The EQ-ing tail-chasing game

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RobC
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Post 13 Aug 2022

This topic kind of applies to sound design/preparation, mixing and mastering.

I actually fell into this trap when doing some mix EQing. I mainly focused on a bass synth. It was a bit buried in the mix, so I searched for a frequency that easily cuts through the mix (it was a low-mid frequency, kind of boxy sounding, but it actually fit, almost with an amp cabinet-like flavor), then set it up. After that, (and I think I made a big mistake,) I listened to the bass on its own. Instantly, I felt the sub frequencies need a boost now, so I set that up, too. Then listening to the mix, I felt 'maybe I should level that again from zero' - and what do you know, I indeed set the volume lower than what the original value was. Did it sound fine? Sure, but more than likely, I made the bass synth pretty dull. If I wouldn't have been lazy with this experiment, I probably would have boosted the highs, too, eventually getting back to almost exactly where I was.

But again, this can happen during sound design, or mastering, with EQing either just one sound or "just one" whole mix.
In case of a kick, I had this bad habit of instantly going for the lower frequencies, and checking if they need a cut or boost. The kick in question indeed could take lower sub boost. But then I checked an overly booming frequency (while turning my lower sub boost off). I ended up cutting it a fair bit. Once I turned my sub boost back on too, I heard I need to dial it back, and ended up at 0.0 dB.

What I learned from these was:

- Don't go to the top or bottom end to search for or to try to fix the problem (try to find the problem frequency, instead of EQing everything around it)
- If you dialed in an EQ setting, don't necessarily turn it off when dialing in another
- In case of a mix, after applying a mix EQ, don't solo and accidentally end up flattening your own boost or cut

As such, currently, what seems right to me:

In case of sound design/preparation, I kind of balance and shape the given sound on its own with an EQ. Here I bring out interesting resonances, clicks, knocks, transients, etc; then like I said, balance the tone out a bit. It won't lose character, it won't be perfectly flat, but a ton easier to mix.

Then during mixing, if something gets buried, yes, I'll make it cut through if I can with an EQ, but then leave it at that if it sounds good.

Let's say a kick needs a boost for better thump - if after applying it, the sub bass sounds weak, then EQing the sound on its own will lead to tail chasing again. Instead, most likely a sub boost with a master EQ on the whole mix will keep both the thump, and set a well-balanced sub frequency response.

So yeah, gotta be careful, not to mix up EQing a sound: 1. on its own 2. in the mix 3. during mastering. Everything has its place.

The most interesting thing is how it can be tempting to try to fix a buildup (or a dip) during mixing by EQing just one of the offending sounds ~ which is most likely impossible and leads to tail chasing - when in most cases, a simple master EQ setting can balance it all out. It's so easy to get lost when not paying attention.

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integerpoet
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Post 13 Aug 2022

My rule of thumb is to avoid confusing these:
  • Creative EQ-ing, in which you can do whatever you want in solo to give a track all the awesome wonderfulness.
  • Mix EQ-ing, in which you mostly (but not entirely) cut tracks to give others space.
During mixing, your awesome wonderful track may be a victim of cuts! Too bad. Resist the urge to rescue its awesome wonderfulness. Be a team player! (Writers tell each other to kill their babies, but you only have to maim them.)

As a side note, one trick for EQ-ing a bass is: don't. Saturate it instead. Rather than emphasize weak highs (and fret noise), this "creates" new highs based on the lows. (I hope Selig is unable to resist the urge to jump in here.)

RobC
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Post 14 Aug 2022

integerpoet wrote:
13 Aug 2022
My rule of thumb is to avoid confusing these:
  • Creative EQ-ing, in which you can do whatever you want in solo to give a track all the awesome wonderfulness.
  • Mix EQ-ing, in which you mostly (but not entirely) cut tracks to give others space.
During mixing, your awesome wonderful track may be a victim of cuts! Too bad. Resist the urge to rescue its awesome wonderfulness. Be a team player! (Writers tell each other to kill their babies, but you only have to maim them.)

As a side note, one trick for EQ-ing a bass is: don't. Saturate it instead. Rather than emphasize weak highs (and fret noise), this "creates" new highs based on the lows. (I hope Selig is unable to resist the urge to jump in here.)
Don't forget the Master EQ though, where you clean things up - which you can't in the mix. And that it's more efficient to cut a frequency area buildup, than to boost everything around it. x D

While I didn't mention cuts, I kind of would leave that to "carving" type frequency compression, where a kick and bass for example could cut their fundamentals from one-other (with the kick having low sub privilege, for my tastes).
The boost that I mentioned, is more about sweeping through frequencies, and if there's a spot where it cuts through everything really loud, without strangling other elements in the mix, then I dial it in. But even that would be slightly dynamic - so that it gets automatically pulled back when other sounds don't get in the way.

