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Author Topic: Do any of you ever.....  (Read 2709 times)

sui-city

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Do any of you ever.....
« on: February 19, 2005, 09:22:09 am »

Hey All

Don't know if this is the right thread but,

Busy mixing my bands album, and listening to some reference material raised a question for me.

Do any of you automate EQ to deal with a specific instrument.

Example:

I was listening to the Trail of Dead, and in comparison with my band, i found that the bas was really smooth, always present. It never bulged out on a specific note, just always round and warm.

This got me thinking that there are so many combinations of bass guitars, amps, effects, mics that maybe the only way to deal with a any specific combination was to automate the EQ, focussing on the dominant frequencies as the player changes from note to note.

Any thoughts on this?

Or am i just out of my mind?

Thanks
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RMoore

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Re: Do any of you ever.....
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2005, 09:49:24 am »

I am sure people have gotten into automating eq for bass ,
But the best way to get the sound you want for bass is to get it recorded the way you would like it to be in the 1st place..
IMO what makes the biggest difference by far with bass is the player & the sound of the instrument to start with,
There's only so much you can do with 'fix it in the mix'.
Without knowing the band you mention - 'smooth' bass makes me think of a compressed signal..maybe a tube compressor and some amp sound?
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antti

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Re: Do any of you ever.....
« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2005, 10:24:06 am »

I do that sometimes. More to enhance a performance/message instead of
fixing things. I do it quite often with lvox. Either automate eq/filters/dynamics for different lines/sections or split it across a few channels that have
different eq/compression/no processing/different fx/whatever.

Then again I always try to get the performance/feel/character/message right while recording/comping the lvox. A little more salt can make it taste better but too much will spoil it. Nothing new really. And depends on the style (as always).  
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MB

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Re: Do any of you ever.....
« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2005, 11:03:01 am »

Mutt Lange is infamous for obsessively automating eq.

Check out the Mike Shipley archives on Gearslutz.
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compasspnt

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Re: Do any of you ever.....
« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2005, 11:27:22 am »

[quote title=sui-city wrote on Sat, 19 February 2005 09:22]...
Do any of you automate EQ to deal with a specific instrument.

...and in comparison with my band, i found that the bass was really smooth, always present. It never bulged out on a specific note, just always round and warm.

This got me thinking that there are so many combinations of bass guitars, amps, effects, mics that maybe the only way to deal with a any specific combination was to automate the EQ, focussing on the dominant frequencies as the player changes from note to note...

Any thoughts on this?
/quote]

Hi Danny,

This is not a simple subject in my opinion.

Firstly, I have found over many session years that somebody else's bass (or for that matter, insert instrument/vocal of your choice here) seems to sound better to you than the one you're trying to work with at any particular moment.  I think that is part of a common human trait ("the grass is always greener syndrome").

Secondly, I agree that the BEST way to get bass to sound balanced across the frequency range is to record it properly in the first place.  Every bass is different, every bass amp is different, every mic/placement is somewhat different, even DI boxes are different.

Thirdly;

Over the years, I would wish many times for an easy way to automate EQ, just for this purpose.  Today, of course, it's easy if you're working on a DAW.  BUT, I have also found that every technical advance, every amazing new capability, is a two edged sword.  For every possibility to carefully work and improve every note, there is also the possibility of making an even bigger  mess of the whole thing.  Simple is always best, and effects, large EQ changes, even compression should be used only on an as-needed basis, not as a matter of course or habit.

One of the things which always seemed to ameliorate the bass uneveness problem was analogue tape, especially when recording at 15 ips.  The so-called "glue" which happens with analogue seems to be especially helpful with the bass instrument.  A type of compression seems to occur, and an overall deepening of the fundamental frequency, adding a very even, pleasant, and musical sound to the bass.  However, you appear to be working digitally (since you have the capability to automate every note), so using analogue may not be an option for you.

If you have recorded only a DI signal, you might also consider running the recorded track through a bass amplifier, and mic'ing and recording that.  This could add a better balanced, analogue-type version of the bass sound.  If you've recorded both DI and amp already, do you like your amp sound?  If not, is that contributing to the problem?  You could always re-amp the DI signal.

