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Please help me, I'm crap at EQ

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  • Please help me, I'm crap at EQ

    I've put together a lot of tracks, which I want to get ready for Bandcamp etc. Try as I can, I just find mastering a pain in the ass. EQ especially. Don't get me wrong I get the basics, filter out low freq and drop the high ones. Filter the muddy zone, watch out for 5k and all that. It's such a chore, I tried auto eq which works to a point, but I just want to get them sounding really professional.

    What do I do, other than learn all EQ and practice til the creativity disappears. Or are there some tricks and techniques I need to know?

    At the high end, where do I filter off from? 5k ? 8k?

    Any advice would be great.

  • #2
    I think the keyword is 'professional'. Speaking personally, I've no idea what pro mastering would do for my music, I just mix it so it sounds like I want it to sound (including, shrill highs or boomy lows if that's what I'm after). Then when mastering a bunch of tracks I just make sure they sit together ok, all have the same apparent level etc.

    I don't think there are any set rules for experimental music and reading a mastering tutorial in eg. Sound on Sound geared towards trad pop rock music is not particularly relevant. Can you imagine sitting down with something like a Gas track then applying those rules? Wouldn't work.

    So, I guess, worry about the music and not what you 'should' be doing to it.

    Though I will say 5k sounds low, you could lose a lot of presence filtering that low.
    Latest release: never to be repeated

    Hearthis | Soundcloud

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    • #3
      I am of the opinion that the bulk of EQ work should be performed during the mixing stage on the individual mixer tracks. Mastering EQ is a much "smoother" and less "surgical" process.
      Whatsisname's Little Fluffy Clouds | Campsite | Hearthis | Orfium | SeismicTC | Twitter | Ello

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      • #4
        My work is often a soup with frequencies obscuring other frequencies, lots of hissing noise, and phasing--but that's what I like. I might not be the best source of mixing info...:biggrin:

        But I do think that while there are a few EQ guidelines for mixing (recognizing the physical realities of playback systems and realizing there are things a listener may expect and prefer for sound) that a clinical or standard approach may not always yield the best results.

        It's kind of a cliche' but it's no less true--trust your ears. This means fiddling with an EQ and really listening to what happens as you dial through frequencies--how it pushes other sounds out or makes room for others.

        Like Seismic states; I do feel like most of the EQ work should be done on individual tracks during the mixing process. A final EQ over a mix should be quite subtle and just to accent flavors in the mix that may need a small boost or attenuation.

        Every piece of gear (or software) is like an instrument. You need time and a bit of effort to learn it's strengths and weaknesses, to understand exactly what magic it contains that will add to your work.

        There are dozens of mix videos around the web that may help guide you, and I am sure others here have knowledge they can share to help get you started, but there really isn't any shortcut to gaining experience.

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        • #5
          Thanks for the input guys, I did mean the mixing stage don't know why I put mastering and it was that I was seeking advice on. I guess the tracks sound good to me already, but then when I EQ, it makes bits sound better but others worse. I'm relieved to hear that shrill and low are ok sometimes. I should trust my ears more and spend more time with the EQ, I think it's because I've got so many tracks I just wanted to speed the whole process up, as it's going to take some time to go through all of them.

          The 5k thing I read was because that's the frequency that "annoys" when in use for prolonged periods, so I usually notch there, or band pass, but like you say it loses clarity sometimes.

          It doesn't help that most of the guides on EQ are for regular music with drums, guitars vocals etc, but I will persevere and thanks.

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          • #6
            My efforts at EQ'ing while mixing mostly consist of cutting out any really annoying lows or highs (annoying to my perception...I don't use any particular formulas or anything), and then using an instance of Voxengo Span on each track to see if I can eq the tracks to make room for each other across the frequency spectrum. Sometimes I can easily apply a band or notch eq and not lose anything of substance from a track to allow another to use that frequency range. Sometimes it doesn't work. Of course, sometimes nothing works :eek:

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Windspace View Post
              ..... sometimes nothing works :eek:
              oh please, there is nothing more reverb or another delay won't solve...



