EQs – the frequency masters

Posted in Production, Recording on März 23rd, 2011 by EO-Manager

When it comes to using an EQ in a mixing session there often seem to be more questions than answers. When shall I use the EQ – before or after the compressor? How can I get rid of certain frequencies? Do I have to use it on each signal individually or on the comlete mix? The good news is: there is no „cookbook“ what you have to do with an EQ. The other side of the coin is you have to have an idea what you want to do before you start and how you can achieve it with an EQ. This often sounds easier than it is. It is not rocket science, though. Let’s see what an EQ is good for.

Generally there are two different kinds of EQs: the graphic equalizer (consisting ususally of many sliders each representing a fixed band, like 32 bands or 16 bands ranging from 20Hz to 20kHz) and a so called parametric equalizer that consists of various knobs, each representing a bandrange you can choose. Parametric EQs are more flexible to work with as the have also knobs for the filter quality (Q-factor, defining a wider or narrow range of frequency) and gain.

Have you ever asked yourself why we need an EQ at all? The sound of a , for instance, guitar is good enough, isn’t it? So is the sound of a bass… And even if it isn’t – can I not make a perfect EQ mix for an instrument, save it as my personal preset and use it again and again? Unfortunately it is not that easy because usually each recording session is different and it is virtually impossible to produce identical raw material. In other words: different recordings, different rooms, different sessions, different mics need different eqing. Sad, but true. Of course you can use presets that come with your preferred eq, but I would always use them as a starting point, not the finishing touch.

When you work your EQ the next important thing is to have a good monitoring system (which is NOT your hifi gear) What a good monitor system is was explained in another blog entry a couple of weeks ago. Without it  you will not be able to equalize properly because you wouldn’t eq against the frequencies of the instruments but the frequencies of your (bad) monitor (another point to invest in decent monitors).

Also, you need a good ear and experience. Why a good ear? Because the thing you want to hear are unwanted frequencies – and then get rid of them by eqing them out. And why experience? Because you need to know not only about the frequncies you want to get rid of, but also which kind of eqing you need to use – high pass filter, low pass filter, shelving filters … btw, there is an excellent explanation of all this filters at soundonsound.com (here) so I won’t go into all the bits and pieces in this article.

Finally it is always a better idea to cut frequencies rather than boost them, and that is true for all instruments. Eqs can be fantastic tools to get rid of all unwanted in a mix in order to make room for each and every instrument. And, not to forget, they are the preferred tools to cut out all the rumble below 55Hz that nobody needs.

Have fun testing your favourite EQ!


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Full blown production for mp3?

Posted in Inspiration, Music, Production on Februar 14th, 2011 by EO-Manager

When you look at the music listening habits of, let’s say, the last ten years you will undoubtedly notice that they have changed. Not that we listen to less music, no, not at all. Quite the contrary: you might get the impression that music is almost everywhere – on mp3 players, telephones, in shops, elevators, even public toilets.

It has become easy to listen: almost every gadget that has some sort of memory or disk built in can produce it. So obviously it is not the amount of music that has changed, it rather is the quality (where quality does not refer to the music itself but the sound).

Not so long ago prices for music were incredibly high. We paid so much because too many people tried to earn as much as possible on one product. In other words: we paid more for the form rather than the content. This changed drastically when mp3 (only just 15 years go!) was spread through the internet and began to conquer the world. More and more people did not care for the „original cd“ anymore and stripped the music product down to the very core; the music itself, rendered to 128kbit/s and 44kHz. Although it is a fantastic compression it has been far from the master cd right from the start. We all know it – and mostly we don’t care.

Now, taking this for granted: what does that mean for our productions at home? I mean, we usually use the internet to distribute our music, we also compress everything to mp3 with the usual 128kbit/44kHz and – you might not like to hear it but it’s true – kill our own songs‘ quality. Ok, given the fact, that most people would probably not listen to our music in awe and silence on their high end stereo systems…should we bother putting so much time and effort into our production? All the hours and hours of recording, mixing, and mastering?

Well, I think „yes“! Why? Because the elaboration process of songs is part of the fun. Especially when you are free from all sales figures und customer deadlines … does it really matter, how much time you put into your work? I don’t think it does, anyway. And with every song you are processing to your personal maximum you add knowledge and gain experience. To me, it’s more fun than force. It’s similar to practicing an instrument – and most of all: I like to become as close to perfection as possible. Don’t you?

You would not do that, if you did not care about the production as much as the songs. More to the point, you wouldn’t even need all that equipment that you probably have. Are you getting my point? Right, I believe that the journey is the reward. And I also believe that your listeners will like and even notice it.  And if they don’t – it doesn’t matter, because your fun part isn’t cut by that. It’s like playing a good football game – your muscles might ache but you still feel good.

For me these are good reasons enough to put everything in the songs AND the production. How about you? Let us know and comment.

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