EQing for hours...

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62 posts since 4 Aug, 2016

Post Sat Jun 27, 2020 4:33 pm

Am I the only person who has EQed something for 3 hours straight?

Let me explain...

There are so many ways to EQ a sound, always searching for that perfect frequency response. However, after about 30 seconds of EQing, I forget where I "came from" and where I need "to end up". I ultimately start EQing under the wrong perspective, which I realized either later during mixing, or the next day over, and it sounds like crap.

Sometimes it is actually Saturation that I am looking for, but don't realize it until too late in the mix.

Other times, its just a simple necessity for modulation... which takes me a while to realize was needed, since it also changes the EQ response.

Sometimes I get stuck on a single sound for 2 or 3 hours...

Embarassingly, it actually takes me about 2 weeks to get a mix together... but I am getting faster.

Anyone also in my worn out shoes?

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71 posts since 31 May, 2004 from Columbus, Oh

Post Sat Jun 27, 2020 5:39 pm

Yeah, you will get past that at some point. It is also pointless to eq in solo. I find it is much better and quicker to eq in context. It might be a bit different if you are eq'ing for solo instrument or very sparse mix. You will probably develop your own mix method to speed things up. My initial steps go something like this; gain stage to -18, check and fix any phasing issues, Look for any immediate eq collisions, get a rough balance between instruments, check in mono.... etc..

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4098 posts since 7 Jun, 2012 from Warsaw

Post Sat Jun 27, 2020 10:23 pm

Izotope Tonal Balance Control is a solution to that problem.

Tricky-Loops wrote: (...)someone like Armin van Buuren who claims to make a track in half an hour and all his songs sound somewhat boring(...)

5681 posts since 22 Jan, 2005 from Sweden

Post Sat Jun 27, 2020 10:41 pm

To put things in perspective - listening to interviews with famous producers like Max Martin sometimes helps a lot to understand the amount of work that goes into perfect mixes.

On a question about what it takes to be successful as producer
- if you are willing to spend a month on a mix to adjust every little detail - you will be successful
something to that meaning.

Sooooo, a couple of weeks on a mix, consider it education, maybe.

Also a lot of interviewson Pensado's Place you realize that success do not come easily.

You learn a lot of tricks as well in those interviews.

About EQ'ing or anything else - use A/B testing features in daw or plugins. Ears adjust real quickly, so going back and forth is very useful. Cakewalk has this MixRecall that is useful, without having to save away full projects in every little state.

Also take breaks, just 10 minutes - coming back ears have reset, kind of, and you hear the crap that is there.
Sadly it happend I come back the next day and find I just throw what I did yesterday away.
I was really trying to figure out how to use Waves MaxxBass, and next day I felt it sounded crap.

Many things also happends with temperature - at the end of a day it might be warmer from all equipment. That seriously affect high end attentuation through air. The most dramatic effect of this was listening to car stereo on a cold winters day, and how it sounded later as car and environment was warmed up, massive difference. Cold air, high end hardly attenuate, warm air high end drops.

A couple of degrees is enough. So consistent environment checking mixes.

1572 posts since 14 Sep, 2004 from $HOME

Post Sat Jun 27, 2020 11:02 pm

Yeah, been there, still there sometimes, especially with vocals, kick and snare. It’s getting better, and in a way I think it’s all part of a learning process, so I don’t consider it to be a real problem, as long as you think you’re improving.

Some strategies that come to mind:
- set a timer on your phone. If you’re not happy after 10/5/whatever minutes of eq-ing, stop it. reset everything, take a break, do something else, come back and start with a fresh mindset.
- separate exercising from mixing. If you want to improve your kick drum eq, take a project, preferably even not one by yourself, and do just that. No pressure to finish a mix.
- an idea from Gregory Scott (kush audio) which seems interesting: https://youtu.be/2Gls252xwcc
- limiting yourself. try to eq with only hi/low pass and one, one peak filter and levels. Or some variations of that. Maybe with a vintage EQ emulation that doesn’t have a gazillion options, say a 1073.
- don’t use sweeping with high Q and gain values in order to eliminate resonances or bad sounding frequencies. Disable the eq band, set the band where you think the bad frequency might be, enable the EQ. Guessed wrong? Start from scratch. Or do the sweeping with negative gain on the band, maybe just -3 to -5dB.

