Can EQ Fix My Problem?

Nasty sound when mixing guitar and bass

Yesterday I was putting together a simple rendition of a Christmas song, and I ran into something I haven’t experienced before in my limited recording experience. After adding the guitar and bass tracks, I noticed that there is one place in the song where it sounds like there is a stray note ringing on the bass that is causing some “nastiness.” I re-recorded that part of the bass line several times but always got the same result. Then, just for the heck of it, I soloed the bass track to try to hear the stray tone more clearly, and I was surprised to hear that there weren’t any unwanted sounds on that track. The guitar track sounds clean, too. There is just something about the combination of those two tracks together that is causing some ugly overtones in that one spot.

Any ideas on how I can adjust the EQ (or do something else) to get rid of the unwanted noise?


Its not maybe a ‘room’ problem ?

Sounds like a standing wave or something like that.

Do you get the same sound with headphones ?

If you do, do a mixdown of just that little bit and then listen to it while checking out that cool EQ realtime display N-Track and see if some frequency doesn’t get its behind boosted (you’ll notice a spike in the graph).
It might be that there are some frequencies that ‘interfere’, buidling on each other to create the sound you hear.

All else fails, post a sample of the offending piece of music.


Quote (Wihan Stemmet @ Oct. 02 2006,07:12)
Its not maybe a 'room' problem ?

Sounds like a standing wave or something like that.

Do you get the same sound with headphones ?

Very interesting... I put on headphones and now I don't hear it. I guess I'll have to mixdown and play it in a few different places on a few different systems to see what happens.

So, is there anything that can be done in the mix to try to prevent this, or is it simply a case of bad acoustics in the room?

I had to read up on this a while back, so forgive me if you already know about this: Some of the technocal guys may understand it better but, this is the way I have chosen to think of the problem.
A room can have aparticular pitch that bounces around and reinforces itself. These sounds are known as “standing waves”, kind of like a tital wave, they are much stronger then the other sounds. I had a fiddle player who would play one particular note and on the recording it stuck out in the ugly manner you are talking about and that was happening because of the recording room. This standing wave can be created during recording (apparently not what yuo are dealing with) or it can show up when the music is played in a particular room. Do a mix and take the song to another room to play it - do you still hear the same thing?

Best thing you’ll do to your mixing room.

Do a search on bass traps and check out Bubba’s article on Audiominds.

(Willy made a couple himself as well a while back, dunno the link).


Bubba’s traps on Audiominds link

This is taken from the same thread at AM.

Ethan - the king of home studio room accoustics

Edit/ I’m now at home - have a little more time now waiting for a download. It is indeed what was described by Bax.
It happens when the size of the room (square or close to square is worse) are round about a ‘factor’ of the wavelenth. The wave goes and ‘stand’ in the room so that the peaks (and valleys) in the wave either build on each other or cancel each other out.
You can test this theory by listening to the same thing while standing in different places in the room. You should hear the offending sound also ‘come and go’ as you move around the room.

The best thing that you could do for your mixing ‘adventures’ before you buy better monitors or anything else is to follow the advice on Ethan’s site (and the audiominds link) and get the standing waves under control in your mixing/listening environment. After that can you only think about upgrading the monitors and actually have it making a difference to your mixing experience.
If your goal is driving fast it’s no use upgrading from a family sedan to a Ferrari if you still drive on gravel roads. You can do very well with minimal equipment if you get that right.

Sort out your room - it is cheap, relatively easy and can make a HUGE differerence to your mixes.