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Author Topic: Next-level EQ  (Read 1282 times)

Isaac South

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Next-level EQ
« on: April 16, 2019, 09:47:17 pm »

Thanks for your time. I am requesting some next-level EQ tips/pointers.

We are starting to finally get comfortable with our new sound system at my church. Learning the new mixer, learning the room, etc.

I feel that we have a decent sound. Everyone in the audience is none the wiser. In fact, being in small town Kentucky, most people are probably impressed.

However, when I listen from FOH, the sound is not what I want. And I think the area we are lacking is two-fold.

#1 vocals - when I visit other churches or venues that have great sound, the vocals sound tremendously better than ours.

#2 Everything having  its place in the mix. I hear this talked about a lot and I donít really have a clear understanding of how to achieve this.

What are some ways I can improve our sound in these areas? I am just trying to do the best with what we have and Iím always striving to improve.

QU32 mixer
Martin CDD speakers
QLX mics (SM58)


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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Matthias McCready

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Re: Next-level EQ
« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2019, 10:43:14 pm »

Thanks for your time. I am requesting some next-level EQ tips/pointers.

We are starting to finally get comfortable with our new sound system at my church. Learning the new mixer, learning the room, etc.

I feel that we have a decent sound. Everyone in the audience is none the wiser. In fact, being in small town Kentucky, most people are probably impressed.

However, when I listen from FOH, the sound is not what I want. And I think the area we are lacking is two-fold.

#1 vocals - when I visit other churches or venues that have great sound, the vocals sound tremendously better than ours.

#2 Everything having  its place in the mix. I hear this talked about a lot and I donít really have a clear understanding of how to achieve this.

What are some ways I can improve our sound in these areas? I am just trying to do the best with what we have and Iím always striving to improve.

QU32 mixer
Martin CDD speakers
QLX mics (SM58)


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

For EQ turn up a band and sweep it, when you find something nasty cut it out!

If you are inexperienced with EQ and are not yet good enough to do this through system (ie you don't know roughly what you want to pull). Setup an EQ channel.

To set this channel up use a spare channel, and make sure it is NOT sending anywhere. You can solo it to have it your cans. Select the input for the what you want to listen to. As long as you do not adjust the shared channels gain or phantom, you will not be causing any problems for anyone else, and you can work on listening to what EQ and compression sound like.

This is a good way to get experienced, once you develop you ear some more I really recomend listening to the system and room, rather than headphones; unless you have matched them Dave Rat style.

If you do not have some already get a decent pair of headphones or a home listening system, and get some software. My favorite free software is Harmans "how to listen," although there are some very good paid programs for around $50. These will help train your ear, and are well worth your time. In particular pay attention to the instruments you are hearing and how the applied EQ affects the mix.

Did an EQ make the snare sound thin or give it more body? Did the vocals become muddy or harsh?

----
In general for drum EQ (for rock) I like to find the weight/body and crack/slap, and cut most of the mids. For kick maybe that is 40-60hz (jean ruffling goodness) and 3-3.5k (the attack of the beater) and cut everything in-between. For snare I find that weight (which hits you in the chest) usually 100-250hz and the crack/top end. Sometimes this is at 3.5k or. sometimes I do a top boost from there up. Same sort of deal for toms. Remember that differently sized drums, the tuning, and the age of the heads will greatly affect how you should approach EQ. Obviously genre changes how much processing should occur.

Make sure you have good drums mics, it is better to have a few good ones than lots of cheap ones.

For vocals you can use a high-pass. I usually run about 140, although that can go higher. Usually there is not much useful vocal content below here. Often it is just the mic picking up the subs and other room ugliness. Above this 300-600hz, I often do very large cut (sometimes up to -6-15dB!) as this area is often not adding. This should help with clarity. Additionally focus on removing harshness and sibilance. Some mics have frequencies which they can be "bitey" at and some singers have areas of harshness. The louder your overall mix is the more you want to cultivate your high end. I often make cuts some around 3k for most singers.

Vocal mics matter here too, I carry a Neumann in my FOH pelican for good reason  :)

---

Again what are you hearing that you do not like? Find that a take it away. For EQing electric guitars sometimes there are some nasty frequencies going on, I usually find those and cut those, and when appropriate I add little bit of "meat." For one player I mix fairly often 1k, and 2.4k need some large 10dB cuts, additionally I add some around 130hz. Again this REALLY depends on the player and their setup, there is no one size which fits all.

For everything having its place in the mix, in my experience this starts to happen when you remove the parts that are not adding. When you do this for vocals and drums you will already have a much better mix. Additionally sometimes when an input is giving you a lot of information what information do you need? For example if I have a trax input which has a lot a of low frequency information (such as an indistinct bass part) and I have a bass player I am probably going to use a high-pass or EQ a lot of the low-end out as I already have that covered in the mix.

