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Author Topic: EQ Question (clean up "distant/open" and occassionally muddy)  (Read 5131 times)

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Offline StarkRavingCalm

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EQ Question (clean up "distant/open" and occassionally muddy)
« on: September 02, 2015, 12:31:32 PM »
Recorded a show recently at an outdoor amphitheater, used stealth omins and was a good distance back.
Want to use EQ (specifically ReaEQ in Reaper) to clean up these traits:

1 - That "open" sound you would get with omnis combined with the distance.
      Would like it to sound "closer" if possible

2 - Occasionally, when the band gets chugging along, the sound gets a little muddy.
      What is weird is that is sounds a little cleaner in the car than it does on my monitor speakers (which are fairly flat).
      Would like it to sound "clearer", "less-muddy"

My question is:

For each of these, what ranges should I target?
There are bunch of pre-defined bands in ReaEQ, which would work best?
(Including a mud-free I just noticed)



Thanks

Offline achalsey

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Re: EQ Question (clean up "distant/open" and occassionally muddy)
« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2015, 07:46:56 PM »
I use reaper for eq as well.  I don't really know what I'm doing, but will say don't use preset settings.

Probably not the answer you're looking for, but just experiment.  Reaper's eq is real time so it's really nice to play with and see how raising or lowering certain frequencies effects the sound.

From my very uneducated experience I usually play with very low frequencies for muddiness.  Around 100 hz.  Usually use a narrow band.  Maybe half an octave and move it up and down the spectrum to see where that really resonant spot is and lower it slightly there.

All this said, I have zero experience with stealth and very minimal with omnis.

Offline goodcooker

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Re: EQ Question (clean up "distant/open" and occassionally muddy)
« Reply #2 on: September 03, 2015, 09:08:05 AM »

I use fairly simple EQ for outdoor omni recordings that suffer from what you describe here.

I roll off the low end starting at about 100 hz. Sometimes less sometimes more. I use a 6db per octave slope so its not too steep and takes all the meat out of the subwoofer freqs.

I also usually add a wide boost to the upper midrange/treble frequencies usually starting at around 1k - 1.5kHz and ending around 3.5k. Gives it some "reach" and sounds more present and less distant.

All this of course depends on the program material. I find rock music, for instance, needs more cleaning up than bluegrass.
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Offline opsopcopolis

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Re: EQ Question (clean up "distant/open" and occassionally muddy)
« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2015, 10:31:30 AM »
The 250 range may handle both of those issues quite well. Indoors, rooms seem to kick back a lot in the 250 range so bringing it down a bit can make things sound a bit "closer". Be careful with it though, ducking out too much of the lower MUDs will make for a very thin sounding recording very quickly
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stevetoney

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Re: EQ Question (clean up "distant/open" and occassionally muddy)
« Reply #4 on: September 09, 2015, 09:05:10 AM »

I also usually add a wide boost to the upper midrange/treble frequencies usually starting at around 1k - 1.5kHz and ending around 3.5k. Gives it some "reach" and sounds more present and less distant.


^ This.  Note though that this will only help.  Don't expect a miracle.  (Incidentally, I find that this boost improves a majority of my recordings, not just those sounding distant.)
 
For the muddy sounds, find a muddy passage and play with it with your EQ tool active.  In Audition, I have three EQ tools; 10 band, 20 band and 30 band.  Use your 10 band tool and set all of the frequencies at 0db.  Then one-by-one decrease each slider to isolate a specific frequency range to find the offending frequency range.  Once you've found the muddy range, minimize it so that the result sounds best to your ears.  For example, you might not want to drop that frequency altogether, but just drop it 6 or 7db.  If the muddiness can't be 'listened around' you might want to drastically cut that frequency...like 15 or 20db.  Once you find the offending frequency, you might need to widen the frequency sample or narrow it.  Do that by either also minimizing neighboring frequencies or isolating more by using the 20 or 30 band EQ tools.
« Last Edit: September 09, 2015, 09:07:36 AM by tonedeaf »

Offline Gutbucket

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Re: EQ Question (clean up "distant/open" and occassionally muddy)
« Reply #5 on: September 09, 2015, 10:05:38 AM »
Dangerous talking in generalities, but I often end up with something of a "W" shaped EQ curve, overlaid on a very general and gentle overall slope or upward tilt across the entire spectrum "/".  Of course the particulars are specific to each recording, and critical in their adjustment.

