To EQ or not to EQ, that is the question

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Nov 10, 2006
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#22
My general rule of thumb: If you have to ask if you need a widget, don't buy it.

I say this because unless you truly understand how the widget works in a system, you are much more likely to use it wrong than to use it correctly. And, if you truly understood how the widget works in a system, you wouldn't need to ask anyone if you need one. You would just know one way or the other.

There are some people that can EQ by ear, others use tools like an RTA or SMAART Live. However, these approaches cannot discern whether or not you are listening to direct or reflected sound or resonances. Also, improving the sound in one location can make it worse in others. For instance, a loss of highs is natural as you go off axis from a speaker. Boosting the highs so the off-axis response is good, will make the on-axis response shrill. Averaging the EQ from multiple measurement locations is an iffy at best approach. That average response corresponds to no real physical space in the room.

To really understand the problems the acoustic problems you are dealing with, you need gated measurements and waterfall curves. Waterfall curves identify resonances and give you a complete picture of the sound problems versus time. The first solution to an acoustic problem should be to treat the problem acoustically (e.g. move/re-aim the speakers).
 
#23
I have been eyeballing a dbx dual channel 31 band eq to add to my gear. My thoughts are that it will help make the sound crisper, and a lot more balanced. I am just getting ideas for now, what are your thoughts?
Could it be some of the mp3 song files themselves are too bassy or may be culled from YouTube audio which has a distinct loss in the upper frequency range?
 

Handinon

DJ Extraordinaire
Oct 1, 2014
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#24
I think we need a little more information on your current equipment. Lack of "crispness and balance" can be caused by many factors besides EQ. For example, your library is predominantly Karaoke, which usually uses 128kbs mp3's. I have some great sounding 128kbs music, but in general, music encoded at a higher bit rate sounds better.

No question a 31 band EQ is great for room tuning, but done right it is time consuming - if you play at many venues a DBX DriveRack (or similar Behringer) with an AutoTune function would be better.

Ha! sawdust123 and andywilson asking the same thing as I typed - give us a source to speaker rundown of your rig.
 
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Valerie Hicks

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Oct 21, 2006
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#25
Could it be some of the mp3 song files themselves are too bassy or may be culled from YouTube audio which has a distinct loss in the upper frequency range?
^This right here....
If the source of your muddy sound is the source itself, you'll never add sharpness by EQ. Imagine trying to photocopy a blurry image--no amount of punching that sharpness button will make the image crisp again.

An EQ can help clean up the sound if your components have harsh spots, a little too much or too little on the high or low end, etc. It might help with intelligibility for instance, but only if your source files are clean.

Here is a typical EQ setting in our DJ rig.
 

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Jeff Romard

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Sep 4, 2006
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#26
My general rule of thumb: If you have to ask if you need a widget, don't buy it.


For instance, a loss of highs is natural as you go off axis from a speaker. Boosting the highs so the off-axis response is good, will make the on-axis response shrill. Averaging the EQ from multiple measurement locations is an iffy at best approach. That average response corresponds to no real physical space in the room.
Sooooo many just don't or wont get this...

I guess when all else fails just smile :)

eq_smile.jpg
 

dbstudios

DJ I think
Aug 2, 2018
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#27
I guess my main thought behind it is while I am doing live sound, from corporate speakers, to small bands, not so much for DJ, although I think it might come in handy for karaoke, just to help keep the feedback down.
 

Proformance

DJ Extraordinaire
Nov 6, 2006
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#28
My only main thought behind it is when I have multiple mics tied into my mix board, my Numark can only handle 2 mics, my mix can handle up to 4. I am planning on upgrading to a larger board eventually, which will allow me to do some live sound, which will require the EQ more than DJing will.
I'm going to assume your mix board is a small analog mixer, and your DJ mixer is presently feeding into it on a stereo channel. I'm also assuming you are using this for karaoke.

Insert a 31 Band EQ at the mix board output (just before the amplifier or powered speakers.) If your board has insert jacks at the main outputs you can insert there. Add all of your mics to the mix board rather than the DJ mixer. It will help if all of your mics are identical. (If a mic has to go through the DJ mixer then make it your announce mic only.)

I would also add a limiter inline with your EQ so you can heavily compress the signal while ringing out your mics/monitor. A gate will prevent the possibility of feedback building up on still open mics when no signal is present.

Be aware however that your EQ and any other processing will affect the entire mix leaving that mix board. To avoid EQ/processing the music - take your processed mic/mix board and feed the output through a line input on your DJ mixer where you add the music and send on to the PA system. (We are no longer feeding the music through the mix board. Instead, your DJ mixer is the last stage before the amplifier/speakers wher you combine the music and mic mix.)

