Using Drastic EQ in a Mix
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Okay, so this one is going to be a fun one. I was thinking about what to do today, and I suddenly thought to myself, most of my mix breakdowns, most of the stuff I’ve done have been about being recorded really well and making choices, etcetera, etcetera. You know, going into the box. Well, what happens if it’s not like that?
So I thought, I would do one, just showing a couple of instances where I actually didn’t do that, and I used drastic EQ. So this is going to be a short and sweet one, but it’s called, “The Use of Drastic EQ.”
So let’s check it out. I did a song here with a girl called Caden Cashmere, which I originally wrote quite a few years ago, and it’s a wonderful song, but I did it on my own originally, so I was the guitar player, the producer, the engineer, the mixer, and I played all the instruments, and so I had a limited amount of equipment in those days. I didn’t have all of this beautiful amount of equipment.
I had one nice mic pre, which was an original BAE 1073, so I had a 1073, a 57, and the ability to record some live drums by going into a studio, but everything else was done really minimally, so I had to get really creative. So it was recorded with a limited amount of equipment, and a little bit more crazy EQing in the box. So let’s have some fun with it, let’s check it out.
So before we get started, I want to mention the monitor, because I keep getting asked about it. It’s an LG Ultra Wide. We got it a couple of week ago, that’s why it just started appearing in the videos. I’ll be honest, I love it. I had a Samsung here, because my Apple monitor took a dive, so I had a Samsung for awhile, which was great, but this is like, next level. It’s really, really beautiful. I love it. It was a very wise investment, and I like the width of it. It works for my brain.
Some people have two monitors. I can’t do that. I can’t do this going backwards or forwards. It’s — I’d rather have more real estate, more space to work, and here, I — it feels more relaxing on my eyes, because I don’t feel like I’m focusing in on this one area here. It’s so much more relaxing to use, and it’s a great monitor. So it’s called an LG Ultra Wide monitor. So check it out, a few of my friends are getting into it. It seems to be the way to go.
Alright, so let’s just play the chorus here.
I’m going to mute the lead vocal for a second so you can get a better idea of the chorus.
[mix, no vocals]
So I’ve got that little Keith Richards guitar. There’s no keyboards in there, but there’s some weird kind of ambient stuff going on.
So there’s a lot of like, dark sounds and heavily EQ’d sounds. So let’s go through what I did.
So the first one, you can see here is called weird guitar. So here it is in stereo.
So let’s take off all of the EQ, just so you can hear the original source guitar. Here it is.
[weird guitar, raw]
So it’s a phaser on a guitar, it’s my old — this is a few years ago, so this is my old Electro-Harmonix Small Stone phaser, set really slow.
[weird guitar, phaser and reverb]
With a ton of verb. So that would’ve been the Electro-Harmonix. It’s a Holy Grail and a Phaser pedal, and the Small Stone phaser. So it’s two Electro-Harmonix pedals, which I still really, really enjoy. The reason why I moved more into the Carl Martin was just on the cleanness and the reliability of the Carl Martin’s are built like brick outhouses, but I do still love the Electro-Harmonix stuff, and the Big Muff gets used all the time, and so does the Small Stone.
Those are actually the soft ones, just so you know. So let’s put the EQ back on.
Quite different. So what have I done?
Just pulled out a little 350. That’s obviously not what’s going on on there.
I’ve gone absolutely nuts on my guitar sub. So my guitar sub here, look at that. The EQ is insane. I’ve gone to like, the 350-ish — see I shaped it before and after. I put this on and then reduced it slightly.
But anyway, and look, take that off…
[weird guitar, no EQ, then EQ]
Pretty crazy. You know, so what we’ve done there is make it so it’s just really ghostly and in the back. So you still hear all the verb.
Phaser is moving very slightly, because we’ve really restricted the EQ. So it gives it a very ghostly feel.
Next up, the other guitar here.
All mid-rangey and nasally. So let’s take all the EQ off and we get…
[electric guitar, no EQ]
That’s pretty recorded the way I want to hear it, but listen…
See how all the lows and the super highs have gone?
