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Old 02-06-2019, 02:23 PM   #1
future fields
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Default Ever notice that most of EQ work is doing the opposite of what's natural?

For bass guitar you need to take out most of the bass

For lead guitar playing mostly high notes you cut highs and boost lower freqs

For rhythm guitars playing chunky power chords you cut lows and boost highs

Those are just a few examples off the top of my head

It's a game of opposites, in a way
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Old 02-06-2019, 02:36 PM   #2
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To me it's more like sculpting....chipping away the slab until it looks like a work of art. You're removing the bits you don't need.
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Old 02-06-2019, 02:42 PM   #3
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I'm not so sure...

It's more a game of focusing. I almost always accompany cuts with nearby boosts - resonant HPF or HPF + bell for bass drums and bass guitars, upper mid cut with lower mid boost for electric guitars... just trying to make the bit that sings sing out a little more (without EQ'ing all the character out of it).
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Old 02-07-2019, 02:43 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by future fields View Post
For bass guitar you need to take out most of the bass

For lead guitar playing mostly high notes you cut highs and boost lower freqs

For rhythm guitars playing chunky power chords you cut lows and boost highs

Those are just a few examples off the top of my head

It's a game of opposites, in a way
Er... i think i do the exact opposite of what you describe here. But it depends on the mix context and what you need to do it.
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Old 02-07-2019, 05:25 AM   #5
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First of all we need your definition of "natural".
How does a "natural" electric bass guitar sound? Thin and very low in level. Now plug it in direct: is this the "natural" sound? Use an amp: which shade of "natural" is it now, given the EQ is flat? Now put a mic in front of the speaker and "natural" will change with each millimeter you move it (regardless of the type of "natural sounding" mic you're using).

Just think of the literal meaning of the term "equalisation": it is meant to approximate the set-in-stone recording of a source to its perception on an imaginary stage (which exists only in the head of the producer/mixer).

That said: there is no "natural" at all, never.
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Old 02-07-2019, 09:23 AM   #6
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EQ is, to me, about decongestion.

A large part of arranging/orchestration is about achieving sonic clarity naturally with choice of instruments, ranges, dynamics, etc. The result is that individual parts can all speak clearly and don't unfortunately combine to produce resonant "woofs". Or put another way, every part has its own slot within the spectrum. It's not an exact science.

EQ is a tool for refining this balance or in some cases creating it when the arrangement or performance hasn't considered it perhaps as much as it should.

As long as the tracks are fine when soloed, I routinely run through them cutting frequencies before I consider any boosts. Otherwise you can easily get into a sort of arms race. I try to get everything to the point where it can be heard clearly if I focus on it. Then comes whatever polishing I might want to do.

For added fun, try doing this with a live band when you've only got half an hour to check, everyone's arguing about monitor mixes, the drummer's girlfriend who's doing BVs hasn't showed up yet and everybody is fiddling and practising all the time...
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Old 02-07-2019, 11:04 AM   #7
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For bass guitar you need to take out most of the bass

For lead guitar playing mostly high notes you cut highs and boost lower freqs

For rhythm guitars playing chunky power chords you cut lows and boost highs

Those are just a few examples off the top of my head

It's a game of opposites, in a way
Might just be what brings out the supernatural....
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Old 02-07-2019, 12:18 PM   #8
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For bass guitar you need to take out most of the bass

For lead guitar playing mostly high notes you cut highs and boost lower freqs

For rhythm guitars playing chunky power chords you cut lows and boost highs

Those are just a few examples off the top of my head

It's a game of opposites, in a way
Complete opposite approach in my world.
Bass I have never taken out most of the bass
Rhythm guit I would never lose the thickness for chunky chords
Lead guit I would never cut out the highs - plus add low freq.
But then I have mixed well over 500 albums.

Decades ago, I was sitting in with an amazing mix engineer, who's mixes always sound incredible (Stevie Wonder / Massive Attack etc)
His mixes were huge, massive sounding, wide/open/detailed.

I said to him - how come your mixes sound so huge with such amazing bottom end?
His answer was - don't be afraid of the bottom end.
That stayed with me for decades - my mixes became SO much better.
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Old 02-07-2019, 12:33 PM   #9
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I like to start with the (unrealistic) philosophy that a good recording doesn't need any EQ. When a band plays live you don't EQ everything. There might be some overall EQ in the PA or in the vocals, but the sounds mostly just mixes acoustically (in the air) the way the sound comes-out of the instruments/amps.

EQ is generally a corrective effect and the adjustments depend on the particular problem you're trying to solve. (Unless you are using EQ as a "special effect" to enhance or alter the natural sound.)

Quote:
It's a game of opposites, in a way
Usually no. The most-universal filtering/EQ is to cut the bass out of everything except the bass guitar & kick-drum.

