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Amp EQ help/advice/insight OR How to cut through the mix without sounding like crud.

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by gonzorob, Sep 10, 2008.

  1. Ok here's the deal,

    I must confess to knowing next to nothing about the difference in speakers and cabs, and less than that about how to eq for certain settings and such. I have read through the faqs and taken special note of the EQ faq.

    I am currently running a Crate BT220 combo and while it handles itself ok in my current band there are a few issues with it I would like to work out. Im on a tight budget so upgrading the amp is not happening in the near future, but I am planning on adding a budget 4 ohm(what crate recommends) 2x10 cab sometime soon(hopefully). Also, I use only passive single coil basses(normally tone and vol are maxed on my basses).

    When I first started out I had read where a lot of people just flatten the eq and go to work. I tried this and while the sound was just ok, it seemed like I could never get enough volume. The crate has a 4 band Eq including a "level". It also has a built in limiter that supposedly keeps the amp from destroying the speaker. So I did some research and decided that I would crank up the lows and highs and keep the mids at "around" 2 O'clock. I kept the level at 12 O'clock.

    I actually like the way this sounds, and it does cut through a little better, but I can't help but think I am missing something. Im also getting some rattling/vibrating/farting? when I hit the low notes under these settings, but that could be chalked up to the way the room is setup. No one else seems to notice, but I do.

    Now I know there are a million other factors that can make an impact on sound. Such as our jam space is small and cluttered with a low ceiling. We play loudish, but I've never had my volume past 1 O'clock. The way we set up in the jam space forces all of our sound to the middle of the room, but I have had issues with cutting through when we played out for the first time also. And it was wide open.

    So I guess my questions are:

    Am I missing the boat on the EQ thing? Should I just leave it flat and crank the volume?

    Or do I just need to find a happy medium between the volume and the level?

    Or am I doing most things the right way and just need to bite the bullet and get an extension cab? The reason I say this is that I think it may be the single 15 that is holding my sound back a bit.

    Thanks in advance for reading this essay and any help you can give.
  2. jgroh

    jgroh Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2007
    IMO and IME, I leave my EQ fairly flat across the board, then pull down the lower frequencies a hair, then boost the mids a little bit. The mids are where you are going to start to cut through. I found that its not always the best sound you hear solo that will work best in a mix. What sounds great playing by yourself may get lost in the mix easily. And what sounds more harsh solo will cut through nicely in a mix.

    Avoid the smiley face on the EQ and instead of boosting everything, you are better to cut out the ones you dont want to keep your tone from distorting. Also, your amp might not have enough power to keep up, so that could add to your problems as well.
  3. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    +1, boost your mids, cut the top and bottom a tad. Also, your amp is a limiting factor. I know it's not going to be easy, but start saving now, and be on the lookout for deals. Not slammin' your gear, I gigged with Crate in the 80's, but let's face it, it's not exactly a "tone machine".
  4. Thanks! I will give this a try.
  5. I am well aware that my amp is somewhat anemic. And I'm sure as heck not trying to get the holy grail of tone out of it either. Hopefully with these suggestions I can get everything out of it I need until I can upgrade.

    On that note, do you think it would benefit me to get something like a 2x10 4 Ohm avatar cab to link with the combo? I realize this might cause me a little drop in volume, but I would think it would help my sound a bit. The other upside to this would be that when I finally get the cash to buy a new amp I won't have to drop anything on a cab to go with it right away. whaddya think?
  6. Lowbrow

    Lowbrow Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2008
    Pittsburgh PA!

    Mid scoop sounds nice when you're in the bedroom, but it's a good way to mix yourself out of a live mix.

    That 600-800hz area may sound a little gruff and ugly when you're soloed, but it'll help you be audible when the band kicks in. Keep this in mind when recording, too.
  7. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    Yep., don't boost when you can cut. That "smiley face" thing with the lows and highs boosted above the mids causes some of your problems. First, since you're boosting the lows, you're pushing the power amp harder and that'll cause the farting you're hearing. It's also harder on the speakers, and you're putting your power into parts of the spectrum that your ears can't hear as well.

    Start flat and if you must boost, boost mids. It will probably sound honky and nasal all by yourself, but you're not playing all by yourself so the soloed souind is meaningless.

    Also, I gotta adress one of my pet peeves here. Your goal shouldn't be to "cut through the mix". If everyone is cutting through the mix, there ain't a mix. It's just a bunch of noise. Think instead of fitting into the mix. Try to get the gui****s to understand "frequency slotting". If the guitars have a lot of low end, then they're fighting you for space. Getting everyone to have their own sonic space works better and gives the whole band a bigger sound with less volume. That'll translate quite nicely on stage in that you'll be better able to hear each other while have a big sound.

    The Neanderthal likes this.
  8. LowBSix

    LowBSix Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 25, 2008
    818 ~ 805 ~ L.A.
    Endorsing Artist: GHS Strings
    800 Hz Bump, will help the fundamental note cut through and give some edge to your tone... Be careful!

  9. duly noted.

    The whole reason that I boosted the eq the way I did was because with it flat, my sound was more "behind" the mix. Not sure why I decided to boost lows and highs as it stated pretty clearly in the eq FAQ what to boost and what to cut to help with a mix. I swear I can be super dense sometimes.
    Im going to tinker with this for awhile and see what happens.

    On that note, should I just leave the "level" knob at 12 for now also?