First, try adjusting a graphic EQ so that all the sliders form a flat-line with and gentle slope across the entire spectrum, adjusting the angle of the slope until you start to get things sounding better, keeping the overall line straight. 

Then fine tune from there.. boost each slider until you can identify the stuff living in that frequency range, then pull it back down to where it sounds right.  Next adjust the surrounding sliders the same way, then go back and retune the first one again, as they'll all interact with each other.  Try to make smooth curves without radical changes from each slider to slider along the line, rather than more radical jumps between sliders.

"Mud" often pools somewhere between 200-600Hz as mentioned by the others, so a scoop around there can help tame it (forming the left downward point of the 'W').  Bringing up the midrange in the 1-4khz range helps bring out clarity and presence, restoring necessary energy above the mud range (the center peak of the 'W'). I'll often boost below the mud range as to restore phat bass energy, once clean of the lower-mid bloat (the left-most upward arm of the 'W').  Boost the high treble "air" to suit the level of the mids (the right-most upward arm of the 'W').  Cut a bit between the mids and those highs (somewhere around 5-12kHz) to reduce excessive "glare or brightness" which probably has resulted from the mid and high boosts.  Small changes here have a radical effect on the overall sound.  Take your time and tweek carefully, aiming for dialing back to smoother overall curves.  Go back and fine-tune the peaks and curve transitions of the vaguely 'W' shaped EQ curve, over and over until it sounds best.  When you'r happy with it, "squash" the 'W' a bit and see if that's better and smoother.  Refer regularly while fine tuning to the sound of the uncorrected, not EQ'd recording, as well as a reference recording of something similar you really like the sound of - maybe one of your other live recordings with the same rig which came out great, maybe someone else's you think sounds especially good and "real".  Leave it and come back later and see if you still like it.  Re-adjust and leave it again.  Fine-tune until it sounds as good as you can make it.   Save the curve, start over and try again.  Then compare your saved curves and see how close they are to each other.  A lot can be learned about your own ear and your own over-compensations from the comparison of those curves. 

[edit] Don't compensate for any nonlinearities of your playback system by the EQ correction made to your recordings.  Get your playback system sounding balanced first, or become enough highly aware of it's specific problems that you can learn to "listen around" those things.  Listen to the recording with your adjustments on a few other systems to make sure what you are doing is globally applicable and not just locally appropriate to the particular response of your stereo in your room.
« Last Edit: September 09, 2015, 01:46:03 PM by Gutbucket »
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stevetoney

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Re: EQ Question (clean up "distant/open" and occassionally muddy)
« Reply #6 on: September 09, 2015, 11:21:01 AM »
^ More good advice.  Emphasis on coming back and listening again later.  Over time, you'll get a general feel and 'ear' for your recordings and get better at using EQ tools.  Though I don't use them every time, I have unique EQ profiles saved for specific mics and/or specific venues.

Offline opsopcopolis

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Re: EQ Question (clean up "distant/open" and occassionally muddy)
« Reply #7 on: September 10, 2015, 09:20:20 AM »
Don't compensate for any nonlinearities of your playback system by the EQ correction made to your recordings.  Get your playback system sounding balanced first, or become enough highly aware of it's specific problems that you can learn to "listen around" those things.  Listen to the recording with your adjustments on a few other systems to make sure what you are doing is globally applicable and not just locally appropriate to the particular response of your stereo in your room.