Oh yes, I very much do saturate a bass to create new harmonics - however, what if you mix for a client, and saturation is not desired? Then we're stuck to whatever is there, and have to excite the highs ourselves. Truth be told, neither is wrong - for those fret noises and alike can be really cool.

That said, when EQ-ing bass, I meant those low frequencies, so that we aren't stuck with a thin kick, or a thin bass instrument, but a rather balanced bass response. But most importantly, to make everything sound as we intended.

And thank you for the reassuring input! I had the feeling, that going back to solo 'flattening' is a stupid tail-chasing kind of thing to do.

Yep, Selig's input is always more than welcome. Though I admit, I cross my fingers hard, that hopefully I finally can stop studying (and get everything right) and deliver a fully professional song for once. At this point I feel it's just my insecurity that keep me from getting to work.

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selig
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Post 14 Aug 2022

RobC wrote:
14 Aug 2022

Don't forget the Master EQ though, where you clean things up - which you can't in the mix. And that it's more efficient to cut a frequency area buildup, than to boost everything around it. x D
*******************
Yep, Selig's input is always more than welcome. Though I admit, I cross my fingers hard, that hopefully I finally can stop studying (and get everything right) and deliver a fully professional song for once. At this point I feel it's just my insecurity that keep me from getting to work.
There is nothing a master EQ can do that cannot be done (most often better) on the individual channels. Using the master EQ is almost always going to work on a well balanced mix, but what you’re describing is using it on a mix that is not yet “right”. If there is mud coming from one channel, go to that channel and deal with it. If mud is coming from TWO channels it is extremely unlikely you would apply EXACTLY the same EQ to both channels to deal with it. But that’s what you’re suggesting with the master EQ approach.

Again, with a well balanced mix you can use master EQ to shape the mix. For example, a great mix that is a little dark can be brightened up in mastering or on the master bus. BUT, on a mix where SOME channels are a little dark but others are just right, brightening up the entire mix will fix the dark channels and “break” the ones that were already just right.

Bottom line, the generac answer “it depends” is in full effect here! ;)

*******

As for finally stopping studying, we are ALL still studying, even when we are also able to create a satisfying mix. Also consider, maybe studying is not for you? I dropped out of school and was EXTREMELY lucky to get a job as assistant.for a working engineer. I learned WAY MORE in the first week with him than I did in the previous year of “studying”, because I learn better by watching someone work than by reading about the theory. I DO understand the theory, but that comes later. So maybe for the way you ‘think’, you may consider working backwards - study the theory after you are putting it in practice. And when you start, like I did, just copy the folks who are getting the level of quality you seek. These days you can do this by watching youtube videos - when I started you just had to get lucky and get your foot (literally) in the door of a working studio. I have no idea if this is how YOUR brain works, but it worked for me so I’m sharing it here in the case it works for anyone else. :)
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integerpoet
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Post 14 Aug 2022

RobC wrote:
14 Aug 2022
Don't forget the Master EQ though, where you clean things up - which you can't in the mix. And that it's more efficient to cut a frequency area buildup, than to boost everything around it. x D
OK, but I thought we were talking about mixing workflow, not mastering. :puf_smile:
While I didn't mention cuts, I kind of would leave that to "carving" type frequency compression, where a kick and bass for example could cut their fundamentals from one-other (with the kick having low sub privilege, for my tastes).
That is the sort of thing I meant, although at the time I was thinking of cutting a guitarist's lovingly constructed tone to make room for the bass. From my perspective, this kind of cutting is most of mix EQ-ing.

One one hand, bass-vs-kick is like the poster child for this kind of cutting. On the other hand, people have specific surgical rituals, and they like to do things like put a little boost next to a bigger cut — the psycho-acoustics of the boost kinda hide the cut in some ways. Or they skip EQ and go to side-chain compression of the bass in favor of the kick — and even weirder stuff. It can quickly turn into its own discipline. I'm not knocking this, but it does mean — oddly — that bass-vs-kick is in some ways not as good an example for general mix EQ-ing as it might be.
The boost that I mentioned, is more about sweeping through frequencies, and if there's a spot where it cuts through everything really loud, without strangling other elements in the mix, then I dial it in. But even that would be slightly dynamic - so that it gets automatically pulled back when other sounds don't get in the way.
I don't follow. I will sometimes sweep to zero in on an unpleasant resonance and surgically cut it. But that's generally not how I make boost decisions.
…what if you mix for a client, and saturation is not desired? Then we're stuck to whatever is there, and have to excite the highs ourselves.
I have yet to encounter a "client" who makes such rules. But mixing isn't my day job, so I don't have to put up with clients who micromanage technicalities. Mostly they just say things like "The bass is buried." If they have strong opinions about the technical details of remedying that, and I don't feel like I'm learning anything from those opinions, I'm likely to suggest they don't need me. I fully accept this is a privilege and a luxury. :puf_smile:
Truth be told, neither is wrong - for those fret noises and alike can be really cool.
Sure. Horses for courses, and all that. Saturation is merely an option. I'm just saying that when mechanical noise is already evident, boosting highs enough to have a significant effect on tone can easily bring "too much" of that noise along for the ride. And you can saturate lows without saturating highs, where lots of mechanical noise lives.

