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The amount of eq bands

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The amount of eq bands

Postby permanent_daylight » Tue Dec 31, 2019 6:41 pm

How much do you use?

Pretty general question. As long as a piece of string maybe, but some context to my thoughts on it:

Recently (as a total ameteur) been trying to avoid shelves and wide peak boosts too much. At a point however where i have made many notches, with high q. To me it sounds better maybe, but I am going to experiment making general cuts.
Its very reverberent music, especially with some real spring reverb so there is quite a bit of resonance to take out.

But when i find it focused in one area, it seems like i should just shelve around that area. But logic, perhaps faulty logic seems to say why not make the eq very specific but adding many- in a way tailored to resonances. I guess there could be an issue of artifacts?

[basically some tracks have ended up with around 12 bands, very narrow cuts mostly, peaks, shelves and filters i doubt are many at all. . Mostly that was freezing a track due to RAM but then continuing mixing on a new EQ plugin, so it could be consolidated together. The RAM issue is a real problem with this but its what i have to work on! Dont want to ditch too many fancy plugins.]
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Re: The amount of eq bands

Postby The Elf » Tue Dec 31, 2019 10:34 pm

If a source needs more than 4 bands of EQ (excluding HPF/LPF) then the source needs re-thinking IMHO.
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Re: The amount of eq bands

Postby Bob Bickerton » Tue Dec 31, 2019 11:31 pm

What Elf said.....

Sometimes we over think these things, which inevitably results in over processing. Generally I find it's best to cut EQ rather than boost, though it's an old trick to boost and sweep a parametric EQ to identify rogue frequencies. Having identified the rogue frequency you then cut to suit.

I believe it is important to not get caught up in too much 'theoretical analysis', which is why I'll often use analogue emulation plug-in guis. That way I'm using my ears - not my eyes - to achieve results.

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Re: The amount of eq bands

Postby Martin Walker » Wed Jan 01, 2020 12:11 am

Agreed - if you've ended up with any track 'requiring' 12 bands of EQ then try to sort out the problems at source before having to reach for such corrective EQ.

There are some clever EQs about that that hunt out several resonances for you and reduce them automatically (Tokyo Dawn Records' free SlickEQ is an excellent example), but if you're finding yourself dealing with such problems on several tracks then better mic placement is probably the better solution.


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Re: The amount of eq bands

Postby James Perrett » Wed Jan 01, 2020 2:24 am

Rather than eq have you thought about using spectral compression? This is great for taming unwanted excessively loud resonances while leaving lower level sounds alone. I use the compression option in ReaFIR to do this.
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Re: The amount of eq bands

Postby Tim Gillett » Wed Jan 01, 2020 2:38 am

Could you provide a link to the kind of track you are trying to EQ? That's the best context of all.

It depends on the problem. If the problem is narrow band, we use narrow band EQ. With hum removal on an old recording for example, sometimes even 8 bands of high Q subtraction arent enough. If wide band we use wide band EQ.

At some point there is a trade off between filtering out the unwanted sound and adding high q artifacts. That's a judgement call.

Dont be ashamed of using analysis tools when needed. As well as using ears (obviously) I often look at the spectrum analyser where mere hearing is not acute enough to pinpoint frequencies. Hearing and seeing the frequencies is often more powerful than just one on its own. On the other hand, don't get obsessed with the visuals we are so familiar with these days. The product is sonic, not visual.
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Re: The amount of eq bands

Postby permanent_daylight » Wed Jan 01, 2020 3:13 am

Been using narrow band, to remove resonances i can hear when boosting. The effect is like comb filtering in the end.

Track is very ambient, but still a song. And quite dense. Recorded with real spring and a real untreated hall.

I dont find i had to use it, just that it was an alternative to what may happen usually in separating instruments.

Good idea with the dynamic eq/spectral comp. I think it was used once. TDR nova.

And actually I am using slick EQ for the shelves..along with Mequaliser. but didnt know it did that. Unless that is the paid version only?

Went back over it though. Still a lot, but i found the ones with masses of bands could kind of be consolidated into fewer, or not needed. Certainly less than 12 now, but still a lot, but not every track.
Thus I think its a problem with how I work. I tend to set some timbres of each track > then bring up a new plugin to separate them more > then another to ensure the full track works... Resulting in removing a lot at the end. Some repetition, some just too much. So perhaps its more sensible to keep <6 bands available and just think/listen how to use them. I find it helps me learn however, but it may be time-wasting.
Its also in Reaper grouping system. So i find its easy to forget the subfolder has a few bands already.

