CMU School of Drama

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Using EQ The Right Way

Pro Sound Web: Equalizers, by their nature and name, are supposed to redress imbalances in a sound system.

Unfortunately, equalizers, whether graphic, parametric, or shelving in nature, are only as good as the person using them. Knowing where to turn the knob or push the fader is usually a dark science, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.


Ali Whyte said...

I this article is so so important. I think, especially in a lot of educational institutions, sound is an area that is often overlooked until the last minute. I think a lot of this stems from a lack of visual process, and the mindset that sound can be brought in, set up, tested a bit, and is good to go the night of a performance. I also think that in a lot of cases the person running sound is inexperienced or untrained and self-taught, which is something that a lot of people excel in and go on to be really good at what they do, but I think simple articles like this could really help those who are new or looking to improve their sound performance. There are just so many small specific details that go into sound that are so often overlooked that can really make or break a performance. So often I have found myself sitting in the house as an audience member listening to an open mic and feeling that something is just a bit off or that the performer is okay but not amazing, and then all of the sudden there will be a slight change in the sound coming out of the speakers and my perspective will completely change. I think sound has such an a amazing ability to add to or take away from a show, and simply explained and organized pieces like this could really make a difference in this field.

William Lowe said...

I find this article extremely fascinating on a host of levels — so much so that I sent this to my high school’s current sound engineer so that she can learn from it because there is a lot of really great information here which will provide a great base for someone like her who is fighting to learn about sound without any mentor in the institution. The first point I wish to comment on is the section on ear fatigue which instructs the mixer to reduce 3.5kHz by 4dBs, which is honestly an interesting instruction. Typically — due to physics — dB instructions are provided in multiples of three, which the article does tend to do on the whole, but not in this case and the case of “Honky.” The portion on decade differential frequencies was really interesting and I’m going to have to play with that idea now because I think the concept is really cool, I’m interested in its success rate — especially for me on recorded tracks. My only worry about the article is that it tells you — over the course of the entire article — to reduce a lot of frequencies. If a person who lacks a large amount of knowledge about the world of sound were to read this, they could take it as just telling them to reduce all of these frequencies in order to make a perfect mix and it will just be a weird mess with odd frequencies coming through the mix.

John Yoerger said...

I think this was a very interesting article to read. I think, especially in community and High School theatre, there is a "mystery" that floats around equalisers. Especially with self-taught sound engineers. This article is very helpful in helping get away from that mystery as it highlights some important characteristics of equalization. Blog posts such as this one are what we need in our community more often. My school's technical staff did not have a specific expect in Sound, and as a result we had to outsource the setup of our new system and tuning of the equalizer which ended up costing several thousand dollars. The more knowledge our community beings to openly share (especially with expert tips-and-tricks) the stronger our community will become and the more likely future posts will be made of a similar nature from the people the past posts helped. It was great getting to read into more about sound.

Julien Sat-Vollhardt said...

The sensitivity of the human ear always amazes me. It is an phenomonal skill to not only be able to determine if something, anything, is wrong with the mix, but also to be able to determine it precisely, and correct it. I learned so so much on the job when I worked as a sound tech during my gap year, and I met so many people who possessed this skill, people who could manipulate a parametric equalizer without a display, people who could listen to a mix that sounded just right to me, then somehow make it even better. I think it's great that resources like this article exist, if not just to shore up the lacking of my skills.