
Soundwise, you are just poking in the dark. This is very frustrating and is no fun, at all. Settings of 15 dB might well be the result of bad acoustic...

RemyRAD Fri, 11/05/2010 - 16:45

While the folks here are talking about EQ, which we all use, some more so than others, one thing is not really been mentioned. And that is PROXIMITY EFFECT. Especially when recording acoustic instruments such as acoustic guitar, directional microphones are frequently employed and/or used. Every directional microphone suffers from or is enhanced by PROXIMITY EFFECT. This is a situation that is created by any directional microphone which increases bass response in " Proximity" to the distance of the microphone. In many situations, this proximity effect is quite useful and is utilized regularly by most folks where they realize they are using it or not. Most microphone manufacturers indicate the proximity curve in their datasheet. Whereas, Omni-directional microphones experienced no PROXIMITY EFFECT. This means you really need to know what microphone you want to use and why. Some directional microphones like the Electro--Voice RE 20 have a " backbone" designed to reduce and/or eliminate the PROXIMITY EFFECT but that's one of the few to do that. Most don't. This is why microphone placement is so highly subjective & individualized. 1 inch can make a huge difference, HUGE DIFFERENCE in the sound that your recording. And you're equalization of the sound begins not with the EQ but with microphone placement. The equalizer is as its name implies. If they are to even up what doesn't quite sound right to you. They can also be utilized as an effect to enhance, over enhance or to dumb down sound that cannot be accomplished with just microphone placement or selection alone. And that's why sometimes it takes engineers hours in the studio just to get the right mic placement on a single instrument. So that's where we all stand when we sit down at our microphones.

I've got some long ones and some short ones.
Mx. Remy Ann David

anonymous Fri, 11/05/2010 - 17:26

What about Axis? Should directional mics always be placed on axis, i.e., perpendicular to the sound radiating object? And how much should one fuss with the EQ of the first bed track (which in my case is guitar)? Intuitively, it seems that one might need most or all of the tracks, to see how the mix is working before tinkering with EQ on individual tracks to much. Does this make sense?

TheJackAttack Fri, 11/05/2010 - 20:48

No. Sometimes aiming off axis gives you the exact sound that you want. Sometimes you use an off axis null to record multiple sources without bleeding through very much or any at all. Some microphones have a very even off axis response and some are really crappy off axis (by design or not). Experience is what tells you a direction to take with mic choice, pattern choice, and mic position. Knowing how sounds blend is what guides and creates this experience. Here is a for instance. A violin cello duo. Many times a violin may sound a bit on the thin side and a cello a bit on the tubby side lacking definition. Now take the average C414 in figure8 pattern. The back half is typically a little "darker" than the front side. If you close mic them with the "darker" side towards the violin and the brighter "side" towards the cello then you are working with your sound source rather than against it. Does that make a C414 my first choice? Depends on the hall and the players individual sounds and the period of style and of course what else is in my mic locker.

RemyRAD Fri, 11/12/2010 - 13:32

In many situations, one will find that SDC small diaphragm condenser suffer from less off axis response problems than their LDC cousins. Most LDC microphones do not sound good with off axis sound. Whereas the SDC's, dynamics & ribbons provided for different off axis results. One must learn the full characteristics of their microphones in order to utilize the wrong things correctly.

Don't tell me how to do my work and I know how to record things badly, the right way.
Mx. Remy Ann David

anonymous Fri, 11/12/2010 - 15:34

Curious timing to a fresh post here, as I found the solution, at least with respect to those of us who are somewhat gear challenged (see my other thread reporting some minor recording success)

The answer is do what you have to, to get the best sound, and if that means 16dB in the bass and a narrow 6 dB boost in the mids, so be it. The ear is the ultimate arbitor in such matters. Of course I might feel differently once I have assembled a more respectable mic locker, but I believe this to be the best provisional answer.