Best way to improve your Eqing skills...

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djfm1983
Posts: 87
Joined: 16 Jan 2015

Post 21 Jan 2015

I wanted to share what I believe is the best way to improve your eq skills. Frequency training software or apps are a great tool that I think many people are not utilizing. Using a software or app can help you to become familiar with what a boost or cut at 500Hz sounds like (for example) before you even touch an eq knob.
I decided to share with everyone the many options out there for frequency training. If your serious about improving your Eqing skills it's time to start training.

Train your ears...my personal favorite.(www.trainyourears.com)

Mr. Soundman... There's a free version and premium version.
(http://www.v-plugs.com/mr_soundman)

Quiz Tones... Mac App Store, ios and android
(http://quiztones.com)

Auricula... AU plugin, iOS and android
(http://www.auriculaonline.com)
soundcloud.com/djfm1983

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Jagwah
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Post 22 Jan 2015

Hey can you elaborate on the need for ear training in regards to EQ?

Cheers.

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selig
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Location: The NorthWoods, CT, USA

Post 22 Jan 2015

I've got Trainyourears - may have first heard it from you on the PUF a while back (was that you?).

Ear training is good for musicians AND engineers - wish I had heard this when I was first starting. Luckily I did quite well with musical ear training (couldn't read music worth a crap but could identify intervals almost infallibly!). I believe that helped to small degree, but they are actually two different things - interval detection allows you to recognize pitch relationships while EQ training is about about recognizing absolute pitch.

Notice I said pitch, and not frequency. The other thing I wish I had learned better early on was that frequency and pitch are just different names for the same thing. Seems obvious now, but I spent a LOT of time trying to learn what each frequency sounded like when EQing, forgetting to simply relate things to PITCH (which I already understood) and not frequency. 

Relating to pitch when EQing makes sense, and IMO understanding the octave relationship is the key to understanding EQing. Graphic EQs are specified by how many bands "per octave", as their associated analyzers also measured the spectrum in octaves (using pink noise, which represents equal energy in each octave). Q factor, or more specifically "bandwidth" is also more typically measured in octaves for musical applications. This is to ensure you have the same Q "value" at any pitch/frequency. If you measure bandwidth in Hertz, moving the frequency would change the bandwidth values, an undesirable situation at best. 

My approach - it's free!
When I first started learning the frequency spectrum and EQ, I began with the concepts of "bass" and "treble" as were on my first receiver when I was a kid. Those were easy to hear. Then I added a midrange control (on a friends mixer), then two mid bands. Later I was working with many bands across the spectrum, but the point is that I began with the basics and slowly learned to divide the frequency spectrum into smaller and smaller chunks. In my case it was a natural progression that followed the gear I was able to afford - more money meant mixers with more EQ bands!

But for others I would still suggest a similar path. Start with a simple bass shelf, wide mid parametric, and treble shelf setup, boosting and cutting each as you listen on different instruments. 100, 1000, and 10,000 Hz are good traditional starting points. Also try eq'ing sub mixes and even an entire mix, listening for the effect of cutting and boosting each band and learning to predict the results in your head. 

Then add a second more narrow mid band (adjusting the first as well) and repeat. Try to hear the band in your head before you boost it - see how close you were and try again. Keep going from there!

Finally you should try to get to the point where you can identify the 10 octaves that make up our audible frequency spectrum. Probably no need to go further than that - if you can make it this far you're doing fantastic! 

Octave 1: 20-40 Hz
Octave 2: 40-80 Hz
Octave 3: 80-160 Hz
Octave 4: 160-320 Hz
Octave 5: 320-640 Hz
Octave 6: 640-1280 Hz
Octave 7: 1280-2560 Hz
Octave 8: 2560-5120 Hz
Octave 9: 5120-10,240 Hz
Octave 10: 10,240-20,480 Hz

For pitch reference, the closest musical note to these frequencies is D#, at a frequency of 19.44545 Hz (and multiples thereafter). Even if you can't identify each octave by ear, it's still a good thing to conceptualize EQ in relation to pitch rather than frequency. IMO, as always.
:)
Selig Audio, LLC

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motuscott
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Location: the New York

Post 22 Jan 2015

First rule: Treat your ears kindly from birth. You get one pair.
The Now Sound of MIDI Thru 🧂

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djfm1983
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Post 22 Jan 2015

Yes Selig, I probably was the one who posted about train your ears. I love that software, it has helped me out allot. I believe freq training software or apps can help other people who are starting out mixing recognize and predict what a boost or cut will sound like in their head before they even touch an eq knob. Imagine being able to know there's a build up of low mids that needs to be addressed and knowing before hand in your head what needs to be cut on an eq before even touching the knob. I believe strongly that is what freq training can help people achieve.
soundcloud.com/djfm1983

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selig
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Location: The NorthWoods, CT, USA

Post 22 Jan 2015

djfm1983 wrote:Yes Selig, I probably was the one who posted about train your ears. I love that software, it has helped me out allot. I believe freq training software or apps can help other people who are starting out mixing recognize and predict what a boost or cut will sound like in their head before they even touch an eq knob. Imagine being able to know there's a build up of low mids that needs to be addressed and knowing before hand in your head what needs to be cut on an eq before even touching the knob. I believe strongly that is what freq training can help people achieve.
That's exactly how I work now, at least when I'm "in the zone". Same for composing - I'll hear it in my head first and I can find the relative intervals pretty fast to be able to document what I'm hearing (before I forget it). EQing that way took years of exploration - wish I had done more of this sort of work in the early years. Some folks are just born with it, others (such as myself) had to work at it! ;)  

While you CAN work more "hunt and peck" (to use an old typing term) and get work done, it definitely takes longer and results aren't usually as cohesive in the end in my experience. I often end up going back and fixing EQ when it's done this way, as it's usually a sign I'm just guessing and not really focused in on WHY I'm EQing in the first place!

Just the fact it takes longer often breaks the vibe for me, making it "just not fun" in the end. And when it's no longer fun, well that's when it's time for a break IMO. ;(
Selig Audio, LLC

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Jagwah
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Post 23 Jan 2015

Selig thanks a lot for the post above (#3), taken a copy for future reference :thumbup:

hydlide

Post 23 Jan 2015

selig wrote:
Just the fact it takes longer often breaks the vibe for me, making it "just not fun" in the end. And when it's no longer fun, well that's when it's time for a break IMO. ;(
The issue I often encounter regarding EQ'ing is that my ears get used to the EQ adjustments I am making during the session. Call it "ear fatigue" if you will.

Once I step away, come back with a new set of ears, I often can pin point issues really fast since I am listening to the track different all of a sudden.

There are moments that I just stop EQ'ing. Since I can just keep polishing my car too, but eventually, that car won't shine any better... it will often get worse :)

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