The allure of adding EQ up top. The fear of adding too much

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Ryan Silva
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The allure of adding EQ up top. The fear of adding too much

Post by Ryan Silva » Wed Mar 05, 2014 4:01 pm

After 10 years of mixing on a fairly normal basis, I am finally just now getting confident with adding EQ at all. I have always been a subtractive eq wielder. Applying judicious amounts of 10-12k just seemed scary to me. Every time I did there seemed to be at least one reference source (ear buds very often) that just plain hurt when you added too much high end.

I've started messing with shelves quite a bit now, but a narrow parametric still freaks me out over 8k or so. I mean don't get me wrong I'll cut narrow little suckers above 8k all day long (Dobro, Acoustic, Violin), but besides that, not so much.

Someone was telling me the Maag EQs are good up there in the airy range.

Any other favorites?
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Post by Nick Sevilla » Wed Mar 05, 2014 4:19 pm

I love the MAAG.

Try using it on bg vocals with a shelf at 10k and about 4-5 dB gain...
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Post by kslight » Wed Mar 05, 2014 4:22 pm

Chandler Germanium Tone Control is pretty good for additive EQ?.top and bottom, VERY easy to overdo it though (ie: it just sounds so good sometimes you just keep pushing it on everything?which isn't always good). I find it to be a nice tool for putting "balls" and "punch" and "crack" into otherwise mediocre drum recordings (not recordings done by me, of course), especially.

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Post by jgimbel » Wed Mar 05, 2014 8:36 pm

In general I've always been a subtractive EQ guy, with the exception of when using a Pultec-style EQ (the Sonimus SonEQ is what I use). But regardless of the EQ, while I spent many years mistaking muddy for warm, I now do a lot with high end EQ, almost exclusively really high up where you mentioned.
Ryan Silva wrote:Every time I did there seemed to be at least one reference source (ear buds very often) that just plain hurt when you added too much high end.
I get that for pretty much anything between 2k and 8k, but over that, it's rare I've found a source where adding 10-12k hurts much unless you're adding insane amounts. On a darker source I've maxed out those frequencies on SonEQ and it can be beautiful. If I'm recording a Taylor guitar with a bright SDC, yeah I could see things getting overly crispy, but even in that case I'd run into issues somewhere between 2k and 8k (actually probably more like 6k) far sooner than issues higher. I love 10k especially on kick drums in sparse mixes, bringing out an absurdly natural sounding but helpful presence in electric bass, and constantly in vocals. I have an old U87 and it has to be a REALLY sparse mix for me NOT to be boosting those airy frequencies on vocals recorded with it, and it's not a mic that's anything close to as dark as a pretty balanced ribbon mic. Sometimes 10k is just the ticket to add to overheads or overall drum buss to bring the cymbals out a bit without making them harsh.

For me, 10k-12k especially are what bring clarity without being harsh/painful. I think this is why people love the MAAGs so much, as well as the "28k" on the Avedis MA5. I'm generally doing this with the SonEQ plugin I mentioned but I use the 12k on my Vintech 473 pretty often, though generally a little more subtle for tracking, just in case!
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Re: The allure of adding EQ up top. The fear of adding too m

Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Thu Mar 06, 2014 9:18 am

Ryan Silva wrote: a narrow parametric still freaks me out over 8k or so.
and rightly so.

please people, if you're boosting high end, keep the bells on the wider side.

as far as eq's, i really like the sonoris min phase eq. the good old waves ren eq also has something nice about it....i wouldn't use it for mastering, but for mixing there's something about it i like every now and again.

everyone's raving about the dmg equilibrium, i haven't had a chance to check it out yet, but given who's been raving about it, i'm inclined to believe the hype.

in the real world, i love love love my dangerous bax. just a fantastic, super useful eq. i don't use my drawmer 1961 so much any more, but i've certainly added loads of nice-sounding top end with that thing over the years.

as a mastering engineer in a thread about boosting hi end, i am obligated to say the following:

GO EASY.

be real judicious when boosting over 10k. especially if there are hihats anywhere near that eq knob.

that high stuff can be great for clarity and air BUT it can also get real annoying real fast...and it also tends to draw your ears away from the midrange, which is generally Not What We Want. i want to focus on the singer, not the high hat and shaker.

and i want to focus on what the singer is saying to me, not what the back of their throat looks like, so again, go easy with that 15k boost.

be equally careful in the 2-4k range. 2.7k is Satan's Frequency. i'm serious. avoid narrow boosts in this range. lots of singers are already too edgy in this area (especially when they start belting), narrow eq boosts just turn the vocals into laser beams of hate whenever they hit certain notes.

please.

i beg you.

2k is a nice frequency for snare drums. so is 10k. 3.2 is nice on heavy guitars. the 8k area can be a good place to boost without bringing up too much edgy high mid or the real high stuff.

boost 5k about 20db for that Lars-approved kick drum sound.

lastly....while everyone should be comfortable adding high end to whatever needs it, don't be afraid of mixing a little on the dull side. it's the easiest thing in mastering to add a high shelf or a couple broad bells, and it only takes a little to make a dull mix sound perfectly normal. not that you should be leaving things for mastering, but i think most ME's would rather get mixes that are a little dull than a little harsh.

