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> Introduction To Effects And Their Use
Saoirse O'Shea
post Sep 25 2007, 10:36 PM
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As the title says I'm going to use this thread to discuss common effects and how they may be used generically and specifically in Reaper.

Cheers,
Tony


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Saoirse O'Shea
post Sep 25 2007, 10:57 PM
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Effects for mixing part 1- EQ
Note – I’ll explain how to use an eq, ie what the controls are and how you can open effects in Reaper, in a different thread.

Introduction
Just to be controversial I’d say most people use eq too much. Essentially you should eq only where you have a definite end in mind – to fix a problem (those occasions when you can’t re-record your solo with the added squeaky door - see below), to make your recoding sound sweeter, as a creative effect. However if your guitar sound is poor rather then trying to sort it out at the mixing stage with eq you’d be better of fixing it before you record by finding a good tone between your guitar, effects and amp.

First as a general principle it’s often better to cut (or attenuate) eq rather than boost a frequency. If you have to boost then use a broad bandwidth and don’t boost by too much.

Second, eq’ing may not be your best solution – often it is better to re-record a track to get rid of the annoying squeak as your bedroom door opens rather than trying to eq the squeak out. (This happens to me an awful lot – my wife and daughter wander in to my home recording studio at liberty! I need to get one of those nice bright red 'No Entry Recording in Progress' signs.) Attenuating the squeak also means attenuating any guitar spectrum that’s at the same frequency.

Thirdly what is important is how the overall mix sounds. Often people spend ages eq’ing individual instruments only to find that the overall mix just doesn’t work. You end up with a set of individually great sounding instrument tracks and a messy, incoherent overall mix. By all means do eq individual instruments if you need but remember it’s the final mix that counts. What you should do is to compare the individual and overall mixes as you alter eq on individual instruments.

So if you use eq then what sorts of frequencies might you be interested in and where in a frequency might you be looking to attenuate to deal with a particular issue?. Here are two tables, one for different instruments and the second identifies some of the generally interesting frequency ranges:

Table 1 – Important frequencies by individual instrument

Vocals:
Boxy – 200-400 HZ
Nasal – 800- 1.5kHZ
Penetrating 2-4kHZ
Airy – 7-12kHZ

Note - You can generally cut bass frequencies below 100Hz as few voices go below this (OK Barry White may be an exception). Explosive pops – the loud ‘p’s’ that can occur if people sing or talk too close to a mic can sometimes be cut by notch filtering at or below 80Hz.

Electric guitar:
Muddy – 150-300 Hz
Biting – 800-3kHz
Fizzy – 5-10 kHz

Note - normally you can safely get rid of unnecessary bass end by cutting below 80Hz.

Bass Guitar:
Deep bass – 50-100 Hz
Character – 200-400 Hz
Hard – 1-2kHz
Rattle/fret noise – 2-7 kHz

Note - mains hum of 50Hz overlaps with the G-G sharp note on a bass. So if you attempt to notch filter out mains hum on a bass recording you will potentially lose some bass.

Acoustic Guitar:
Boomy – 80-150 Hz
Boxy – 150-300 Hz
Hard – 800-1.5kHz
Presence – 2.5-4 kHz
Bright – 4-8 kHz
Airy – above 8KHz

Drums
Kick drum weight – 70-100 Hz
Kick drum click – 2-5kHz
Boomy – below 120 Hz
Boxy – 150-300 Hz
Snare definition – 1-3 kHz
Stick impact – 2-4.5 kHz
Cymbal sizzle – 5-12 kHz


Table 2 – Interesting frequency ranges

Below 120 Hz – frequencies that are generally responsible for warmth. Too much and a track can sound muddy.

120-600Hz – those that give depth giving vocal, guitars etc a sense of presence. It’s also the area where you often find vocal resonance and too much here can sound tiring.

600-3kHz – Again add presence but of a harder nature. Can be good for rock music though as it gives a hard edge to your sound.

3-7kHz – Vocal sibilance. Human hearing is pretty sensitive here and so more likely to detect peaks in this range (so careful with gain). Can add harshness but you can also add some warmth without making the track sound muddy be attenuating this area.

7Khz and up- Can add air, a sense of space and accuracy.

Overall a good balance often has a frequency spectrum that looks flat from 60Hz upto 1-2kHz and with some gentle roll off (say about 5-20dB) from there down to 10kHz. Sharp peaks in a frequency spectrum often need some attenuation to stop them standing out/being too prominent in a mix. Too strong a spectrum in the 3-5kHz range can sound fatiguing and too clinical – if this happens then attenuating this range by 2-3dB can help.

EQ for electric guitar and distorted guitar
Distortion (particularly tube amp od and distortion) adds harmonics to the fundamental frequency so a distorted guitar has a broad spectral range with a number of peaks in it (the fundamental frequency plus the harmonics). Attenuating (or boosting) only the fundamental still leaves the other harmonics unadjusted. For the simple harmonics they will appear at multiples of the fundamental frequency – so for 440Hz a it’s second harmonic is at 880Hz, third at 1320 Hz and so on. If you want the harmonics to stand out then you an boost them gently.

