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Anyone using math calculations for EQ settings?
#3046416 05/29/20 05:48 PM
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I was working with a consulting client this week, and he started asking me about using the key of the song to calculate the EQ settings on a master..... While understand the concept, the idea of actually doing that is so foreign to me that it actually took me aback for a moment. EQ is such a feel thing for me, and I have always found predetermined numbers a bit counter-productive.

Is anyone calculating EQ values? and if so, what have you found most useful about that approach?


Ronan Chris Murphy - Producer-Engineer
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Re: Anyone using math calculations for EQ settings?
Ronan C Murphy #3046423 05/29/20 06:10 PM
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Since I work entirely with acoustic music and do my best to get it right when tracking, the whole idea of equalization based on the key of a song sounds totally goofy to me.

But to be fair to the other side of the production world, if you're creating music electronically there might be some basis for wanting to know where predominant harmonics are - not so much for the purpose of EQ-ing after the fact, but in shaping your electronic sounds so that they'll balance and not clash within a mix.

Re: Anyone using math calculations for EQ settings?
Ronan C Murphy #3046436 05/29/20 07:05 PM
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This just seems silly.
The variables are endless. If you knew the exact frequency response of every single instance of every single instrument and were detailed enough to "correctly" tune all the drums, voice any and all instruments, etc., then there might be a case for applying a calculated set of EQ curves and then listening to see if that even sounds good.

Otherwise, it simply sounds like somebody attempting to create a simple solution for an impossibly complex situation. Not everything is a math problem, hopefully Music is ART!!!!


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Re: Anyone using math calculations for EQ settings?
Ronan C Murphy #3046499 05/30/20 04:25 AM
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Hmm, I'm a bit of a math nerd, and I'm not even sure how you would approach this. What you're dealing with is an optimization problem, which you could apply a Design of Experiment (DOE) on the EQ values. The first problem is to define a continuous result variable that you could measure in terms of "pleasantness'; that is, what can I measure that indicates that this combination of values sounds good from 0 to 1 say on a continuous spectrum. Then you have to deal with all of the input factors. It's not just the EQ values for one particular instrument, but each track that you are applying EQ to, and not just the bands, but the Q values as well. If you did a full factorial DOE on all of these variables, you would quickly run into the millions of necessary experiments. Even if you reduced it to a partial factorial DOE, you'd still have thousands of experiments. I can't see any way you could say, "This song is in the key of Em, therefore set your EQ values to these numbers." That just doesn't make sense. I think your job is safe, Ronan.

Re: Anyone using math calculations for EQ settings?
Ronan C Murphy #3046503 05/30/20 04:46 AM
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After not thinking about this at all and then reading Pat's excellent post above, I thought - what if there are other chords, or a modulation to another key?

You are supposed to change the EQ if the bridge is in C? The tones of the instruments are still the same, just the notes are different. The kick doesn't change keys just for one.

Maybe sometines people make stuff up because it sounds "lofty" or knowledgable to speak of such wonders.

Same conclusiion again, total BS.


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Re: Anyone using math calculations for EQ settings?
Ronan C Murphy #3046650 05/30/20 11:28 PM
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It seems that people are forgetting about harmonic content. I can only imagine EQ based on the key applying if all the instruments were only playing the fundamental sine waves, or all the exact same harmonic content, like nothing but even ordered harmonics. That would be very boring music. All instruments have different harmonic content, which is why they all sound different. Mix them all together and I don't see how you could pick out the EQ mathematically. I suppose your best be would be to do Fourrier analysis of each instrument and generate a composite series of the mix and go from there....but then what does that mean? Do common harmonics mean that band should be boosted, or cut?


Dan

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.
Re: Anyone using math calculations for EQ settings?
Ronan C Murphy #3046925 06/01/20 06:49 PM
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I am aware of the rough frequency ranges of each octave of sound. I've learned likely frequencies to catch the fundamental or interesting harmonics of different instruments. I do think about whether I want to EQ the fundamental or a harmonic and go fishing around appropriately. But to "set and forget" based on the key? No, I don't do that. Why would I always want to boost one note? If that was the case, isn't that the musician's job?

I have tuned drum sets to the key of the song, but that is pretty normal. EQ is mostly about removing resonances that interact with loudspeakers, and making room for parts to be heard (which could be boost or cut). This is often overtone dependent. I am a fan of dynamic EQ because it can "come and go" instead of being "always on".


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