  10. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    Mids - boost them.
    Lows - cut them just a bit.
    Highs - leave them.
  11. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Hi-fi into an old tube amp
    I was going to throw in my two cents but it looks like we are all on the same page here!
  12. I assume this is when starting with a flat eq?
  13. JanusZarate

    JanusZarate Low End Avenger Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 21, 2006
    Petaluma, CA, USA
    More volume should practically always = cutting some bass, possibly unless you have PA support (and even then, it's not a bad idea since most musicians use their rigs as monitors). It may seem counter-intuitive at first, but when you have a limited amount of power to work with, you want to use it to be heard, not felt. Reproducing those lower frequencies uses more power than the higher frequencies.
  14. Big +1 on this. This is one reason I have had to cut off two keyboard players' left hands. :)
  15. mach1threat


    Sep 3, 2008
    I started out with a crate combo 15", and I must say it sounded good for practice by myself, but when I started playing in a band it just could not cut it.

    As mentioned above, you should cut the lows out (Its very hard to do, I know because I love lows), and boost the midsound up some. I always played Drop A on a 5 string bass, so that didnt help at all either. Also I noticed positioning myself in different spots in the practice space made a little difference.

    I went from the crate combo to a SWR megoliath (8X10") with SM-900 amp (800watts RMS I believe) and it was so loud that it would get ole smokey called on us every time we practiced, and would shake my bandmembers plates out of his kitchen cabnets:bag:
  16. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    As to the Avatar 210, yes. By all means add that to the combo, you'll prolly actually gain some volume. And, like you said, when you do upgrade, you'll already have a 210 cab.
  17. Special Report:

    Jammed for a couple hours tonight with drummer and guitarist.
    Amp settings as follows:
    Lows at 10 oclock, low mids at 1 oclock, high mids at 3 oclock and highs at noon.
    An enormous difference even though we didn't play as loud as normal. Im sure I will have to do some extra tweaking in different settings, but I am pretty happy with these results.

    So you guys aren't just full of hot air after all. :p

    thanks again.
    floridagatorfan likes this.
  18. spego


    Dec 1, 2008
    Hazleton PA
    I have the same amp and have been working on improving the sound and getting more cut. I have added a BDI21 and have the mids up and the low and high about 12 oclock. I changed my P pup to a 1/4 lb duncan. It overall sounds pretty good now I think....better than some I have heard out. I was wondering gonzorob if you ever upgraded to another cab? I am still thinking about it but haven't taken the leap yet (also on a tight budget).

  19. pablomigraine

    pablomigraine Commercial User

    Feb 9, 2005
    New York
    VP & Managing Director - Willcox Basses
    (Takes deep breath)

    Well, first off, IMHO that amp isnt going to give you what you need in a band setting, and youve developed a pretty sophisticated ear for EQ / mix setting. (Thats a good thing!!)

    First off, your live sound depends, IMHO of course, on several key issues, in order of importance:

    Your Bass: Jazz basses sound like Jazz basses, P-basses sound like P-Basses etc. Some basses just dont sound right for some types of music unless you EQ them to death, which almost never sounds right.

    Your Speaker cabinet / enclosure: It took me nearly 15 years to realize that I could have a top of the line bass, excellent amp, and just the right EQ setup and still sound awful and find myself unheard in a band setting if my speaker cabinet was lacking. Seemingly many bassists think if this component as last in line of importance in terms of tone. What Ive come to realize, is that when EQ'ing, especially when looking for the elusive "Flat" response..... what I'm actually doing is filtering out "inefficiencies" in my instrument ( boosting the low frequencies on a thin sounding jazz bass, cutting hi-mid clank on my P-Bass etc), and fixing bad response on my cabinet (ie: having to cut bass or reduce bass boost on my amp or bass to compensate for a improperly ported or badly designed speaker cabinet). Only after all of this is done do you begin to be able to EQ in YOUR sound, and its usually a compromise between getting the sound you want and using a sound that wont fart your speaker(s)

    Your amplifier: If your bass is decent, and its the Right Bass for your tone, and you have a properly designed speaker cabinet, you're going to find that you need to do very little EQ'ing at all. Usually just finding a the right midrange freq to either cut or boost to "Scoop" or "punch" respectively. The most important thing is power. You want to have plenty of power.

    I recommend you invest, if your able to, in a decent 410 cabinet. This will give you the volume you need to make yourself heard in a louder band setting. Next, get yourself the loudest amp you can afford. For many people it actually turns out to be more cost effective to run a preamp pedal and a separate PA power amplifier, both of which can be gotten used or new for often far less than their Ampeg or GK counterparts. For example, I'll be using an Aguilar Tone Hammer ($189) and a used Carvin DCM 1000 ($200 on ebay) That's 1000 watts and all the EQ you'll likely ever need provided you pair it with a well designed Speaker Cabinet.

    However, If you're looking to try and get the best from what youve got, as stated earlier, avoid boosting your bass EQ too much, instead cut out some mid frequencies. ( Cutting too much mid ends up in a "scooped" sound, which often sounds great solo but gets lost in a band setting ). Cutting certain hi-mids and slightly boosting some lo-mids, while leaving the bass control alone often lets you punch through a mix very well. In short, try cutting out the frequencies you don't want, rather than boosting teh ones you do.

    Here are some great examples of some components Ive used in the past with great results. Combining any of these will result in plenty of power, and the need to use far less EQ to make them sound right. All of these can be had on used for half or less than half of thier new price:

    Preamp pedal + Power amp:

    BBE Bmax Preamp $300 new, $180 Used

    Sansamp BDDI $100 used

    Aguilar Tone Hammer $189 new

    Crown XLS Power Amp Under $200 used

    Carvin DCM1000 Power amp $200 used

    Speaker Cabinets

    GK 410 BLX $400

    Avatar B410 Neo $400

    Let us know what your results are with whatever you choose to do!
  20. spego


    Dec 1, 2008
    Hazleton PA
    A lot of good info there....thanks for the post!

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