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EQ'ing by eyes or ears?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by markorbit, Jun 18, 2007.

  1. markorbit


    Apr 16, 2004
    So there I was messing with the EQ on my BabyBlue and Spector LX. I don't normally cut or boost a fantastic amount but the moment I substantially cut at about 300Hz, also cut a bit at 5Khz and boosted at about 90Hz the sound took on a whole new shape. Very clear but nice bass too. The tone reminded me of the default Rickenbacker tone.

    I've not been able to find 'my' sound for a while. I wonder... are we conditioned to psychologically stick to flat as close as possible when our ears tell us otherwise - if only we'd listen?
  2. I know I am guilty of Eq-ing with my eyes too much. I don't ever want to stray far away from flat. Oh well, at least I don't go for the dreaded smily face :scowl:
  3. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    I start with flat and go from there. There are technical reasons why a heavily voiced EQ diminishes system performance, especially if you are trying to get more bass out of a speaker than it's got.

    The interesting thing is that many amps are not flat when the knobs are centered, my GK head is a case in point. I had to use a real time analyzer to dial in the flat voicing -- mainly because I was curious, and also because I want to test my DIY speakers under flat conditions to gauge their performance.

    Beyond that, if it sounds good, it is good.
  4. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    Like the scientist from Blade Runner .. I ... only ... do .. ears ...

    what the heck good are eye's when it comes to EQ'ing - unless you have a notebook from the last time you played tha room ?
  5. If it sounds good, it is good.
  6. BetterBottomEnd

    BetterBottomEnd <- Not me I just like looking at her

    Jan 9, 2007
    Cable Wi
    I EQ with my eyes too. When I turn around to start playing though my ears take over. A friends rig that I play on has this kinda nasty overly aggressive mid tone and every time I have to cut my mids I cringe. Sounds good with that cab and still cuts through though.
  7. Daytona955i


    Feb 17, 2005
    Albany, NY
    New rig, all ears.

    My rig, some of both. I know enough about the ins and outs of my gear that I know what it's going to sound like (at least pretty close) by just looking at my settings. Then I tweak by what sounds better.
  8. +1. I also have played with analyzers. It turns out that the mids knobs on my guitar and bass amps don't actually boost my mids. They go between cutting everything from mids on up and leaving the mids pretty much alone. Armed with this info, I have no problem running with my mids knob maxed, since that (with other tweaks) is actually the closest my amp gets to an actual flat EQ. Usually I run the guitar with full mids and highs with the bass knob at zero, because anything else is more bass than I want. Obviously I don't do that on the bass, but I do get a good tone with max mids, bass just above 12:00, and treble somewhere above 12:00.
  9. ibnzneksrul


    Feb 2, 2007
    So Cal
    Using your eyes helps you put numbers on what you're hearing with your ears.
  10. Johnny Crab

    Johnny Crab HELIX user & BOSE Abuser

    Feb 11, 2004
    If I know the amp, eyes.

    If a bass has weak or too loud spots that need correcting, THEN the frequency chart gets pulled out(tells me the frequencies for each fret/note on the neck).
  11. I generally start at flat and then adjust from there with both eyes and ears. I always cut at low frequencies like 30hz because it helps eliminate a lot of the boominess. Then I start boosting frequencies by ear. It takes a good 5 minutes of adjusting, going a little further on some sliders, backing off on others.

    I've still yet to play a show with a graphic EQ, so I haven't had to worry about changing from room to room, but any amps/preamps I've tried I've done in this system, and I got to mess around with the ART Tube Graphic EQ that I'm going to use to go direct when my band records our EP and it sounded pretty nice after I found the settings I liked.
  12. will33


    May 22, 2006

    Good point, fdeck's statement about setting an amp all straight up not being actually flat is right on too. Best you can do is this: if you're using PA support, set it to be heard across the stage for the guys in your band and don't worry about anything else. If you're playing a gig where your rig is the bass for the room, get as far away from your rig and/or your band as you can and adjust it to sound good to the audience, don't worry about what it sounds like standing next to the rig as it will likely be lacking bass and middy/twangy sounding next to it. Of course, if you play the same room regularly and you've found a good sound before using your eyes to take note of your settings will help you have a better place to start from next time but there are still many variables like the exact placement of the rig, how many people are there to soak up the sound, etc.
  13. ibnzneksrul


    Feb 2, 2007
    So Cal
    This is great advice, string 3 cords together with couplers if you have to. Hearing what it sounds like 'out there' is a great way to dial in your sound.
  14. I use a measurement mic to set the system EQ to flat, then use the tone controls on the preamp. Most of the time I play them flat also.
  15. Bryan316

    Bryan316 Inactive

    Dec 20, 2006
    I was the opposite for a while. I dialed in my tone according to frequency settings I was used to. Any amp I tried or demo'ed, I'd dial in what I remember and then started playing.