In a recording the bass presents an issue with overall "loudness". In order to get the loudness up in the mix you need to push-down the bass peaks. It also makes it easier on the playback system if you can keep the bass peaks under control while still getting good loudness in the bass.

You can deal with the bass issue with compression, ducking the bass guitar against the kick (or vice-versa), or you can EQ the bass guitar & kick differently to give each it's own "space", or any combination of those.
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Old 02-07-2019, 01:23 PM   #10
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That said: there is no "natural" at all, never.
Yup

If we wanted natural, we wouldn't need plugins, or dare ever, to use microphones
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Old 02-07-2019, 01:29 PM   #11
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I notice that most of EQ work is not necessary at all if you do the recording properly. It's an unnatural tool by nature.
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Old 02-07-2019, 01:46 PM   #12
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I notice that most of EQ work is not necessary at all if you do the recording properly. It's an unnatural tool by nature.
So true!

I do think these days the majority of people are recording with cheap mics, into cheap bland sounding mic pre's, into average A to D convertors, and monitoring with very average speakers in untreated rooms.

So EQ is then heavily used to remedy all of the recording issues.
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Old 02-07-2019, 01:54 PM   #13
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At the same time, bad recordings are a great way to develop good mixing skills. But yea, us bedroom producers are all learning to fix problems that can be prevented with experience and knowledge (and to an extent, money).
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Old 02-07-2019, 01:57 PM   #14
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At the same time, bad recordings are a great way to develop good mixing skills.
Agreed. Also a learning opportunity to get a better recording the next time around so you don't have to fix it in the mix.
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Old 02-07-2019, 01:59 PM   #15
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So true!

I do think these days the majority of people are recording with cheap mics, into cheap bland sounding mic pre's, into average A to D convertors, and monitoring with very average speakers in untreated rooms.

So EQ is then heavily used to remedy all of the recording issues.
If modern cheap mics, mic pres or converters are giving you trouble, you are having WAY deeper issues than EQ!

Untreated rooms are a different story
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Old 02-07-2019, 02:02 PM   #16
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Agreed. Also a learning opportunity to get a better recording the next time around so you don't have to fix it in the mix.
Yes, it took me many years before I could even recognize a "good recording." I think producers today have a lot of advantages; one being the abundance of isolated tracks from well known songs that came about via Rock Band games etc. I was actually shocked to find the quality of those is often not far off from what I get at home. Shows how much more important the song, the performance and the final mix are than perfect sounding recordings. You really only need the recording to not be too bad to work in a mix.

For something more familiar like vocals, it's trickier. I find it to be the hardest part of mixing.
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Old 02-07-2019, 02:23 PM   #17
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"Ever notice that most of EQ work is doing the opposite of what's natural?"

Starting with the very first lesson in fact!

You hear some element (frequency range) that's too quiet that you want to turn up.

Don't!
You have to flip that around to:
What element is getting in the way of the thing I want to hear?
Now turn that down.
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Old 02-07-2019, 02:47 PM   #18
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Having mixed live way back in the 70's on analogue stuff, yes, you only have 30 mins to set up and check the sound levels and do any broad EQ you can to compensate for the crappy room you are in. Then it all goes to crap once bodies come in an absorb all that lovely sound you just balanced up!

That's when you think on your feet as the performance starts! And not screw up wth a nasty feedback - huh? You never did that ... hmmm...

EQ for me is a tool for slotting sounds into the freq spectrum without thinning out the mix. Once I have a reasonable mix, I'll switch in my broader brush EQ on the master and see if there's any gain to be made across the whole mix. If something really stands out as wrong then I'll go back to the track (or tracks) and fix the EQ there.

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Old 02-07-2019, 03:00 PM   #19
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Heh.

My favorite sound guy joke:

Q: What do a sound check and a performance have in common?

A: They both happen in the same venue.
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Old 02-07-2019, 03:54 PM   #20
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^^^^ How true that is!

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Old 02-07-2019, 04:01 PM   #21
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I also think there's a lot of room for experimentation when it comes to eq'ing. Being more on the digital side of things, it's nice because you can very specific with individual tones of certain sounds.

"Vocoder eq'ing" is also a lot of fun to mess around with--although I haven't worked with it in ages.

(eq junkie <3)
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Old 02-07-2019, 06:02 PM   #22
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"Vocoder eq'ing" is also a lot of fun to mess around with
What would that be? I've always been fascinated with them, but never got anything really good out of them.
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Old 02-07-2019, 06:14 PM   #23
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What would that be? I've always been fascinated with them, but never got anything really good out of them.
I got the name from somebody who told me it sounded like a voice.

Basically all it is is just super-strict/specific eq'ing.