If that configuration doesn't work with your setup and your mix board has an available Aux Send - there is another trick you can use to process just the karaoke mics:

Use the Aux Send to create a mix of your mics. Send that Aux mix through the EQ and limiter. Bring the processed signal back in on a line channel to be combined with the music. In this instance ALL of your mic faders remain down (off) and you will be using the Aux Sends as your individual mic faders. This allows you to use a single channel of EQ. Otherwise, you would need up to 4 channels of EQ/limiting for each discreet mic channel in use.

If your board has an FX send you can use that and the corresponding return instead of the Aux and a line channel.

There are drawbacks to both of these setups. Particularly the fact that your processing will be driven by the loudest or worse placed mic. For example, if one person screams into their mic the limiter will compress the entire mic mix rather than just the one person screaming. This is a small compromise if you are trying to offer an affordable karaoke show because, to really handle all these mics and music perfectly requires either a lot more and better analog gear, or you move into the world of digital mixers.
 
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Proformance

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Nov 6, 2006
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#29
My general rule of thumb: If you have to ask if you need a widget, don't buy it.
I don't think a graphic EQ is all that dangerous in the wrong hands given all the tutorials on Youtube.

That being said, it's not clear what the OP actually wants to do - find a crisper tone for his music, clean up karaoke mics, or balance a podium mic for speeches. These are all very different uses of an EQ and it doesn't sound like his present mixing station will accommodate.

There are some 31 band EQ's with LED band display that will help you visually find the band where feedback is occurring. The good news is that with digital mixing displacing analog there is a whole lot of really nice used analog gear to be had for short money. It's a great way to learn without getting in over your head.
 
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steve149

Urbane Legend
Sep 26, 2011
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#30
Personally, I would use parametric EQ on vocal channels (or just the mixer EQ if it's sufficient), graphic EQ on an output for room EQ if really needed (though I'd use an automatic one like a dbx DriveRack to start) and a feedback reducer on the mic channels for feedback control, since identifying a feedback frequency by ear takes a LOT of experience and you need to have your hand near it all the time .. not something I can do while DJ/KJ/MCing. .
 
Jun 25, 2018
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#31
I run a DBX drive rack so all eq'ing can be done inside that unit. However, diving into perimeter's to make changes can take time. I run a DBX 2231 in line just to make quick easy changes (if needed). 31 band eq's gives you room to go in between frequency's where parametric's can't go. Good used eq's are cheap enough to add one to the rack and can make life easier at times. Powered speakers do have DSP and on board eq but you can't make adjustments from the board. I'm old school and I like having a knob for every action without diving into perimeter's to do so. Yes it's more gear you have to lug around but it can make life easier (at times) but not always. Just remember eq's are for removing unwanted sounds, not so much for adding it. When eq'ing mic's more flexibility can help a lot. Remember DSP is for speaker settings, eq's are for adjusting for the room your working in.
I say get a good used one and do some experimenting. You may or may not find it useful. You can find good used DBX eq's on GC used section for under 100 bucks. I prefer the long throw 2U versions because the slider is longer and you can have more control vs. the short throw on the 1U units.
I picked up several 2231's used for 120 bucks. That unit new runs almost 600 bucks.
 
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Ausumm

Day Late and a Dollar Short
Oct 21, 2008
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#33
if we are talking EQ for feedback issues and overall vocal clarity, you cannot run a global EQ. You have to route a EQ through the mic channel only, and in this case, I still strongly believe it is much easier to do it with a Parametric. You can really easily sweep across frequencies to find out the troubled ones.
I bought a 31 band EQ.
I don't so much use it to shape my overall sound,
I bought it because it had a Feedback Detector that can tame microphone feedback.
(shows you what frequencies are feeding back, so you can EQ them out)
Other than that, I try to keep it as flat as possible...
maybe just add a little something that is lacking in the original recording.

You are correct about parametric EQ's.
It is the EQ of choice for anyone who mixes live sound...
as feedback is the number one offender when mixing a band.
 

Jas

DJ Extraordinaire
May 22, 2013
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#34
31 band eq's gives you room to go in between frequency's where parametric's can't go.
I thought the purpose of a parametric EQ is to pinpoint frequencies whereas graphic EQs cover a range for each band. I like it when a mixer has a built in graphic EQ anywhere from 5-9 bands. Convenient when needed.

And I think you meant to use the word parameter rather than perimeter. :)
 
Likes: oldschool
Nov 10, 2006
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#35
31 band eq's gives you room to go in between frequency's where parametric's can't go.
I am feeling the need to correct that misconception. A fully parametric EQ gives control of the center frequency, the gain and the "Q" (width) of the filter band. Since the center frequency of each band is infinitely adjustable, you can park it in places that don't line up with the standard (ISO) frequency bands of a 31 band EQ. So in fact, a truly parametric EQ gives you greater control.

