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5 ways to use an Equalizer pedal for better tone ( +1 bonus)

Equalizer (EQ) pedals are maybe the most useful tools in a signal chain. It can make a bad sounding amp to sound good. It can simulate the “radio effect”. It can manipulate some other effects to react differently.

Here’s 5+1 ways,


 

1 – Classic tone shaping

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If you have a vintage sounding amplifier and you want make it sound modern, you can use an EQ pedal right after the amplifier (in the FX-loop if you’re using a real-world amplifier). Cut the mids (around 500Hz to 1000Hz) few dBs. Bump up the low-mids (100-200Hz) and high-mids (1000-4000Hz) few dBs. Voila. You have a modern sounding amplifier.

If you need a vintage sounding amplifier while you have modern one, then you do the opposite ↩︎ Bump up the mids, cut the low-mids and high-mids.


2 – As a booster pedal for solos

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If you have a low output guitar like a stratocaster and you want to have some high gain tones then you need a booster pedal or an overdrive pedal to boost you signal. OR you can use an EQ pedal in front of your amplifier. Push the volume slider up (and don’t touch nothing else) of your EQ pedal until you satisfied with your high gain tone. You have a transparent booster pedal.

 
 
 


3 – For tight, djent, modern, low-tuned high gain tones

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If you’re a metal head you may have heard the term “DJENT”. And if you have a low-tuned or 7/8/9 string guitar you’re probably trying to achieve tones of Periphery and/or Meshuggah 🤘🏻.

Fear not. There’s an easy way. You can use an EQ pedal in front of your amplifier to get similar tones. Just lower the frequencies gradually to the left starting from 800Hz. Lesser the bass going into the amplifier, djentier the tone. Don’t forget to use a noise gate.


4 – For retaining tone after drive pedals

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Overdrive pedals are really useful tools for adding some “dirt” to the tone. But they suck some of the very high and low frequencies because of their architecture. If you put an EQ pedal right after your favorite overdrive, you can take those frequencies back. Just push 120Hz, 2kHz and 6kHz up a little bit. You’re back on the original tone of your guitar.

 
 
 


5 – For manipulating AutoWah pedal to suit different styles

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You can use AutoWah pedal in many different styles. Funk, reggae, rock, disco… you name it. They all sound different of course therefore you may think that you need different wah pedals. Nope, let me explain.

Autowah pedal works based on your input. It reacts the amount of level of incoming guitar signal. Your signal triggers the WAH effect.

Different guitar strings produce different volumes. Thicker strings are generally louder than the thinner ones. If your style requires WAH effect on the thinner strings (funk, disco) then you may not be able to trigger AutoWah effectively. You need to manipulate AutoWah with an EQ pedal. Just put an EQ pedal right before AutoWah. Push the mids and highs until you’re satisfied with the WAH effect on the thinner strings.


Bonus 6 – Lo-fi “Radio” effect

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Put an EQ pedal after the amplifier. Take down the highs and lows. You got a radio effect 📻. Use it in and out from time to time to increase the impact of your songs.

 

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4 reasons why digital could never replace analog

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There’s a debate about analog-versus-digital over the past few decades and it seems like it will go on and on.

This debate has been discussed in photography for years and the end result is on digital’s favor. Even the most professional photographers are using digital cameras (DSLR), digital editing softwares like photoshop, digital galleries like Instagram, Tumblr, Flickr these days and nobody’s complaining.

What about the music?

Do pro-musicians prefer digital or analog while crafting their art?

What is the most common medium to consume music?

And finally, how far can digital go?

I broke this debate down into 4 categories for the sake of being just.

Spoiler alert, “Digital is taking over, will took over more areas and I’m very happy with it as an Audio Engineer”.

Here’s why

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Anatomy of a Compressor – What is what, do you need one?


Anatomy of a Compressor – What is what, do you need one?

screen-shot-2016-11-01-at-6-45-20-pmCompressor is a limiting amplifier. It limits the volume of the louder parts of a signal according to some setscreen-shot-2016-11-03-at-3-50-32-pms of parameters.

Threshold This is the point where compressor starts to compress (attenuation) the magnitude of signal. When your signal reaches to that level, it starts to get louder lesser than the original signal. If signal does not reach to that threshold, the signal isn’t compressed.

Ratio This parameter determines how much compression will be applied to the signal that exceeds the threshold. Some typical ratios are 1:1 , 1.7:1 , 2:1 , 3:1, 4:1 , 8:1 , 10:1 , 20:1 ..

The first number is the amount of dB that exceeds the threshold

The second number is the amount of dB that will be added after the threshold.

