Archives For mix

Qu16-EQ-section-2

We’ve already done a 3-part series on EQ, and we covered the critical listening skills required to use it, instrument by instrument, in our series “Taking It Apart”. These posts are great learning material, and I highly recommend looking back at them.

Our locations are getting new digital sound consoles. This is exciting for a number of reasons, one of which is EQ. Our old consoles were analog and had semi-parametric EQ, which means they had some of the functionality of a parametric EQ, but were missing a few features. In our case, the high and low frequency bands were fixed shelf filters. The high mid and low-mid bands were sweepable filters, but there were no width or Q adjustments.

Okay stop — if that last sentence confused the heck out of you, you really need to go back and read at least the overview post from the original EQ series.

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In-ears-brighter

Over the next six months we will be switching all our sites to in-ear monitors. We made the move at our Production Site a number of years ago and we haven’t looked back. The clean looking stage and the clean sound both for the crowd and the band have been fantastic. But the transition is not always easy. In-ears take some getting used to. This is especially true for vocalists who will hear their voice in a whole different way, and often for more experienced musicians who have grown accustomed to performing with stage monitors.

By some miracle of providence, I’ve been involved in transitioning bands from wedge monitors to in-ears four times in my career. As a musician and a tech, I’ve experienced both the stage and the mixer, big venues and small venues, big bands and small bands. And I am a big fan of in-ear monitors. I have some ideas for easing the transition and getting the most out your monitors.

What are we talking about, here?

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EQ Part 3: Going Fishing

Jared Taylor —  March 18, 2013 — 2 Comments
Part 3 of 3 in the series EQ

Grandpa-Taylor-fish-1

Grandpa Taylor was a handy guy to have around. He was as strong as an ox, loyal to the bone and knew the value of good tools. Although he never got into mixing audio, he possessed at least one related skill …

In our first post in this series we established that EQ is a volume control for a specific frequency. Last time I recommended an approach based on cutting frequencies before boosting. But how do you choose which frequency to adjust? How do you identify what you’re hearing in order to make a change?

Training your ears for mixing is a lifelong process. Our series on critical listening is a great overview of what to listen for on most common instruments. If you’re not sure where to start with a particular instrument, go back and read it! If you identify what you’re hearing but can’t quite find it on the console, you can learn to dial in the exact frequency with a process called fishing.

Fishing is like a “try-before-you-buy” for parametric EQ settings. Whether you’re looking to squash a particular sound (cut) or highlight it (boost), you can follow the same simple process:

Step 1 – choose your pond. In most cases, you’ll be fishing in the high-mid or low-mid bands. Remember, you can only fish where you can sweep (sounds a bit like ice fishing doesn’t it?) so high and low shelf filters are not an option on most analog desks.

Step 2 – bait with boost. I know – if you read my last post this will sound like heresy. Don’t worry, it’s only a temporary measure. When fishing for frequencies, the proper bait is a sizeable boost of 9 dB or more (feedback permitting).

Step 3 – sweep it around. Adjust the frequency control until the sound you’re looking for pops out. The big boost makes it easier to hear when you’ve found it. (An analogous fishing term for this would be doodlesocking. I think I’ve said enough)

Step 4 – reel it in. With the target sound dialed in, adjust the gain until the frequency is cut or boosted to your satisfaction.

Remember that fishing sounds pretty strange coming through the speakers. This isn’t a concern during soundcheck, but if you make adjustments during a performance you should go about it in a more subtle way. The more you practice, the more you’ll be able to identify frequencies and make tweaks without having to go fishing every time.

Part 5 of 8 in the series Taking It Apart

Les Paul blur

Since the middle of the 20th century, the guitar has been one of the most popular instruments in the world, and it’s not hard to see why! It’s relatively easy to learn, it’s not too expensive, and it can find a home in just about any musical genre. One important reason behind the guitar’s popularity is that it excels not only at playing chords but also at single-note expression.

What’s so special about that? Continue Reading…

Part 3 of 8 in the series Taking It Apart

snare on Meeting House Oakville stage

The first time a snare drum really stood out to me was “Under the Table and Dreaming“, the album that put Dave Matthews Band on the map. It’s a 1990s classic full of rich instrumentation, funky acoustic guitar parts … and drums! Drummers were drooling over everything Carter Beauford hit, and even a total beginner guitarist like me got caught up in that ominous “crack” on two and four that defined the intro to “Ants Marching”.

When it comes to drums I believe many sound techs fall for the kick first, but grow to love the snare the most. Continue Reading…

Part 2 of 8 in the series Taking It Apart

Kick this one

We’re kicking off our “Taking It Apart” series with the kick drum! Poetic, I know. And since it’s often channel #1 on the board, it’s makes for an easy starting point.

Three parts to the sound of a kick drum, as I hear it, are the “thud”, the “ring”, and the “attack”. In fact, these three sounds are found in the sonic palette of every drum! Let’s take a look at them one-by-one.

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Part 1 of 8 in the series Taking It Apart

Louise listens

Mixing starts with listening! Good listening technique can improve the way we perceive a mix. Any audio sources can be broken down into the smaller sounds it’s comprised of. When we describe these “building block sounds” we create a language for critical listening, which is a foundational exercise for anybody who mixes audio.

You can think of critical listening as two phases:  Continue Reading…