Sometimes keys/piano can have overwhelming low mids which can take away from the power of the bass and kick, other times you may want to cut some information from 2-4k to help the vocals pop through.

Is your mix to muddy cut that stuff out! I often cut 100hz out of kick and bass. If there is information coming from a channel which it is not adding, cut it.

Sometimes for Lead Electric Guitar if I am mixing on a stereo system, I hard pan the two electric channels and delay one side by roughly 8-14ms. This really opens the stereo space and gives it some separation from the rhythm electric.

Hopefully that helps you to get started; also do some searching there are lots of threads and articles on EQ. Ultimately spend lots of time practicing and listening.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2019, 10:51:37 pm by Matthias McCready »
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Peter Kowalczyk

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Re: Next-level EQ
« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2019, 10:57:31 pm »

Someone could write a dissertation on using EQ in pro audio. 

Regarding a vocal mic in your question 1, as a general rule of thumb:

1) use the High Pass filter, pretty much always.
2) if the mic still sounds 'muddy', cut some 125 - 300 Hz
3) if the mic sounds 'boxy', then cut somewhere in 630 - 1.6kHz range
4) if the mic sounds 'harsh' then cut somewhere in the 2kHz - 6kHz range

These frequency ranges are intentionally broad, and I'm sure someone will tell us that they're wrong...

The wise wizards at Rational Acoustics put together this clever little diagram to help correlate the subjective perception with objective audio frequencies.

https://www.rationalacoustics.com/about/the-7-system-dwarves/

...  they're referring to overall system tonality, but the concept still holds.

Regarding your question 2, better engineers than I have taught me to make room in the frequency spectrum for each instrument to exist without getting crowded by others.  For example, I might cut a bunch of 125Hz out of a kick drum to 'make room' for the bass guitar, and conversely, cut some 80Hz out of the bass guitar to 'make room' for the kick drum.  This concept gets pretty deep, and I have a lot to learn here too - anyone else care to elaborate? 

Do you know and grey-bearded golden-ears who you could ask for a hands on lesson?
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Chris Grimshaw

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Re: Next-level EQ
« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2019, 05:20:33 am »


Regarding your question 2, better engineers than I have taught me to make room in the frequency spectrum for each instrument to exist without getting crowded by others.  For example, I might cut a bunch of 125Hz out of a kick drum to 'make room' for the bass guitar, and conversely, cut some 80Hz out of the bass guitar to 'make room' for the kick drum.  This concept gets pretty deep, and I have a lot to learn here too - anyone else care to elaborate? 


I really don't like that concept. The studio guys seem to reference it quite often, and it really bugs me. Here's why...

The two instruments can occupy the same frequency range. One is transient, and the other isn't. If you're putting so much compression/limiting on your mix that the only way you can tell the kick drum is happening is because it sits in a particular frequency range, something has gone very badly wrong!

Kick drum levels should peak above bass guitar levels, while the average level of the bass guitar will be higher. Use the natural dynamics of the instruments to introduce separation, rather than drastic EQ. If the bass guitar is introducing lots of transients of it's own (slap bass, for instance), the job is a little more difficult. Maybe you'll apply a compressor to reign in those transients and let the drums lead the dynamics, or maybe you'll play with the levels a little and get the slap bass to sit in with the drum kit in terms of the levels of the transients.


For a while, I worked with a folk band that had an acoustic guitar, banjo and mandolin (plus other instruments which aren't so relevant right now - cello, violin, stompbox, 4x vocals). With each instrument EQ'd to sound natural, all I had to do was get the levels right in order to make sure each instrument (lets not forget that they're all plucked strings on a resonating body) was clearly audible. It's not an especially difficult task, and I didn't have to resort to crazy EQ curves to do it.
When they fired up the vocal harmonies, it was four channels essentially in the same 150Hz-10kHz range. I didn't throw a load of EQ in there to over-emphasise the fact that one is going low, two are holding the note, and one is doing the fifth above. I just used the faders and mixed it. Besides, all that EQ would mess up the next chorus, where they might switch roles.

Similarly, taking a load of 80Hz out of the bass guitar means you've killed the 2nd harmonic of the low-E, the fundamental of the E the next octave up, and killed a load of other harmonics on different notes. ie, you've altered the tonality of the instrument.

I'm sure you get my point, so I'll stop ranting about that particular method.



When it comes to EQ and other channel processing, a lot can be written on the subject. I find that using good mics and positioning them properly eliminates a lot of processing that might otherwise be needed. A '57 at the centre of a guitar speaker will require more work than an M201 positioned somewhere more sensible.


To learn to EQ things, here's what I did:
- Play some music through one of the channel strips
- Mess around with the EQ. Figure out what different curves sound like and why.

To learn about mic positioning, move the mic around. Find out what works.

