Question about EQ..ingPosted by Jesse Lewis on November 3, 2023 at 1:07 pm
Dearest Mix Proteges,
I am working on a new piece which involves the acoustic guitar. Typically when I record my acoustic guitar I use one condenser mic (and maybe occasionally take a DI also) but this time I’m experimenting with using 2 different condenser mics with slightly different positioning (one more soundhole/body oriented and the other more on the neck/left hand.)
Generally, I’m digging the sound that I’m getting when the mics are working together but they need EQ-ing. I’m used to only using one mic so when I EQ it’s usually just that one sound source I’m dealing with.
Here’s my question – Would it be better to EQ each mic separately (filter the sub frequencies below 50 hertz and tame any unruly resonances) OR should I be grouping the two guitars and EQing them together as more of a global group? Or…is it a combo of both approaches?
What do you mix protege geniuses usually do in situations where you are combining two or more mics on the same sound source?
Thanks in advance for any advice/suggestions/resources.
AdministratorNovember 5, 2023 at 12:07 am
Jesseeeeee!! This is such an excellent question I can’t wait to answer (cause I love this stuff and think about – and experiment with – all the time). I’ll probably circle back to this post when I have more time to elaborate, but a quick basic answer from my personal perspective would be:
- I love multi-mic acoustic guitar, especially when the guitar is the main focus of the mix/performance. Usually I’m using multiple mics to a) capture a bigger, fuller-frequency picture of the instrument, and b) so I can pan the mics across the stereo field for a wider “immersive” vibe. As such, I’m often choosing mic placements that are fairly tonally balanced, panning them, bussing them to a stereo aux input (or recording them directly onto a stereo track if I’m feeling really confident and/or lazy lol), and then EQ-ing the combined signal as one unified guitar sound.
- Sometimes tho I will touch up individual mics to remove resonant frequencies or hi-pass a mic with sub rumble etc. before they get summed together on the “Ac Gtr” stereo aux input channel for further EQ/compression/etc.
So I guess my short answer is: I do both. Sometimes. But also, not all the time. Easy right? 😂
I will say tho, that putting one mic on the fretboard for left hand definition and one mic on the body for right hand body could be more effective when summed together in mono rather than stereo (like I do often with upright bass) since, as you mentioned, the two parts of the instrument sound tonally pretty different from one another. If you were to pan those mics wide it might feel weird with all the low end body on the left speaker and relatively no body on the right speaker.
If you were, however, to put a stereo mic placement (XY, Blumlein, ORTF, etc) in front of the guitar near where the neck meets the body and back a foot or more, you’ll still be getting the best of both worlds (body from the body of the guitar, clarity and definition from the neck) but the sound will be more equally balanced in each mic since the two mics are placed right next to each other (also called a “coincident pair” of mics) so that the full combined frequency spectrum of the instrument (neck and body) arrives at the two mics at exactly the same time, which makes for a very balanced Left/Right image … if that’s what you’re going for.
There are so many other fun ways I like to multi-mic acoustic guitar too, which would be easier to demonstrate visually/audibly … maybe I’ll make a video series…
Meantime, there are those two vids on the Mix Protégé Instagram page about exactly these techniques (which I know you’ve already seen, but for anyone else reading this who might be interested ….)
Aaaaand, as usual, my “short quick answer” turned into a long one! haha. I can’t help myself. I love this stuff!! Keep us posted on your acoustic guitar mic’ing experiments!
MemberNovember 5, 2023 at 8:24 am
Wow! This response is so helpful and so much appreciated and answers so much of the stuff I’ve been wondering about. About halfway through your response I was like…this is the short version!? haha!!! (I know you can’t help yourself, bad cat)
Seriously – thank you so much for everything you are doing with this platform and creating this incredible space for people to help each other grow!
AdministratorNovember 7, 2023 at 12:30 am
Haha – my pleasure, brother!!
MemberNovember 10, 2023 at 9:08 am
This is great.
Can’t really add to what @dana is saying…. is everyones first sentance before they add their two cents 😂. Haha.
I find when the ac gtr is the main focus of the song, I struggle more with it more than if it’s a supporting role. I find it harder to hide edits, sound full, but yet not over produced…etc (and mask some peoples heavy breathing 🤦♂️)
If I recorded the tune, I’ll usually use two mic’s (sonically different) and a DI. Record two final passes (two different guitars if possible), treat each pass (3 sound sources) as one via summing folder, and pan. Often the DI doesn’t get used, but if I’m using only one guitar for both final takes, I might want more sonic differentiation and I’ll run it through a amp sim or maybe grit it up a bit with a saturation plug in.
I do some basic “corrective” EQ on individual tracks, and bigger tone shaping moves on the bus.
Voc + Acgtr tracks scare me. It’s so exposed haha. Hence my love for the Natural Production course. Really helped me in a timely fashion while working on a set of tunes of exactly that.
AdministratorNovember 11, 2023 at 5:47 pm
Heavy breathing .. lololol. #realtalk
Love these additions, @Jon_Plett! And it’s a GREAT tip to use different guitars and/or mics to keep those overdubs from sounding too “same-y same same”. If that’s not possible and there is only one player playing one guitar on the same mic on all overdubs, I’ll often look for other ways to switch things up, such as:
- alternate tuning
- alternate chord positions (bar chords vs 1st position for example)
- alternate mic position
And, man, I’m soooooo glad the Natural Vocal Production course has been helpful, brother!
MemberNovember 11, 2023 at 3:19 pm
(sorry about the double spacing; copied from Notes; don’t know how to fix it)
This is my first-ever post. I noticed this in Dana’s Friday Fader e-mail yesterday:
“And to the rest of you talented, creative sonic explorers – yeah you, James 😉: “
A check of the Prot member list indicates that I’m the only James.