Distorted and particularly the scooped tone most modern rock guitarists like are actually particularly hard to get to sit in a mix. The guitar part here covers a broad frequency spectrum and lots of energy in the mid range. So anything you do to its eq has a knock on effect on all the instruments in the middle frequencies (vocals and so on) and can reach down to bass levels and with high harmonics even clutter up the high 10kHz cymbal range. If you are playing rhythm then I’d advise you to roll of some of the distortion and leave some space in your playing (ie try stacatto chords and use palm muting rather then using fuzzed chords on infinite sustain).

Some low-midrange eq cut when combined with subtle high end boost at between 4-6kHz can often make an electric guitar, particularly a solo jump, out of the mix. If you have two or more similar guitars in a mix then you can get a bit of tonal variety by adding a bit of bite to each at different frequencies in the 2-6kHz range. Otherwise with clean or lightly distorted electric guitar if you have the tone right to start then hopefully you may not have to do any eq’ing to it.

EQ for acoustic guitars
Perhaps the major issue here is getting the guitar to sound as if its placed properly in a busy mix. If you cut below 100Hz and there is a lot of kick drum and bass (or even prominent electric guitar) then the acoustic can end up sounding muddy. A better way here is to boost a few dB above 10kHz as this adds air and sparkle. Too much and the result will sound unnatural.

Between these two extremes will probably need some experimentation. If the acoustic sounds boomy then sweep a parametric band from Q through 100-300Hz to identify the problem frequency and then add some gentle (2-3dB) cut to that frequency. This might have the added bonus of making the overall track sound a little more open and transparent again. Some modest boost at5-8kHz can add a degree of presence which may be preferable in some mixes to adding sparkle at 10kHz.

If your struggling to get an acoustic (and sometimes electric) guitar to sit nicely with a bass guitar where the overall mix sounds muddy then you can use a high band pass filter on the guitar. That will then leave more of the low end frequency spectrum clear and uncluttered for the bass. Experiment with how high you need to go to set the filter – it’s usually higher then most people think. You can take out a lot of the lower end of an acoustic guitar in a busy mix. The acoustic by itself will sound dreadful but you generally don’t realize that in the overall mix a the bass and kick drum fills up the whole in the frequency spectrum. Filtering like this can help a bass or a kick drum sound much tighter in the overall mix.

Coming soon will be compression and then reverb. What we’re heading towards is a more advanced tutorial on automating effects and side chaining.

Cheers,
Tony


Editorial note: published 26 Sept 2007


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Get your music professionally mastered by anl AES registered Mastering Engineer. Contact me for Audio Mastering Services and Advice and visit our website www.miromastering.com

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Kristofer Dahl
post Sep 25 2007, 11:16 PM
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One word - excellent!

I will definately use this as a reference - thanks! biggrin.gif


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Saoirse O'Shea
post Sep 25 2007, 11:29 PM
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QUOTE (Kristofer Dahl @ Sep 25 2007, 04:16 PM) *
One word - excellent!

I will definately use this as a reference - thanks! biggrin.gif


Oh good does this mean I've passed the test then Kris biggrin.gif ?

Cheers,
Tony

ps Bit I'm looking forward to is the automation one - automation on a software sequencer is really cool biggrin.gif .


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Get your music professionally mastered by anl AES registered Mastering Engineer. Contact me for Audio Mastering Services and Advice and visit our website www.miromastering.com

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We use professional, mastering grade hardware in our mastering studo. Our hardware includes:
Cranesong Avocet II Monitor Controller, Dangerous Music Liasion Insert Hardware Router, ATC SCM Pro Monitors, Lavry Black DA11, Prism Orpheus ADC/DAC, Gyratec Gyraf XIV Parallel Passive Mastering EQ, Great River MAQ 2NV Mastering EQ, Kush Clariphonic Parallel EQ Shelf, Maselec MLA-2 Mastering Compressor, API 2500 Mastering Compressor, Eventide Eclipse Reverb/Echo.
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Muris Varajic
post Sep 25 2007, 11:46 PM
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Great post Tony,thanks!! smile.gif

I do mix a lot by but mostly by ear with just a bit of technical knowledge,
now I've got homework to do. biggrin.gif


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Saoirse O'Shea
post Sep 26 2007, 12:07 AM
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QUOTE (muris @ Sep 25 2007, 04:46 PM) *
Great post Tony,thanks!! smile.gif

I do mix a lot by but mostly by ear with just a bit of technical knowledge,
now I've got homework to do. biggrin.gif


Good ears are a must in many ways for eq if you don't have a frequency spectrum Muris (sometimes doesn't hurt to listen even if you do have one wink.gif ). Particularly if you're sweeping the band to find the issue or a sweet spot.

