Near Complete Chart for EQing (plus some tips)

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Near Complete Chart for EQing (plus some tips)

Postby Sgt-Whip (DJQ) » 02 Jun 2012 00:10

Hey guys. So I was browsing a music resource site and found this picture on EQing. I know there are already a lot of posts on this, but I thought it might be helpful to have a visual representation to get the best idea on how to EQ your instruments.

Image
(Source is: http://homestudiotrainer.webs.com/tipstorecordby.htm)

Its great as a quick guide for beginners looking to get a general idea of how to EQ music. It's also neat because it shows the various frequencies of some onomatopoeia as we understand them by ear. So now you can tell your friends the real difference between a boom and a whack is 100hz and 1khz.

(Everything after this point is just stuff I've learned to do related to EQing your sounds and your mix, not necessarily an ultimate solution.)
As far as I can tell, red bars represent the range within which the instrument's range of sound produces the highest intensity frequency. The highest intensity frequency is the frequency that is loudest/most prominent when the instrument sounds off. Yellow bars seem to represent the range of second highest intensity. Many instruments when producing a sound will have multiple frequencies, some at higher intensities, and some at lower. The combinations of these frequencies represent our given impression of what an instrument should sound like. If you start to cut out those frequencies or add to them, the sound of the instrument drastically changes. (in other words, you recognize a guitar because you've heard its combination of frequencies before. If that combination changes, its no longer exactly a guitar).The varying notes of an instrument of course varies the frequency, but it should all be frequencies within the overall given range suggested above. The piano and pipe organs have rather large ranges of sound and thus produce frequencies almost across the board.

I'm not sure about the black bars, but on the chart, sounds below 20hz and above 20khz are blacked out. Those sounds are inaudible to the human ear. My guess is that black bars represent frequencies that the instrument can produce but have too low of an intensity to either bother with or are practically inaudible when the instrument plays at that range. As such, they should be cut out, in order to avoid overlapping issues which shall be discussed in the next set of paragraphs!

When EQing music, many instruments will have overlapping frequencies at the edges of their range, such as bass overlapping to mid tones, and mid tones overlapping to treble. If this issue is not dealt with, the overlapping edges of the frequencies can often result in a muddy mix. By "muddy" I mean that the two sounds trying to dominate the same frequencies sort of "fight" with each other, and the result can be a dampened or even distorted sound which is unpleasant. If you ever wonder why your sounds seem to become less clear as you add more instruments, this may very well be why.

To deal with this, a good idea is to play the entire mix with all your instruments playing together. While playing, in your equalizer (dedicated to one of the instruments), roll the cutting bands on either side of an instrument's frequency range so that you cut out the low intensity sounds which are being flogged down by more prominent frequencies of other instruments. While it seems at first that this is damaging the instrument by removing some of the frequency, in truth it wont matter if you have other instruments producing frequencies in the overlapping range that are way more intense. Those intenser sounds are outshining the edges of the instrument being EQ'd. That's why removing them when listening to the entire mix together will ensure that you only remove inaudible or unpleasant parts without accidentally removing any sounds that are prominently holding their own. As soon as you hear your EQing begin to change the sound of your instrument, stop, and move back slowly until you hear the sound restored. This should remove the frequencies which can't be heard or are muddying up your mix, and preserve the frequencies which are heard.

(Note: A good example of the above paragraph is cutting any low frequency bass out of your main synth sounds when you have a heavy sub bass. If you leave it uncut, your sub bass can get muddy and even washed down, and your main synth sound can't be heard at those low frequencies anyways, especially if the lower end frequencies are soft and sporadic like they can be in heavily oscillated sounds. Cut those frequencies out to make room for your sub to occupy with a greater intensity. The result is a nice clear sub which fills the range while keeping the prominence of your main synth.)

If you have two instruments in the same range that both need to shine, like for example a sub bass and the sustained sound of a kick, you can control this by side chaining the interspersed or periodic instrument (kick) to the dominant's (sub) volume via compressor or peak controller. This temporarily shuts off the dominant instrument when the periodic instrument sounds, and when the periodic is done, the dominant returns in full force (well, it could actually do a couple things depending on how you've set the attack/release on your compressor, or sustain on your peak controller).

Since many of us electronically produce our own instruments, we can get sounds in far more extreme ranges on that chart above than regular instruments can. You know, like sub bass at 20hz and white noise at 20khz (though at 20khz and passed, you can easily cut those parts of your entire mix without hearing a difference. Same with sounds below 20hz, since that's out of average human hearing range).

