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EQ: do you optimize recorded audio or reshape it?

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EQ: do you optimize recorded audio or reshape it?

Postby crduval » Thu Aug 02, 2012 7:56 am

Hi forum folks;

I was just watching the demo video from UAD's new Sonnox EQ plug-in. They show an example of how you can use an A/B setting to compare or automate two different EQ settings for a given channel,. The example they used was a rock guitar track (something I record all the time). One setting was more or less an optimization of the recorded guitar track - some low cut, a little boost in the upper mids, but nothing too radical. The other setting was a real reshaping of the input signal - boost in the low end, boost in the hi mids and scooped midrange.

This got me thinking - my approach has always been to get decent raw sounds, then capture and EQ them to eliminate problem areas and make sure that they all sit well in the mix given the arrangement. Therefore, 80% of the time I usually use EQ to cut out competing, unwanted or problem frequencies.

The radically altered example they showed though sounded good, it was just completely different than the raw track. I guess I never thought of EQ as a tool for radical reshaping (unless I was going for some specific effect, like a telephone vocal or something). It made me think about taking a more wide open approach for my next mix just to see what would happen.

Just curious as to others' practices in this area.
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Re: EQ: do you optimize recorded audio or reshape it?

Postby mikehalloran » Fri Aug 03, 2012 12:09 pm

For me, unless dealing with something that really needs fixing, my eq settings tend to be like yours. I might do a gentle boost to move a vocal out of the way of an autoharp but, normally, I move a slider till I hear a change then back off 50%. Then I use the Bypass button to see if I improved anything or not.

Radical eq, for me, is often 1.8dB or something like that. There are times when I must turn the knobs to fix the bass and kick but, the better I record, the less of an issue it is.
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Re: EQ: do you optimize recorded audio or reshape it?

Postby Timeline » Sat Aug 11, 2012 5:37 am

There are no rules. Find EQs that sound good to you. I like the MW Motu EQ and UAD has a few nice options too. Digital eq used to sound radical to me over analog but they have greatly improved that in todays plugs. I would prefer leaving everything flat set at '0' level and do everything in analog. I would prefer EQing w/all API 550As if I have a choice but I don't have a desk anymore.
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Re: EQ: do you optimize recorded audio or reshape it?

Postby Prime Mover » Mon Aug 13, 2012 11:54 am

Well, in a perfect world, the best way of achieving a specific sound is to start at the beginning of the chain and work your way down: change the instrument, then the mic, then finally the EQ. But we don't always have that luxury. Even decked-out pro studios are faced with bad sounding instruments, and sometimes the perfect mic just isn't in the arsenall. Post EQ is one of the most flexible, powerful, and safest tools to use in sound shaping. There's nothing wrong with using it to redefine the sound. First off, your job and responsibility as a producer is to get the best sound out of your tracks as possible. If your not quite happy with a perticular sound, don't just say, "well, that is what it is," use any trick in the book to get it sounding how you want it.

You'll often hear famous engineers promote rerecording a track, but A) they usually have a huge arsenall of mics, pre's, and even standby instruments, B) they can sometimes get the musician backs at a moments notice, and C) they don't have the logistical and spacial problems that many small producers are faced with... And D) often their articles are focused on endorsing a piece of equipment they're trying to get you to buy.

Don't feel like using an EQ is a sign of weakness, I know that's a common feeling, but it really is the nature of the beast. You can be sure that top engineers do just as much sound mangling as the rest of, they just don't like to talk about it.
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Re: EQ: do you optimize recorded audio or reshape it?

Postby Timeline » Mon Aug 13, 2012 12:47 pm

Well, said prime M. Seems you've been around a while as well. A friend called me last night to remind me that I invited him down to a session at Sunwest in the late '60s when I was recording The Hook, Son of Fantasy (Bobby Sklar) who died recently in Vegas. The old single is apparently developing an occult rebound 43 years later. The Sunset Blvd. studio was near Western Ave and was really a poor boys room utilizing a stereo Gates tube broadcast desk for the main room. I can honestly tell you there was no need for EQ when recording on that desk. We had a custom 8 track Ampex 351 machine made by the in-house engineers. There was no struggle with sound as there has been for me since I was spoiled from gear of that era. The harmonics were pure ecstasy. I was 18-19 and my ears were fresh then. I have to use a collection of tube and vintage solid state pre's like UA 1108s and API 2520 based pre's and outboard EQ to even get close to the giant tones we got back then. The next phase of tape machines were good too and punchier like analog 16 tracks @ 30ips. Not as rounded or as creamy as the old tube machines were though.

Recording it all live analog in a room is the best for true EQ equity, quite nice really in any era.
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EQ: do you optimize recorded audio or reshape it?

Postby crduval » Mon Aug 13, 2012 3:55 pm

Thanks for the replies, great to hear your perspectives. I'm going to experiment a little more. I think my tendency with all processing is to be extremely judicious, but I've heard some great sounding results when others have gone much farther than I would have done with eq, compression, etc.




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Re: EQ: do you optimize recorded audio or reshape it?

Postby mikehalloran » Tue Aug 14, 2012 8:00 am

>Recording it all live analog in a room is the best for true EQ equity, quite nice really in any era.<

I was trying to remember what brand of EQ I owned in the '70s and '80s. Then I remembered - none.
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