It's also important to have a good reference. Treat the reference system (whether it's headphones, a HiFi system, whatever) as the photograph that your live mix is painting towards.
Sure, the live mix will always be different - bigger, louder - but things like the colour balance and objects within the image ought to be consistent.


Chris
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Mark Norgren

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Re: Next-level EQ
« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2019, 07:10:35 am »

I love threads like this!  Some great insight in these responses!
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Bob Faulkner

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Re: Next-level EQ
« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2019, 07:47:41 am »

Thanks for your time. I am requesting some next-level EQ tips/pointers.

We are starting to finally get comfortable with our new sound system at my church. Learning the new mixer, learning the room, etc.

I feel that we have a decent sound. Everyone in the audience is none the wiser. In fact, being in small town Kentucky, most people are probably impressed.

However, when I listen from FOH, the sound is not what I want. And I think the area we are lacking is two-fold.

#1 vocals - when I visit other churches or venues that have great sound, the vocals sound tremendously better than ours.

#2 Everything having  its place in the mix. I hear this talked about a lot and I donít really have a clear understanding of how to achieve this.

What are some ways I can improve our sound in these areas? I am just trying to do the best with what we have and Iím always striving to improve.

QU32 mixer
Martin CDD speakers
QLX mics (SM58)


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  1.  Make sure there's plenty of gain from the mic(s), but not so much as to cause feedback.
  2.  As mentioned before, apply the high-pass filter to all vocal mics.  Start with 100hz.
  3.  Make sure the vocalists are close to the mics when performing
  4.  Always cut frequencies from the mic channels before boosting frequencies
       -- you didn't mention how the mics currently sound.  What do they sound like?  Do they sound "narrow", "flat", "cheap", "dull"?
  5.  Make sure the FOH EQ on the QU32 is not heavily adjusted (it should be flat - unless there's a minor correction for room acoustics).
  6.  Start with no effects (reverb, chorus, etc...) on the mic channels.  Unfortunately, people use effects to "fix" problems.






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Nathan Riddle

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Re: Next-level EQ
« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2019, 08:06:40 am »

My quick and dirty add to the vocal mic EQ discussion.

Have the vocalist sing a song (something middle of the road for their range), bring the HPF up until you can HEAR a difference.
You might turn it down a bit, or turn it up to thin the vocal out. It depends on the vocalist, what songs they are singing, etc. Mostly I crank it way up there so I can get plenty of clarity out of the mic, 200-250Hz!

Then follow Peter's guide (blue added):

1) use the High Pass filter, pretty much always.
2) if the mic still sounds 'muddy', cut some a bunch of 125 - 300 Hz
3) if the mic sounds 'boxy' (or nasally), then cut somewhere in 630 - 1.6kHz range
4) if the mic sounds 'harsh' then cut somewhere in the 2kHz - 6kHz range
5) if the mic has lots of 'S's or T's' then cut somewhere in the 5-8kHz range

These frequency ranges are intentionally broad, and I'm sure someone will tell us that they're wrong...

Then because the vocalists are a bit thin because we HPF'd and removed a bunch of lows we can thicken them up with the ADT tape FX.

This is a per song per stanza active mixing roll.
If they are singing a verse higher in their register then thicken them up!
If they are singing a verse lower in their register and its hard to understand then drop the return.
Chorus, maybe somewhere in the middle.

MBC/DeEsser/DynEQ can accomplish this a bit automatically, but QU does not have that capability.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2019, 08:09:20 am by Nathan Riddle »
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John Halliburton

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Re: Next-level EQ
« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2019, 08:15:00 am »

I really don't like that concept. The studio guys seem to reference it quite often, and it really bugs me. Here's why...

For a while, I worked with a folk band that had an acoustic guitar, banjo and mandolin (plus other instruments which aren't so relevant right now - cello, violin, stompbox, 4x vocals). With each instrument EQ'd to sound natural, all I had to do was get the levels right in order to make sure each instrument (lets not forget that they're all plucked strings on a resonating body) was clearly audible. It's not an especially difficult task, and I didn't have to resort to crazy EQ curves to do it.


I never liked that method either.  You don't hear it that way naturally(without a PA) do you? No, they all blend, and good or bad, a hybrid "sound" is what you listen to.  My take has been to listen to the particular voice/instrument and make it sound as good as I can, first in my headphones(most accurate listening device in the kit at a live event usually), then bring it up on stage for monitors(which hopefully have been EQ'd for the stage-I generally take out some on each for proximity effect of mics and the inevitable build up of low mids due to loss of directivity in the house rig spilling onto the stage, acoustics of the stage/room, etc.).  See how they all add up after you're finished, and tweak as needed, but it has worked well for me. 

That band you describe must be any number of current Irish groups out there. ;>)

Best regards,

John
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Kevin Maxwell

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Re: Next-level EQ
« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2019, 09:32:33 am »

I have posted this before.

