The crutch: Graphic display of EQ

Posted: October 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

We’ve all done it.   We’ve all relied on our EYES too much when mixing at some point or another…whether it be looking at the transients to match tempos rather than listening, looking at the meters too much, or the biggest offender – the graphic display on an EQ.

Waves Renaissance EQ

Waves Renaissance EQ 6 Parametric EQ

This little black box has been a crutch of mine for WAY too long.

I’m not going to pick on the Waves Renaissance EQ, but it just happens to be my tool of choice.  I’ve always liked the sound and UI on this EQ.  And I’ve always liked seeing the results of what my knob turning is doing.  My brain almost puts the two actions together (listening and looking at the curve)….probably to my detriment.   It’s really hard not to look when working in a DAW rather than on a console with tape.   Even though I started my career on an analog console, I’ve worked the majority of that career on a DAW and control surface.  I’m used to that workflow and find it to be…..home.


Last week I was mixing a song for one of my regular clients and the mix just wasn’t coming out the way I hoped it would.  The REQ6 has always helped me get that modern rock sound.  But this band that I’ve been working on isn’t that. They needed a more natural approach.  I wanted a close, personal, analog, indie, kind of Automatic for the People era R.E.M sound.  Those are probably really bad descriptors, but you get the idea.

To make a long story short, my traditional approach wasn’t working. So, I decided to go back to the proverbial drawing board.  What does that mean in the world of audio??

PULL DOWN ALL THE FADERS!   To share a horrible internet meme…..

remove all the inserts

remove all the inserts meme

So I started completely from scratch.  That’s usually what I do when a mix just isn’t working.  Why bother trying to fix something that doesn’t work?   Put your head in  a different space and try again.   So what was my new approach?

NO GRAPHIC DISPLAYS ON ANY EQ!  If I wanted that analog console sound, I need to try and emulate that workflow.   So I decided to use the SAME signal chain on every channel.   My old trusty McDSP Analog Channel 2 and the URS Classic Console Strip Pro for EQ and compression on the “API” or 1967 setting.

I started the mix over, and it came out much better this time around.  It was more balanced overall, not too fake sounding.  It was just right.  I was LISTENING to, not looking at my EQ.   Now I have tried this method in the past and it hasn’t worked out so well.  Who knows, maybe in my brain I do the “modern” thing better with a visual EQ and the “old school” thing better with this kind of EQ.  It’s only fitting I suppose….in some weird ironically simple kind of way.

So, if you are starting out early on in your career, I highly suggest not getting yourself trapped into the visual part of mixing.  Break yourself of that habit early….just like mixing with the speakers too loud.  Stop before it’s too late!

Shoot…I guess I better go add some audio to that R88 post like I said I was going to!   See ya!

  1. says:

    Yet another crutch in the world of music. The visuals don’t stop there. I’ve found myself watching the level meters rather than listening to the actual balances of tracks. It’s just like the piano in music theory; it makes it easier, but you don’t learn.

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