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Are software equalizers spoiling your tube sound?
Old 1 week ago
  #1
Are software equalizers spoiling your tube sound?

Hello! Recently I recorded vocals through a tube preamp from a retro tape recorder using the dynamic microphone that came with it. The sound is warm and dense. But after I applied the software equalizer, just a few decibels, the sound immediately lost its warmth and became kind of dry. Why?
Old 1 week ago
  #2
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sourpatch's Avatar
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ross Stranger ➡️
Hello! Recently I recorded vocals through a tube preamp from a retro tape recorder using the dynamic microphone that came with it. The sound is warm and dense. But after I applied the software equalizer, just a few decibels, the sound immediately lost its warmth and became kind of dry. Why?
It's because the EQ wasn't done with an SSL console, vst EQs can't match analog EQs.
Old 1 week ago
  #3
Gear Guru
 
thethrillfactor's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Question: "Are software EQs spoiling your tube sound?"

Answer :"No!"
Old 1 week ago
  #4
Moderator
 
psycho_monkey's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Maybe you took out the bits you liked? or put in some bits you didn't?
Old 1 week ago
  #5
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Fidelis's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
There is a little button on your plugin named "bypass". Hit that and your problems are solved. I love hardware, still mix on a SSL console but, nowadays, if you can not make a plugin eq sound good on a well recording the problem is not the plugin.
Old 1 week ago
  #6
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sourpatch's Avatar
 
I was kidding, I find the Softube Tubetech Pulteq EQ amazing! Use it on everything.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #7
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fidelis ➡️
There is a little button on your plugin named "bypass". Hit that and your problems are solved. I love hardware, still mix on a SSL console but, nowadays, if you can not make a plugin eq sound good on a well recording the problem is not the plugin.
Quote:
Originally Posted by psycho_monkey ➡️
Maybe you took out the bits you liked? or put in some bits you didn't?
I did not try to mix, I just lowered one equalizer strip by 1-2 dB. Should this change the sound a lot? Can you hear the difference by lowering any frequency by 1-2 dB? The feeling that the sound has changed, the warmth has disappeared, simply because the program equalizer has started working in the circuit.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #8
Moderator
 
psycho_monkey's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ross Stranger ➡️
I did not try to mix, I just lowered one equalizer strip by 1-2 dB. Should this change the sound a lot? Can you hear the difference by lowering any frequency by 1-2 dB? The feeling that the sound has changed, the warmth has disappeared, simply because the program equalizer has started working in the circuit.
Quieter (even by a few dB) often sounds worse to us - duller, lifeless etc.

Try boosting the overall level - does the "life" come back? What EQ are you using?
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #9
Quote:
Originally Posted by psycho_monkey ➡️
Quieter (even by a few dB) often sounds worse to us - duller, lifeless etc.

Try boosting the overall level - does the "life" come back? What EQ are you using?
The volume does not change, because I only lower one frequency, I do not hear the volume change. But something in common disappears. Perhaps the sound recorded through a tube tape recorder from the 70s is more sensitive to processing? Previously, I have not heard such changes with other sound sources recorded on modern, not the most expensive equipment.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #10
Moderator
 
psycho_monkey's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ross Stranger ➡️
The volume does not change, because I only lower one frequency, I do not hear the volume change. But something in common disappears. Perhaps the sound recorded through a tube tape recorder from the 70s is more sensitive to processing? Previously, I have not heard such changes with other sound sources recorded on modern, not the most expensive equipment.
Of course cutting a few dB will make a volume change. You're perceiving something!

I'm not there, I can't hear what you're hearing.

why not print a with/without version, and upload here?
Old 1 week ago
  #11
Gear Guru
 
kennybro's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ross Stranger ➡️
Hello! Recently I recorded vocals through a tube preamp from a retro tape recorder using the dynamic microphone that came with it. The sound is warm and dense. But after I applied the software equalizer, just a few decibels, the sound immediately lost its warmth and became kind of dry. Why?
You obviously removed the thing that you perceive as "warmth." If you bring the frequency back up to flat, but EQ still engaged, does the "warmth" return? Try boosting the frequency that you cut. Does that increase the "warmth?"