RobC
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Post 15 Aug 2022

selig wrote:
14 Aug 2022
There is nothing a master EQ can do that cannot be done (most often better) on the individual channels. Using the master EQ is almost always going to work on a well balanced mix, but what you’re describing is using it on a mix that is not yet “right”. If there is mud coming from one channel, go to that channel and deal with it. If mud is coming from TWO channels it is extremely unlikely you would apply EXACTLY the same EQ to both channels to deal with it. But that’s what you’re suggesting with the master EQ approach.

Again, with a well balanced mix you can use master EQ to shape the mix. For example, a great mix that is a little dark can be brightened up in mastering or on the master bus. BUT, on a mix where SOME channels are a little dark but others are just right, brightening up the entire mix will fix the dark channels and “break” the ones that were already just right.

Bottom line, the generac answer “it depends” is in full effect here! ;)

*******

As for finally stopping studying, we are ALL still studying, even when we are also able to create a satisfying mix. Also consider, maybe studying is not for you? I dropped out of school and was EXTREMELY lucky to get a job as assistant.for a working engineer. I learned WAY MORE in the first week with him than I did in the previous year of “studying”, because I learn better by watching someone work than by reading about the theory. I DO understand the theory, but that comes later. So maybe for the way you ‘think’, you may consider working backwards - study the theory after you are putting it in practice. And when you start, like I did, just copy the folks who are getting the level of quality you seek. These days you can do this by watching youtube videos - when I started you just had to get lucky and get your foot (literally) in the door of a working studio. I have no idea if this is how YOUR brain works, but it worked for me so I’m sharing it here in the case it works for anyone else. :)
When I did that boost, the mix sounded pretty great, and there simply was a little something around it that bothered my ears. On a master EQ, I ended up doing a cut a bit above the said frequency, and it still was only like 3 dB. I know Benedict said in his tutorial, that even 2 dB change is pretty extreme, but it sounded fine afterwards. That said, I understand that I should rather go back to the mix and try to fix it there. However, if I cut a bit on 3-4 channels, isn't there a risk that it might break the mix? (Yes, I figure, the boost on the bass synth probably can cause a bit of phasing issues, but the more EQs we use, the greater the risk, no? When it comes to the master, that's basically just 1 EQ on just 1 stereo mix channel.) Still it's not exactly phase problems that I worry about. Heck, let's pretend I didn't even mention that, since it's not as extreme as using an about 24 dB/O filter. It can happen that the mix is fine, and cutting other instruments won't sound good.
But I think we can all agree, that the Master EQ should be a last resort.

To sum up what I did all these years: in my case, for almost a decade, I was mostly a complete autodidact. It was useful for developing a style, being able to come up with new things, etc. Then came the forum and tutorial years, because I wanted to perfect my technical/critical listening skills. Of course I interacted with people all the time during my shy 17 years of experience as a musician, but the feedback and discussions ranged from friends, then other musicians, then professionals and veterans. I both studied and practiced.
I'm not saying that I wouldn't want to keep advancing when there's newer technology available, neither that I wouldn't want other professionals' opinions, and checking references - it's rather the dilemma that I want to fully finish projects again, and maybe work for other musicians ~ however, I don't want to disappoint. That's why I want to wrap up these final few misunderstandings that I have, so that I can reliably work. What I deliver should be professional, and not have not even a little flaw that others can easily point out.

RobC
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Post 15 Aug 2022

integerpoet wrote:
14 Aug 2022
OK, but I thought we were talking about mixing workflow, not mastering. :puf_smile:

That is the sort of thing I meant, although at the time I was thinking of cutting a guitarist's lovingly constructed tone to make room for the bass. From my perspective, this kind of cutting is most of mix EQ-ing.

One one hand, bass-vs-kick is like the poster child for this kind of cutting. On the other hand, people have specific surgical rituals, and they like to do things like put a little boost next to a bigger cut — the psycho-acoustics of the boost kinda hide the cut in some ways. Or they skip EQ and go to side-chain compression of the bass in favor of the kick — and even weirder stuff. It can quickly turn into its own discipline. I'm not knocking this, but it does mean — oddly — that bass-vs-kick is in some ways not as good an example for general mix EQ-ing as it might be.

