Add top end with EQ or Saturation?

How to do this, that and the other. Share, learn, teach. How did X do that? How can I sound like Y?
esppse
KVRist
42 posts since 4 Aug, 2016

Post Tue Jun 30, 2020 4:46 pm

Hey guys,

Sometimes I struggle a bit determining if I should add extra top end/sizzle with plain EQ or some saturator/exciter. How do you guys determine which method of adding upper frequencies, and when each method should be used?

Thanks

MogwaiBoy
KVRAF
3554 posts since 26 Nov, 2015 from Way Downunder

Re: Add top end with EQ or Saturation?

Post Tue Jun 30, 2020 9:08 pm

This is mostly dependent on the material involved, but to vaguely answer your overall question... both.

What I mean by that is harmonically enhanced EQ shelves, they tend to do the best in my experience. Favourites include Sonimus, Acustica etc.

But definitely if you're thinking "I want to add some brightness and air to that instrument" a subtle combination of both saturation and EQ can work wonders.

If I had to choose just one process, it'd be EQ though.

User avatar
MadDogE134
KVRian
509 posts since 26 Nov, 2007

Re: Add top end with EQ or Saturation?

Post Tue Jun 30, 2020 9:54 pm

imo saturation covers the whole range unless you can focus it so it will add to top end but it will add to the rest of the ranges too. for top end sheen and air i prefer a quality EQ high shelf but select if i can 18khz or higher with a gradual slope... 16khz can work too on some things. i agree acusitca has some nice shelves. another emulation that a lot of people love is the Maag EQ4 with it's 40khz range... throw that baby on 40k and although you can't hear up that far... the gradual slope up to that point you CAN hear and gives things a lovely airy effect... really beautiful on vocals. :) cheers

p.s. the Maag EQ4 air band also works wonders on reverbs too 8)

it is sad that those who are disadvantaged tend to complain less than those who are able


imrae
KVRian
1163 posts since 2 Jul, 2010

Re: Add top end with EQ or Saturation?

Post Wed Jul 01, 2020 2:39 am

It depends where you want the content to come from. EQ adds what is already there, saturation adds harmonics from further down in frequency.

If you want to add 10k to a signal that only goes up to 8k, EQ isn't going to do anything for you. If you saturate a cymbal for more brightness, it isn't going to boost the existing "air" but will create some more harmonic content up there. This might sound worse if you liked the smooth noise at the top end.

legendCNCD
KVRian
876 posts since 23 Sep, 2004 from there

Re: Add top end with EQ or Saturation?

Post Wed Jul 01, 2020 3:22 am

HG-2 on sides using the MASTER-Lid Lifter preset (modified a bit) carefully works nicely also.
Soft Knees at Bandcamp
Soft Knees - Demoscene

esppse
KVRist
42 posts since 4 Aug, 2016

Re: Add top end with EQ or Saturation?

Post Wed Jul 01, 2020 2:07 pm

Thanks for the suggestions, I have Maag EQ2, will reach for than for air from now. I always kind of had this feeling that adding EQ can make a sound more brittle quicker than a saturator that adds upper harmonics. Ill also check out the HG-2 as well.

Yeah I guess it does come down to if the frequency content is there in the first place to bring out, the problem is I sometimes have trouble recognizing that currently with only under a year of mixing experience. I'll usually reach for a saturator when I want aggression, but usually that's in the lower midrange. Its the saturators that add the super top that make me question to use a shelf or not.

User avatar
mixtur.se
KVRist
174 posts since 24 Aug, 2017

Re: Add top end with EQ or Saturation?

Post Wed Jul 01, 2020 3:22 pm

Other options include noveltech Character and spl vitalizer. The former is amazing for top end boosts.

Clearscreen
KVRist
188 posts since 11 Jul, 2004 from Melbourne, Australia

Re: Add top end with EQ or Saturation?

Post Wed Jul 01, 2020 3:48 pm

legendCNCD wrote:
Wed Jul 01, 2020 3:22 am
HG-2 on sides using the MASTER-Lid Lifter preset (modified a bit) carefully works nicely also.
I think doing anything that boosts the Side signal will make things brighter?

User avatar
CrystalWizard
KVRian
1233 posts since 10 Jul, 2008 from Orbit Sol III

Re: Add top end with EQ or Saturation?

Post Wed Jul 01, 2020 3:58 pm

A multiband saturator can be quite helpful. So, you only saturate the frequencies that you want saturated.
Oh, second comment covers it.
gadgets an gizmos...make noise
https://soundcloud.com/crystalawareness

telepathy
KVRer
3 posts since 26 Jun, 2020

Re: Add top end with EQ or Saturation?

Post Thu Jul 02, 2020 4:58 am

Classic Aphex-style excitement is a good way to get that HF sizzle/grain, without messing with your low frequencies. Try it on a send, so you can carefully blend in the right amount.

legendCNCD
KVRian
876 posts since 23 Sep, 2004 from there

Re: Add top end with EQ or Saturation?

Post Thu Jul 02, 2020 5:28 am

Clearscreen wrote:
Wed Jul 01, 2020 3:48 pm
legendCNCD wrote:
Wed Jul 01, 2020 3:22 am
HG-2 on sides using the MASTER-Lid Lifter preset (modified a bit) carefully works nicely also.
I think doing anything that boosts the Side signal will make things brighter?
Of course, but this is quite special flavour with the HG-2 and also it doesnt fit on everything as usual. If theres enough resonance or already saturated signal, it'll sound bad IMHO then switch to something else. Just EQ on side can be enough in many cases.
Soft Knees at Bandcamp
Soft Knees - Demoscene

SoundPorn
KVRian
1044 posts since 24 Jul, 2018

Re: Add top end with EQ or Saturation?

Post Thu Jul 02, 2020 5:48 am

Both, actually I like to choose things that are specified designed to add air and 2 of my secret weapons are Air Windows Purest Air and AudioThings Type A Exciter.
https://www.airwindows.com/purestair-vst/
https://www.audiothing.net/effects/type-a/

Another thing I do often use multiband compressors like the Lindell 354 that have mid-side and analogue saturation and compress the sides of the top end.

lfm
KVRAF
5337 posts since 22 Jan, 2005 from Sweden

Re: Add top end with EQ or Saturation?

Post Thu Jul 02, 2020 5:54 am

esppse wrote:
Tue Jun 30, 2020 4:46 pm
Hey guys,

Sometimes I struggle a bit determining if I should add extra top end/sizzle with plain EQ or some saturator/exciter. How do you guys determine which method of adding upper frequencies, and when each method should be used?

Thanks
That is what arrangements do - you add instruments and parts that cover to sound full.

Listen to maybe Bruce Springsteen mixes and you often hear a bell-like xylophone added that create that little something. Triangle or shaker can also do rhythmic beat stuff.

esppse
KVRist
42 posts since 4 Aug, 2016

Re: Add top end with EQ or Saturation?

Post Thu Jul 02, 2020 6:05 pm

Yeah sometimes I layer to fill in those frequencies, however many times, its comes to a part of the song where only one element takes lead, and to make that sound big has been tricky for me. I do find it easier to layer tons of stuff and make each element smaller, than to make one element sound massive.

User avatar
Hermetech Mastering
KVRian
1282 posts since 30 May, 2003 from Milan, Italy

Re: Add top end with EQ or Saturation?

Post Thu Jul 02, 2020 11:45 pm

One, or both, or nether, at different places in the chain, depending on the source material and what my ears tell me.

Return to “Production Techniques”