I am NOT claiming to be a master on EQing. I just wanted to return something to the community based on the knowledge I've gained, and because the community has already done so much for me. If anybody sees any discrepancies in my words with your own knowledge, please say so, and I'll do my best to update what I said.
Last edited by Sgt-Whip (DJQ) on 02 Jun 2012 20:56, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Near Complete Chart for EQing (plus some tips)

Postby the4thImpulse » 02 Jun 2012 03:49

There is a lot of good information in here and will certainlybe of great assistance to many people here, thanks for posting this.

I would like to add that you shouldn't let eqing become a 'science' or something where the same numbers work everytime. There will be times where you use the same curve in the same spot of the spectrum, but most of the time depending on the sample and the pitch its played at you will need a custom setting. When I am eqing my tracks I stay away from these charts and go purely by my own ears to judge what sounds 'good' and 'bad'.

Most electronic artsts will never have to worry about any of the listed instruments besides drums and vocals as you will replace everything else with a synth, and that synth can take up the whole spectrum.

Sgt-Whip (DJQ) wrote:To deal with this, a good idea is to play the entire mix with all your instruments playing together. Then in your equalizer (dedicated to one of the instruments), roll the cutting bands on either side of an instrument's frequency range so that you cut out the low intensity sounds which are being flogged down by more prominent frequencies of other instruments. While it seems at first that this is damaging the instrument by removing some of the frequency, in truth it wont matter if you have other instruments producing frequencies in the overlapping range that are way more intense.


This is the biggest problem I hear in a lot of the brony artists here (especially the newer ones). If you want your music to sound good, besides having a basic understanding of simple synthesis, use the EQ on every single track. Dont leave any one sound in your entire song without any EQing. Trust me you will notice an improvement with your music as soon as you understand EQing.

Thanks for posting this :D
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Re: Near Complete Chart for EQing (plus some tips)

Postby Matthew N. » 02 Jun 2012 03:51

Apparently I'm doing a good job on EQing. :)
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Re: Near Complete Chart for EQing (plus some tips)

Postby Sgt-Whip (DJQ) » 02 Jun 2012 08:06

the4thImpulse wrote:
I would like to add that you shouldn't let eqing become a 'science' or something where the same numbers work everytime. There will be times where you use the same curve in the same spot of the spectrum, but most of the time depending on the sample and the pitch its played at you will need a custom setting. When I am eqing my tracks I stay away from these charts and go purely by my own ears to judge what sounds 'good' and 'bad'.


Yes that is very true. When it comes down to it, how you hear the sound is most important to how you EQ it. Its good to remember that the chart is only a quick guide, for getting started and for general reference. As a visual representation, its a nice reminder, and for many of us on the forum who cannot afford better sound equipment and visualizers, its a convenience. But yeah everyone reading, don't let that convenience dictate what your ears hear!

Matthew_N wrote:Apparently I'm doing a good job on EQing. :)


Yaaaaay! I'm glad everything is working out.
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Re: Near Complete Chart for EQing (plus some tips)

Postby ChromaticChaosPony » 02 Jun 2012 11:02

I realized that I suck at EQing.
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Re: Near Complete Chart for EQing (plus some tips)

Postby Sgt-Whip (DJQ) » 02 Jun 2012 12:02

ChromaticChaosPony wrote:I realized that I suck at EQing.


I wouldn't put yourself down like that. It takes a lot of time and effort to get good at equalizing sound. Even people with twenty plus years of experience still find themselves scratching their heads at particularly odd EQ combinations. That's because, like 4thImpulse says, it can't be ground down to a series of simple movements that work every time. Everything takes adjustments.

If you have questions about anything, specific or otherwise, I will definitely do my best to help you out.
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Re: Near Complete Chart for EQing (plus some tips)

Postby Facade » 02 Jun 2012 16:23

so basically we don't want two sounds at the same frequency at the same time? im guessing thats what mud is?
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Re: Near Complete Chart for EQing (plus some tips)

Postby the4thImpulse » 02 Jun 2012 17:04

Facade wrote:so basically we don't want two sounds at the same frequency at the same time? im guessing thats what mud is?


That would, in a way, be impossible. What you dont want is two or more instruments/sounds tring to dominate the same frequency as thats when you can create mud or a thicker nicer sound. Thats why you have to listen closely to see if the mix is becoming more unclear/muddy as you add frrequencies or if its enhancing the sound.

The term mud really only applies to the bass (Everything below 100Hz). The humans ears are not very sensitive in that range so sounds, naturally, become less and less clear and when you have too many sounds fighting for that area it will quickly sound plain bad (often like there is mud in the speakers).
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Re: Near Complete Chart for EQing (plus some tips)

Postby ChromaticChaosPony » 02 Jun 2012 17:29

I spent more time focusing on guitar playing previously. I didn't start showing any interest in recording until March of this year.
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Re: Near Complete Chart for EQing (plus some tips)

Postby Facade » 02 Jun 2012 17:36

the4thImpulse wrote:
Facade wrote:so basically we don't want two sounds at the same frequency at the same time? im guessing thats what mud is?