As an example, for me with psytrance, you'd have a kick only between 0 (60, whatever) and 300-400ish, hi-hats limited to 16000+, snares below that/in between, and then notches all around.

The point of the notches is for two things:

(1) you can bring out nicer parts of those pieces mentioned above and...

(2) you make room for the leads that are kind of sprinkled over the top of this baseline eq structure.

It helps a great deal to not think of sound so much as having a chiefly saturating point to them--because you can get super into one part of this or that, create more space, and always add the saturation later.

I might have an example somewhere around if you were interested--let me know .
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Old 02-07-2019, 06:18 PM   #24
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For bass guitar you need to take out most of the bass

For lead guitar playing mostly high notes you cut highs and boost lower freqs

For rhythm guitars playing chunky power chords you cut lows and boost highs

Those are just a few examples off the top of my head

It's a game of opposites, in a way
I really don't know what you mean with this, especially the "taking out most of the bass" on a bass guitar.

As well as having been mixing for 16 years, I've watched tons of those educational videos where big name engineers mix tracks and I don't think I've ever took out most of the bass on bass guitar or seen any of the people in the videos do it.

Not even sure why I'd use a bass guitar if I didn't want bass frequencies in it.
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Old 02-07-2019, 06:22 PM   #25
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First of all we need your definition of "natural".
How does a "natural" electric bass guitar sound? Thin and very low in level. Now plug it in direct: is this the "natural" sound? Use an amp: which shade of "natural" is it now, given the EQ is flat? Now put a mic in front of the speaker and "natural" will change with each millimeter you move it (regardless of the type of "natural sounding" mic you're using).

Just think of the literal meaning of the term "equalisation": it is meant to approximate the set-in-stone recording of a source to its perception on an imaginary stage (which exists only in the head of the producer/mixer).

That said: there is no "natural" at all, never.
Great post!!
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Old 02-07-2019, 07:48 PM   #26
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I really don't know what you mean with this, especially the "taking out most of the bass" on a bass guitar.

As well as having been mixing for 16 years, I've watched tons of those educational videos where big name engineers mix tracks and I don't think I've ever took out most of the bass on bass guitar or seen any of the people in the videos do it.
You know that trebley rock bass sound
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Old 02-07-2019, 07:52 PM   #27
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You know that trebley rock bass sound
For me a trebly bass sound would still have the bass frequencies, just also have trebly distortion on top.

I'd always want to add any high mid distortion in parallel so as not to lose the actual bass from the track.

Would the only low end in your track be the kick drum then if you're taking the bass out the bass guitar?
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Old 02-07-2019, 08:58 PM   #28
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For me a trebly bass sound would still have the bass frequencies, just also have trebly distortion on top.

I'd always want to add any high mid distortion in parallel so as not to lose the actual bass from the track.

Would the only low end in your track be the kick drum then if you're taking the bass out the bass guitar?
Reducing frequenies =\ eliminating them

My DI bass tracks have soo much low frequencies, I find reducing them pretty necessary if I want the mids and treble freqs to be heard but I'm only new at this still
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Old 02-07-2019, 09:29 PM   #29
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Having mixed live way back in the 70's on analogue stuff, yes, you only have 30 mins to set up and check the sound levels and do any broad EQ you can to compensate for the crappy room you are in. Then it all goes to crap once bodies come in an absorb all that lovely sound you just balanced up!

That's when you think on your feet as the performance starts! And not screw up wth a nasty feedback - huh? You never did that ... hmmm...
Ah yes - a roomful of bags of water... but then you need them, because they're the only ones who've actually paid...

I've been on both ends of this game. Was playing piano once when my monitor just cut out completely. I might as well have been making bread. Tried to get the engineer's attention, but the swine had his back to the stage and was chatting up a girl. Then he just wandered off, so I had to wait to track the bugger down during the break. Talk about doing half a job...

I think everyone should do some live engineering work. It teaches you a lot - not least the art of the possible rather than the artful possibilities.
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Old 02-07-2019, 09:40 PM   #30
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There are a lot of guys out there that aren't musicians that try to run live sound. Sounds like one of those. Nothing short of complete disaster every time. Some things can't be taught. The level of attention you need to pay to the music to run sound or engineer in the studio is one of them. Just like playing an instrument. There may be some engineers out there that never learned to play an instrument besides the soundboard but they're still musicians. Running live sound means being attentive with multiple instruments at the same time too.
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Old 02-07-2019, 10:05 PM   #31
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When I finally got my hands on the guy I didn't actually stop to ask questions or take prisoners... Just gave him a couple of choruses of some old Anglo-Saxon favourites at top volume.

Ah, the stories I could tell, the scars I could show you. You're right serr, you do need to experience things from both sides of the desk. But it's perilous sometimes.