Interestingly there's now software that pretty much comparatively analyse your waveform against a reference and can then automatically 'fix' the master eq for you. I'll try to remember to talk about it when I come onto mastering.

BTW all - I've concentrated pretty much on guitars but if people want me to take in vocals etc shout and I'll do my best.

Cheers,
Tony


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Get your music professionally mastered by anl AES registered Mastering Engineer. Contact me for Audio Mastering Services and Advice and visit our website www.miromastering.com

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Muris Varajic
post Sep 26 2007, 01:44 AM
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I usually use WaveLab and its Spectrum EQ meters to see if I'm doing everything all right.
To cut bellow 50hz or som,IF it's there and I can't hear it.
But yeah,without listening no use of any software. smile.gif

Looking forward to next topic on this board Tony,great job!! smile.gif

Thanks one more time. biggrin.gif


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Owen
post Sep 26 2007, 05:47 AM
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Thanks! Just what I need. smile.gif

Question, what exactly do you mean by 'notch filtering'?

tongue.gif


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Saoirse O'Shea
post Sep 26 2007, 05:53 AM
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QUOTE (Owen @ Sep 25 2007, 10:47 PM) *
Thanks! Just what I need. smile.gif

Question, what exactly do you mean by 'notch filtering'?

tongue.gif


It's where you take a small frequency band (a notch) - say a few Hz either side of the frequency your worried about and drop the attenuation of it so it pretty much disappears from the mix. Everything else either side of the 'notch is left untouched.

Cheers,
Tony


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Get your music professionally mastered by anl AES registered Mastering Engineer. Contact me for Audio Mastering Services and Advice and visit our website www.miromastering.com

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Cranesong Avocet II Monitor Controller, Dangerous Music Liasion Insert Hardware Router, ATC SCM Pro Monitors, Lavry Black DA11, Prism Orpheus ADC/DAC, Gyratec Gyraf XIV Parallel Passive Mastering EQ, Great River MAQ 2NV Mastering EQ, Kush Clariphonic Parallel EQ Shelf, Maselec MLA-2 Mastering Compressor, API 2500 Mastering Compressor, Eventide Eclipse Reverb/Echo.
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Kristofer Dahl
post Sep 26 2007, 09:08 PM
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QUOTE (tonymiro @ Sep 26 2007, 12:29 AM) *
Oh good does this mean I've passed the test then Kris biggrin.gif ?

Cheers,
Tony

ps Bit I'm looking forward to is the automation one - automation on a software sequencer is really cool biggrin.gif .


laugh.gif
We have linked to this one from the main page - to make sure people find their way! (Which they seem to already have done!)


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blindwillie
post Sep 26 2007, 09:56 PM
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This section will be epic! Thanks again Tony.

QUOTE (tonymiro @ Sep 26 2007, 01:07 AM) *
BTW all - I've concentrated pretty much on guitars but if people want me to take in vocals etc shout and I'll do my best.

Cheers,
Tony


No this is great. Focus on guitar. At least for now. That's why we are here biggrin.gif
Looking forward to the compressor and automation. I only have a vague idea about those.


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RobM
post Sep 28 2007, 08:30 AM
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QUOTE (tonymiro @ Sep 25 2007, 05:36 PM) *
As the title says I'm going to use this thread to discuss common effects and how they may be used generically and specifically in Reaper.

Cheers,
Tony



Thanks Tony, for your piece here, the stuff that is comming down the road but most of all for the invaluable help you have given me in my search for the right pieces of the puzzle to build my own home studio. I was lost and you (with some help from Andrew) set me on the right path.


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kahall
post Sep 28 2007, 10:51 AM
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QUOTE (tonymiro @ Sep 25 2007, 05:29 PM) *
Oh good does this mean I've passed the test then Kris biggrin.gif ?

Cheers,
Tony

ps Bit I'm looking forward to is the automation one - automation on a software sequencer is really cool biggrin.gif .




tonmiro, your quality posts are very much appreciated here. I have used Reaper a few times and got more than a little confused. This is going to help.


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Saoirse O'Shea
post Sep 28 2007, 05:19 PM
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Cheers guys,
really appreciate the kind words.

Thanks,
Tony


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Get your music professionally mastered by anl AES registered Mastering Engineer. Contact me for Audio Mastering Services and Advice and visit our website www.miromastering.com

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mattacuk
post Sep 28 2007, 05:41 PM
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This will really help me out Tony, i tried useing reaper back along but didnt even know where to start!! wink.gif


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PlayAllDay
post Oct 8 2007, 02:28 AM
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Thankyou so much Tony - the info on being able to cut a lot of the lower end out of an acoustic track
in a busy mix may well be just the solution I 've been looking for biggrin.gif
I've read loads and loads about EQing and experimented a fair bit but the clarity of your tutorial
has helped more than any other so far.
Thanks mate! smile.gif


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