I guess the original question: if you made many small EQs vs one large one I presume that the former is of detriment to the sound, like artifacts and phasing from layering up e. G. 4x1db vs. 1x4db.. Despite it being more 'bespoke' perhaps. To get down to the science of it...
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Re: The amount of eq bands

Postby CS70 » Wed Jan 01, 2020 5:58 pm

While I share the feeling that you should capture the best signal you can, I think it's important to remember that in the end they're all frequencies. In principle, it makes little difference how you get the sound you want, only that you get it.

Thing is, it's much easier to get it right at the source. As you say EQs are imperfect devices and may add some unwanted bits of sound to the proceedings and it's hard to get the good without the bad.

On the other side, the effects are subtle and they're so omnipresent in the music we've been listening to and sound is often going thru a lot of EQ stages well before it reaches the mixing desk - it's not like synths, guitars, amplifiers etc and leave exactly a pristine sound.

In the end, you are the only judge of your sound. Nobody has ever commented on a track and said "there were seven eq bands here instead of three". Lots of people say "hey it sounds good" or "it sounds bad" and that all there is to it really.
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Re: The amount of eq bands

Postby Zukan » Fri Jan 03, 2020 10:08 am

EQs are not just for adding colour and removing problematic frequencies they are there for cleaning channels prior to gain staging. Band passing redundant frequencies is a critical first step in optimising the audio for gain staging. Low frequencies are wideband and often high amplitude and they can cause all manner of mayhem by tripping threshold dependent processes. High end redundant frequencies cause brittleness and congestion in the air band and they also need to be removed.

For vocals I usually end up using 4 bands: 2 for the LP and HP band passing trick and the other two to remove boxiness/nasal and sibilance to an extent.

General rule of thumb is: if you need a ton of bands to restructure a sound to make it sit in a mix then you need to rethink the use of that sound in the first place. I find that if I need to seriously maul a sound to make it presentable it is better to ditch it and find a sound that sits better in the mix.
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Re: The amount of eq bands

Postby Tim Gillett » Fri Jan 03, 2020 12:04 pm

One of the things I notice about top feature film dialogue tracks is generally the voices sound natural and real all the way through, no matter what type of voice it is. It's like hearing those people standing in front of you without a microphone, just speaking.

By contrast that's not always the case with locally produced promos that can precede the main feature movie! The tonal balance can be all over the place. The same often for "bonus" interview material accompanying feature movies on DVD's Blu Ray etc.

I'm not sure we all instinctively know how natural voices sound. Some people are just more skilled or sensitive at listening for unnatural tonal balances and imbalances in voices, and having heard the imbalance, how to EQ that voice back to a more natural voice sound, if required. It may not even be complex EQ work. Maybe a relatively broadband bass and/or treble boost or cut to get it at least back into ballpark.
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Re: The amount of eq bands

Postby Kwackman » Fri Jan 03, 2020 12:23 pm

permanent_daylight wrote:Recorded with real spring and a real untreated hall

Real Spring? Guitar amp, or did you use an actual spring reverb in the hall?
What does the track consist of?
Is it a full band playing in an untreated hall?
Solo artist in a hall?
Several tracks (of what?) recorded in that hall at different times/same time?
When you say the hall was untreated , does that mean reverberant?
Was it a large hall?

That's nearly the same number of questions as bands of EQ you used! :D
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Re: The amount of eq bands

Postby jaminem » Mon Jan 06, 2020 12:43 pm

The Elf wrote:If a source needs more than 4 bands of EQ (excluding HPF/LPF) then the source needs re-thinking IMHO.

Totally agree with Elf - I would be asking myself what I am trying to achieve with my EQ and ignoring sentiments like - 'I'm trying to avoid shelves' or whatever. If a shelf is what's required to get the sound you want, use it!

If you are doing that much to get to a sound you want, you may be better off trying another sound altogether. If you are cutting to avoid masking other instruments, then you have too many sounds that sit in the same frequency range - consider removing some or changing some to take up different parts of the frequency spectrum.

If you have recorded something live that you HAVE to have in the song (because its the main component of the song, not just because you recorded it) then you shouldn't need to change it that much (because you like it) and therefore need the other elements to compliment it.

If the sound you recorded just won't work, consider using some sort of transient detective to convert the 'performance' to a midi file to play it back on a more appropriate sound source.

If none of this applies, and you like the sound you are getting with 12 EQ bands active and it sounds right, then don't worry - if it sounds right, it IS right.
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