IMO this is the best piece of advice there. Learning EQ is very much a do and redo process, but this is where many of the biggest mistakes are made. Most of us don't have perfect environments for listening (me included 110%).  Learning the deficiencies in your playback system will help you create more consistent choices with EQ. If I'm especially unsure about something EQ wise (specifically in the low end, which is where my system is lacking), I will usually listen in my car, where I know things are not at all flat in the low end, just to make sure I haven't done anything that I will regret.  Also both good studio headphones as well as cheap ear buds have their place in making sure nothing is too drastic in the overall spectral balance of the recording
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Offline StarkRavingCalm

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Re: EQ Question (clean up "distant/open" and occassionally muddy)
« Reply #8 on: September 22, 2015, 12:40:21 PM »
Thanks everyone for the tips.

I have been experimenting at this will not alot of luck.
I think I may need to separate it out instead of trying to fix both at the same time.
i.e.. fix muddiness first, then target the distance problem.

There is a preset in Reaper EQ called "bring to the back" which works great, it really sound more distant.
I wish there was a 'bring to the front" preset.

The muddiness is really a pain. In the spots I want to target, the bass sounds clipped.

Offline beatkilla

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Re: EQ Question (clean up "distant/open" and occassionally muddy)
« Reply #9 on: September 22, 2015, 08:27:23 PM »
Can you post a sample song of the original? Making it clearer should be no problem but changing the mic placement after the fact doesnt seem possible ,post a sample if you can.

Offline StarkRavingCalm

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Re: EQ Question (clean up "distant/open" and occassionally muddy)
« Reply #10 on: September 24, 2015, 11:20:22 AM »
Ok, I can start with this one:

This is an example, can post more if needed.

Offline beatkilla

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Re: EQ Question (clean up "distant/open" and occassionally muddy)
« Reply #11 on: September 25, 2015, 11:10:16 AM »
It sounds like you may have been using AGC,if so i would turn that off.

Offline StarkRavingCalm

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Re: EQ Question (clean up "distant/open" and occassionally muddy)
« Reply #12 on: September 25, 2015, 11:20:54 AM »
no, just bass roll off (120) on the DR-2D.
CA-14Omnis> CA 9200 pre-amp > Line In > DR-2D

Offline opsopcopolis

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Re: EQ Question (clean up "distant/open" and occassionally muddy)
« Reply #13 on: September 28, 2015, 10:07:32 AM »
Sounds like there's a lot more going on than just needing some EQ.  I'm definitely hearing some limiting brought on by that massive kick that sounds to be fit in front of the mics.  Also I think I might be hearing a little bit of soft clipping, but can't quite tell if it's just the attack of the kick or not.  Those issues aside, I honestly don't hear it as being all that muddy, part of what you might be hearing as mud is that overbearing kick drum
« Last Edit: September 28, 2015, 10:10:15 AM by opsopcopolis »
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Recorders: Tascam DR-60D, Tascam DR-05, Sony Hi-MD

Offline StarkRavingCalm

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Re: EQ Question (clean up "distant/open" and occassionally muddy)
« Reply #14 on: September 28, 2015, 12:56:45 PM »
I would agree with that on the drums.

So, any guidelines on limiting, etc... as opposed to EQ?
Should be looking outside of Reaper for any of this?

Offline opsopcopolis

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Re: EQ Question (clean up "distant/open" and occassionally muddy)
« Reply #15 on: September 28, 2015, 01:05:48 PM »
Well it sounds to me like it was recorded with limiting, meaning the limiter in the record deck was on (unless you have added compression in post already).  Not a bad setting to have on, but to avoid it you need to set your levels lower.  There is not an easy way to get rid of that limiter once it is written to the track.  Do you know anything about compression/limiting in general?
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Offline StarkRavingCalm

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Re: EQ Question (clean up "distant/open" and occassionally muddy)
« Reply #16 on: September 28, 2015, 01:09:28 PM »
Definetly only using Bass Roll Off on the DR-2D
The CA pre-amp and mics were my first time using them.