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Re: The allure of adding EQ up top. The fear of adding too m

Post by dfuruta » Thu Mar 06, 2014 10:45 am

MoreSpaceEcho wrote:2.7k is Satan's Frequency...turn the vocals into laser beams of hate...
Well, shit. Wish I'd known that years ago.

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Post by drumsound » Thu Mar 06, 2014 11:29 am

It only takes a couple things with some high shelf to make a mix sound bright. I think that some people don't thing of that and then they ad too much hi end on too many tracks.

I really agree with what More Space Echo said about "duller" mixes. I've found that a little hi shelf in mastering (or maybe on the 2-bus if you've got a good EQ) sounds a TON better than a Hi shelf CUT on a master.

I've been intrigued by the MAAG thing too. I saw a yourube video of Cliff Maag explaining how when you set the frequency at 40k (yes FORTY KILOHERTZ) and then crank the boost, it make a subtle effect in the audible high range because it's the bottom of the slope. I might break down and get the plugin soonish.

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Re: The allure of adding EQ up top. The fear of adding too m

Post by losthighway » Thu Mar 06, 2014 11:30 am

dfuruta wrote:
MoreSpaceEcho wrote:2.7k is Satan's Frequency...turn the vocals into laser beams of hate...
Well, shit. Wish I'd known that years ago.
Yeah that's totally one of those where you feel like the lead vocal isn't popping out enough and you start fishing around for frequencies. Some where around there it pops out and you go "hmmmm, that's radically doing something.... but is it better?"

Sometimes eq'ing can be such tail chasing. I hear bad eq decisions I made on mixes years ago in like 5 seconds. At the point of mixing it was an hours long process. Weird.

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Post by drumsound » Thu Mar 06, 2014 11:31 am

And another thing... If a mix seems a little dull, just raising the fader of a bright source or two, just a RCH, can make a huge difference in the perceived brightness.

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Re: The allure of adding EQ up top. The fear of adding too m

Post by dfuruta » Thu Mar 06, 2014 12:05 pm

losthighway wrote:
dfuruta wrote:
MoreSpaceEcho wrote:2.7k is Satan's Frequency...turn the vocals into laser beams of hate...
Well, shit. Wish I'd known that years ago.
Yeah that's totally one of those where you feel like the lead vocal isn't popping out enough and you start fishing around for frequencies. Some where around there it pops out and you go "hmmmm, that's radically doing something.... but is it better?"

Sometimes eq'ing can be such tail chasing. I hear bad eq decisions I made on mixes years ago in like 5 seconds. At the point of mixing it was an hours long process. Weird.
And here I was thinking I had to make blood sacrifices to turn my vocals into laser beams of hate - the piles of bones & the magic circles in the basement, offerings to the dragon Tiamat whose coils slither around this broken universe, the prayers to our lord of light, invocations to the angels of the seventh house...and all it takes is boosting 2.7k?

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Post by Gregg Juke » Thu Mar 06, 2014 12:43 pm

First of all, you guys are scaring me...

Secondly: >>>> i don't use my drawmer 1961 so much any more, but i've certainly added loads of nice-sounding top end with that thing over the years.<<<<

Space, I'll PM you my address. Let me know when you're sending it over. I will give it some proper loving (in a good, but not weird, way).

Thirdly: ++++be equally careful in the 2-4k range. 2.7k is Satan's Frequency. i'm serious. avoid narrow boosts in this range. lots of singers are already too edgy in this area (especially when they start belting), narrow eq boosts just turn the vocals into laser beams of hate whenever they hit certain notes.++++

In live reinforcement situations, I've sometimes wished that I could rip 2 and 4K right off of the EQ. That is always, always, always the ringing ear-splitting feedback range. If it does that live, careful in the CR!

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Post by Snarl 12/8 » Thu Mar 06, 2014 1:50 pm

Shouldn't people get their ears checked if they start feeling the need to add treble to mixes later in their careers? The treble is the first thing to go, no?

I once jammed with these guys after listening to their tunes off of soundcloud or whatever. I thought the mixes were oddly bright and just figured that they liked shit shiny. When I met them they were all middle aged stoners, nylon tips on the drumsticks (ping-pa-ping-ping), ear damage, the whole deal, and it I realized that they just couldn't hear it. The jam degenerated into a "smoke break" before I could figure out a way to try to explain it to them. What?
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Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Thu Mar 06, 2014 2:37 pm

Gregg Juke wrote:Space, I'll PM you my address. Let me know when you're sending it over.
i could probably be convinced to part with it if you're interested.

dfuruta, i was just listening to 'mourning star' asamatterofact...i think your vocals are more a flamethower of hate than laser beams but lets not get bogged down in semantics.

i like to put the second tune on repeat and lumber around the studio like godzilla stomping on cities. really.

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Post by dfuruta » Thu Mar 06, 2014 5:32 pm

Aww :oops: <3 <3 <3 :oops:
I'll be sending you a new one for mastering this summer that's 666% satan.

Sorry, OP!

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Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Thu Mar 06, 2014 6:36 pm

excellent.

and yes, sorry for the OT, back to our regularly scheduled program.

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