I don't follow. I will sometimes sweep to zero in on an unpleasant resonance and surgically cut it. But that's generally not how I make boost decisions.

I have yet to encounter a "client" who makes such rules. But mixing isn't my day job, so I don't have to put up with clients who micromanage technicalities. Mostly they just say things like "The bass is buried." If they have strong opinions about the technical details of remedying that, and I don't feel like I'm learning anything from those opinions, I'm likely to suggest they don't need me. I fully accept this is a privilege and a luxury. :puf_smile:

Sure. Horses for courses, and all that. Saturation is merely an option. I'm just saying that when mechanical noise is already evident, boosting highs enough to have a significant effect on tone can easily bring "too much" of that noise along for the ride. And you can saturate lows without saturating highs, where lots of mechanical noise lives.
It started like that, but inevitably got into sound design and mastering as well. Most importantly, EQ-ing is the topic.

I think, there's nothing wrong with either cutting, or boosting. Personally, for my music, I like to go crazy and artsy - although for others, I'd be as transparent and gentle as they want me to be.

Yep, the kind of psychoacoustics you mention are what I meant in the title. I fell into a tail-chasing game with that- because I didn't pay attention.
I have mixed feelings about the side-chain compression trick. It can be a cool effect, but when turned off, I can't decide which sound I like more. Probably the more static dynamics. Either way, good points!

Well, when I sweeped (not surgically), there was a frequency range, where the boost sounded really loud, and there was not much else getting in the way, so I was like 'why not set up a boost here?' But it will be better understandable if I dig that mix up again and show the example.

I don't like the 'client' word either, but it's how people refer to those that hire them. I'm just simply a bit different, and want to be as flexible as possible. I want to shape the music the way the musician wants me to.

Yeah, I see what you mean. For my taste, I'd probably try to mix and match whatever cool sounds I can bring out ~ both from what already exists, as well as what we can create with saturation and alike.

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integerpoet
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Post 15 Aug 2022

RobC wrote:
15 Aug 2022
I think, there's nothing wrong with either cutting, or boosting.
Indeed; it's not about right and wrong. But in general, I make broad cuts. Occasionally, I make a narrow boost, but here's a fresh example which sort of undermines boosts in general for me: The "client" gave me a drum stem with kick and cymbals, and that's a done deal at least until it's deemed a bigger problem than it is now. I want the kick louder but not the cymbals, so I boost the (fundamental of the) kick (and saturate that boost a bit :puf_smile:). I feel justified in having made that boost, but that's less EQ-ing and more using an EQ as an imaginary fader for a track I only wish existed.
I have mixed feelings about the side-chain compression trick. It can be a cool effect, but when turned off, I can't decide which sound I like more.
Its applicability depends on content. In some sub/genres, it's almost required. If you want to justify this aesthetically, you can observe the mixes are spare and can even be sterile, so this kind of hyper-precise "performative intentionality" fits. But also it might actually sound "wrong" to fans of a sub/genre if you didn't do it, in which case it simply becomes the done thing. People even use this trick to "build" bespoke 808s out of a kick and bass sample, then EQ the result in context. The world is a strange place.
…so I was like 'why not set up a boost here?'
Gosh. I am an amateur and I don't want to pontificate, but I try to have a "why" for each mixing move rather than a "why not".

RobC
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Post 16 Aug 2022

integerpoet wrote:
15 Aug 2022
RobC wrote:
15 Aug 2022
I think, there's nothing wrong with either cutting, or boosting.
Indeed; it's not about right and wrong. But in general, I make broad cuts. Occasionally, I make a narrow boost, but here's a fresh example which sort of undermines boosts in general for me: The "client" gave me a drum stem with kick and cymbals, and that's a done deal at least until it's deemed a bigger problem than it is now. I want the kick louder but not the cymbals, so I boost the (fundamental of the) kick (and saturate that boost a bit :puf_smile:). I feel justified in having made that boost, but that's less EQ-ing and more using an EQ as an imaginary fader for a track I only wish existed.
I have mixed feelings about the side-chain compression trick. It can be a cool effect, but when turned off, I can't decide which sound I like more.
Its applicability depends on content. In some sub/genres, it's almost required. If you want to justify this aesthetically, you can observe the mixes are spare and can even be sterile, so this kind of hyper-precise "performative intentionality" fits. But also it might actually sound "wrong" to fans of a sub/genre if you didn't do it, in which case it simply becomes the done thing. People even use this trick to "build" bespoke 808s out of a kick and bass sample, then EQ the result in context. The world is a strange place.
…so I was like 'why not set up a boost here?'
Gosh. I am an amateur and I don't want to pontificate, but I try to have a "why" for each mixing move rather than a "why not".
Well, the boost and saturation sounds like a good solution. Have you tried emphasis/de-emphasis EQ? You know, where you boost; then copy the same EQ and cut by the same amount, which in case of the perfect digital EQs (Mclass EQ already can do it) will perfectly undo the EQing. Between the two EQ's, you can saturate for example.
Shamefully, I only recently learned about it in a Dan Worrall video.

