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MUSIC, AMBIENCE AND SOUND ART => Music Gearheads Tech Talk => Topic started by: animapara on October 22, 2017, 02:11:40 PM

Title: Drone/pad EQ-ing.
Post by: animapara on October 22, 2017, 02:11:40 PM
Guys ...

Stuck with drone/pad sounds :(

What is the basic concept in EQ-ing drone/pad sounds? Removing resonances and/or various unpleasant whistle frequencies with notch-filter? Of course, some LP/HP filtering - but it's matter of personal taste.

Yeah, i know .. some say "I don't do any eq on drones trying to carefully select source sounds" - but it's not my case. I believe in some EQ-ing
when making drones. 

Is removing resonances all i need to take care about drone/pad/any sustained sound? As i understand, traditional cutting low-mids area trying to clean up
sound is not a way when we talk about drones.

Please, tell what you usually do with EQ when making drones ...

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks.
Title: Re: Drone/pad EQ-ing.
Post by: APK on October 23, 2017, 08:05:39 AM
Hey there.
I think you are onto the main problem, which is resonance, a sharp build up at a particular frequency. I'm always notch EQing them down because they will remain annoying otherwise. A dynamic EQ can be useful, but regular notch works of course. Beyond that, how I would EQ a drone depends what is sitting with it, and where it is good to leave some space for other sounds. For which there is no real formula. Drones and pads can vary greatly, so it is more a case by case issue. One good trick is to turn the thing up loud. Does it still sound balanced and listenable.

Often I will EQ a drone to shape its spectrum. Lower some frequencies and bring up others ... maybe to add a bit of brightness to the high end or cut the boominess in the lows. But as I say, on a case by case basic.

As you say, getting it right when selecting initial sounds and layers is very important. But in my experience some EQ will usually be needed to balance things later on. EQ is such an important weapon.

Because our ears and mind get tired and a bit untrustworthy, I will always park a finished piece for a week or so, then come back and listen it more objectively, as though it were someone else's piece. And listen for anything annoying. Then try to correct it. This will primarily be an EQ job, and some related volume balancing.

Conclusion :  For me there is no one way a drone (or pad) is made or should sound. But there are technicalities and aesthetics of music that should be observed. Which means: It should sound good. If it doesn't it needs work !  :)
Title: Re: Drone/pad EQ-ing.
Post by: Castleview on October 23, 2017, 08:11:32 AM
Cutting mids is fine as long as you don't overdo it. Too many mids can muddy the sound very quickly.

Removing resonances isn't really a must but it can help. I do it quite often but there's no rule saying you can never use resonance when filtering your drone textures. There aren't too many rules to making drones except for the basics like monitoring the frequencies and like APK said, making it sound good.
Title: Re: Drone/pad EQ-ing.
Post by: animapara on October 24, 2017, 07:41:00 PM
APK, Castleview ... thank you very much for your answers.

I've attached one example of drone i'm aiming to recreate: https://www.dropbox.com/s/a6jbxb8zbafurtx/Sound%201.mp3?dl=0 (https://www.dropbox.com/s/a6jbxb8zbafurtx/Sound%201.mp3?dl=0) It's excerpt of a track from Alio Die album "They Grow Layers of Life Within". This type of drones i call "lightweighted" (it's usual for drones that Stefano does) because it hasn't too much of low-end. If you look in spectro analyzer it has rarely something below 100-120 Hz.

My problem is that after i carved all resonances and unpleasant frequencies, my drone starting to sound "soft and weak" comparing to Alio Die's drone. I'm loosing some kind of sound "edge" and become more "amorphic" and shapless. And i don't know what to do to reinforce the shape and get the edge back :(
Title: Re: Drone/pad EQ-ing.
Post by: animapara on December 02, 2017, 02:33:27 PM
Also ... about drones

I heard a lot from various ambient musicians that they do not apply any compression on drone sounds in mixing. But ... in mastering stage? Does drone ambient need a touch of compression in final mastering?

Thanks.
Title: Re: Drone/pad EQ-ing.
Post by: Seren on December 03, 2017, 08:12:33 AM
I suppose I play around with a sound until it is how I want it to sound - whether that is EQ or anything else.
I have used comb and other filters and set the parameters slightly differently for left and right channels.
I have filtered out unwanted prominent frequencies - but also filtered out frequencies until the sound left is seesawing on the edge of pleasant - depends on what I want the music to do. Fractured has some pretty intense/harsh sounds in.
Sometimes I copy the tracks and do notch passes - and then mix them back together - so the end sound has most of the original, but somehow faded, like an old manuscript.....
Title: Re: Drone/pad EQ-ing.
Post by: animapara on December 24, 2017, 01:44:23 PM

To keep the shape, you have to work at the source. Not after the reverb with a drone or pad. Drones and Pad sounds often have effects, then work on the source sound first.