I know some on the limiting and stuff but no practical experience

Offline opsopcopolis

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Re: EQ Question (clean up "distant/open" and occassionally muddy)
« Reply #17 on: September 28, 2015, 01:13:30 PM »
Hmm... I'm not entirely sure then.  I'm pretty same sure that I'm hearing limiting, but afaik the CA stuff doesn't have any sort of built in limiting
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Offline StarkRavingCalm

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Re: EQ Question (clean up "distant/open" and occassionally muddy)
« Reply #18 on: September 30, 2015, 12:33:45 PM »
I did have to level out parts since i was messing with the levels from the preamp.
But that was a matter of highlighting a section in Audacity and changing Ampitude till it was in line with the rest of the wave file.

Offline dyneq

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Re: EQ Question (clean up "distant/open" and occassionally muddy)
« Reply #19 on: January 14, 2020, 04:15:23 PM »
Bump!

I've recently gone back and played around with EQ on some of my HRTF omni masters (SS DSM-6 and Radio Shlock 33-3028), so small omnis - nothing fancy). What a revelation it is to give them a little high frequency boost! To my ears, it's a night/day difference for the better.  I'm not an EQ expert, but I did attempt to use Gutbucket's excellent W shape EQ description and I'm intrigued. I think the main advantage is that I can more clearly hear the cymbals, but there is also an overall 'presence' (to steal that term from this thread) that brings the recording to life.

I know that tastes vary, but does anyone else have an EQ workflow/tools/curves similar to Gutbucket's that they can share? I'm really interested in learning about how to do this well because, overall, I really prefer my omni recordings compared to my cardioid ones and would like to learn more about the process.

Offline goodcooker

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Re: EQ Question (clean up "distant/open" and occassionally muddy)
« Reply #20 on: January 15, 2020, 02:06:08 PM »
Bump!

I've recently gone back and played around with EQ on some of my HRTF omni masters (SS DSM-6 and Radio Shlock 33-3028), so small omnis - nothing fancy). What a revelation it is to give them a little high frequency boost! To my ears, it's a night/day difference for the better.  I'm not an EQ expert, but I did attempt to use Gutbucket's excellent W shape EQ description and I'm intrigued. I think the main advantage is that I can more clearly hear the cymbals, but there is also an overall 'presence' (to steal that term from this thread) that brings the recording to life.

I know that tastes vary, but does anyone else have an EQ workflow/tools/curves similar to Gutbucket's that they can share? I'm really interested in learning about how to do this well because, overall, I really prefer my omni recordings compared to my cardioid ones and would like to learn more about the process.

There are many variables for this but for recordings that I make with open pattern mics (omnis or subcardioids) from any sort of distance (farther than on the stage or directly in front of it) I use a simple EQ plugin from API - the 550 stereo equalizer.

I typically add some midrange 3dB in the 1.5-3 kHz range and up to 5dB in the "presence" range around 8kHz.

Often I will cut the very low frequency by up to 6dB below 80Hz.

All this is dependent on the source material and is subject to walking away from it for an hour and doing it again.
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Offline nulldogmas

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Re: EQ Question (clean up "distant/open" and occassionally muddy)
« Reply #21 on: January 15, 2020, 02:16:01 PM »

I know that tastes vary, but does anyone else have an EQ workflow/tools/curves similar to Gutbucket's that they can share? I'm really interested in learning about how to do this well because, overall, I really prefer my omni recordings compared to my cardioid ones and would like to learn more about the process.

My "workflow" is to open a 10-band EQ filter, grab the rightmost slider, close my eyes, then slide it up and down until it sounds the best. Then proceed with each slider in turn, and finally smooth out the curve a bit when I'm all done.

Sometimes I'll fine-tune with a graphic EQ, but usually my ears can get me at least 90% of the way there.

Offline dyneq

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Re: EQ Question (clean up "distant/open" and occassionally muddy)
« Reply #22 on: January 16, 2020, 07:43:38 AM »
Thanks. I am not a post-processing guy, and prefer to leave my recordings alone, so I appreciate having somewhere to start. I will try both of these methods and listen on my reference system.

