Mike Sokol, who is an instructor for the HOW-TO Workshops recently received the following question:<--break->” title=”<--break-->“></p>
<p>Q. At  your class, you said there’s no pre-defined EQ settings and we have to tune it to our sanctuary and our vocalists and instruments, etc. When I applied this, I tried to stick with the principle of not boosting too many frequencies, and just started cutting the frequencies that we didn’t want. Then I discovered that our church’s Yamaha LS-9 digital sound board has a built-in library of EQ settings. None of the library settings are anything like what I would have done based on what we covered in your class. It’s just so drastically different than what I would have thought, I wonder if I misunderstood that lesson in your class. Given my lack of sound board experience and given Yamaha’s well-established reputation, I’m guessing Yamaha knows a thing or two more about EQ than me, so I’ve been using the library settings.<br />Warm regards,<br />Kevin </p>
<p>Mike’s Answer:<br />Great question. It all comes down to what your own system sounds like, plus the genre of music you’re mixing, plus the performance of your talent. For instance, consider how different the vocals are “supposed” to sound for a ballad singer compared to a heavy metal singer. There will be radically different equalization and performance styles needed for each singer, and each one is right for the crowd listening to it. But the clever sound guy doesn’t get the two mixed up. </p>
<p>I don’t know of a single professional sound mixer who uses those preset EQs in any of these digital consoles. These are just generic settings that might be useful in a few situations, but the vast majority of times they’re only a starting place. They can’t possibly know what type of mic you’re using (dynamic or condenser), timber of the vocalist (thin or earthy) and what the rest of the band is doing (highly compressed or lots of dynamics and air). </p>
<p>That being said, I do think you misunderstood the EQ part of the class a bit. When I talked about beginning equalization by cutting out the stuff you don’t want, I didn’t mean you shouldn’t also boost some of the stuff you do want. In fact, their basic recommendation of rolling off some to the lows and boosting some of the highs is a good place to start. If, however, you already have a condenser mic on the female vocalist with a lot of “zing” around 7 or 8 kHz (AKG 535, for example), then you probably don’t need to add any boost at 7 kHz. But, you’ll probably want to add a little (+3 dB) presence boost around 3.5 kHz to give her voice a little more punch in the mix. The opposite is true with a dynamic mic (say, a Shure SM58), which already has a ton of presence punch around 4 kHz but not a lot of “zing.” In that case you’ll want to add some 8 kHz boost to get some “zing” in a female voice. </p>
<p>Now if her voice is “earthy” like Aretha Franklin, then you might also want to cut a little 200 Hz out to reduce some of the bottom boom. Or if she has a lilting voice like Joni Mitchell, then adding a little 200 Hz boost might help fill out her spectrum. And that’s not even taking into account the music genre’ and SPL of the room, which as I mentioned above is a huge part of equalization decisions. So again, there are just too many variables for a one-size-fits-all solution in a generic library without using your own ears to make decisions.   </p>
<p>In short, while Yamaha (and many of the other console manufacturers) know a lot about building consoles, there’s no way they can predict the rest of the variables in your sound system. Far better for you to find what works in your own situation and then create your own library of EQs and Dynamics that works for you. That’s the real power of digital mixing consoles. </p>
<p>Mike Sokol<br /><a href=www.howtosound.com
mike@fitsandstarts.com
Mike Sokol is the lead instructor for the HOW-TO Sound Workshops with 40+ years experience on both sides of the microphone. For information on how to book a HOW-To Sound Workshop or Tune-Up Session at your own church, please contact Hector La Torre at hector@fitsandstarts.com or 732-741-1275.