It's not that easy to me ...

Well, i want to do a drone with "flat low end" (means that the drone doesn't have too much of low freq below 120 Hz) I apply a filter which cuts high end and low end below 120 Hz. And now my drone starts to sound weak and losing its "sharpness" and "edge" ... then i boost mid freq to compensate it - and i got unnaturaly "plastic-like" sounding drone :(  That's my problem ... when i cut lows - i got weak, shapless sound ... when i add mid freq - i got plastic :( I don't know where lies a "balance".

In other words i trying to make drone with "flat-bottom" but with no-plastic mid frequencies.


Maybe my problems lies in wrong using of notes (i mean in wrong octaves, maybe too low octaves). I'm using chords, not a single note ... i can even call it "pads" not "drones" where many atonal sounds could be.

 




Title: Re: Drone/pad EQ-ing.
Post by: Seren on December 29, 2017, 01:25:19 AM
drones can have a range of frequencies, but if choosing a particular range you may have to consider how you use the resulting sound.
you have to ask yourself what am I wanting to create with this sound.
Bass drones are very good for creating an open expansive foundation on which to layer other sounds.
higher pitch drones can be very grating on the ear if too continuous, unless you are adding other textures or effects to the sound - including panning and volume movements...
I created some drones using a wine glass as source - very limited in frequency - but did a variety of things with the result rather than leave it as a bald glass sound - even so, some found the result unpleasant.
Title: Re: Drone/pad EQ-ing.
Post by: animapara on January 03, 2018, 03:12:18 PM
I found shimmer reverb sits very well with drones ... probably, the best type of reverb to use with drone sounds. -12 semitones down (and maybe another delay with +12 up) with plate or spring reverb gives the infinity :)

You can also record only shimmer sends (delay+reverb) without direct dry signal ... nice impression of wet big space.
Title: Re: Drone/pad EQ-ing.
Post by: LNerell on January 05, 2018, 11:05:11 AM
Drones with "knife in ear" frequencies I always notch out with EQ using vary narrow bands of Q to just effect those frequencies that are annoying. And yes, try this before applying effects, especially reverb.
Title: Re: Drone/pad EQ-ing.
Post by: Scott M2 on January 05, 2018, 12:46:17 PM
After the notching, a good stereo chorus with a very slow sweep (ideally with different speeds on each side) can add some subtle motion to drones before they enter the reverb bath.
Title: Re: Drone/pad EQ-ing.
Post by: Castleview on January 25, 2018, 08:46:48 PM
Drones with "knife in ear" frequencies I always notch out with EQ using vary narrow bands of Q to just effect those frequencies that are annoying. And yes, try this before applying effects, especially reverb.

This is something I need to try more often. I have a habit of just applying EQ at the end of my chains.
Title: Re: Drone/pad EQ-ing.
Post by: animapara on February 02, 2018, 01:38:59 PM
Quote
And yes, try this before applying effects, especially reverb.

hmm ... can someone explain please, whats benefits of doing EQ before reverb? Does it sound more clean, transparent .. or maybe more professional?
Title: Re: Drone/pad EQ-ing.
Post by: Seren on February 05, 2018, 12:58:03 AM
Jaja's answer is short and to the point.
Applying reverb just to the sounds you want is much easier than trying to EQ out the sounds you don't want later.

But you can experiment with both and choose which you prefer - sometimes sounds develop a life of their own when something is 'left to chance'.....

Some of the sounds in my music started off in other projects. They did not fit what I was working on at the time, but were inspiration in themselves.
Title: Re: Drone/pad EQ-ing.
Post by: animapara on February 22, 2018, 12:20:19 PM
This is easy. A reverb multiplies and extents sounds. It does the same with any unwanted frequency.
If you then EQ the sum of the sound and the reverb, you probably will notch lots of the good sounds too.

Thanks.

Sometimes i feel that some ambient artists mostly use delay instead of reverb ... or add reverb in very small portions so i can't clearly hear the "reverb sound".


Title: Re: Drone/pad EQ-ing.
Post by: Julio Di Benedetto on February 22, 2018, 10:21:12 PM
The best that you have is your ears...if they don't know....they will learn.  Get in there and mess around,...totally screw it up and it will open portals for you.

Theres great advice here but this is ambient where normal studio decorum often has little sway so have fun and explore. If you are new to this enjoy the journey as there are no short cuts. If anyone offers them to you dont take them. ;)

Title: Re: Drone/pad EQ-ing.
Post by: animapara on March 08, 2018, 02:23:07 PM
Strange ... In most cases, "muddy" frequencies are in 200-500 Hz range.

But related to drone, i noticed that muddy area usually is between 150-180 Hz.