Offline noahbickart

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Re: EQ Question (clean up "distant/open" and occassionally muddy)
« Reply #23 on: January 16, 2020, 09:52:09 AM »
Lots of good advice here. I’ll only add that it’s really important to listen on a number of monitoring systems. Transducers are the weak link in audio and vary significantly in terms of frequency response.

What can sound great on one set of bass heavy headphones can sound lean on flat speakers, etc.

For my own “tapes” I don’t do eq. Not because it sounds better untouched, but because I can do better by tailoring the eq curve to the speakers and room *during* playback.

For example, I'm sitting here at "work," listening to Dave's Picks #32 (3/24/73) in Audirvana, using Grace m903> Hifiman HE-400 headphones. I've got 4 AU plugins going, a compressor, a "tube" saturater, an EQ, and a brick wall limiter. I had it all nice a groovy. But then my head got tired, as the Hifiman cans are a little heavy. So I switched to the AKG k701s. I had to change the eq curve significantly to get me back into the zone.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2020, 11:05:39 AM by noahbickart »
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Offline rumbleseat

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Re: EQ Question (clean up "distant/open" and occassionally muddy)
« Reply #24 on: January 17, 2020, 03:42:33 PM »
Personally, I don't fully trust my ears, my headphones, or any particular set of speakers.  I tend to rely more on a visual spectrum to manage EQ.  I pulled one from your audio file (attached)
This isn't too bad.  The cymbals might be a bit harsh at 10 kHz and you might want a bit of a bass bump at 80 Hz.
But... I agree that you've got a problem with this recording.  Need a fresh battery in the CA-9200 preamp?  Running it too hot? (I run mine at about half-way up with CA-11s into a line-in on an iriver H340)
Give it another go!

(PS - The spectrum is from Voxengo's free plugin SPAN.  Routing is "Dual Mono" with the right channel as the red underlay.  You can also try "Low Frequency Inspection" to get a more clear picture of the low end.)
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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: EQ Question (clean up "distant/open" and occassionally muddy)
« Reply #25 on: January 17, 2020, 05:13:48 PM »
Looking at energy distribution across the spectrum is good as a double check combined with listening.  But make sure to combine it with careful listening.  It is dangerous to rely on the visual curve alone.  Many times things which are quite easily audibly apparent will not be visually obvious, and sometimes what appears visually odd may sound just fine.
^
I just wrote that with frequency balance questions in mind, since that is the subject of the thread, and then went on to download the sample file posted back in 2015 to give a listen.. only to find there is a far more fundamental problem than one of frequency balance.  The sample features severe overload clipping EQ cannot correct, which actually serves to reinforce the statement made above even more strongly.  The SPAN frequency analysis image does not identify the presence of audibly obvious clipping distortion at all.

So, best to use visual display tools as a cross-check to listening and vice-versa.

With regards to the problem with the posted sample-
I don't hear any AGC or limiting working, and the OP states neither was used.  I suspect that either the CA-9100 had a dying battery which was starving the preamp circuit during the kick drum hits, or the level setting used for the DR-2d's Line input was set lower than 95 (below which the recorder will "brickwall" clip with a hot input without the meter display indicating any overload problem).  Both are forms of analog distortion which occur prior to digitization.  I would not suggest use of the 120Hz High-Pass filter on the DR2d, which as applied here serves only to skew the frequency balance toward ovelry bass-light and "anemic" sounding, after the distortion has already been incurred.  The HPF is positioned too late in the signal chain to mitigate the distortion.

Avoiding the problem-
Use a fresh or freshly charged battery in the preamp. Turn off AGC and HPF on the DR2d.  Run the CA-9100 into the DR2d Line Input with the line input gain set to 100 (no lower than 95, which is set prior to recording via the DUAL button on the face of the recorder, not by using the Mic-input gain toggle-switch on the side of the recorder), then adjust gain on the preamp as necessary to get good levels on the DR2d meters.

That should produce a recording free of self-imposed distortion which can be EQ adjusted to taste afterwards as discussed in the thread.
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