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The "Rule of Half"
#3063967 09/27/20 09:08 PM
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At seminars, when discussing EQ I often talk about "the rule of half" - namely, that when you make an EQ boost or cut, cut it in half so your ear can get acclimated to the change. That +6 dB boost may sound great now, but it will have a domino effect that affects other tracks. Also, the way your ear works, it likes new sounds. It's going to think what you did sounded great.

When doing a remix last night, I started to think that maybe this applies to more than EQ. The drums needed some saturation and reverb, so I added both, and the drums sounded really cool. But in context with the rest of the music, I applied the rule of half and lived with the sound for a while. That turned out to be the correct amount.

The more I work with audio, the more I think that ears work on a sliding scale. I can listen to a mix on three different days over the same speakers in the same room, and they'll sound different each time. Did my mental perception change? My physical state? Or was it that I wanted to hear something different out of the mix? I have no idea...

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Re: The "Rule of Half"
Anderton #3063983 09/27/20 10:06 PM
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Of all places to learn moderation, my Mesa Boogie Mk III with Simul-Class and EQ taught me to nudge the knobs if I didn't want to end up tweaking all of them!!!! That was a LONG time ago and a lesson I butted heads with repeatedly.
Not just tone either, much like your observations above. The gain knobs were all very interactive and they also affected EQ. Most of the time I shut the 5 band graphic EQ off, just more ways to mess up the tone for me at that point.
Not sure what I would do with that amp now, probably sell it to somebody who wants to fiddle with it! laugh

Recently I started working on getting a bass tone I like going in. Same thing, a nudge can go a long way. I've done it with the controls on Presonus Eureka, with the tone control (passive) on the bass combined with an EMG BTC that I mounted in a project box and now with Tech 21 Bass and Para Driver DI boxes. You're right, it's easy to think "this sounds really cool" and then playback from the recording has you dialing things back because it ain't that pretty at all. For what I like I find the Drive knob and the Blend knob on the Sansamp stuff to be wonderful, until it isn't. A little goes a LONG way.

We fixed an minor tonal annoyance yesterday on the vocals I was tracking just by moving the mic back about 3" and having the singer raise her chin up a little when she was going to get loud. Really smoothed things out.

I've very aware that it can't always be done but often you can solve these issues at the source before committing. It's taking more time as I learn what works but I am hoping it will save time in the long run when there are fewer things that need adjusted later.


There is never enough time to be in a hurry...
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Re: The "Rule of Half"
Anderton #3063995 09/27/20 10:39 PM
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Amen. Also, it's amazing how just a half dB on one track in a mix, either level or EQ, can change the mix's character.

Re: The "Rule of Half"
Anderton #3063999 09/27/20 11:01 PM
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First, I find myself pulling back on effects regularly, especially when demoing a new instrument. The salad should come before the dressing. I still work as if I had the CPU limits of Back Then. Its turned out to be a good mixing habit.

Second, its a guilty pleasure to sometimes automate EQ by hand, once I have a section solidly in place. I can not only fix the honkers, but I can go back later to make sure I didn't stumble over something that muddies the mix on a second listening. Its also gratifying to get a special-effect behavior from it.

Third, Craig, if its sounding different each of three times, its because you're homing in on the optimum balances. You have meaningful time in the saddle, which by now includes sleeping on it and letting the real needs surface naturally. There's also knowing not to knead all of the air out of the dough. If you do, you'll get bricks instead of biscuits. In the midst of all the tech talk, its never a bad idea to let your instincts rule at times. They're part of your filter array.

Too many food references. Time for dinner.


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'Dark Side of the Spoon!'"
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Re: The "Rule of Half"
David Eek #3064044 09/28/20 03:18 AM
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Originally Posted by David Emm
Craig, if its sounding different each of three times, its because you're homing in on the optimum balances.

That's a really good point. Today I took a walk and listened to my next album from start to finish, but paying 90% of my attention to the bass - whether it sounded out-of-place "loud" or "soft" compared to other tracks. Of course, on some tracks the bass should be louder or softer than on other tracks. I was looking for anomalies.

Similarly, I did a "vocals listen" the other day. In the first song I did for the album (which ironically closes It), the vocal wasn't as solid as ones done later in the process. Part of this was due to more practice, part of it was having a better understanding of how it would fit into the album as a whole.

(And yes, I still think in terms of albums. It's not that I long for the past, but the video component is important in this project. I think of it more as a short film/light show with a prominent sound track than a music album.)

Re: The "Rule of Half"
Anderton #3064049 09/28/20 03:59 AM
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^^ It is a good point and an unavoidable aspect of human nature.

Yesterday I tracked a couple of tunes with a singer strummer and last night she texted me to ask which version was my favorite for each song.
I hadn't listened yet and did not want to. I let a couple of them play as .mp3 on my laptop speakers this morning but I wasn't really paying attention.
I might give them a spin tonight but I won't be scrutinizing, I'll just let them run. Or it might be too soon and I'll do it tomorrow.

I always notice different things, we resolve some things in our minds and either improve them or learn to like them. That frees up space to ponder other things, like the "zingy" sound the acoustic guitar made for one brief instant. I'm not sure it matters enough to try to fix or redo it. In the context of adding bass, drums and another guitar I may be the only person to ever know it is there.


There is never enough time to be in a hurry...
Re: The "Rule of Half"
Anderton #3064224 09/29/20 02:56 PM
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Serendipitously, yesterday the latest issue of Tape Op arrived. The last page is usually titled "The End Rant" but this time it is "The Forest For The Trees."

Larry Crane speaks of a lesson learned in his early days as a studio owner at Jackpot and the bane of his existence - the "Horrendous Device."
Pretty funny, very much on topic with this thread and solid observations regarding human nature.


There is never enough time to be in a hurry...

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