All these effects and genre requirements are something I've struggled for years with. But recently I thought, maybe we can use both! It makes a nice contrast for a chorus anyway, and even cleans things a bit up.
As a second example: I don't like constant reverb and echoing, or tails/release. But dry sounds get boring, too. Same if we just gate them. That said, who says we can't have a wet intro, a dry buildup, a wet chorus with a pumping side-chain compression effect (or automated faders are more flexible), then the chorus with gating effects?

It's the 'why not's how you come up with cool new things though! : ) How else do you think distorted guitars became a thing? Or scratching vinyls? Creative sampling, etc...

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integerpoet
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Post 16 Aug 2022

RobC wrote:
16 Aug 2022
Have you tried emphasis/de-emphasis EQ? You know, where you boost; then copy the same EQ and cut by the same amount, which in case of the perfect digital EQs (Mclass EQ already can do it) will perfectly undo the EQing. Between the two EQ's, you can saturate for example. Shamefully, I only recently learned about it in a Dan Worrall video.
That would make some sense for a combinator, though it seems like the saturator will break the transparency such that you'll end up tweaking the second EQ after introducing the saturator anyway, which makes me wonder why you started down that road. I might have to look up that video.

From a workflow perspective, have you seen ColoringEQ?

https://www.reasonstudios.com/shop/rack ... oloringeq/

Selig calls it a saturating equalizer, but he could also call it an equalizing saturator.

You can use it purely as a saturator with a parametric-equalizer-like interface.

It's the 'why not's how you come up with cool new things though! : ) How else do you think distorted guitars became a thing? Or scratching vinyls? Creative sampling, etc...
Oh, sure, boosting makes perfect sense in sound design. But when I'm mixing I want a "why" rather than a "why not". On the art/craft spectrum, mixing seems farther toward the craft end.

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crimsonwarlock
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Post 17 Aug 2022

I often use saturation, or even more serious distortion, of specific bands instead of EQ. I did make a combi for it, it's available here: viewtopic.php?f=69&t=7525742
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selig
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Post 17 Aug 2022

RobC wrote:
16 Aug 2022
Well, the boost and saturation sounds like a good solution. Have you tried emphasis/de-emphasis EQ? You know, where you boost; then copy the same EQ and cut by the same amount, which in case of the perfect digital EQs (Mclass EQ already can do it) will perfectly undo the EQing. Between the two EQ's, you can saturate for example.
You get a similar thing with ColoringEQ and Infuser, all in one interface, which is to add saturation at a very specific frequency (unlike multi-band saturation) using a familiar interface (EQ) but without adding/subtracting overall energy.
Specifically, you get this special case when cutting EQ on ColoringEQ when adding saturation, which is so useful on it’s own I built a simpler version (plus some useful bells and whistles) in the form on Infuser.
The difference is that with the dual EQ trick you are still saturating ALL frequencies, not just the frequencies being boosted, so it’s not a whole lot different than just adding saturation IMO. Plus, the entire signal is saturated, as it is not a parallel process and therefor not as subtle/useful across a wide range of application.
There is great power in adding subtle saturation generated at specific frequencies in parallel with the clean signal IMO! :)
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RobC
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Post 28 Aug 2022

integerpoet wrote:
16 Aug 2022

That would make some sense for a combinator, though it seems like the saturator will break the transparency such that you'll end up tweaking the second EQ after introducing the saturator anyway, which makes me wonder why you started down that road. I might have to look up that video.

From a workflow perspective, have you seen ColoringEQ?

https://www.reasonstudios.com/shop/rack ... oloringeq/

Selig calls it a saturating equalizer, but he could also call it an equalizing saturator.

You can use it purely as a saturator with a parametric-equalizer-like interface.

Oh, sure, boosting makes perfect sense in sound design. But when I'm mixing I want a "why" rather than a "why not". On the art/craft spectrum, mixing seems farther toward the craft end.
That's up to taste if you want to EQ after applying this saturation effect. However, in order to 'undo' the EQ, the second EQ has to be the exact opposite of the first one. The saturation will remain.

Here, in case you didn't find it, Dan Worrall explains better than me : ) - hopefully, it's the right video, cause I couldn't check it right now...



Yep, I know of ColoringEQ, the video is not available tho!