Geez! I’ been called out! I need to show up.
I do, however, have a quick show and tell.
In truth, I have recorded very little acoustic guitar, and none of it in rock or pop (ironic given my upbringing). However, I’ve been fortunate enough to have recorded an excellent classical guitarist, Alex Park, a handful of times over the past couple of years.
If the link doesn’t work, copy/paste the following in the YouTube search:
MidDay At Grace – Maegan McConnell and Alex Park
If you have 5 minutes, it’s well worth it. Go to 18:30.
If not, go to 18:30. Listen for half a minute. Go to 19:50. Listen for half a minute.
As you can see, in a church, 2 Octava’s in a 3D-printed ORTF; just one stereo track.
(Love those Octava’s.)
No room mic; just reverb in the box. Yes, a tiny bit of roomy signal from that condenser at the left.
No, not really anything bleed from that amp.
OK, you guys are probably all working in studio so maybe this doesn’t apply to you at all but, like I said,
I needed to show up! Thanks for listening.
(future responses will be more abbreviated, and single-spaced)
AdministratorNovember 11, 2023 at 3:53 pm
@Martyn (aka James)!!! Amazing first post and so glad you’re here – you are such bright, creative, musical light!! I’m gonna bullet point a few quick musings of my own:
- Fantastic video share of your classical guitar recording. Alex Park sounds excellent. I can’t wait for my classical-guitar-wiz brother @Kwas (aka Casey Nielsen) to check this out too!
- I love ORTF – great work! Where can I get one of your 3D printed ORTF clips?? (I’m usually guess-timating and eyeballing my 17cm and 110-degrees 😬)
- Ideas for your next stereo classical guitar recording: 1) try the mics positioned more centered on the body of the guitar — perhaps the center of the ORTF somewhere around where the fretboard meets the body so that the resulting recording has the guitar more centered in the stereo field (currently it feels a bit right-side heavy); 2) try less compression – or a faster release time. I bet it’s the limiter in your Zoom recorder I’m hearing? Just curious! But these are just minor ideas of things to try … you’re doing GREAT!
- Yes! Love those Octava MK012’s! Excellent cost-effective lil mics. I’ve owned my pair for over 20 years.
Also, two more general points for the whole community:
- Don’t ever be afraid to contribute your own thoughts, feelings, and constructive suggestions for each other here on this platform! Very sweet of you and @Jon_Plett to high five what I already wrote (🙏🏻) but I don’t want my personal thoughts and discussions stifle any of your own! Keep chimin’ in, yall! It helps everybody, is more fun that way, and keeps Mix Protégé a vibrant community, not just a “Dana echo chamber” lol.
- EVERYONE got a personalized call-out in the Friday Fader this week! No one person was put on blast …. EVERY person was put on blast! Mwa haha ha ha haaaaa. Just trying to inspire my favorite folks (you all!) to pop by, share some knowledge, ask a question, encourage some members, and have some fun!
MemberNovember 12, 2023 at 9:02 am
Dana, thank you so much for that reply, and those great suggestions.
I had to smack myself on the forehead, having neglected to mention that the guitar is purposely shifted slightly to the right. In other parts of the video Alex accompanies an excellent, singer Maegan McConnell. My goal was to create that “you are there” feeling acoustically, to put the guitar and the voice sonically about where they would be visually on the screen. Hopefully, I got some of that.
Regarding compression, I can’t tell forensically what the settings were on my F6. However, there is a BF – 2A on the guitar track in the session (gain – 45/ peak reduction – 50). I will go back in an experiment with those settings.
That mic clip can be found at jmacoustic.com along with a bunch of other cool ones. (I noticed that the site is “Not Secure”, so exercise proper digital hygiene during payment.)
AdministratorNovember 12, 2023 at 12:04 pm
Ahhhh, nice! Didn’t realize there was a vocalist occupying that left-side space in other parts of the vid – makes perfect sense!
And I bet it’s the LA-2A … it sounds like that compressor’s attack/release profile. I can explain more in our upcoming 1-on-1 sesh, and maybe can make a lil “acoustic guitar compression” video later this week for the MP site here.
With the LA-2A specifically I would say the only “setting” that really matters is that gain reduction meter (i.e. how many -dB of compression is happening). For plucky instruments like nylon guitar with fast transients and relatively short sustain that LA-2A can start to sound pretty noticeable due to it’s fairly fast attack (10ms) and slow release (60ms for 50% of the release, and anywhere from 1 to 15 seconds for the rest). While I wouldn’t consider 60ms a “slow” release time, it’s that 2nd 50% of the release (1-15 seconds) that can start to sound “grabby” on certain sources.
Muuuuch easier – and more FUN – to demonstrate with video and audio than to type out meaningless numbers here hahaha. But you know I get all excited and can’t help myself. AND I want to assure you what I heard on your recording is subtle and probably only noticeable by engineer-dorks like me 🤓. But since this is a perfect space to nerd out about such things I thought I’d indulge myself haha.
Happy to go into more detail with a followup video if you or anyone else here is interested!
MemberNovember 12, 2023 at 3:30 pm
Yes, let’s dig in to that. I was unaware of that fast attack/slow release profile. Now I know why I saw the LA-2A suggested for vocals, but never for drums!
AdministratorNovember 12, 2023 at 11:07 pm
Ah! Yes – LA-2A much better on sustain-y gentler things like vocals and bass than on percussive things like drums and plucky things like nylon guitar. (Sometimes can be good tho on strummy acoustic guitars).
Log in to reply.