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Thread: Sweeping out the EQ Freak!

  1. #1
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    Sweeping out the EQ Freak!

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    Here is a link to great article, on reducing a Frequency volume, of say a Guitar, at the same spot where, say the singing mainly sits, so they don't mask each other out.

    http://www.homerecordingconnection.c...w_story&id=154

    Here is the statement from that article I don't understand.

    "Then you just sweep the frequency of the band around the range you're looking to notch out until you hear that you've hit the pocket."

    I don't understand what he means by "sweep" and "hit the pocket".

    Advanced techos here may know what I'm try to say without even reading the article.

    Also, I'm using Cool Edit Pro 2.1, and I can't get that same sort of graphical representation of where all the diferent track freqs lay in relation to each other as he is showing here.

    All I can find (I'm a new CEP user) is the freq analyzer.
    Any clues here would be a great help.

    cheer
    You can listen to my drivel here...
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  2. #2
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    This sounds like a version of an old technique that many of us use (it's one of my favorite go-to techniques for many things, including sweetening electric guitar sounds among others).

    You need to use a parametric EQ, not a graphical EQ for this. Graphical EQs let you adjust the volume of the signal at a given number of preset frequencies. Parametric EQs not only give you control over the volume, but they allow you toe change the actual center frequency at which you're changing the volume. They also have a third control, called "Q", which allws you to adjust the with of frequencies around the center frequency that the volume control affects.

    "Sweeping" means adjusting the center frequency control of the eq band you are working with. For example, you might "sweep" through the frequencies - i.e. turn the center frequency knob - from, say 2kHz to 5kHz and see how the sound is affected.

    The technique for "making a pocket" for vocals in the guitar sound would be to take a band on the parametric EQ, boost the volume say, 6-10dB and playback the vocal track. Set the "Q" fairly narrow so that only a narrow band of frequencies will be boosted. Then play with the "center frequency" control and sweep though the midrange frequencies slowly. As you sweep, listen for how the vocals are affected. When you find a "sweet spot" for the vocals - i.e. a frequency where most of the best sounds of the vocals get boosted by the EQ, you have identified where to "put the pocket". Use your ears to stermine where it sounds "sweetest".

    Now put the EQ on the vocals back to normal (or perhaps boost that "sweet spot just a little, 2-3dB maybe, if you wish and it sounds good). Then switch over to the guitar track with it's own parametric EQ channel or plug, and set that EQ to the same center frequency. But now instead of boosting the guitar there, you cut it a couple of dB.

    The end result is that you have an EQ "pocket" that you're made in the sound of the guitar to make "room" for the vocal's "sweet spot".

    This technique is also good in another variation to make the guitar (or almost any other instrument) sound better. Use the sweep techniqe described above, but instead of looking for a "sweet spot" with your ears, look for the "sour spot". This will be a frequency that when boosted really honks out and sounds annoying. When you find that spot, then turn the EQ volume/gain control to cut that frequency a couple of dBs or so. It can make the instrument sound a whole lot better.

    HTH,

    G.
    [SIZE=1][B][COLOR=DarkSlateBlue]Glen J. Stephan,
    SouthSIDE Multimedia Productions[/COLOR]
    [COLOR=DarkGreen]RECORDING RESOURCES AND INFO SITE:[/COLOR]
    [URL="www.independentrecording.net"][SIGPIC][/SIGPIC][/URL][/B][/SIZE]

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    Beautiful!...... Thanks heaps southSide,
    Just the answer I was looking for.

    Where would I look to get an idea of where to start
    looking for the sweet spot. The Freq analyzer looks
    much the same shape no matter what I look at.
    Vocal, rhythm guitar, bass....it all kinda looks the same.

    Or do I just do a broad search to start with,
    and keep narrowing in. Playing it all by ear.

    cheers and have a good one!
    Last edited by PhilM; 12-03-2005 at 00:28.
    You can listen to my drivel here...
    http://www.unsignedbandweb.com/music/bands/2492/

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    Right, I've had a bit of play around with a vocal track.

    What sort of Q band widths are we talking about.
    Anything below about 10Hz and it is hard to discern much diff, And it's pretty slow going
    At 20 to 50Hz and above I can here lots of diff.

    I'm not real sure about a "real" sweet spot, but between about
    19 - 23KHz seems about best.

    I picked up a few, not real good, hollow sounding voice stuff at around 140, 440, 1000 Hz and a richer fuller sound around 80Hz.

    So, do I now just, adjust the widths to cover the areas of concern, and 2 or 3 db up or down with the good and bad.
    Hows that sound?
    You can listen to my drivel here...
    http://www.unsignedbandweb.com/music/bands/2492/

  5. #5
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    This is really one of those things where you need to use your ear and not your eyes. Even the best spectrum analyzer will not tell you where a "sweet spot" or a "honker" is located; i.e. it will not tell you wheter a certain frequency sounds good or bad. Only your ears can tell you that.

