Brian focuses on the presence area of the frequency spectrum and uses electric guitars as the instrument group to demonstrate some of the EQ techniques employed to affect presence in a mix. UAD Cambridge EQ, Waves API 550B, and the UAD Pultec MEQ-5 are featured.
- [Brian] We're going to move onto the next sort of range down and talk about adding presence to a sound. I've chosen electric guitars as the example to use here. This song has sort of a combination of some mostly clean guitars, but one with a little fuzz on it, you might say, a little lead line, and I'm going to apply the equalization examples I use to all of the guitars on their sub-bus. I'll first point out that that one lead guitar already has a bit of EQ curve to it where I wanted to add some warmth.
So this may adversely affect that guitar a little bit but you can still get the idea what presence does to a guitar instrument. The example I want to use for this first demonstration is this Cambridge equalizer, and the center frequency I have chosen to start is 3.4k. I'll unsolo the guitars for a moment. (music playing) So there they are, now we solo them. And listen to this. (guitar solo playing) Now that's a very narrow swath, a very narrow Q.
One of the things I like to do when I'm trying to zero in on the right frequency to boost or cut, is get an idea okay, this needs presence, so let's, within that two to five k presence sweet spot, let's find out the one center frequency that works the best. So I'll (music playing) kind of move it around. (guitar solo) And you kind of look for the thing that gets affected the most. And I think it's right around the one that I want, maybe right around there.
Now look, that's not far from where I did it last time. And then you can decide how much of the surrounding frequencies you want to include by changing the Q setting, or bandwidth setting. See how the curve moves as I move this parameter? In the track this is what happens. (vocals and instruments playing) See how much louder those guitars are just in that one region? Presence.
I'm overdoing it a little bit for example, but there it is. That might be my favorite, but there's others. This is a very popular equalizer to use for adding presence to guitars. Now that I kind of know where that frequency is, let's kind of start around that. Now this equalizer, you'll notice, doesn't really have the selectability bandwidth-wise of the last one. But you can, in the top and bottom at least, choose narrow peak or a broad shelf. But the midranges are set by the factory, and they're pretty good for guitars and other percussive-type instruments where something's being struck.
This is centered at 1.5, so that's a low, but let's try this one that's centered at 2.5. (vocals and instruments playing) This has less muscle than the other one. You've got to go a little further. It's just the way the EQ curves are set. The solo. (guitar solo) And presence is the notion of clarity.
Clarity and presence are two interchangeable words when it comes to equalizing. (music playing) And the last example I want to use is this traditional Pultec-style equalizer. This is an extremely popular EQ to use for adding midrange. This is centered around these frequencies which we talked about earlier. This is the presence area, and these three here are kind of the muddy areas.
So you can also boost there to counteract the presence you add so that the instrument you're affecting doesn't really lose its character, and then they also give you a selectable range, a pretty broad range, of frequencies that you can remove or dip. Let's see what this one sounds like. I'll solo it first. (guitar playing) Here's that 3k region. Full open is this.
And there's bypass. This is more subtle, but very musical. (vocals and instruments playing) One of the things you can do with guitars that I'm quite fond of, if this EQ was accompanied by a high-pass filter, I might set that high-pass filter all the way up to 300, then set this equalizer to boost at 300, and then again at 3k, it's pretty popular for guitars.
(vocals and instruments playing) You see how they come alive in the track. You get that boost at the tone that really makes it sound warm, full range and the clarity of this peak of 3k. And that's it for adding presence with equalizers.
Join multiplatinum producer, engineer, and mixer Brian Malouf as he covers the many terms that musicians and non-musicians use to describe music. Brian explains the meaning behind the comments and also demonstrates techniques that can be applied to a mix in response to the notes. He covers lo-fi mix techniques, EQ techniques, changes to levels, adapting the ambience, making vibe and energy adjustments, working with compression options, and revising the placement location of elements in the sonic sphere.
- Lo-fi glossary
- Volume glossary
- Ambience glossary
- Location glossary
- Attitude adjustment glossary
- Compression glossary