Reverse engineering EQ
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Old 02-06-2017, 12:56 AM   #1
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Reverse engineering EQ

I'm really curious. I'm really trying hard to improve my mixing skills as of lately. Been reading metric shit tons upon shit tons about different techniques when I can't be at my computer and then sit down, write and mix. That's typically how I practice, which I do think is helpful.

Recently I've been reading people that study "templates," basically a fully written, mixed and lightly mastered song in a daw and that's how they learned different techniques. I thought sure, a new approach might be good and especially to see different eq curves on different sounds I didn't make. However, all the mixing on most every template I've found is probably the most basic eq work I've ever seen, a high pass on most things ranging from 100-200hz (with exception of kick and sub), and really no low passing. Maybe a small bell here and there. And these templates sound really great, full and wide. This has made me really thinking I've been over EQing

My question is: when you're mixing, how hard do you EQ your sounds when you're mixing? I know this is a horribly asked and really generic question, and it obviously depends on the sound you're working with. But please tell me - am I crazy for thinking that practically no EQ work doesn't make sense to me?

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Old 02-06-2017, 01:15 AM   #2
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Re: Reverse engineering EQ

The need for EQing depends almost entirely on your source material and what specific things are in the mix. Generally instruments that are really well recorded from the get go need less treatment. There's probably a corollary with people that have the time/equipment/talent to record things really well off the bat and same said people having put a lot of thought into what they're recording and how it's going to sit in the mix before ever hitting a button.

The long and short is that sound design and mixing and two sides of the same coin. They complement each other. If you just dump a bunch of presets into a mix you're going to need to EQ the hell out of the parts to get them their own space. If you meticulously plan what's in each frequency range at any given time and make sure those things are set up correctly from the beginning, you're probably only going to need a light pass of EQ to make thing gel.

Last edited by Artificer; 02-06-2017 at 09:31 PM.. Reason: omg spelling
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Old 02-06-2017, 01:17 AM   #3
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Re: Reverse engineering EQ

Quote:
Originally Posted by Derpgerpwalrus View Post
But please tell me - am I crazy for thinking that practically no EQ work doesn't make sense to me?
Just a thought, but some construction kits or templates include a lot of samples and sample-based presets - in these cases it is no surprise that there is not much processing, since all the stuff is already heavily processed to fit the template - maybe this is done so people get a construction kit or template of some kind, but without really seeing much of the sound design that went into producing the samples and sample-based presets and without being able to copy any of the tricks...

But yeah, many experienced people will probably tell you that you should aim for not EQing too much, but imho that depends on genre, song complexity, arrangement, types of sounds and sound design and so on...

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Old 02-06-2017, 02:24 AM   #4
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Re: Reverse engineering EQ

A highpass and a bell to bring things down a bit where they conflict with my lead, plus a notch where there are any weird resonances I don't like is all I do for mixing EQ. But then I can also go nutty and run 3 EQs on every sound to purposely try and pull stuff out of phase and just give it uber fattness and tone. That's not standard procedure, but if I use a bunch of EQ, it's to purposely mess up the sound in that way.

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Old 02-06-2017, 04:04 AM   #5
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Re: Reverse engineering EQ

Well, I think it's important to remember that in a professional setting, mixing is done separately from the writing and recording stage. Most try to get their sounds right from the very beginning before sending it off to post-production (the mixing and mastering stage). All the huge, crazy moves are done during the writing and recording process.

As such, not much has to be done on EQing. Remember that mixing is about fitting all the sounds together in the track, rather than making huge sweeps here and there. So you're not doing much when you're EQing. You're mostly just cutting the frequencies on some instruments and boosting frequencies on others. However, these simple moves have a lot of thought into them. For example, an engineer might lower 2khz on a pad synth and some percussions. Why? Because they want to give space to lead synths, or vocals, which has a lot of 2khz. Even though it is a simple approach, there was a lot careful thought and consideration in doing so.

So yeah, I do some crazy moves when I compose and lay down my track, but when it comes to mixing, I try to be subtle with my EQ.

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Old 02-06-2017, 03:23 PM   #6
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Re: Reverse engineering EQ

Basically this.


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Old 02-06-2017, 04:00 PM   #7
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Re: Reverse engineering EQ

Quote:
Originally Posted by Derpgerpwalrus View Post
My question is: when you're mixing, how hard do you EQ your sounds when you're mixing? I know this is a horribly asked and really generic question, and it obviously depends on the sound you're working with. But please tell me - am I crazy for thinking that practically no EQ work doesn't make sense to me?
As much as is needed, but if you start having 2-3 EQs with 5-7 bands, then you might consider, whether your source material is good at all. Well recorded samples or well tuned synth presets need just little adjustments in EQ, but they have to be in the right spots and with the right shape.

Become good at equalization comes through practice and it has a lot to do with training your ears for hearing "how to EQ and how much". This training can be assisted by doing a lot of A/B/... tests so that whenever you EQ do two or more equalizations and compare them side by side, then pick the one that you like better.

The ear can also be tricked so that if you don't do the above mentioned kind of A/B/... testing, then you will hear good whatever is good, but to really hear how it sounds like it needs something to compare to. Usually it's the unequalized sound, but the comparison can as well be made between different equalizations.
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Old 02-06-2017, 05:27 PM   #8
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Re: Reverse engineering EQ

I do a lot of my EQ work during sound design and arrangement. The goal is to not have to "fix" elements later bc of frequency overlap. If you always work with the idea that there can only be so much volume of each frequency at any given moment (3 dimensions Freq, Volume, Time) you wont have to do as much work later

Remember to keep that low end clean.

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Old 03-06-2017, 01:16 AM   #9
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Re: Reverse engineering EQ

Quote:
Originally Posted by Narukami Music View Post
Well, I think it's important to remember that in a professional setting, mixing is done separately from the writing and recording stage. Most try to get their sounds right from the very beginning before sending it off to post-production (the mixing and mastering stage). All the huge, crazy moves are done during the writing and recording process.

I really like the way you explained that. Being in bands for about 10 years this makes a lot of sense to me; where typically we just write our music at practice, make adjustments repeatedly and then get it all tight and ready for studio/live shows. I guess for some reason that whole process never really occurred to me too while making electronic music because the studio is right there at the same time. It makes me realize I REALLY need to get a more firm schedule of how my overall process should be done.

And a big thanks to everyone else for the input on how you all use your EQs - all extremely helpful information.

I mean I definitely knew that instrumentation was king, I guess I didn't realize to what extent. Mixing and sound design is still relatively new to me.

I've gone back into my mix and taken away a lot of really hard EQ settings, and played around more with just the vst settings in my instruments to clean it up and I can already tell a marginal difference in clarity and the way that everything just sits.

My desire to slam my face through this fucking desk has gone down marginally. Go team.
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Old 07-06-2017, 04:08 AM   #10
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Re: Reverse engineering EQ

Man this is a good thread. What really tickles my fancy is nice wide and full mixes. Also I really like the natural sound of things. Usually what happens when I mix is I get the kick to stand out right at about -3db and the snare just a tad bit under that. Hats usually go at around -10db panned to the right at around 30%. Then once that is done I make sure to have all my melody layers to sit right under the kick and snare. Once that is done then i will start to hi pass my kicks and basses to taste, same with the snare depending how much low end it contains. Thats mostly it. Guitars will get the hi pass treatment as well. Usually double tracked one on the left and one on the right. Also with guitars I make sure to play the whole song fully when recording to make sure to retain that live feel. That all being said, I rarely bring out the eq unless its something that i really like but kinda sounds trashy. But then again...... I like trashy rofl.

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