Need Help Setting EQ Parameters

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by Steve Berger, Jul 19, 2008.

  1. Steve Berger

    Steve Berger Member

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    I need help setting the EQ parameters on my Tascam DP02 PortaStudio that is in my home studio.

    My recordings are comprised of either solo acoustic guitar or acoustic guitar and vocals (male/baritone).

    The Tascam DP02 enables me to add EQ per channel on a "post-recording" basis only.

    For each channel I have a High EQ control knob and a Low EQ control knob (in essence a 2 -band equalizer).

    What I need help on is setting the "mid-point" for the Hi EQ and the "mid-point "for the Low EQ for both the acoustic guitar channel and the vocal channel.

    With that "mid-point" established, I can then either decrease or increase the dBs from that established "mid-point" by turning the knob. (Unfortunately the Tascam does not indicate how many dBs it is being raised or lowered when the dial is turned. I am "assuming" a full increase is +16dB and a full decrease is -16dB, but I am not certain.)

    The EQ "range" for High EQ is: 18k - 1.7k

    The EQ "range" for Low EQ is: 1.6k - 32Hz

    Please note that the default mid-point setting for HIgh is "10K" and for Low is 100Hz. Which I am certain is a "generic" setting, not specific acoustic guitar and male vocal.

    Anyway I am just looking for a starting point for my recording application: acoustic guitar and male baritone vocal.

    Hope this explanation did not give you a headache. Thanks in advance for any input.
    __________________
     
  2. GaryT

    GaryT Member

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    Bunches of great resources on the web. Just try Google'ing "recording eq" or "musical instrument frequency ranges" ... etc...

    Here is a good one to start with... tips on eq'ing particular instruments...

    http://www.homerecordingconnection.com/
     
  3. stevel

    stevel Member

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    Here's my suggestion - if that's all you're recording DON'T TOUCH THE EQ!!!

    I don't know you but it sounds like from your post you're falling into the "I need to EQ to sound like a pro recording" trap.

    EQ's were designed to flatten out the frequency response of something, or, they have become used to "sculpt" a sound for artistic and special effects (such as a megaphone vocal effect).

    But using them to "fix" something or set something in the mix - especially with only these two elements being recorded - is in my opinion a last resort.

    GET GOOD SOUND GOING TO TAPE (or Hard drive, etc.)!!! Microphone selection, and placement are crucial to your sound. If you have to EQ it, then you did something wrong with your recorded signal.

    I'm sorry, but I'm from the "non-artificial" camp - I like my music to sound like it was played live, in person, by real people (though I accept (and condone) that there are artistic ways to use artificiality creatively as well).

    With just guitar and voice (or just guitar as you sometimes do) you shouldn't be needing to worry about making the vocals sit in the mix.

    Moving the mics around can make a huge amount of difference.

    Try recording "natural" - set up a stereo pair and sit and play and sing.

    If you like, put a mic on the voice, and one on the guitar - allow bleedover - maintain some control, but let the sounds come together. With two mono tracks you'd be surprised how just panning each out a bit can get each out of the way of the other without using EQ.

    By the way, EQ works by using phase cancellations to filter out unwanted frequencies - as soon as you turn an EQ knob, you're coloring the remaining sound in addition to filtering the unwanted frequencies. So many times, using EQ becomes a vicious cycle.

    Now, that's not to say there aren't times when you might be forced to use it, but my opinion is - use it sparingly, if at all (except in the case of using it to create special effects, etc.).

    Good Luck,
    Steve
     
  4. Cyclophenia

    Cyclophenia Member

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    This link may or may not help you...If anything it is a great tool to learn where instruments fall in the frequency spectrum.

    Here
     
  5. Greggy

    Greggy Member

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    In a dense mix, I almost always cut dbs beginning at around 200 hz (shelving cut) for acoustic guitar. In a less dense mix such as yours, I would tend to want to leave it alone. A little boost on the high end may help, though (8 khz on up). But it depends on a host of other variables like mic frequency response, mic position, timbre of instrument, etc. Hard to generalize. On the other hand, I have little to no experience with vocals.
     