              :maniac:

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              • #8
                I'm a bit like windspace, and even have the luxury of not needing to mix sounds together, most of mine are single track jobs. I did find a solution, and it's this spectral compand. I tried it out of frustration last night. It helps massively, I've no idea what I'm doing with it, but it certainly reduces the bad frequencies and improves the good ones. Sorts out a few resonance problems as well. It's not perfect but it's sort of restored my faith, just wish I could buy it on it's own.

                http://www.soundhack.com/spectral-shapers/

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by theaudiomonk View Post
                  I'm a bit like windspace, and even have the luxury of not needing to mix sounds together, most of mine are single track jobs. I did find a solution, and it's this spectral compand. I tried it out of frustration last night. It helps massively, I've no idea what I'm doing with it, but it certainly reduces the bad frequencies and improves the good ones. Sorts out a few resonance problems as well. It's not perfect but it's sort of restored my faith, just wish I could buy it on it's own.

                  http://www.soundhack.com/spectral-shapers/
                  Thanks for sharing the link! These are interesting plug-ins.
                  Ooh, look, a free delay bundle too!!

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                  • #11
                    The general feeling about EQ application (particularly for non-ambient music) seems to be that each instrument sits in its own sonic space within the mix. This can involve giving each instrument its own portion of the frequency space via EQ band selection. For cases where the frequencies of different instruments need to overlap, space in the mix can be allocated by panning conflicting sounds. Another "trick" is to use reverb to position sounds in the front or rear of the mix.

                    Please note that these are general guidelines, and guidelines which I am quite happy to ignore much of the time. Instruments whose frequency ranges overlap (sometimes to the point of complete coincidence) can actually create very interesting effects when the source sounds are complimentary. This is almost certainly true for ambient music.

                    Rules are fine, as long as you know when to break them.
                    Whatsisname's Little Fluffy Clouds | Campsite | Hearthis | Orfium | SeismicTC | Twitter | Ello

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                    • #12
                      Originally posted by seismic1 View Post

                      Rules are fine, as long as you know when to break them.
                      Probably my only rule!

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                      • #13
                        Originally posted by seismic1 View Post
                        The general feeling about EQ application (particularly for non-ambient music) seems to be that each instrument sits in its own sonic space within the mix. This can involve giving each instrument its own portion of the frequency space via EQ band selection. For cases where the frequencies of different instruments need to overlap, space in the mix can be allocated by panning conflicting sounds. Another "trick" is to use reverb to position sounds in the front or rear of the mix.

                        Please note that these are general guidelines, and guidelines which I am quite happy to ignore much of the time. Instruments whose frequency ranges overlap (sometimes to the point of complete coincidence) can actually create very interesting effects when the source sounds are complimentary. This is almost certainly true for ambient music.

                        Rules are fine, as long as you know when to break them.

                        Thanks so much for that, I'm getting more re-assured with each post.

                        Plus, trust your ears. Just because some software says the mix is right, doesn't mean that's how you like it.

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                        • #14
                          Originally posted by seismic1 View Post
                          Instruments whose frequency ranges overlap (sometimes to the point of complete coincidence) can actually create very interesting effects when the source sounds are complimentary. This is almost certainly true for ambient music.

                          Rules are fine, as long as you know when to break them.
                          Heh, even more true when the sound clashes to create dissonance which I use to create moments of conflict and discomfort ALL the time to evoke emotion.

                          I think beyond EQ you should try multi-band dynamics. Don't know if you use Ableton or not, but the multi-band dynamics is a pretty awesome tool to carve into the spectrum and pick out the parts you want. It's basically a group of compressors that spans frequency ranges and allows you to do seperate compression for each range. Really useful.

                          I don't know if any third-party plugins that do the same thing off the top of my head, but the manual way of doing it would be filtering the music out to 3 tracks or so for the different freq. ranges, compressing each one to your like, and then sending that to the master; a bit tedious but the effect should be the same.

                          Other than that, everyone else here has given a lot of awesome tips, I'd follow what they say... I don't know what the hell I'm doing. I'm at the command of my ears...

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                          • #15
                            It helps to have a grasp of the basic "rules" of production as a foundation. With that in place, you're free to experiment - in this genre especially. There's an interesting thread on this forum asking "have you found your sound yet?" If you're following the rules of production to the letter and striving for the mythic "professional" sound, then discovering and developing your signature style could be a challenge - not impossible though - just a bit more effort to differentiate yourself.
                            Massergy - Spotted Peccary Music

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