You stand with every performer to appreciate their backline/monitor sound, you walk round the room constantly, you gently ride and adjust every single tune. You don't just set and forget - you're working. Some member of the band (or lover thereof) is always out front complaining during the check - set a blank strip and fiddle with it to make them feel like you're acting on their stupid suggestions. I even once had to walk a singer's little dog while she was in makeup. Got back and found someone had fucked around with my desk settings (I have a VERY good memory). Nice little dog though - we had fun going out sniffing trash and pissing on lamp posts. And that was just me.

And my favourite dirty trick - if someone isn't loud enough out front, you don't turn them up, you turn their monitor down. Works every time. They don't just sound louder, they feel louder because they actually are.
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Old 02-07-2019, 10:21 PM   #32
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Ever notice that most of EQ work is doing the opposite of what's natural?
It's a simple answer. One EQs within the range said instrument occupies. If one cuts bass in a bass guitar, they're cutting a portion of the bass frequency range. There is little reason to EQ frequencies outside the instrument's range that proverbially don't exist unless something is wrong with the recording.

In addition and IMHO, the entire idea of "carving with EQ" is often sort of backwards and treating the symptom instead of the cause.
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Old 02-08-2019, 03:36 AM   #33
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It's a simple answer. One EQs within the range said instrument occupies. If one cuts bass in a bass guitar, they're cutting a portion of the bass frequency range. There is little reason to EQ frequencies outside the instrument's range that proverbially don't exist unless something is wrong with the recording.
Well, experience tells me something different. It absolutely makes sense to emphasize some non-instrument frequencies in order to achieve a sense of space without getting in the way of other instruments' timbres.
Ever slightly boosted 16k on an e.g. electric guitar amp just to make it subtly come forward? Same applies to low frequencies, it's the room/the space around the instrument you shape that way.

That's at least how I perceive it, and that's also what some EQ bands were originally invented for
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Old 02-08-2019, 04:06 AM   #34
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@Serr … I agree that the sound engineer IS a musician and ideally an integral part of the band - I was. Went to all rehearsals etc with my own ideas for songs etc, but not as a "player" of an instrument. Being aware of how all the sounds fit together is such a skill, often not appreciated by bands! I found that besides the usual instrument balancing getting the vocals balanced esp in harmonies is vital - the wrong harmony voice poking up just makes it all sound VERY wrong! Same actually for multiple guitar harmony parts too, for instance!

Yes, I was always walking around the room - of course, any error and I had to dash back to the desk. No remote in those days!

I too had some idiot mess with the desk when I was doing something else! They also messed with a tape intro as well, which was positioned for the start of the show - cue electronic piece, band filter onto stage one a t time taking over a part in the electronica until all on stage and then … bang, into the full live stuff!


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Old 02-08-2019, 07:38 AM   #35
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Ever slightly boosted 16k on an e.g. electric guitar amp just to make it subtly come forward?
I've never had to boost elec guitar at 16k (not a distorted one), but what you are hearing when you do that probably isn't the guitar at 16k, it's the lower frequencies that get dragged up with it that are in the elec guitar's range.
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Old 02-08-2019, 07:45 AM   #36
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You're eqing to make the whole you're hearing linear to an expectation of full range sound that stimulates the amygdala.

If it's a singular sound you make it more natural sounding so that it's full range. When you start adding components you have to whittle away the spectrum of each, still resulting in a full spectrum spread so that the amygdala thinks it's still hearing "one thing".

Otherwise it decides "this is an anomaly worth not noting", like a gnat buzzing or your own breathing and tunes it out.
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Old 02-08-2019, 02:35 PM   #37
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I got the name from somebody who told me it sounded like a voice.
Oh, so nothing to do with an actual vocoder then?
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Old 02-08-2019, 05:45 PM   #38
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Oh, so nothing to do with an actual vocoder then?
No no. Definitely has to with an actual vocoder--unless the voice you're synthesizing isn't human :P.

For friendly reading:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vocoder
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Old 02-09-2019, 06:30 AM   #39
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You're eqing to make the whole you're hearing linear to an expectation of full range sound that stimulates the amygdala.

If it's a singular sound you make it more natural sounding so that it's full range. When you start adding components you have to whittle away the spectrum of each, still resulting in a full spectrum spread so that the amygdala thinks it's still hearing "one thing".

Otherwise it decides "this is an anomaly worth not noting", like a gnat buzzing or your own breathing and tunes it out.
Seconded. For instance, you treat a piano or guitar very differently when they're in a band setting. Both in arrangement and EQ.
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Old 02-09-2019, 10:50 AM   #40
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Originally Posted by future fields View Post
...I find reducing them pretty necessary if I want the mids and treble freqs to be heard but I'm only new at this still
Many otherwise quite reasonable people people actually believe that boosting everything except the low end is somehow different from cutting the bass.
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