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Whether one is producing music, podcasts, game sounds, or film sound effects, Digital Audio Principles provides the tips and techniques that will make the project a success. Author Dave Schroeder explains the basics of digital audio production techniques and covers the essential hardware and software. He also discusses sound theory, frequency response, the range of human hearing, and dynamic range.
All right, so let's start by taking a look at the EQ plug-in family. And this allows you to affect equalization, or cut and boost different frequencies of a sound. Now there's basically two kinds of EQs out there. There's a graphic EQ and a parametric EQ. I want to start by looking at a graphic EQ. And to do this we'll actually use iTunes, which comes with a nice big visual graphic EQ attached with. As you can see, it gives you different frequencies along a frequency range, and we can drag these faders up and down to add or cut that frequency.
And in the center we're having no effect; the sound is just flowing through. This comes with some nice fixed curves built into it. There's flat, and then based on what you want to use, you can change all these to get different sounds. So let's go ahead and feed this a little bit of music and just take a listen to what happens when we play with equalization. I'm going to fade this down and then bring it up, so that we are okay in the volume. (drums playing) So we have got our EQ on, and I can go through and drag and swap different EQs to get a different sound.
Down here we have the low-end EQs on the left, the lower frequencies. So I can take the bass way out and crank up the Treble. (drums playing) That's kind of nasty right there. Yeah. So this is equalization. I'll go back and set that to flat, and here are some nice curves. You can see you can get quite a bit of different tonality out of this. (drums playing) So now it sounds like classical. Not bad.
I always like to do a smiley face. So now we'll go back to flat setting here and we will pause the music. Now the thing to notice about the graphic EQ, and kind of what we'll notice makes it different from the parametric EQ, is that you're working with fixed frequencies here. I can slide the 32Hz frequency down 12 DB or up 12 DB. And that's about it. I can't move 40Hz if I want to. I have to go to 64 or 32. So these fixed intervals, or the different frequencies that you can work with, is really the primary characteristic of a graphic EQ.
Next, we'll open up a parametric EQ, and we'll see that we can actually pick any frequency we want to work with. Let's check one out, and for that we'll go in to Pro Tools. Okay, so here we are in our Pro Tools session. We have got some tracks loaded. I want to go ahead and load up an EQ on one of these tracks, and I think I'm going to go and work with the snare track for this. This is from a session we did a while ago. Let's pick a three-band parametric EQ.
So first let's just take a look at this and see how it differs from the graphic EQ. We have frequency across the bottom and the amount we can boost or cut to left, the DB. Well then we have kind of these three different notches or points that we can grab. Right now, they're all in a flat situation. You can see when I click on them, they come on. I can drag these up and down on these frequencies, but I can drag them anywhere in the frequency. See, the frequency here changes for this one point, and that's nice, that continuous frequency selection, that ability to pick any frequency and not be restricted by the frequencies that the graphic EQ works with.
The other thing that's different, as you'll notice, it's not just up or down, but there is actually kind of this arc that represents how we're affecting the frequencies around the center point. That's referred to as the bandwidth or the queue. So if I had to adjust the queue and make it bigger, the bigger the number, the narrower the bandwidth. That's the trick with queue. So if I just want to hear at 88Hz. If I just want to really boost 88Hz, I can go in and make that queue really tight. If I want to boost lots of frequencies around 88hZ, so I bring them all up together to get kind of a more rounded bass, I can make the queue smaller.
This queue will go down to 0, I guess, or 1. Pretty small here. It's .5. So that's the big difference between the parametric EQ. Let's feed a little signal and just play with this a little bit to get an idea of what we can do with it. I'm going to turn that off. I want to turn them all off so that we don't get blown out by those when we play our track. All right, so we're going to listen to the snare beat here. I'll queue it up a little bit. Just the snare track, nothing too exciting.
But I can use a parametric EQ to go in and really pinpoint certain frequencies. And it's great when working with EQ to kind of, I call this search and destroy method, where you find the sounds that you don't like, or the tonal character of a certain sound, then you actually cut it. So I didn't--you notice right here (drums playing) it takes on kind of a boxy sound there. Pretty thunky. So I'm actually going to cut that a little bit.
I'm going to come over here on the high end and increase the brightness a little bit. Let's see. (drums playing) Then if I want a little bit of thump, I can throw that in there, but really --you want snares to have some bottom, but they don't really occupy that much low end. So you don't want to crank it way up. So the other thing I can do is pick different filter shapes for these. Now you'll have to learn kind of the difference between low shelf and high shelf and low pass. They are pretty simple. I encourage you to just take some time with it, and you'll see. But luckily we can go ahead and adjust these and visually see what they do.
That's a shelf. A shelf means that from the point beyond the point, if it's a low shelf, everything to the left is affected equally. So we're turning everything down by 12. Now if you want to switch to a high pass, aka a low cut, we're actually cutting off frequencies here. I'm going to move that over. See, I can slide this up, and we're just killing all that low end we're seeing. Goodnight Irene, we don't want to hear you.
So that's the advantage of a parametric EQ over a graphic EQ. You can pinpoint frequencies a lot more, work with them a little bit more specifically. EQ is a really indispensable plug-in and DSP tool. So I really encourage that you to get to know all the different features and options that your EQ plug-in has. Being able to work with EQ effectively can have a huge effect on the sound and quality of your projects.
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