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Topic: What's the deal with EQ?

  1. #1

    What's the deal with EQ?

    Hey folks I just wanted to get a general concensus from the more mastering-prone people here on how to properly EQ something. I've been tinkering with it on many occassions to the point where I suddenly put Bypass on, and it sounds better than when I had started messing with it in the first place.

    What about a mix would scream to be EQ'd? Is there a generally accepted method that one would put a piece through? How do I "hear" the Hz numbers and know what to boost and lower?

    I suppose could be the subject of a semester-long class, but I just wanted to get at least an intro or overview on what people do when approaching a mix's EQ

    Thanks in advance

  2. #2

    Re: What's the deal with EQ?

    Hi leif, I copied this from the audio tutorial that I did for everyone... it is on Gary's website http://www.garritan.com/tutorial/AudioMixing.htm

    The frequency response of samples found in Gary Garritan's libraries are very good. As long as the user has created a nice balance of instruments for color, and the arrangement of chords is pleasant, there is usually no need for any EQ. That doesn't mean I never use EQ with Garritan's products, it just means that great sound is possible without having to mess with EQ.

    Equalizer (EQ) to keep all frequencies equal.
    All too often, equalizers do more damage than good. If you are a good engineer, that's another story. Using EQ on an instrument or voice is very effective for removing offensive frequencies. An EQ can also be used to make an instrument stand out from the others. With automation, we can use an EQ for as little as one phrase, or even one note, it's totally up to the engineer, that's you by the way.

    This is a five band equalizer that is a standard plugin in Digital Performer. It allows the user to adjust volume (gain), frequency and bandwidth. It features five bands and two filters, LF (low frequency) LMF (low mid frequency) MF (mid frequency) HMF (high mid frequency) and HF (high frequency)

    Volume is measured in decibels (db) not D flat.
    Frequencies are measured in Hertz (hz) sometimes referred to as cycles per second (cps)
    Bandwidth referred to as "Q", indicates the amount of decibels per octave that the equalizer will affect when it is cutting or boosting volume.

    Octave, now there's a term we can relate to. Interesting that music is all about math, just like many things in this universe. When a bass player plucks the lowest "open" string on an acoustic upright bass, it sounds an E, which is approximately 80hz. The highest note on a piano is 4,186 hz or 4.186 khz. When the bass string wiggles back and forth, it is vibrating 80 times per second. Our ear drum vibrates back and forth 80 times per second as well, so we are able to recognize this low E bass note and how it relates to the chords. If this was a bass guitar connected to a speaker, the speaker cone would travel outward and inward 80 times per second, creating sound waves that would reach our ears in the same manner as the note resonating from the upright acoustic bass. I still find this very fascinating, don't you? So what does all that have to do with mixing music. Everything! If you understand how sound originates, you can easily figure out what to do to make it sound better with a little thought. So, when the sound is not good, you will be able to set your EQ very specifically, instead of just twisting knobs till they do something. Won't that be great!

    You have heard of tuning to A-440 haven't you? The A just above middle C on a piano produces a pitch of 440 hz., an octave below that, is 220hz., and one octave below that is 110hz. It's just simple math. I mention this because it directly relates to the frequency settings that you will see on equalizers.

    Select a flute from GPO, or your keyboard if you don't have GPO yet. Record it into an audio track, then insert an EQ on that channel and play with it. Notice that when you boost gain at low frequencies, the sound of the flute does not change at all. The closer you sweep the frequency knob into the range of the flute, the more affect the controls will have. Experiment, but be very careful when you use EQ, a little knob twisting goes a long way, and can have a very negative or positive effect on your sound. Be especially careful if you are using an equalizer on an entire stereo mix.

    You may hear a frequency that you don't like. If you don't know what the problem frequency is, you could set the gain on one of the bands real high, and then use the frequency knob to sweep. When you get close to the offending frequency, it will start getting really loud. Once you have honed in on the frequency, lower the gain below 0db so that you are now cutting the gain of that offending frequency region.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    nr Manchester, England

    Re: What's the deal with EQ?

    When it comes to the technicalities of all aspects of mixing in this forum, quite obviously Dan's the Man, as it were! So there's precious little I can say, other to agree with Dan's comments - less seems to be best in terms of EQ with GPO. As you know, GPO relies on the Mod Wheel not only for volume variation, but also for tonal variation etc. and I think this may put some of us off touching Midi Controller 7 sometimes - but I think a little tweak here and there can help to just bring the odd phrase up in the mix or adjust the balance. Automating can help with this depending on your sequencer. As with all of this it's best to use your ears- although that in itself can be more difficult than it seems. I very often find myself hearing something I've written the way I intend it to sound rather than the way it actually sounds, and it's often only after a break of a day or two that you hear what you've really done! Sometimes I don't hear it at all until someone else points it out! But you seem to be on the right track with that bypass button when it sounds better without treatment"
    Quote Originally Posted by DPDAN
    [font=Times New Roman, Times, serif]Hi leif, I copied this from the audio tutorial that I did for everyone...
    That's a brilliant tutorial Dan, but how's the Reverb specific tutorial coming along? I for one am waiting very patiently for it!! You did promise one didn't you?



  4. #4

    Re: What's the deal with EQ?

    Ahh thank you very much I thought I had read every tutorial on the site, but I must have accidently passed that one over! Much appreciation for the copy/paste.

    It definately opens my eyes much further now as well. For some reason I was under the impression that EQ was a static thing that one did to a mix. Well, we learn best from our worst mistakes!

    I suppose one further question I have is regarding making things all crispy and nice. I've heard a lot of engineers refer to "the hollywood smile" (regarding boosting lows and highs and dropping mids), but this might be a bit of a different situation? I'm not sure what about the EQ picture they mean, since when doing that, everything ends up sounding like a tin can due to high instruments getting too much attention.

    Regardless, thanks again! I have a piece I've been slaving over with not too much major improvement, so I may post it later tonight to see if anyone with an outside ear (since I know the piece so well) to point out what exactly's going wrong.

  5. #5
    Senior Member rwayland's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    California Redwoods

    Re: What's the deal with EQ?

    Well, this is a matter left over from my days of testing sattelite communications circuits. But how about some discussion of delay equalization? When using nonsynchronous sattelites, that was a tricky problem, essentially just technique practice. But in a large hall, or in a cathedral, could be important.


  6. #6

    Re: What's the deal with EQ?

    Hmm methinks I have a correction for your tutorial, DPDAN. I think the lowest open string on a bass is (about) 40Hz, not 80.


  7. #7

    Re: What's the deal with EQ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Smiley
    Hmm methinks I have a correction for your tutorial, DPDAN. I think the lowest open string on a bass is (about) 40Hz, not 80.

    I believe you are absolutely right Mr Smiley,
    I will see if Gary can change that for me.
    Thanks for pointing that out.
    Someday I hope to get this reverb tutorial finished, that will be fun.


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