[electric guitar, no EQ]
And it’s on the stereo track, but it’s two independent guitars doubled. So the EQ is crazy.
See, 130 is pulled out, 90, boosting some of those low mids above this one, so this guitar above is coming in like, crossing over around about here. This is literally starting above that. But then it’s not super high, so we get this.
There’s an L1 also on this guitar, which is barely doing anything. It’s just evening it out.
And there’s a little extra distortion from our friend, Decapitator. Tone is set completely flat in the middle so it’s not doing anything. No low cut, no high cut. It’s just adding a tiny bit more drive.
So all of the EQ is done using the McDSP here. Same with the McDSP here.
So that’s really drastic EQ. Now what else have we got going on in that world?
Look at this. Got a multiband compressor, another McDSP. And it’s compressing quite a lot, and I’m boosting a lot of lows. So if I take it out.
[kick, no EQ]
So what I’m doing is I’m compressing everything with a multiband, and then boosting the frequencies that I want to hear, so they’re more even.
[kick, compressed and EQ’d]
You can see I gained down, I used it in this mid-range area here. I used it basically as an EQ.
The thing about multiband compression is you can sit there, and you can compress frequencies really evenly, and what I do on kick drum sounds, and very, very often on bass more than anything else is I compress like, 250 and below very heavily, and then turn it up, and what it does is it keeps everything at 250 and below evenly hitting, so even when I go high up on the neck on a bass, it’s there all the time.
So what I did on this kick loop here is compress —
[kick, no compression]
And that’s a live recorded kick. It’s like, kick and hats together. As you can see, it’s pretty uneven. It’s definitely — well, I took a section and looped it, but it’s a live performance, initially.
So then you can see, I’m really heavily compressing the lows here. Let’s solo it.
See what it’s doing there.
Compressing the lows very heavily, and then turn them up so they’re even and always in there.
Here’s some of the mids.
Here’s the high mids.
Turned drastically down.
And then the super highs are up a little bit.
So it’s really shaping this sound dramatically. Then, after that, we go to R-EQ, which is doing even more. It’s pulling out that nasty 350.
[kick with R-EQ]
See, there’s the 350 there. Why are we pulling that out? Well, because we’ve got all this stuff playing around here.
[kick and weird guitar]
Put it back in. It’s all just a bunch of — so I’m doing some really, really drastic EQ here. Going crazy on this here. I’m pulling out that area at 350, which is being boosted on this guitar down here.
Now they both live together and aren’t in each other’s way.
Now, you know I talk all about getting the sound and committing to tape. Well, this song was done several years ago with limited resources, so I didn’t have fancy EQ, so I had to turn 73 EQ, which is nice, but I was doing more of this in the box. These are old plugins I’ve had for years. The Waves R-EQs I bought in the Platinum bundle in the ’90s. They’re — the McDSP I’ve had since the late ’90s, like ’98 when they first came out.
These are the plugins I used and this is how I shaped the sound.
Now, next up, we have the bass.
[kick, guitars, and bass]
And you’ll note with the bass here, I got pretty crazy on this. So I’ve got two amps going on. Bottom amp here is very crazy. It’s got 200 rolled off. This one, the 200 rolled off, but with the distortion added.
So I’m using this other amp to create some edge, but this is where I’ve gone nuts on the DI. You’re probably going to laugh at me.
The DI is really heavily EQ’d. See, 150 and above gently rolled off. Then I’ve got a C4 on it, and I’m going nuts compressing it evenly, and then believe it or not, two other MC4s, because look. Here’s the EQ sound. First C4 is doing quite a lot, then this MC4. Getting better. The last MC4. It’s all lows.
So look, you could probably do this with one C6. People have been talking recently about how the C6 sounds great. You know, you hear me all the time, I like to do general, small amounts of EQ, but remember, a lot of this time, the process, the way that I’m mixing is I’m not like, I don’t get it right first time. I don’t get it right first time. So what happens, this is really important, I’ll say it again, I don’t get it right first time.