The thing about me is, that I'm probably most experienced with sound design, so that's probably why I dare to get a bit experimental with a mix or even a master. But I think, by boosting, I kind of design the sound further ~ only it's in context with the mix.
But I generally like to use effects on tracks, mix groups, the whole mix, and even the master. I like to get creative. With my own music, I can. : ) I will be careful with it though - so I do listen to you guys' warnings that things can go wrong and sound off.
crimsonwarlock wrote:
17 Aug 2022
I often use saturation, or even more serious distortion, of specific bands instead of EQ. I did make a combi for it, it's available here: viewtopic.php?f=69&t=7525742
Honestly, all types of EQ or band saturation/distortion are useful, they all have their unique sound to them.
selig wrote:
17 Aug 2022
You get a similar thing with ColoringEQ and Infuser, all in one interface, which is to add saturation at a very specific frequency (unlike multi-band saturation) using a familiar interface (EQ) but without adding/subtracting overall energy.
Specifically, you get this special case when cutting EQ on ColoringEQ when adding saturation, which is so useful on it’s own I built a simpler version (plus some useful bells and whistles) in the form on Infuser.
The difference is that with the dual EQ trick you are still saturating ALL frequencies, not just the frequencies being boosted, so it’s not a whole lot different than just adding saturation IMO. Plus, the entire signal is saturated, as it is not a parallel process and therefor not as subtle/useful across a wide range of application.
There is great power in adding subtle saturation generated at specific frequencies in parallel with the clean signal IMO! :)
So basically, by taking away (EQ cutting), you kind of reinject what you took away by creating harmonies of it through saturation? ~ At least I did something similar to this a few years ago: I had a bass, but the lower frequencies were a bit too wonky and cancelling, so I replaced them with a sub oscillator. However, I didn't throw away what I filtered out, but instead distorted it to taste, and mixed the newly created higher harmonies to the final bass (after HP filtering, of course).

I wouldn't say that the dual EQ isn't useful. Yes, the whole thing gets distorted, but sometimes, it's exactly what's needed for a special effect ~ and putting emphasis on some frequencies, likewise gives a different sound when distorting. Of course, indeed it may not work in every situation. But for example, it's great for making a kick and a clap whip together.

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Propellerhands
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Post 31 Aug 2022

Ok dumb questions time:

So take for example bass frequencies, I used to just leave them be, not using any EQ (rookie mistakes, very noticable on big monitors). After learning a bit more on EQing and the purpose of it, as far as I understood from EDM producer videos (even though I do not make EDM), they cut the bass frequencies above 300 or so, maybe 500hz and make sub frequencies mono. So far so good.

But I saw recently other examples of people who have rich full bass and it just flows freely up to 1k or even more (sweeping bass, how I call it).

So question is:

If one would try to mix such a bass into a full track, would it be ok to just leave it as it or it would be necessary to cut everything above 500hz, losing all those nice effects?
Or perhaps another way would be to create another bassline but more like a synth-lead with same sweeping effect but without the lows this time?

See example bellow.
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Popey
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Post 31 Aug 2022

Propellerhands wrote:
31 Aug 2022
Ok dumb questions time:

So take for example bass frequencies, I used to just leave them be, not using any EQ (rookie mistakes, very noticable on big monitors). After learning a bit more on EQing and the purpose of it, as far as I understood from EDM producer videos (even though I do not make EDM), they cut the bass frequencies above 300 or so, maybe 500hz and make sub frequencies mono. So far so good.

But I saw recently other examples of people who have rich full bass and it just flows freely up to 1k or even more (sweeping bass, how I call it).

So question is:

If one would try to mix such a bass into a full track, would it be ok to just leave it as it or it would be necessary to cut everything above 500hz, losing all those nice effects?
Or perhaps another way would be to create another bassline but more like a synth-lead with same sweeping effect but without the lows this time?

See example bellow.
In my opinion if you like it as is I would leave it sweeping up to 1k but you may have to consider your other instruments, drums etc to give everything its own space as that would take a big part of the frequency spectrum (perhaps with panning, eq (dynamic of not) or some sort of ducking/ volume automation). If it sounds good to you go for it is my advice.

RobC
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Post 01 Sep 2022

Propellerhands wrote:
31 Aug 2022
Ok dumb questions time:

So take for example bass frequencies, I used to just leave them be, not using any EQ (rookie mistakes, very noticable on big monitors). After learning a bit more on EQing and the purpose of it, as far as I understood from EDM producer videos (even though I do not make EDM), they cut the bass frequencies above 300 or so, maybe 500hz and make sub frequencies mono. So far so good.

But I saw recently other examples of people who have rich full bass and it just flows freely up to 1k or even more (sweeping bass, how I call it).

So question is:

If one would try to mix such a bass into a full track, would it be ok to just leave it as it or it would be necessary to cut everything above 500hz, losing all those nice effects?
Or perhaps another way would be to create another bassline but more like a synth-lead with same sweeping effect but without the lows this time?

See example bellow.
I only trust tutorials that give you a guide, instead of exact values.