I should follow these myself a bit more ;)

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6207 posts since 18 Aug, 2007 from NYC

Post Sat Jun 27, 2020 11:14 pm

Take a class or find just 1 mixing engineer to follow their workflow... it'll save you months and years of wasted time.


A quick method to get you going...

1) Start subtractively... Remove unnecessary highs and lows. Initially this means removing the parts not audible (as you'll see inaudible activity on your EQ monitor - this is still making your speaker work, even if you can't hear it - now understand every track has this unwanted/unheard activity competing with wanted sounds on your single speaker trying to reproduce everything. In many cases, its just one speaker on each channel... don't unnecessarily overwork your speaker).
2) Subtractive EQ continued... Now use subtractive EQ relative to your other tracks (hint start with kick/bass first before anything else). This part just means removing the conflicting frequencies between your tracks.
3) Subtractive EQ continued... Now remove the annoying/problematic frequencies from your tracks. Many EQs now days have ways to solo bands and then sweep through to find unwanted harshness.

There's so much more to mixing and there are literally books on this, but try this for a bit. It should help immensely - but do yourslelf a favor and not try to re-invent the wheel. There are so many people before you that have mastered A workflow that is unique to them (and the reason why they are sought out specifically). Final mixes are unique but there are many standards, as well as tricks that are worth understanding so you can develop your own unique sound. But seriously... don't waste your time if you plan to do this professionally in any capacity. If its just a hobby (and there's nothing wrong with that), then have fun tweaking endlessly.

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1945 posts since 8 Dec, 2008 from Global Cowboy

Post Sat Jun 27, 2020 11:40 pm

rotku60 wrote:
Sat Jun 27, 2020 5:39 pm
It is also pointless to eq in solo. I find it is much better and quicker to eq in context.
Sorry - I don't use auto-tune....

1572 posts since 14 Sep, 2004 from $HOME

Post Sun Jun 28, 2020 12:43 am

digitalboytn wrote:
Sat Jun 27, 2020 11:40 pm
rotku60 wrote:
Sat Jun 27, 2020 5:39 pm
It is also pointless to eq in solo. I find it is much better and quicker to eq in context.
While generally true, I think there are some scenarios where EQ in solo might be helpful, especially in the beginning, e.g. when you're practising to eq a recorded kick to a finished sound. Just to get a feel for how different approaches can result in different outcomes. Or maybe not eq in solo, but in instrument groups, e.g. all drums together.

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16257 posts since 24 May, 2009 from A galaxy, far far away

Post Sun Jun 28, 2020 2:53 am


Seems like ye olde turd-polishing to me. Your energy would be much better spent on the front-end, by choosing/creating sounds that already fit together well. A little bit of cutting and shaping, here and there, as you progress, and you may find that mixing isn’t such an arduous task :tu:

15159 posts since 7 Sep, 2008

Post Sun Jun 28, 2020 2:59 am

esppse wrote:
Sat Jun 27, 2020 4:33 pm
Am I the only person who has EQed something for 3 hours straight?
You're doing it wrong. If you've EQ'd straight you've not EQ'd at all.
"I was wondering if you'd like to try Magic Mushrooms"
"Oooh I dont know. Sounds a bit scary"
"It's not scary. You just lose a sense of who you are and all that sh!t"

101 posts since 31 May, 2017

Post Sun Jun 28, 2020 3:04 am

Use stepped values. For example in TDR SlickEQ you can have both stepped values and fixed Q values, which means that there is a much smaller possibility space of decisions to make while barely affecting the actual control you have over the audio.

For example, the mid band in Slick steps from 400Hz to 650Hz go 1000Hz to 1500Hz to 2500Hz. This helps a lot with the endless choice issues. It also saves you from ear fatigue by not letting you constantly sweeping the range all the time.