  6. Steve Berger

    Steve Berger Member

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    Thanks for the great input.

    One more question: I just got a Rode NT2-A mic to record my vocals. Surprisingly it also sounds good recording my acoustic guitar. The NT2-A has a High Pass Filter switch that I can use at 40 Hz or 80 Hz to roll off the bass a bit. My inclination would be to set it at 80Hz for both vocals and acoustic guitar.

    Should I look at this capability the same way I should look at EQ'ing . . . cautiously?
     
  7. stevel

    stevel Member

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    I wouldn't say surprisingly - often good vocal mics also work in acoustic guitar applications.

    Now you need 2 :)


    Yes. If you don't need to roll it off, then don't. But it's not so big a deal. A HPF filter like this is really designed to eliminate "rumble" type noises - vibrations from trucks driving by outside (which can be picked up even if you can't hear them!), house noises (assuming you're in a house) like heat/AC, motors in fridges and things like that.

    In a live situation, I'd probably roll it off at 80 for either of those instruments just to avoid getting too much bleed from other instruments and ambient noise.

    In your situation though, you could experiment with the 80 versus off setting and see if you can hear the difference. There are some "wood" sounds acoustics make, as well as the "thump" that your chest cavity makes (especially for a baritone) and while there may not be "notes" below 80 hz, there might be resonant frequencies below there that have their own overtones and add their own character to the sound.

    With vocals though, you can get unwanted plosives and other "mouth" noises and it can help to eliminate some types of breath noises (also a guitar that's TOO thumpy could benefit - though you don't want to steal that character from a good Martin).

    40 hz is kind of low. That's almost sub-sonic and is probably designed to go into the subsonic field (12 db per octave would mean only one octave from 40 down to 20 - the limit of human hearing, so it's still cutting stuff we can't hear). Mine tend to have 80, or 100 and 70 or 75 - something like that. I don't think I have any that go below 70. Even my mixers typically have a low cut at 80. The 40 seems kind of superflous but again, if you had some subs-sonic issues it could probably be of benefit.

    HTH,
    Steve
     
  8. Steve Berger

    Steve Berger Member

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    Thanks stevel . . . I learned a lot from your post.
     
  9. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    This has got to be the nuttiest thread I've ever seen here.

    Set it here, set it there, don't set it at all...

    No one other than the OP has heard the track, and no one has asked the most basic question... what is it that he WANTS TO DO? In other words, WHY does he want to use it? Because it's there?

    To Steve Berger: EQ is used to tweak tone. There are no generic settings. If your guitar or vocal tracks sound like they need EQ, define IN WORDS what it is you'd like to fix. E.g., more treble, less treble, more bass, less bass, etc.

    Here's how I find the starting frequency for an EQ fix:

    Boost the corresponding gain control by about 5 dB. If you have a bandwidth control ("Q"), raise it to make it as narrow as possible. Now sweep the frequency control back and forth till you HEAR the center of the frequency you want to fix. Not that it will necessarily sound good 5 dB louder, but this is just to find the spot.

    Now you just lower the gain control to where you want, either cutting it back below zero or boosting it above zero. To start, stay within +/- 2 dB. of zero and see how that feels. Then go back in and change it if you want. Also try widening and narrowing the bandwidth as you listen, to see where that sounds best.

    Hope that helped.

    By the way, there is NOTHING wrong with using EQ to fix something, that's what it's there for. It's not just to "flatten out the frequency response of something" (whatever that means) or make a voice sound like a megaphone. And it's not a "last resort." Trust your common sense before any internet advice, including mine.
     
  10. Kenny D

    Kenny D Member

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    Good post. I doubt people have any idea just how much EQ is used on music that we listen to. Even the most stripped down sound is EQ'ed.

    Yes, start with mic placement and affecting the tone before the mic.

    EQ is just a tool to achieve an end result. If something needs EQ, then EQ it without guilt.
     