This is a cut and paste with some modifications from a reply I wrote up for someone with similar problems.

Here are the basics. This the way I tune a system.
 
This is assuming that everything else in your system is set up properly and we are talking about overall system equalization. My method also assumes that you have a 2nd channel of EQ to insert on a vocal subgroup. This doesnít even take into consideration on how to EQ the monitors. That will cost extra.

The technique that I use for EQing a system is Ė I EQ the system for linearity, in other words what goes in is what comes out. Or as close to that as I can get. I use a software program called SMAART. This can be done by ear also but not as quick and as accurate as when using SMAART. I will assume that you do not have SMAART.

So to do this by ear - I would usually play a bunch of different tacks from different CDs that I am very familiar with the way they sound. What you are trying to do here is to get the system to accurately reproduce the way the CD sounds. While playing the CD I then would listen for the things that donít sound quite right. I like to only cut frequencies when doing system EQing. To pinpoint the offending tone sometimes it helps to boost the suspected offending frequency when hunting for the right one. So boosting the frequencies to make the bad sound stick out more. Sometimes you find that it isnít the one you thought and you need to try another one. This means bring up the control of that frequency and if its not the right one bring it back down, when you find the frequency you are looking for you would then cut that frequency, how much depends on what it sounds like. I like to be conservative but you can get the feel rather quickly as to how much of a cut to make. When you are all done using this method you should hopefully find that you havenít hacked the EQ to death. Also try hitting the bypass switch to see the difference with the EQ in or out of the system. It may be a very minimal difference.

I then insert (on the vocal subgroup) an EQ and EQ that subgroup for gain before feedback. The way I do that by ear is to have a vocal mic on stage that is on thru the system (thru the vocal subgroup) and I put another mic into another channel thru the vocal subgroup back at the mixer. I then, while using my voice at a decent level, slowly bring up the mic on stage till it starts to slightly ring (while I am making various noises and talking) I then find that frequency and cut it a bit and continue this till I start to get multiple frequencies ringing at the same time. This is usually the point at which you canít get any farther with out hacking the EQ to death and screwing up the sound. All this while I am paying attention to how my voice sounds. This is to give your vocal mics the best GBF (Gain Before Feedback) that you can reasonably expect. If you do this without exciting the system with your voice you will be surprised at the frequencies that pop up when a person gets on stage and talks into the mic. I find most micíed instruments donít usually have a problem with gain before feedback and playback (CD) and instruments donít need the additional EQ that the vocals do.  When more EQs are available you can breakup what needs to be EQed for GBF and do them separately (or in subgroups).  If you try to do a best gain before feedback EQ on the whole system you take the life out of playback and a lot of instruments. Now of course this is assuming you have that kind of flexibility to the system.

(For church)
If you were doing the church system using lavaliere mics on the preacher/speaker and handheld or in stand mics like the SM58 for the singers, I would route each of these types of mics to its own sub group. In other words you would have a wireless lav sub group and a singing sub group, and the other instruments in whatever sub groups you have leftover. It depends on how many sub groups that you have. I then EQ each vocal sub group separately. Then the channel EQ on the mixer can be used for tonal shaping for each mic.

(for theater)
If you were doing the traditional theater system using mics on the apron of the stage (apron mics) and mics hanging over the stage (over head mic) I would route each of these types of mics to its own sub group. In other words you would have a wireless sub group, an apron sub group, an electrics (overheads) sub group etc.. It depends on how many sub groups that you have. I then EQ each sub group separately. Then the channel EQ on the mixer can be used for tonal shaping for each actor.

To take this a step farther I use a Shure SCM810 auto mixer set up using post fader direct outs on the wireless. But thatís another subject.

I find that when I EQ a system with SMAART I can do it quicker then I can with just my ears and I think I get a more consistent sound. And I even have a technique for EQing the vocal inserted EQs using SMAART.
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Alec Spence

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Re: Next-level EQ
« Reply #9 on: April 17, 2019, 12:05:27 pm »

Vocals - when I visit other churches or venues that have great sound, the vocals sound tremendously better than ours.
Remember, those churches may well have one or more of the following:
- Better singers with better technique
- Better microphones
- A better designed speaker system with higher quality speakers
- A better room acoustic with good acoustic treatment where required.

I find that the multi-act shows that I do from time to time are most instructive of the first point.  Where the worst performers tend to be put on first, it's easy to doubt your ability.  There's feedback because their mic technique is poor and because you're having to add too much gain, and their vocals are just plain bad.  It's like night and day when the quality performers come out - throw up the faders and it all sounds glorious.

Put brutally, no amount of EQ and effects will polish a turd.
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Re: Next-level EQ
¬ę Reply #9 on: April 17, 2019, 12:05:27 pm ¬Ľ


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