One other possibility might be that you may have already recorded the bass both by direct injection and through an amp, and you're happy with the amp sound.  But don't forget that these two signals may well be slightly out of time alignment ("out of phase"), and that can be causing a frequency differential amongst the various notes.  Since you are working on a DAW, you have the capability to zoom in on the waveforms, and make sure that the positive and negative peaks are in alignment.  Do this before any massive automation changes.

Lastly, I would say that yes, you certainly can, and probably should, carefully tailor level, EQ, and even perhaps compression on every note that seems to be out of balance.  BUT I would do it with caution, stepping back every so often to hear the "big picture," that is, how the bass is integrating into the whole song and its balance.  In other words, don't get too caught up in the tiny intricacies of every little note, while neglecting the overall picture.  Remember, the final consumer will only hear the final mix.


Good luck with your bass excursion!

Terry
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J.J. Blair

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Re: Do any of you ever.....
« Reply #5 on: February 19, 2005, 02:43:25 pm »

Suicity, the only time I have ever really automated EQ or used a multiband compressor outside the box is when I am trying to correct something that was recorded badly.  And sometimes the only reason that you just don't rerecord it is because that player isn't available anymore or the performance is so special that you want to try to salvage it.  Somebody mentioned Mutt Lange, who is known for being about as anal as it gets, sometimes I wonder if this is where we should be spending all our energy.  We can get overly focused on the sonics, when we should really be worrying about "is the hook a big enough of a pay off?"  As I said in another thread, some of the greatest records ever made have some serious sonic issues.  Don't get so anal with the sounds that you lose sight of the soul of the song.  Steely Dan didn't sell a billion albums because the records sound good.  They sold them because the songs were amazing.  The records just happen to fortunately sound great.  The first Alanis record sounds like crap to me (blackface ADATs), but people bought the songs and not the sonics in that case, too.

I think any of us who have made more than a handful of records always hear stuff that we wish we had done differently, and the truth is that sometimes we are the only ones who hear it, and even if we aren't, sometimes somebody actually likes the thing that we consider a fuck up.  Not that your question isn't a good question and all.  I just didn't want you to get to lost in the technology.
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dirkb

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Re: Do any of you ever.....
« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2005, 12:36:13 am »

I have yet to automate eq on the bass. However, I record a DI track and amp track (DI being 'IBP-ed' to the amp signal).The song I mixed yesterday had a scarce verse arrangment with only drums, bass and ac. guitar where the bass was able to take up a lot of the low-end. However, in the chorus the heavy guitars kick in, bass is getting dirty and busy and drums are bashing away. Automating the amp track (cutting the level with 5-6dB) really opened up the space that was needed for the busier bass and lowend of the guitars.

I guess you could call that 'automating the bass eq?'

Greetings,
Dirk
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stevieeastend

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Re: Do any of you ever.....
« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2005, 11:29:08 am »

Hi,

Sometimes it is also a level thing. If the bass player got too less control over his attack and/ or dynamic you can get into real trouble. Just compressing would then definetely not do. It also depends on which notes on which strings sound right for the specific part of the song. So it is more often than not a recording/arranging issue.

But when you got such a difficult bass line to mix and there is no way to record it again than you could split the bass track into three parts: verse, chorus, bridge and bring that seperatly out to the console. So a channel for each part of the song. Than you compress/EQ/set levels for each part differently, which works out fine for me, more often than not.

In addition you can also dublicate these seperated bass tracks again and search in the dublicated tracks for the frequencies in the bass line you really like. Than you compress it very heavily and blend it under the orginal line. So you end up with maybe 6 different bass tracks, two for each part of the song, which you could than automate level-wise in regard, which notes and strings the bass player performed good or not so good and are right for a specific part of the song or not.
Besides that you ought to have a clear vision how the bass track should work in the mix in regard of the vision of the bands...

Much work but works!

cheers
steveeastend

sui-city

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Re: Do any of you ever.....
« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2005, 12:14:32 pm »

Although certain technologies have seen some of us spending more time walking ever diminishing circles up our own arse, others, like this forum, are a blessing.

Thank you to all whom have replied.

I have a Protools TDM rig.

I have split the bass line up to deal with the notes. It is my band, my private non-commercial studio.
I do other things for money.
I have the time and resources.
I have chosen to walk an ever-diminishing circle for fun, would you believe.

Thank you all again.

Will post link to song when done. Then you can tell me if i have wasted my time  Very Happy

Regards

Dan
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