Tuesday, March 27, 2012


So, the new board is coming in late March and it is a Solid State Logic (Matrix) according to my notes! We are all really fortunate to have learned on the MTA980 this semester and are excited for the new board coming soon!

I'm pretty behind on my blogs, so I will attempt to compile a couple for this one on EQ.


When tracking, make groups for each group of instruments or pieces of the band. So the guitars go with the guitars, the backup vox with the other backup vox, and so on. When labeling the tracks and ordering them, they should line up like this, from left to right:

  • Drums
    • Kick
    • Snare
    • Toms
    • Overheads (L&R)
  • Bass
  • Guitars
  • Keys
  • Vocals
    • Backup Vox
  • Auxiliaries
    • Reverb, Talkback, etc.
Additive EQ = Bedroom sounding EQing. Additive is when you BOOST certain frequencies in the spectrum.

Subtractive EQ = Good sounding EQing. Subtractive is when you boost a certain frequency by CUTTING others around it. 

For example, the is a frequency in the kick drum that has a cardboard quality. By CUTTING the frequencies that range from 250-350, that cardboard sound will be diminished. By BOOSTING 7k just a little bit, one can increase the snap of the kick. 

Vocals = You can't hear the vocals at 1k. SO, subtract everything around 1k to ultimately boost that frequency. Don't boost at 1k.

For the kick drum, one cant cut everything around 7k because there isn't anything is down there!

When EQing the overheads, one can cut a lot of bass out because the overheads should only be the cymbals and high frequencies. This also makes ROOM for other instruments like the bass guitar and the kick drum that need that space. 

The snap of a snare is at 5k and that can be enhanced and brightened by applying a shelf. 

Complimentary EQing is when you make room where space is needed. So, turn up the bass guitar frequencies where the bass drum's frequencies are turned down. 

Additive EQ isn't a bad thing. Its bad when it is overused or improperly applied. It can completely ruin a mix. When adding, make the curve musical by adding over a 2-3 octave range and only add up to 2-3 db. 

When mixing, mix to the other factors of the performance. Don't solo a guitar, mix it, and move on because the mix needs to be one mix not a bunch of mixes piled on top of each other. 

The Save Solo for Auxiliaries is  Click the Solo button. 

Don't double tracks. OOPS, I do that.

Use panning on multiple guitars to even them out nicely.

For kicks, put a high pass filter (HPF) on everything except the bass guitar and the kick, and sometimes the low end of a piano. Do this because there are a lot of frequencies that are completely unnecessary at the low end that take up room. 

Mix in mono because it is so much harder to do. Then, when you pull it into stereo, it will sound 100x better. 

Vocals - Create 2 aux tracks for delay and reverb. Start at a medium plate with input at 100% and decay at 1 second for the reverb. The delay should be at medium 50 milliseconds on one track and the other at 25 milliseconds. 

Do not put any low end content into the reverb because it will sound muddy in the mix. 


The goal of equalizing is to produce a flat frequency response. 

Inserts = Dynamic processing which includes expanders, limiters, and gates that are all variable. 

EQs are used to modify the amplitudes of selected parts of the frequency spectrum of an audio signal. 

They allow precise tonal adjustments of the sound by isolating a range of harmonics within the sound using a filter. 

A flat frequency response would be if an instrument could produce all the notes at the same amplitude no matter the frequency. This is impossible except for computers and synthesizers. This is also what is desirable in a mix. 

Headroom = available space to turns things up. Low frequency content robs the mix of headroom and can create LFOs which effect other high frequencies and can thus be heard. 

Filter Slope = Gradual slopes sound better and more musical opposed to sharp, sudden slopes. The gradual slopes allow for more frequencies to be heard. 

In this slope, there are 6db per octave. The difference between octaves = division and multiplication. 

Notch Filters = Used when attenuating and it means CUTTING the frequencies, sometimes in a bell shape. 