Although, mono-ing below 80 Hz, where we no longer localize sound anyway, might be a favor for headphone and IEM listeners.

The secret to any sound is, to shape it the way you like!
And in the mix, if there are problems with certain frequencies, then take care of them.
There are a couple of methods to make room for different sounds, separate them, etc., although you can get pretty cool sounding mixes even if you can't easily tell instruments apart in busier sections. They may seem messy, but still wash together perfectly.
It's up to your preference, how you want your mix to sound.

All in all, you never NEED to cut anything. Only cut, if there's a good reason for it.

It's almost like cutting (frequencies) for "religious" reasons. : D

RobC
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Post 01 Sep 2022

Popey wrote:
31 Aug 2022
In my opinion if you like it as is I would leave it sweeping up to 1k but you may have to consider your other instruments, drums etc to give everything its own space as that would take a big part of the frequency spectrum (perhaps with panning, eq (dynamic of not) or some sort of ducking/ volume automation). If it sounds good to you go for it is my advice.
Also consider that many people listen on phone speakers, cause it's so quick and convenient to check out music on them. Many might not hear the bass melody, if there's no high frequency content.

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selig
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Post 01 Sep 2022

RobC wrote:
01 Sep 2022
All in all, you never NEED to cut anything. Only cut, if there's a good reason for it.
THIS!!!
You can literally insert any ‘process’ into that statement IMO!
You never NEED to add compression, to cut ‘resonances’, to add reverb, to cut low frequencies, etc…
Selig Audio, LLC

Popey
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Post 01 Sep 2022

RobC wrote:
01 Sep 2022
Popey wrote:
31 Aug 2022
In my opinion if you like it as is I would leave it sweeping up to 1k but you may have to consider your other instruments, drums etc to give everything its own space as that would take a big part of the frequency spectrum (perhaps with panning, eq (dynamic of not) or some sort of ducking/ volume automation). If it sounds good to you go for it is my advice.
Also consider that many people listen on phone speakers, cause it's so quick and convenient to check out music on them. Many might not hear the bass melody, if there's no high frequency content.
Yeah that is a valid point to take into consideration too.
I like to put a couple of eq's on my master bus to check aspects like this. One is a lowpass set to around 200hz to check the sub/low frequency content (aka club cloakroom test) and also one set with high pass around 200hz and low pass around 4k to give me an idea of what it sounds like on mobiles etc. They are not on at the same time and removed before export but are handy tools to check my full mixes by turning on individually.

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Propellerhands
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Post 01 Sep 2022

RobC wrote:
01 Sep 2022


All in all, you never NEED to cut anything. Only cut, if there's a good reason for it.

It's almost like cutting (frequencies) for "religious" reasons. : D
selig wrote:
01 Sep 2022
RobC wrote:
01 Sep 2022
All in all, you never NEED to cut anything. Only cut, if there's a good reason for it.
THIS!!!
You can literally insert any ‘process’ into that statement IMO!
You never NEED to add compression, to cut ‘resonances’, to add reverb, to cut low frequencies, etc…
Goddamn, seriously, you guys opened up my eyes a bit. It makes sense when you think about it, perhaps I should stop watchin EDM music tips because I do not even make EDM music. Even though I think all genre tutorials can be useful to any other genre.

But the question still remains, so would it be ok to leave such a bass sound like in my example above, going over 1k up to almost 19k? Imagine a synthwave monophonic bassline with a bit of resonance, would it be possible to mix it into a track, and leaving this sweep effect? I can't now give actual examples out of the top of my head, but I am sure you heard those kind of basslines, pretty generic stuff, but I never used them before. Because if I tried to cut anything in that particular bassline, the effect would diminish to almost zero, leaving just regular 20-500hz frequencies with no sweep.
"Shut the fuck up and use the software. It's great." - stillifegaijin on Reason

RobC
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Post 02 Sep 2022

Propellerhands wrote:
01 Sep 2022
RobC wrote:
01 Sep 2022


All in all, you never NEED to cut anything. Only cut, if there's a good reason for it.

It's almost like cutting (frequencies) for "religious" reasons. : D
selig wrote:
01 Sep 2022

THIS!!!
You can literally insert any ‘process’ into that statement IMO!
You never NEED to add compression, to cut ‘resonances’, to add reverb, to cut low frequencies, etc…
Goddamn, seriously, you guys opened up my eyes a bit. It makes sense when you think about it, perhaps I should stop watchin EDM music tips because I do not even make EDM music. Even though I think all genre tutorials can be useful to any other genre.