Of course, maybe i doubt but my ears tell me 150-180 :)
Title: Re: Drone/pad EQ-ing.
Post by: APK on March 08, 2018, 06:14:03 PM
You can only trust your ears. And make things sound how you want. How you enjoy it.
There is no such things as what a drone frequency is and what to do with it.
Timbre, depth, tone.
It is case by case.
We are not dealing here with an 80s pop tune with the standard studio settings for bass, drums, vocals, etc.
No formula. No set style.
No one type of drone.

Title: Re: Drone/pad EQ-ing.
Post by: animapara on March 09, 2018, 06:59:47 AM
No formula. No set style.
No one type of drone.

Yes, in terms of creative process "no formula".

But i can hardly imagine that there is any music label who wants to release unprofessionaly (or bad sounding) recorded music. All ambient music i listened has something common in quality of sound (in drone ambient genre too). So, it somehow reminds of "80s pop sound with same peresets used" :)

Title: Re: Drone/pad EQ-ing.
Post by: Castleview on March 10, 2018, 09:29:11 PM
Strange ... In most cases, "muddy" frequencies are in 200-500 Hz range.

But related to drone, i noticed that muddy area usually is between 150-180 Hz.

Of course, maybe i doubt but my ears tell me 150-180 :)

I tend to EQ both of those frequency ranges a lot myself when I'm working on tracks.
Title: Re: Drone/pad EQ-ing.
Post by: Seren on March 11, 2018, 07:00:31 AM
No formula. No set style.
No one type of drone.

Yes, in terms of creative process "no formula".

But i can hardly imagine that there is any music label who wants to release unprofessionaly (or bad sounding) recorded music. All ambient music i listened has something common in quality of sound (in drone ambient genre too). So, it somehow reminds of "80s pop sound with same peresets used" :)

  I would advocate creating sounds you are happy with, you can try putting out tracks on bandcamp etc and see how people respond to them.
  I used to use soundcloud too - where people could (I assume they still can) add comments to the tracks they are listening to.
  You could also try sending a CDs worth of music to labels you think might be interested and ask for constructive feedback.
  This will help you clarify the balance you wish to hold between what you are wanting to create and what other people want to listen to.

There is a very wide range of music / sounds created by artists in 'ambient' music - including those on this forum (let alone digging into the many other forums out there)....listen to different pieces and see how the range strikes you.

What artists inspire you? do you want to create in a similar vein or use those sounds as a springboard for your own themes and sounds.

Sometimes putting a very complex piece of sound through a variety of effects including the perennial reverb can create a backdrop / drone / atmosphere in which different frequencies and textures waft in and out - perhaps you could muddy things up further and see what arises?
Title: Re: Drone/pad EQ-ing.
Post by: animapara on March 11, 2018, 08:33:25 AM
What artists inspire you? do you want to create in a similar vein or use those sounds as a springboard for your own themes and sounds.

Artists that inspired me are Klaus Wiese, Alio Die, Vidna Obmana and Robert Rich.

But these guys are so high ... and my dream is to reach their level of professionality in terms of technical approach of mixing/editing etc.
Title: Re: Drone/pad EQ-ing.
Post by: Seren on March 11, 2018, 01:42:13 PM
High inspiration indeed - but each of them had to start somewhere, and then develop their own sound and expression.

For example Vidna Obmana has created a very wide range of sounds, including harsh noise experiments, delicate glass like ambience, tribal (with Steve Roach) and guitar drones - all having different intent, sound palettes and eq....

I suspect we all seek certain sounds in our own initial inspirations before discovering our own voice - enjoy your own journey....play around....explore....create.
Title: Re: Drone/pad EQ-ing.
Post by: Castleview on March 11, 2018, 02:13:26 PM
Vidna Obmana/Dirk Serries is an excellent example of somebody who started from hardly anything and developed himself into a star in the ambient world. He started out with harsh noise and moved on to fairly simple loop-based ambient compositions soon after but eventually, his music grew more ambitious as his talent grew.
Title: Re: Drone/pad EQ-ing.
Post by: Seren on March 12, 2018, 02:35:13 AM
I suspect we all seek certain sounds in our own initial inspirations before discovering our own voice - enjoy your own journey....play around....explore....create.

I forgot to add - let us know what you are doing.....

My main influences were very early Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream (giving away my age here) followed by Oophoi and Steve Roach in my second phase immersion in ambient music...but I also listened to Z'ev, Throbbing Gristle and Cabaret Voltaire in between.
   I also listened to Morton Subotnik, Dr Who theme etc etc.....

I suspect each of these influences can be heard in the range of music I've created.