So I may have had the one C4 on there, and then as I’m mixing, I needed a little bit more lows, so I stick on this other one. It’s getting close, so I stick on another one. It’s the process that comes. It’s breaking down the process. I don’t then go backwards and find one plugin that does these three things, because if that’s my process of mixing, that’s what happens.
Very, very often when you’re mixing with consoles and with plugins, you apply a plugin, you do a little boost on the console, it feels right, but you want a bit more lows, but you don’t have the extra low boost still available for that frequency because it’s already being tied in on the console, so you go back and boost it here.
The point is, there’s no right way or wrong way to do it. Just be willing to kind of tweak as you go. Nobody is a genius here, but they get it right first time, because in the process, you’re going to add and subtract EQ, and you may end up like with me, with several plugins.
I’ve got the PAZ Frequency on it here to read it. So this is what’s really going on. See, it’s like 250, 500 at minus 60, but at like minus 20, it’s all in this area.
So that’s where our bass sound is mainly living here. So then we add our amp with the distortion up.
[bass and amp]
Then the one without the distortion.
So you can see, a lot of drastic EQ going on.
Okay, so that’s our bass with our main drum loop.
[bass, drums, and guitar]
Playing the kick. The 350 guitar.
[adding in mid-range guitar]
And then our mid-range guitar. Now what’s going on in the highs?
[hi-hat and backing vocals added]
A little more hi-hat.
[kick and hi-hat]
And what it is is I’m using the full drum kit, but I’m only using that part of the drum kit.
So as you can see, if we go to the end of the song, there’s a full drum kit playing. Let’s have a quick listen.
So full drum kit playing there, but before that, I’m just using one element of the drums, so I’m not afraid to get drastic. This is all about drastic, so this is just a loop off of the drums.
And to get it to sound even, using a compressor that’s only catching that kick. And then gentle amount of L1. The other one is not doing a lot, it’s just controlling some of those peaks.
So I’m doing drastic stuff, you know? And the drastic thing that I did there is I just completely muted all of the drums, except for that one mic. So next up, we have a tambourine. I’m not doing much on that. That’s probably EQ’d the way I wanted it to. It’s got an Analog Channel on it, and an L1 just to limit it in the mix.
Again, the L1 was probably added when I just wanted to keep it more even in the mix. Again, this is part of the process. When you’re mixing, you get things the way you want to hear, and then you might want to just change something, like an EQ or compression or something, but it might not be stripping it back and starting again, it might be adding just a tiny bit of EQ or just a tiny bit of compression.
So you end up in those situations where sometimes you have four or five EQs on them or four or five compressors.
Okay, so there is BVs, and I’ve got the —
[tambourine and background vocals]
Just a de-esser on it. The McDSP one, so nothing major. On the buss is the MV2, our old friend MV2, just to kind of keep them up front. Then a bit of Lo-Fi. Bit of distortion.
So nothing drastic on that. That’s — I wouldn’t call that a drastic one at all. I did print BV reverb.
[background vocal reverb]
Which is quite crazy. That’s got a Lo-Fi on it as well, just to distort it lightly.
So this is a blend of all of the different backgrounds there. Let’s just have one more listen.
Put the lead back in.
[mix with lead vocals]
With the double. Cool.
Well thanks for watching. As ever, please subscribe, go to Produce Like a Pro, sign up for the email list, try out The Academy, all that fun stuff.
Look, this one is about — because we talk a lot about committing to tape, and I really believe strongly in that, and that was part of the process, but there is some drastic EQ going on there. Really crazy EQ, and I’m just shaping and putting frequencies — you know, putting guitars in specific frequencies, putting drum loops in specific frequencies, and it helps create a mood. It keeps in narrow, keeps all the instruments in there, but they’re very heavily EQ’d.
So it’s not always about having beautiful, open, organic tones. Often it is, but there, I just really kind of went for it, and I also wanted to make sure everybody knew, it’s okay to go and do drastic stuff if it serves the purpose of the song. It really is okay.
So thank you ever so much for watching, please subscribe, have a marvelous time recording and mixing, and I look forward to seeing you again soon.