That would, in a way, be impossible. What you dont want is two or more instruments/sounds tring to dominate the same frequency as thats when you can create mud or a thicker nicer sound. Thats why you have to listen closely to see if the mix is becoming more unclear/muddy as you add frrequencies or if its enhancing the sound.

The term mud really only applies to the bass (Everything below 100Hz). The humans ears are not very sensitive in that range so sounds, naturally, become less and less clear and when you have too many sounds fighting for that area it will quickly sound plain bad (often like there is mud in the speakers).

ah ok thanks for the tips ^.^
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Re: Near Complete Chart for EQing (plus some tips)

Postby Sgt-Whip (DJQ) » 02 Jun 2012 20:49

Facade wrote:so basically we don't want two sounds at the same frequency at the same time? im guessing thats what mud is?


"Mud" wasn't a very technical term on my part. I was using it to imply that when you have instruments trying to take the same space/frequency, you get unwanted or unpleasant sounds. Sometimes running two instruments with the same frequencies over top of each other can make the frequency even more intense, causing unnecessary loudness and distortion in the sound (you might as well just pump the volume to get the same issue). Other times it can just wash out the sound of one or both of the instruments. This happens to sub bass instruments when multiple instruments are playing in that range of 20-90hz, exactly as the4thImpulse said. That's why you only need one clean sub synth to get a great sub bass sound.

You will also notice when you have two or more synth instruments with similar frequencies playing at the same time, one will often seem naturally more prominent in the mix than the other. Most likely, that clearer one has a more intense frequency than the less audible one at the same frequency. As a result, the less intense one is being out shined, and might as well not be there.

(Quick note: Sounds created by this overlapping aren't always unpleasant or unwanted, but more often than not you'll find it to be a hindrance to your music instead of an improvement.)

So yeah, by muddy I mean to say unclear, unpleasant sound caused by instruments trying to overlap frequencies.
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Re: Near Complete Chart for EQing (plus some tips)

Postby Facade » 03 Jun 2012 20:27

oooh ok thanks for clearing things up!
great tips thanks! ^.^
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DerpyGrooves wrote:The secret to a good song has everything to do with the relationship of the verse and the chorus to one another


ONEHOODASSPONY wrote:Image
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Re: Near Complete Chart for EQing (plus some tips)

Postby 5COPY » 04 Jun 2012 08:48

This is most helpful
I don't have time for fancy signatures.


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Re: Near Complete Chart for EQing (plus some tips)

Postby TranquilHooves » 27 Jul 2012 01:10

Indeed, though I still have no clue on how 'good' I am at EQing. :I
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Re: Near Complete Chart for EQing (plus some tips)

Postby Seven » 28 Jul 2012 10:54

When looking through tutorials and guides, like this one, about EQing, I often find the tip of cutting off low/high frequencies to the point where you hear a difference, and then pull it back to restore the sound. Dispite the frequent occurrence, I've never done it.

What I do, is loading up the Parametric EQ 2 in FL, which is a..parametric equalizer (shockingly enough), with a spectrum visualized/analyzer (whichever that's more appropriate) and cut off unwanted frequencies based more on what I can SEE rather than HEAR. Of course I listen through afterwards, but more of my EQing is based on what I know, than feel, what I see, than hear.

Will this leave me with a handicap - an incapability to EQ properly? I'm restricted to the one equalizer, so is there anything important I miss out?
Last edited by Seven on 29 Jul 2012 16:02, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Near Complete Chart for EQing (plus some tips)

Postby Foxtrot89 » 28 Jul 2012 16:50

Seven, music is all about what you hear. It's good to let your ears be the absolute defining factor in the final product, but if your eyes lead you to good sounds, who's to tell you that you're doing it wrong. For some people it might work, and for others not so much. I personally use the visual aspect to help me pinpoint exactly what frequencies a sound resides in, thus knowing if I should or shouldn't add more sounds in that range. It also helps you realize which frequencies are absolutely unused so you can cut them completely without effecting the sound noticeably. Seriously, there's quite a bit of room you can make within a mix that you wouldn't notice unless you could see it, if that makes any sense. It's essentially what rolling off the lows and highs does. A snare might not have much sound generated in the low frequencies, but there's still something there. You stack, say, 8 snare samples, and then it'll start noticeably effecting the lower frequencies, where as if you roll it off, it'll sound clear and nice. It's a good habit to get into, eliminating unneeded frequencies.
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Re: Near Complete Chart for EQing (plus some tips)

Postby psychoacoustic » 29 Jul 2012 12:50

Thank you for this. As someone with next to no experience with mixing, this will be extremely helpful.
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