    When I bought my new amp, I set everything flat, and played it. Then I started dialing in this and that, trying everything else, and after a weekend of noodling, I came back to completely flat, with a boost of my low knob on my bass guitar. That's it. And it's incredibly satisfying.

  16. +1 to the above. My approach is to attempt to find a rig that sounds good to my ear and achieves my tone goals with very little EQ... i.e., with the controls set 'flat'. Per the above, this is usually far from a true 'flat' tone, but then allows for plenty of room to use the EQ controls for what they are really meant to be used for... to keep the inherent tone of the rig relatively constant in different rooms and playing situations.

    I've found that, given the fixed Q's on the vast majority of amp heads and preamps, that even moderate adjustments of EQ can result in a very 'peaky' tone, with lot's of humps and valleys.

    So, I know this is an oversimplification, but IMO if you find your rig sounding a lot better to you with lot's of EQ, it might suggest that the design goals of that particular unit or brand does not match up well with the 'sound in your head'.

    IMO, as always.
  17. greenboy


    Dec 18, 2000
    remote mountain cabin Montana
    greenboy designs: fEARful, bassic, dually, crazy88 etc
    What difference does it make if the EQ curve is applied as an unmentioned and undocumented "feature" by the designer of the product, or if it is applied at the front panel by the buyer/user of the product?

    Well, for one, if I want a certain tonal profile for a song or for an evening, I don't want to have to second-guess some amp company's secret formula and maybe be having to counter its often confusing influence. I want NO hidden voicing from a marketing department that thinks this gives their products an edge on the showroom floor (or elsewhere).

    Give me TRUE flat response and I'll decide whether I want further EQ from the honest signal representation.

    * * *

    As for those that think you can EQ for a room when listening only at their own position on stage, surely you would be better off using a wireless and finding out what it really sounds like at multiple points in the audience or on the dancefloor, or just realizing that any changes you make are only going to be useful at the position you are listening at, and could actually not change things for the better at positions out front.

    And that's fine unless you have no PA support, as the bass rig then is mainly a stage monitor anyway.
  18. CElton

    CElton I'm a new note finder...

    Johnny, would it be possible to send me a copy of that chart?

  19. IMO.. the difference is, the designer has an infinite variety of EQ center points, boosts and cuts and Q's to play with. To me, a 'flat' response is only one of an infinite number of possible EQ curves, and does not necessarily imply good tone, or even a good starting point for many EB bass tones. Combine that with the fact that a seemingly flat response designed into a cab in a 'lab' situation can be massively 'unflat' in different rooms.

    Finding a rig that is pleasing and that generates the tone you are looking for inherently seems to be a much better option than trying to use the very limited EQ controls on the vast majority of amps and pre's out there today to muscle a rig into producing a significantly different tone than the designer envisioned.

    Regarding changing tone for different tunes, I pretty much accomplish that with my right and left hand technique, and minor pickup blend adjustments. I never touch my amps controls once set for the room at a gig. It's amazing the variety of tones you can coax from a bass with different technique.

    However, I'm not disagreeing with your approach either, and it's obviously valid. I guess the only thing I question a little bit is the idea of starting with a 'flat' voiced system that is tuned to be flat in one and only one situation and thinking that results in some sort of superior EQ curve in vastly different rooms. I guess if you are using one of those pink noise type systems and a massive, high end multiband graphic EQ combined with some sort of full parametric additional system to truly 'flatten' a system as a starting point for each and every room you play in (like the high end concert PA guys), that would be pretty cool.

    Totally IMO and IME for my approach and tone. There's nothing better to me than finding a rig that sounds good to you in the vast majority of venues with only a slight adjustment of the bass control in varying acoustic situations to 'equalize' the response.:bassist:
  20. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    Always ears. Flat would be a nice starting point if both the amp and speakers had flat response to begin with, but they don't.
  21. Primary

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    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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