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Thread: Using EQ instead of a different Microphone

  1. #1
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    Using EQ instead of a different Microphone

    What drives one to choose EQ over a different mic or different pre-amp?

    When I audition mics, I always go with the one that has the sound closest to what I want to hear, and then use EQ if necessary. In many cases for me, sounds come out of the final mix with no EQ at all -- just endless mic and pre testing. (I don't see this as better or worse, just different, though it can be really time consuming.)

    But, I've seen examples -- Lynn's recent R84 postings come to mind -- of situations where the mic chosen needed quite a bit of EQ. And, then it sounded *fantastic*.

    So, for those of you that would grab EQ before a different mic (excluding situations where the studio is "out of mics" on a large tracking date), what drives you to select the mic that needs more EQ? What I'm trying to understand is what character or attributes of the sound make you say "that + EQ is perfect" over say a different mic with a more "suitable" frequency response?

    Or, is it the way a specific EQ itself sounds that makes you grab a mike which allows you to use such-and-such piece of outboard gear?
    Jim Dugger
    Poorhouse Productions

    At 20 bits, you are on the verge of dynamic range covering fly-farts-at-20-feet to untolerable pain. Really, what more could we need?

  2. #2
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    Good question, Jim.

    For me, it comes down to the type of microphone as to whether I'd consider EQing the signal rather than trying a different mic. You mentioned the R84 ribbon mic; ribbons are notorious for taking EQ extremely well and even requiring some. You can shelf up tons of high end without introducing any harshness. A lot of dynamics lend themselves well to lots of EQ too (but in a different way). I think it has to do with both types' of mics passive design.

    Most condensor mics don't normally lend themselves to a lot of EQing because their design tends to translate to "brittle" when EQ'd in the same fashion. Condensors just don't have the same sort of smoothness as ribbons, for instance. As such, I look for the mic itself to have "the sound" and I'm more likely to try a different mic than apply EQ.

    Of course, none of this is codified anywhere and the best thing to do is audition a number of mics simultaneously and be ready to EQ the monitor path; this will help to point to which mic will win out, and the EQ can be patched in as part of the input path if it's necessary. Eventually, you'll just build up more confidence (and misinformation!) about which mic to use on which source and whether to anticpate needing EQ.

    One other word ... I'll often lop off some low end before hitting compression in the input path. Ribbons on guitar amps are notorious for needing some EQ before being slammed into a compressor on the way "to tape." Dynamics and condensors do too; it's a different sort of technique, but a relevant point, I think.

  3. #3
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    there's more to how a mic "hears" sound than its frequency response. In fact, I would say frequency response differences of various mics are the among the least interesting differences to me.

    As just one example, what about transient response? Think of how a dynamic and condenser each react to the attack of a drum.

    directionaliy, off axis coloration, SPL handling


    I recently got my first nice ribbon mic (R84!) and I am still struggling to put into words how different it sounds from my condensers and dynamics- even after EQ. Its like the difference between film and video or between photography and painting or ... - oh I give up!

  4. #4
    Sal Vito is offline Gold Club Member (1000+ posts)
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    Um...

    The recording might have already been made... and the artist might have already gone home...
    Sal Vito
    The Man of Sound
    salvito@hotmail.com
    312-409-0176

  5. #5
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    There are often occasions where one has to set up one mike and go. The mikes that excel at this have become classics.

  6. #6
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    Originally posted by Bob Olhsson:
    <STRONG>There are often occasions where one has to set up one mike and go. The mikes that excel at this have become classics.</STRONG>
    Oh, I expected this in a commercial setting.

    But, I was looking for more of the acedemic aspects of why you choose a particular mic when it isn't initially the "best sounding" choice, but needs EQ?
    Jim Dugger
    Poorhouse Productions

    At 20 bits, you are on the verge of dynamic range covering fly-farts-at-20-feet to untolerable pain. Really, what more could we need?

  7. #7
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    Originally posted by joeq:
    <STRONG>I recently got my first nice ribbon mic (R84!) and I am still struggling to put into words how different it sounds from my condensers and dynamics- even after EQ. Its like the difference between film and video or between photography and painting or ... - oh I give up!</STRONG>

    How different it sounds. That's a good way to describe it. The interpretation is different. The ease of translating the sound. That's why you'd pick it with EQ instead of something else without EQ. It's a different sound even after matching the EQ.
    Lynn Fuston
    3D Audio

    Making beautiful music SEEM easy since 1979.

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