This let you have some fixed anchors that you recognise the sound of. By using the same stepped values over months, you will get really good at hearing 400, 650, 1000, 1500 and 25000.

I would also recommend not screwing with Q value in general. Have one broad Q value for balancing, then one sharp Q value for resonance fixing. Saves a lot of time.

I found that good EQing is more dependent on a proper method than any other plugin type.

If you have lost "where you come from", i also recommend deleting all the EQ plugins and start over. Maybe you need way less EQing then you think.


Topic Starter

62 posts since 4 Aug, 2016

Post Sun Jun 28, 2020 4:21 am

Taking breaks really helps during mixed, it's almost as good as coming into a mix in the morning, but when I start tinkering with the sound for a short bit, I lose my position too quickly.

I've been following the steps above, the subtractive first, with focus on kick and bass, then cleanup. The application of these techniques is probably where I'm not honed.

ABing is something I've been doing, but still find it difficult to somewhat match the response by ear, since you cant hear individual elements in solo, so it's hard to tell how much modulation, saturation, delay, verb, and EQ each part actually has in a full professional mix.

Yeah over the past few months, I've used less EQ, maybe since I altered my monitoring position to force myself to sit and not move out of the sweet spot, but still tortured to find the line between clarity, and something that doesn't poke out too obviously.

Also, I've been analyzing more professional mixes, turns out there is a lot more masked and buried sounds difficult to pick out, but they are there and the mix works. I've always been afraid of losing elements to masking, which is why the over EQing creeps in. The more elements, the more juggling.

I also just got Neutron 3 Advanced. Hopefully the mix assistant will prevent from going off the rails while EQing.

1572 posts since 14 Sep, 2004 from $HOME

Post Sun Jun 28, 2020 4:35 am

el-bo (formerly ebow) wrote:
Sun Jun 28, 2020 2:53 am

Seems like ye olde turd-polishing to me. Your energy would be much better spent on the front-end, by choosing/creating sounds that already fit together well. A little bit of cutting and shaping, here and there, as you progress, and you may find that mixing isn’t such an arduous task :tu:
But you don’t always have control over that. What if you’re recording in a sub-par room (which most of us do) which sub-par talents (like me), or you get tracks from other people that aren’t top notch professional recordings (most likely not)? You gotta dig in, fix resonances, do some drastic EQ-ing here and there.
I agree though that the better the arrangement, the easier the mixing gets.

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3868 posts since 28 Jun, 2009 from Wherever I lay my hat

Post Sun Jun 28, 2020 5:31 am

Thanks for linking that Kush video, that was very instructive. Live and learn and live and learn!

I rarely Eq stuff, and when I do, its in broad strokes, like removing unnecessary bottom and/or top end to make some room. Big exception would be electric guitar, especially high gain stuff, where I do some very surgical removal of those ugly pockets of resonance that you get with that particular instrument. But, in general, I tend to arrange the music in such a way that the various parts complement each other right from the start, so there's not much work left to do. See what el-bo said.

868 posts since 9 Jul, 2014 from UK

Post Wed Jul 01, 2020 3:41 am

Work out why you are EQ'ing in the first place. What are you trying to achieve. Don't just EQ because you think you have to. Sometimes the wrong sounds are chosen in the first place. I can usually EQ a sound in about 3 minutes. Remove unnecessary low end (except kick and bass), scoop lows at around 350Hz to remove mud (especially vocals). Brighten top end if need be. I usually scoop out at around 500Hz for kick to make it more punchy and 'phatter' and boost about 1Khz for snare to make it a bit more snappy. All the rest is EQ to taste. Other than low cutting at about 150Hz, a lot of my tracks don't get touched; some vsti's have built in EQ that already process the sound. One thing I do use is a safe mono vst and set that to about 125Hz which I put on the stereo buss. Makes a big difference IMO.

http://www.alexhilton.net/A1AUDIO/index ... reocontrol

If you're spending 3 hours EQing, I'd suggest you're doing it wrong.

That's just my approach. YMMV.
I wonder what happens if I press this button...

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