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Thread: Sweeping for “problematic frequencies”

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    Sweeping for “problematic frequencies”

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    I don’t know if this should be in the newbie subforum, but one piece of advice I’m always coming across with regards to eq is sweeping for “problematic frequencies” with a high Q bell curve, boosted at around 10db or so. How do I know exactly that a certain frequency is problematic, as when boosted to that extent, all frequencies sound harsh and problematic to me I don’t quite know what I’m looking for...

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    The thing they either never mention or don't stress enough in these explanations is that you aren't actually looking for problems, you should already hear the problem and be looking for "where" in the frequency spectrum to make your cuts. In other words , say you are working on a complete song/mix and the kick drum sounds "boxy" which is a weird term that i dont really feel describes what most people mean. Anyway, something in the lower mids of the kick is sticking out and bothering you or making it sound muffled/muddy/flat or what have you. You can now take a wide Q boost and sweep it until you find the general area of the timbre that is bothersome(which will often be a "resonant peak" then gradually narrow and sweep until you locate the problem area. There is also a practice of using sweeping to find the resonant peak/s of a track( these frequencies will usually be obviously louder than non resonant freq when sweeping) and cutting these frequencies to even out a performance. This can be especially useful on bass guitar tracks since different notes tend to sound louder than others even at the same relative rms db. The easiest way to know if you have a problem is to use reference tracks in the genre that you are working in and comparing the tonality/timbre. This will help you decide what you like/dislike about your recording and what to mess with.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gtoboy View Post
    you aren't actually looking for problems, you should already hear the problem and be looking for "where" in the frequency spectrum to make your cuts.
    This ^^

    You have already discovered that a pre-emptive approach reveals nothing all that helpful.

    Frequency sweeping is a technique to pinpoint and identify a frequency that you have already found to be a problem.

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    Unless your room is very well tuned, you may be hearing a room problem not a mix problem (check with headphones?)
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    I never boost, I do cut sweep. In fact I rarely, if ever, boost any freq, period. And while there was a time I would use steep cut sweeps, I discovered that just because I needed my ears to have a drastic comparison but my ears are better now so My depth/width isnt so dramatic.

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    I think that if you are a beginner, you should start by trying to fix only problems that you can clearly hear, like they're so obvious that you don't need to train yourself to hear them.

    In the meanwhile it's a good idea to watch videos and read articles and educate yourself on more complex stuff.

    And about the boosting thing. I know it's much easier to hear something if you boost it, but I'd suggest to try learning to fix problems by cutting. You identify the problem, then you take a wide Q cut and when you can't hear the problem anymore, it's likely that you've fixed it.

    It'd actually be interesting what people have to say about how to educate yourself on this.

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    First I'd think for searching a moderately narrow Q rather than wide. The search' by cutting is an interesting idea that may have some merit! It goes directly to the end step perhaps.
    I tend to think 'boost and sweep 'highlights better -perhaps.
    I think the process can also temporarily skew our perception of tonal balance. Therefor; having found the target, leave the filter out for a bit, then begin the cut.
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    there is not much point of 'sweeping' for prob freqs is your room is not attenuated.

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    The recent EQ installment in the iZotope mastering "are you listening" series briefly covered this. The presenter was not a fan of sweeping to look for problems because he felt that everything would sound like a problem when you stick a narrow boost on it. (I have to agree - never found it helpful.) He suggests doing a sweep with a cut, and listen for when the problem goes away, though he suggests (IIRC) developing an idea on where the problem is, so you search area is relatively small.
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    Quote Originally Posted by frank1985 View Post
    one piece of advice I’m always coming across with regards to eq is sweeping for “problematic frequencies” .
    What do you mean by "problematic" if something is that far off, then re-record it.

    Its good to learn what frequencies are friendly to which instruments before you record or mix them. All instruments have specific placements.
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