  11. Steve Berger

    Steve Berger Member

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    I'm just attempting to get my voice and acoustic guitar(s) to sound as natural/authentic when recorded . . . as they sound "live".

    All of my acoustic guitars and my vocal(s) tend to to sound a bit too bassy when recorded dry, so that is why I am a tone chaser with EQ.

    I suspect that if I had better recording gear that would help, but hey everything takes money.

    Right now I'm primarily using a Tascam DP-02 PortaStudio that has pretty much replaced my Roland VS840 and I have a Rode NT2-A mike.

    I suspect someday I'll make the leap to recording via computer, but I do like my knobs and faders.

    Thanks again for the input
     
  12. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    Eureka, as the man said when he lowered his ass and the tub overflowed...

    Here's a thought...

    I don't know that particular mic. But unless it's unusually bass-heavy – which would not be very Røde-ish – I'm thinking you probably don't have a gear problem. I think you just need a better position for the mic.

    Maybe you're so close that you're getting "proximity effect" - i.e. increased bass response. You could try moving the mic just a few inches farther away. Your tracks might not be as loud but they might sound a whole lot better. It's worth a try, anyway.

    (That's assuming the mic is in a cardioid pattern, which if it isn't, would be a good idea 'cause (a) it sounds good when you get it right, and (b) it's the easiest to get right)

    If that doesn't do it, try miking a different way entirely. There are a s***load of postings all over the internet on the "best way" to mic a guitar. Good luck! ;)
     
  13. Greggy

    Greggy Member

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    About the acoustic guitar, are you positioning the mic pointing strarigth into the soundhole? That's the bassiest mic position. If so, try moving the mic away from the soundhole and see what happens.
     
  14. Kenny D

    Kenny D Member

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    For my guitar, I have found that 2 condensers works best.

    One is placed midway between the bridge and the end of the guitar and about 12" away. The other is placed 12" away directly over the 12th fret.

    Both mics aimed directly at the guitar. This avoids the bass overkill from the soundhole and gives a nice stereo picture.

    Your guitar may respond differently and require different mic placement. Guitars are all different.

    You MUST spend the time finding the optimum places for your mics! Sorry, there is no way so shortcut this process.
     
  15. Steve Berger

    Steve Berger Member

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    I am checking into getting two condensers. I am leaning towards a Rode NT4 (their 2 in 1 mic in a fixed XY pattern) or maybe two Rode NT5s or two Shure 81's.

    I know that two separate mics would give me more flexibility . . . but my home recording studio does not have good ambient sound so I will probably opt for more convenience and get the NT4 XY mic.

    With my existing gear I am recording my acoustic guitar in one of thye following three ways: (1) with the Rode NT2-A positioned about 8" away in front of the guitar aimed between the 12th and 14th frets . . or (2) recording directly into my Tascam DP-02and using my onboard Bagggs Active IBeam pickup or (3) blending the two sources for a quasi (but not true) stereo effect.
     
  16. stevel

    stevel Member

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    To Steve, the OP: Sorry, I'm from the "less is more" camp. Many times I come across people who start grabbing EQ knobs without even listening to the signal coming through, and many people are sort of into this whole "I must EQ" thing (just like compression). So I tend to "overemphasize" the "don't use it" and play down the do use it sides. I agree with Mike that there's nothing "wrong" with using EQ. There are many ways to use it correctively and artistically, and in some cases, as a practical element. However, I just caution you that, if something doesn't sound right, your first instinct shouldn't be to reach for the EQ knob, but to find out what the problem is. If you determine that it is an EQ issue and you can correct it, then by all means do so. If you find out it's too bassy because of proximity effect as someone else mentions, then, if you have the ability to re-record it with corrected microphone placement, that would be my preferred choice. YMMV.

    Steve L
     
  17. Jim S

    Jim S Silver Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    ....to make them ...equal.

    I rarely EQ and if so, it's mayyyybe to cut different holes to allow things to overlap w/o clutter.

    Cutting electric guitars below 100Hz
    Cutting electric bass in the 300 Hz area

    I'm no pro but I think my mixes sound respectable.
     

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