Setting a filter and equalizer
To find out which frequency ranges or resonances are overemphasized, it makes sense to raise a Bell EQ narrowband by 10-15 dB and then sweep the complete frequency spectrum once. This procedure is called “sweeping”. This makes it easier to find out where interfering frequencies need to be reduced or eliminated. After the interfering frequency has been found, the optimum setting can be found via the volume (gain) and the bandwidth (or Q-factor).
Here are a few tips & tricks for working with spectral effects:
- Nothing can be boosted that is not contained in the signal. This means, for example, that with a signal that has no frequency components above 16 kHz, no frequencies above this frequency can be boosted with an equalizer.
- Normally the gain of a frequency band is reduced as soon as the bandwidth is increased and vice versa. For this purpose, some equalizers offer the function “Proportional Q”. This function changes proportionally to the bandwidth also the volume of the band and thus balances it.
- If a frequency range is boosted in one track, it makes sense to lower this range in another track to reduce the masking effect. Examples of this are kick drum and bass. If the kick drum gets a boost at 80Hz, this range can be lowered in the bass. For such cases, a dynamic equalizer can do useful work, lowering the selected frequency range only when the other element is playing.
- Normally, any track in the bass range can be trimmed, as long as it does not play a supporting role there. Usually only a kick drum and a bass are located here. As a rule of thumb, the following tip can be helpful: Cut as high as possible without making the corresponding track sound thin. In some cases, however, fundamentals can be removed or lowered if it is good for the mix. The decision between low cut or low shelf depends on the material.
- Often, less is more. However, you should not be afraid to make drastic edits. Because in the end only the result counts.
- A processing with an EQ must sound good in the mix, not solo.
- However, technical processing, such as removing resonances, is usually better done in solo mode.
- An EQ setting should always be compared in A/B (before/after) via the plug-in bypass. This is a good way to judge whether the processing has improved or worsened the signal. Many EQs also allow bypassing of a single band.
- A good recording or sound design gets by with few edits and saves a lot of work and problems in later sound optimization. Therefore it is important, if you can influence it yourself, to record both technically good signals and the artist’s performance in an optimal way.
- Spectral effects should be set at medium volume, otherwise the Fletcher-Mundson curves will distort the perceived sound too much.