I've also listened to a lot of music that I may listen to once or more often - but I am inspired not to make music like that as well, if that makes sense - not a reaction against, but recognising where I don't want to go as well as where I do....
Title: Re: Drone/pad EQ-ing.
Post by: Julio Di Benedetto on March 12, 2018, 07:22:12 PM
What artists inspire you? do you want to create in a similar vein or use those sounds as a springboard for your own themes and sounds.

Artists that inspired me are Klaus Wiese, Alio Die, Vidna Obmana and Robert Rich.

But these guys are so high ... and my dream is to reach their level of professionality in terms of technical approach of mixing/editing etc.

Theres nothing wrong with being versed in studio proficiency as we have to wear both hats most of the time but I can't help feeling you are looking to a technical level that is actually not there.  The people you mention as inspiration are not technically professional to use your word.... well actually Robert Rich is and I would like to have some of his studio chops so.....

We strive to make our music sound the best we can but few here are studio engineers...what we are are ambient musicians who work very hard to create beautiful music first and then work twice as hard to make it sound good....I speak for myself.

The technical analysis of a "drone" seems to me ludicrous......it goes against examination, it is anything but technical...it is all emotion and often created by mistakes or better put sonic accidents.

There are certainly drone masters out there and you have mentioned a few but I should hope that their work is a process of discovery that has in its essence nothing to do with technicalities....what would be the point?

Hope this does not come across harsh because its not written as such. :)
Title: Re: Drone/pad EQ-ing.
Post by: Julio Di Benedetto on March 12, 2018, 07:46:57 PM
To take this further.... it would be like technically analyzing a Jackson Pollack abstract painting or better yet a Mark Rothko painting as Steve Roach has been compared to within ambient space music.  Not possible....well,  one could try but it would fail.  The technical does not have a vocabulary that can express feelings to be summed up in Kilohertz.

Or can it? 
Title: Re: Drone/pad EQ-ing.
Post by: petekelly on March 13, 2018, 07:49:35 AM
Some good advice here. I have something of a feeling of deja vu about this thread, so I havewn't contributed so far.

To me, drones are the 'essence' of ambient music and are somewhat undervalued. It's easy to make any kind of long continuous sounds, but not so easy to make them interesting and subtle.
Of course, there's a technical element involving their frequency distribution, but their musical effect has very little to do with that.
Title: Re: Drone/pad EQ-ing.
Post by: animapara on April 27, 2018, 02:37:55 PM
To me, drones are the 'essence' of ambient music and are somewhat undervalued.

This ^^

As i understand, the basic problem when you do drone is nasty resonances in low-mid and hi-mid frequency range. It completely kills the drone turning it in plastic unpleasant trash.

And my problem is that i'm always overdo resonance cutting (i do it with notch) ... doing too much of eq carvings. Thus, my drone usually sounds too "soft" compare to drone that other do. Always do much more that 2-3 dB :(

Maybe is there any "tactics" when cutting resonances and any unpleasant frequencies?
Title: Re: Drone/pad EQ-ing.
Post by: Tardigrade on May 27, 2018, 02:26:58 PM
Since a drone from a synth, guitar, cello, etc. can have infinite spectral possibilities, there is no set formula for drone EQ.  Analyse the sound with your ears and a real time frequency analyzer.  Make whatever EQ adjustments you need to get the sound where you want it to be.  Fairly narrow band parametric EQ in problematic muddy frequencies is typically more effective than broader EQ curves or extremely narrow notches.   
Title: Re: Drone/pad EQ-ing.
Post by: Tardigrade on May 27, 2018, 02:36:00 PM

As i understand, the basic problem when you do drone is nasty resonances in low-mid and hi-mid frequency range. It completely kills the drone turning it in plastic unpleasant trash.

And my problem is that i'm always overdo resonance cutting (i do it with notch) ... doing too much of eq carvings. Thus, my drone usually sounds too "soft" compare to drone that other do. Always do much more that 2-3 dB :(

Maybe is there any "tactics" when cutting resonances and any unpleasant frequencies?
 

Yes, there is a tactic that is better than a notch for the issue you have. Frequency selective compression that targets the resonant frequency above a certain threshold using the proper bandwidth and compression ratio.  This is something a simple EQ can't do. 
Title: Re: Drone/pad EQ-ing.
Post by: APK on May 28, 2018, 07:38:38 AM
Try a dynamic EQ on resonant frequencies. Like the good and inexpensive one by Toneboosters.
Operates similar to a multiband compressor.
Its a parametric EQ, but with a threshold control (per node) so it only reduces a frequency if the signal exceeds the threshold.
Invaluable tool, I think.
Title: Re: Drone/pad EQ-ing.
Post by: Tardigrade on May 28, 2018, 02:22:42 PM
APK and I have said basically the same thing on two occasions in this thread and no one is willing to admit it.