The upper and lower bands on a parametric EQ often add the ability to shelve the response as well. The parametric does all this with much lower phase shift than a parametric EQ as well. The downside of parametric EQ is that you can only apply a few bands of EQ. This makes it difficult to use it for ringing out a room to eliminate feedback.

Automatic feedback eliminators generally use higher Q filters than provided in 31-band EQs. A 31 band EQ has 1/3 octave filters. Feedback eliminators may use 1/6 or 1/12 band filters. This insures you don't remove too much information from the music. However, to use such narrow filters, the center frequency is adjusted automatically by DSP.
 

steve149

Urbane Legend
Sep 26, 2011
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#36
I am feeling the need to correct that misconception. A fully parametric EQ gives control of the center frequency, the gain and the "Q" (width) of the filter band. Since the center frequency of each band is infinitely adjustable, you can park it in places that don't line up with the standard (ISO) frequency bands of a 31 band EQ. So in fact, a truly parametric EQ gives you greater control.

The upper and lower bands on a parametric EQ often add the ability to shelve the response as well. The parametric does all this with much lower phase shift than a parametric EQ as well. The downside of parametric EQ is that you can only apply a few bands of EQ. This makes it difficult to use it for ringing out a room to eliminate feedback.

Automatic feedback eliminators generally use higher Q filters than provided in 31-band EQs. A 31 band EQ has 1/3 octave filters. Feedback eliminators may use 1/6 or 1/12 band filters. This insures you don't remove too much information from the music. However, to use such narrow filters, the center frequency is adjusted automatically by DSP.
Are you going to AES next week? Trying to decide if I take the train down.
 
Jun 25, 2018
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#37
I am feeling the need to correct that misconception. A fully parametric EQ gives control of the center frequency, the gain and the "Q" (width) of the filter band. Since the center frequency of each band is infinitely adjustable, you can park it in places that don't line up with the standard (ISO) frequency bands of a 31 band EQ. So in fact, a truly parametric EQ gives you greater control.

The upper and lower bands on a parametric EQ often add the ability to shelve the response as well. The parametric does all this with much lower phase shift than a parametric EQ as well. The downside of parametric EQ is that you can only apply a few bands of EQ. This makes it difficult to use it for ringing out a room to eliminate feedback.

Automatic feedback eliminators generally use higher Q filters than provided in 31-band EQs. A 31 band EQ has 1/3 octave filters. Feedback eliminators may use 1/6 or 1/12 band filters. This insures you don't remove too much information from the music. However, to use such narrow filters, the center frequency is adjusted automatically by DSP.

There is no misconception here and you basically confirmed what I said with the exception of Q control, but I did mention I also use a drive rack that has both parametric and graphic eq's. I only have the 2231 as a quick trouble shooting tool for quick adjustments that don't require diving into a menu to do it. So what exactly are you correcting me about?
 
Nov 10, 2006
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Ventura County, CA
#38
Oldschool, the way I read your earlier post, I thought you were trying to say that 31-band EQs give you more precise control of the center frequency than a parametric EQ does. Fully parametric EQs found on digital boards and DSP boxes let you adjust the center frequency to values between the ISO 31-band center frequencies. However, analog mixer channel strip EQs may be only partially parametric and thus offer less control.

Steve149, yes, I will be at AES Wed-Fri. Not going on Sat (even though Dave Rat is giving a cool paper that day) because I want to spend it with family.
 
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Jun 25, 2018
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#39
Oldschool, the way I read your earlier post, I thought you were trying to say that 31-band EQs give you more precise control of the center frequency than a parametric EQ does. Fully parametric EQs found on digital boards and DSP boxes let you adjust the center frequency to values between the ISO 31-band center frequencies. However, analog mixer channel strip EQs may be only partially parametric and thus offer less control.

Steve149, yes, I will be at AES Wed-Fri. Not going on Sat (even though Dave Rat is giving a cool paper that day) because I want to spend it with family.
No I meant across the entire audio spectrum. Choosing witch one to use all depends on the (cost) application and what your trying to achieve.
 
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Proformance

DJ Extraordinaire
Nov 6, 2006
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#40
From what I understand, the OP's only prior experience with EQ is a 5 band graphic built into the main out of a modest DJ mixer. A parametric EQ is probably well ahead of where he is on the learning curve, too expensive, and wouldn't help anyway because there are no mic insert jacks on most DJ mixers.
 
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