A wider "Q" will be more musical. The frequency, bandwidth, and gain all affect EQ.

Frequency = Which frequency is being focused on to be cut or boosted. 
Bandwidth = Whether the Q is narrow or wide.
Gain = Whether the frequency is being boosted or cut. 

To train our ears to hear or comprehend certain frequencies, come up with adjectives that describe them. 


To find problem frequencies, boost individual areas of the spectrum until you find the annoying one and then cut it. This can be done on a parametric EQ. 

Before recording, think about what you want the mix to sound like so that you can compliment areas of the song with EQ and instruments.

Some common shorthand for the board:
  • SNR - Snare
  • EBass - Electric Bass
  • VOX - Vocals
  • GTR - Guitar
  • MONO - Mono Room Mic
  • KIK - Kick Drum
  • OHL - Overhead Left
  • OHR - Overhead Right
EQ should be the last resort to making an awesome mix. First, get the right players, get the best performance, mic placement is a huge variable, and TUNE!

Never FIX IT IN THE MIX. Get it right the first time. 

Try every mic placement, go crazy and try everything. 

High Redundancy, Low Information....
- Ceiling fans, refrigerators, lights, etc. 
- Take out these kinds of unnecessary noises. 

U + F = Strip Silence and Threshold. Use this on drums to cut out sections that are High Redundancy and Low Information.


EQ is something I have never used because I never understood it. I think its time to get to know my frequencies. Oh man.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Inner or Deep Part of an Animal or Plant Structure

So, I've been working on some backing vocals on Kory's capstone album and it has inspired me to try composing a completely vocal song with the exception of drums for my own capstone in a year :) I'm pretty stoked and after I told Drew, he showed the documentary "The Inner or Deep Part of an Animal or Plant Structure" about the production process of Bjork's vocal album from 2001.


The concept of production for her album came from some sort of connection to herself as an eighteen year old when she was experimenting with voices. The writing concept of the album had a lot to do with motherhood, childbirth, and "heart, blood, and meat"(Bjork, 2001). From what I gathered, she wanted to create an album that defied the assumptions of how far voices can go and what you can create with them. She described this assumption as being "the veggie burger" on the table--the all vocal album that can't quite compensate for the lack of real instruments or meat. She produced an album that's the equivalent to a steak sitting on the table with only vocals and very little digital construction. Instead of sampling the voices so that they are all the same, she wanted to have a natural sounding album and kept all the different kinds of each sound.

It's awesome how she found each of the people that recorded on her album. She not only researched the kinds of voices she wanted on her album, but she found each of the people and did not limit herself to one country or continent. She found her drummers in Brazil, her beatboxer in the US along with some other voices, her bass line vocalist from Japan, and her choir from Iceland. She went to each of them and was hands on in every process from what we saw in the documentary. Each one of the people she hired to perform their talents on her album were significant to the needs of her vision. Rahzel, the beatboxer was significant because 1) he was an excellent beatboxer, and 2) he produced incredible sounds with his voice that couldn't be produced any other way. Her producer was also her engineer, which is really rare, and he had been working with her for around 10 years or so. She left the tracks unfinished for her engineer and the team to add to the transformation so that "the song gets to be a virgin again" (Bjork, 2001). This is such an awesome way to think about the mixing process because without that extra set of ears and engineers, the song loses momentum in her mind. She trusted each of the people she worked with and recorded and gave uplifting compliments before and after the takes to ensure some sort of energy, or vibe, that she wanted to hear in the tracks. She gave freedom to the vocalists as well, to get the most natural voices from these select performers.

She used her hands so much and was always present, hands on, and supportive for each performer, each take, and each process whether it be the engineering, the writing, or the singing. She brought life into each studio the viewers saw her in. She had a clear vision of what she wanted for this album as well as being open to new ideas and concepts.


Damn. I hope I can write something that represents me the way she so accurately depicted herself and her vision with the voice. Looking forward to trying :)