    The frequency numbrers themselves are also not super-important except in a very general way. After you've been at this racket for a while, you start learning that general "areas" of the frequency spectrum are generally important for certain applications and certain troubles, but one cannot often say that frequency "X" is always going to be the exact sweet spot for something. For example, a common general rule on recording kick drum is to use a small EQ boost at around 4kHz to emphasize the snap attack of the beater. But in reality, depending on the brand and size of the drum, how it is tuned, what kind of mic is used and where it is placed, etc. this boost can sometimes not be necessary or, if it is necessary, can have it's sweet spot anywhere in the 3-5kHz range, and not necessarily exactly at 4kHz.

    When talking about finding a "sweet spot" for vocals (and counterbalancing a pocket in a guitar for them, for example), there one is usually (but not always) takling looking more in the mids to mid-highs, say somewhere in the ~750Hz-4kHz range. This is the area where most instruments overlap and where most conflict between tracks will happen. Now, for any given instrument or voice, there will probably be more than one sweet spot and/or honker within that range. Some may be more subtle than others. Just use your ear carefully and critically, paying attention (this is important) not to the music so much as to the sound of the music. Does a boost at that frequency make it sound better or worse? Better will be a sweet spot, worse will be a honker. Non-comittal will be neutral. (A bit over-simplified, maybe, but it's a good start.)

    As far as the Q width, yes you're right; too narrow and you'll be listening to too think of a slice of the music to tell much. OTOH, too wide and you'll be listening to evrything at once, which is no help either. The actual numbers for "Q" can vary from EQ to EQ, but I find that a value that is equivalent to about a half an octave spread is fairly useful. If your EQ does not measure Q that way or you documentation does not give you the conversion from Q number to octave spread, the just set your Q to maybe somewhere around 1/3 of the way out from the narrowest setting and that may get you started. As you get better at the listening, you might find that a fine tuning of that Q value is suitable for your tastes.

    As far as how much to boost or notch any given frequency, again, that's up to your ears. But I think you'll find that as your ears get better tuned/trained, smaller adjustments in EQ will have a more subtle, but more pleasurable effect than huge bumps or notches will. A good general rule is that if you're trying to get two instruments or voices (or a combination) to "fit together", that it's better to boost one by 3dB and cut the other one inthe same spot by 3dB than it is to just boost or cut one of them by 6dB.

    G.
    [SIZE=1][B][COLOR=DarkSlateBlue]Glen J. Stephan,
    SouthSIDE Multimedia Productions[/COLOR]
    [COLOR=DarkGreen]RECORDING RESOURCES AND INFO SITE:[/COLOR]
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    Good advice from SouthsideGLEN.

    Especially regarding turning the volume up on the eq while sweeping, to find the right spot. Then turn it back down once you've found the frequency you are looking for. You use this same technique when cutting offending frequencies with the eq.

    I also want to emphasize his comment about not eq-ing with your eyes. This it totally correct, use your ears. However, you can find a guide to equalization here:

    http://www.recordingwebsite.com/articles/eqprimer.php

    I find it easier to eq with hardware eq boxes. Partly because you are twisting knobs and it does become a more intuitive and ear oriented process. With plugins it's almost impossible to get away from being too technical and tweaky with numbers. I also find that hardware eq tends to sit in the pocket better and I can use less of it than plugins.

    But the same principles apply, whether you are using hardware or plugins. So print out SouthsideGLEN's posts and keep them handy!

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    Quote Originally Posted by SonicAlbert
    I find it easier to eq with hardware eq boxes. Partly because you are twisting knobs and it does become a more intuitive and ear oriented process. With plugins it's almost impossible to get away from being too technical and tweaky with numbers. I also find that hardware eq tends to sit in the pocket better and I can use less of it than plugins.
    Agreed. Another thng that make it more difficult - though not impossible - to so with a plug than in hardware is that with the plug there is usually a latency or delay between the adjustment of a "knob" and the actual effect on the sound. This delay makes the sweeping process more tedious because you have to sweep much slower to be able to accurately determine just which frequency is the culprit. On an analog box there is no latency and one can just twirl back and forth at their heart's content and speed and accurately "zoom in" on the suspect frequency much faster.

    G.
    [SIZE=1][B][COLOR=DarkSlateBlue]Glen J. Stephan,
    SouthSIDE Multimedia Productions[/COLOR]
    [COLOR=DarkGreen]RECORDING RESOURCES AND INFO SITE:[/COLOR]
    [URL="www.independentrecording.net"][SIGPIC][/SIGPIC][/URL][/B][/SIZE]

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    Glen and Al - you guys are too cool
    May the baby Jesus shut your mouth and open your mind - Don Van Vliet

  9. #9
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    Many thanks once again SouthSide.

    Just the stuff I need to hear after weeks of reading articles saying the likes.... you cut X here and you boot Y there.

    I would read all that stuff, but it just didn't have any "real" meaning to me, yeah.....well, tell me bout it sort of thing.

    Now I feel like I am about to enter the world were the real meat is.

    Hello tkingen...... got Sherly "Crow's Rockin' the glob live" DVD a while back.
    One of my most fave DVD's now. Just love that concert.
    And her statement your got there is really the secret to happiness eh
    You can listen to my drivel here...
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