But the question still remains, so would it be ok to leave such a bass sound like in my example above, going over 1k up to almost 19k? Imagine a synthwave monophonic bassline with a bit of resonance, would it be possible to mix it into a track, and leaving this sweep effect? I can't now give actual examples out of the top of my head, but I am sure you heard those kind of basslines, pretty generic stuff, but I never used them before. Because if I tried to cut anything in that particular bassline, the effect would diminish to almost zero, leaving just regular 20-500hz frequencies with no sweep.
Well, like we said it. : ) Going by that, of course it can have higher frequencies. Especially if the instrument calls for it! You just need to engineer the issues, if any. And honestly, mix engineering is not rocket science either. It can be pretty easy. Or at least easier than electrical engineering.

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integerpoet
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Location: East Bay, California

Post 02 Sep 2022

Propellerhands wrote:
01 Sep 2022
perhaps I should stop watchin EDM music tips because I do not even make EDM music. Even though I think all genre tutorials can be useful to any other genre.
Absolutely.

It's bog-standard in EDM circles to say the bass or even low frequencies in general should be mono. But guess what happens when you pull up a metal preset in the Izotope Ozone mastering suite… it suggests widening bass frequencies to chase the norm. Obviously this is only Ozone's opinion and probably assumes that your mix doesn't already have a wide low end, but Ozone is generally not completely bonkers.

You didn't actually ask about width, and I don't think there is any general answer as to whether you should boost the highs of a bass sound, but consider this story: I couldn't understand how disco basses sounded so pleasingly warm and managed to cut through on small speakers until I learned about saturation, which "adds" higher-frequency information (based on existing lower-frequency information), and one day I saturated a bass, and whoosh! Insight. But that works for disco and may not work for other genres.

My point is that all these things are very much genre-specific — if conformity is your goal. And it might not be, in which case all bets are off, we're in the Wild West, and have fun!
Last edited by integerpoet on 02 Sep 2022, edited 1 time in total.

Popey
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Post 02 Sep 2022

integerpoet wrote:
02 Sep 2022
Propellerhands wrote:
01 Sep 2022
perhaps I should stop watchin EDM music tips because I do not even make EDM music. Even though I think all genre tutorials can be useful to any other genre.
Absolutely. It's bog-standard in EDM circles to say your bass or even low frequencies in general should be mono. But guess what happens when you pull up a metal preset in the Izotope Ozone mastering suite… it suggests widening bass frequencies to chase the norm. Obviously this is only Ozone's opinion and probably assumes that your mix doesn't already have a wide low end, but my point is all these things are very much genre-specific — if conformity is your goal. And it might not be, in which case all bets are off, we're in the Wild West, and have fun!
I think a lot of the advice about mono lowend (and mono checks in general) in dance music was due to club systems sometimes being mono. It's over 20 years since I played out but some certainly were back then. I don't think many are nowadays from what I hear.

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integerpoet
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Location: East Bay, California

Post 02 Sep 2022

Popey wrote:
02 Sep 2022
I think a lot of the advice about mono lowend (and mono checks in general) in dance music was due to club systems sometimes being mono. It's over 20 years since I played out but some certainly were back then. I don't think many are nowadays from what I hear.
Yeah; I'm the last person who should present himself as an authority on what others should and should not do. I've merely stumbled across this advice about narrowing EDM bass about a hundred times in the last year or so. Maybe those are all just left-overs? I'd have to survey them and make a spreadsheet to analyze. :puf_smile:

But there are lots of other reasons for mono checks in general. I've read some pretty compelling arguments and experimented with some of the claims and found them to be solid. I don't have a link handy but maybe somebody else does. The argument I do remember about clubs is less that the systems themselves are predominantly mono and more that it's difficult in such an environment to actually enjoy a stereo balance. You're basically never anywhere near a sweet spot. That squares with my experience; I'm all over the damned place. :puf_smile:

RobC
Posts: 1475
Joined: 10 Mar 2018

Post 02 Sep 2022

integerpoet wrote:
02 Sep 2022
Popey wrote:
02 Sep 2022
I think a lot of the advice about mono lowend (and mono checks in general) in dance music was due to club systems sometimes being mono. It's over 20 years since I played out but some certainly were back then. I don't think many are nowadays from what I hear.
Yeah; I'm the last person who should present himself as an authority on what others should and should not do.

I've merely stumbled across this advice about narrowing EDM bass about a hundred times in the last year or so.

Maybe those are all just left-overs? I'd have to survey them and make a spreadsheet to analyze. :puf_smile:
Depends on what frequency range they mean. Above 80 Hz, stereo content is fine. Below, pretty much pointless with speakers. You hear something on headphones and in-ears, but it's not necessarily pleasant. To me, it felt like it took away from the punch, and it actually made the mix sound narrower.

Anyway, if there's no explanation to something, then don't do it.

If there is, then experiment and decide yourself.

I will still experiment with sub 80 Hz stereo content, since I'm an IEM kind of guy.

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