1:1 For every 1 dB above the threshold, the output will be 1 dB. No compression.
1.7:1 For every 1.7 dB above threshold, the output will be 1 dB. Mild compression.

4:1 For every 4 dB above threshold, the output will be 1 dB. High compression.

8:1 and above is practically limiting the signal to a ceiling level (threshold). Limiter.

Attack Is amount of time in milliseconds that has to pass for the compressor to kick in after the signal hits the threshold. Let’s say you’re dealing with a guitar strum. The initial part of uncompressed signal will be loud and the rest will be quieter. High difference in volume.

If you set your attack to the minimum (near 0 ms), initial part of the signal will be attenuated immediately. So there will be less difference in volume between the initial part and the rest (sustain).

If you set your attack rather high (20ms and above), initial part of the signal will be attenuated slowly. Some of the first waves will pass through without compression until the compressor kicks in. So there will be some difference in volume between the initial part and the rest.

Release Is the amount of time in milliseconds that has to pass for the compressor to let signal go without compression after the signal drops down the threshold. In other words, the recovery time of a compressor, the next transient will be affected as if attack was 0ms unless it’s fully recovered.

Gain (Make-up Gain) This is the last stage of a compressor. It boosts the overall volume so the compressed signal can be loud again.

Meter/Graph

screen-shot-2016-11-03-at-3-50-32-pmThis meter shows the amount of gain reduction, GR (compression/time). When it sit on 0, the compression is 0dB. When it moves to the left side at a certain speed, the compression is what the needle shows. The time that the needle reaches to the far left is attack time. The time that the needle goes back to 0 is release time.

Sometimes it can be used to monitor input and output levels. Its purpose is to compare GR to Make up Gain amounts. Ideally you don’t want a compressor to affect your perceived volume, no boost, no reduction. So you first look at the input meter, see the peak value then you look at the output meter. If there is a difference (there always will be), you compensate it with make-up gain.

Block Diagram

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Visualizing the impact

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Do you need one?


A compressor is a dynamic range processor. If you want to reduce your dynamic range then yes, you need one.

Meaning, if you want your quieter parts (sustain) louder while not boosting the transients, a compressor is all you need.

It can be used on solos to have longer bigger notes like violin or on funky rhythms and chicken picking to beef it up.

But don’t forget, it reduces your dynamics. You will sound less punchy with a compressor. You can’t have punchier sound with a compressor ON than without it. And also a guitar signal will always run in some kind of compression along its path. Overdrive pedals (diodes, buffers), valve  amplifiers, speakers will always compress your signal anyway. Use it with caution 

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Parallel Processing Explained

We use our effect pedals consecutively, side by side in real world. But it doesn’t mean that they are in series, sometimes. And it doesn’t mean that we can’t use them in parallel fashion, in digital world.

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What Causes Latency

“The sound is coming too late”

“There’s a delay when I play guitar”

These are the most common reactions when a guitar player tries to play the guitar using a software effect processor either on a computer or a mobile device.

It’s like the ping in a multiplayer game. There’s a delay between your inputs and results depending on how much ping you have. Same with the music related softwares. Especially on mobile platform.

So, what causes this latency?

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Sample Rate | Bit Depth

We try to paint the digital world with analog brushes. Our instruments generate analog signals and we want them in our smart devices. These signals must be converted to numbers.

So how much number we must use and what is the biggest number we can give to them?

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USB Audio Interfaces

Recording on a computer or a digital system is a standart for a while instead of recording on a tape. As technology advances, making records gets easier. Anyone can record his/her idea in just a few minutes to a computer, using an “Audio Interface”.

So, what does it do? Do you really need one?

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The World of MIDI

“MIDI is a technical standard that describes a protocol, digital interface and connectors and allows a wide variety of electronic musical instruments, computers and other related devices to connect and communicate with one another. A single MIDI link can carry up to sixteen channels of information, each of which can be routed to a separate device.”

There’s a misconception about the use of MIDI. It is often referred to describe 8-bit video game sounds, artificial drums etc. But the truth is that MIDI is just a language not a sound.

This language may enable the communication between a tube amp and a DAW such as Cubase. Even between your smart phone and your soft synth inside the DAW.

So, what can this language convey between devices?

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Signal Chain Explained

signal chain

Guitar signal travels a lot before it hits your ears.

Guitar signal is generally picked by guitar pickups. Here, physical movement of the strings are transformed to electrical signal by pickups. This signal is very weak. Either it is a passive pickup or active, this signal is not audible or in other words it cannot drive a speaker cone.

This signal needs to be amplified by amplifiers in order to drive the speakers. So that we can hear it. But is it pure amplification what we need? What we got used to hear on all those great records?

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