A dB or two of plug EQ cut should not kill the warmth of good recording unless the "warmth" frequency is what was cut. A few dB of cut at a critical frequency has a huge impact. And some EQs, software or hardware, are more aggressive than others. What is the plug?
Old 1 week ago
  #12
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sourpatch's Avatar
 
I honestly think it's in the OPs head and that what he's actually experiencing is a lack of experience in general. Seasoned people can give warmth to tracks that aren't even tracked on tape etc because they know exactly how to use EQs and Saturators to their advantage. if you think the EQ is the problem then try another and see if it makes a difference.
Old 1 week ago
  #13
One of the many threads that include the subjective definition/meaning of "warmth" along with likely a good amount of ear/brain perception. As mentioned, post some before and after samples, else nobody will really know for sure what it is you're hearing.
Old 1 week ago
  #14
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sourpatch's Avatar
 
I love threads like these where you'd have to be in the room to know exactly what's going on but instead it gets posted on here (vaguely might I add), and then everyone is making crapshoot guesses.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #15
Quote:
Originally Posted by sourpatch ➡️
I love threads like these where you'd have to be in the room to know exactly what's going on but instead it gets posted on here (vaguely might I add), and then everyone is making crapshoot guesses.
I asked the question with the expectation that someone had already noticed this. But I will try to make an entry that can be added here for comparison. The current recording is not the best in artistic performance to put up for review. )
Old 1 week ago
  #16
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vernier's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ross Stranger ➡️
Hello! Recently I recorded vocals through a tube preamp from a retro tape recorder using the dynamic microphone that came with it. The sound is warm and dense. But after I applied the software equalizer, just a few decibels, the sound immediately lost its warmth and became kind of dry. Why?
Processing changes sound ...always, and every time.

Whether you're using a perfectly restored Pultec EQP1 from 1950, or the latest digital plugin, the track will be changed.

Might seem desirable ..or it might be degraded.

.
Old 1 week ago
  #17
Lives for gear
 
andersmv's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ross Stranger ➡️
Hello! Recently I recorded vocals through a tube preamp from a retro tape recorder using the dynamic microphone that came with it. The sound is warm and dense. But after I applied the software equalizer, just a few decibels, the sound immediately lost its warmth and became kind of dry. Why?
If it sounds worse, move on to something else or leave it alone. I've been doing this professionally for over 15 years now, it probably took me the better part of the first decade of experience to accept that. I still have problems leaving things alone. I have heart palpitations when I'm at the end of a mix and there's tracks with nothing on them.

I remember times where a $300 mic sounded better than the $3000 one. For the longest time, it frustrated me to no end to the point that I was convinced I was doing something wrong. I would spend hours setting a mix up on a huge SSL console, throwing it to tape, back to the console, dozens of top tier outboard gear all over the place. Print the mix, feel good about myself. The next day I realized a rough mix from the recording session sounded better to me.

Software EQ's are not ruining anything. It just didn't work for you in this one instance. It's like trying to drive a Lamborghini across the beach, you get it stuck in the sand and say to yourself "wow, Lamborghinis are horrible cars".

I'm guessing you're fairly new to recording? Ear training is a thing, it takes time to be able to "actualize" what you're hearing and be able to break down what you're hearing in more productive ways. The funny thing is, you're ears are still going to hear things exactly the same way 10 years later. You're not training your ears, you're trining yourself and your brain to analyze information and break things down in more meaningful ways. Your ears don't lie. If it sounds bad, save yourself the headache and move on to something different. At the end of the day, it really is that simple. The more you record and hear different things, the "better" (more like quicker) you'll be able to recognize why you actually don't like what you're hearing and what you need to do to rectify that.

Wrong gear or user error. Try something else until you like what you hear. Do that a lot for a few more years and it will start to make more sense. I'm still going through that process years later, on a daily basis. It never ends, it just gets a little easier.
Old 1 week ago
  #18
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ross Stranger ➡️
Hello! Recently I recorded vocals through a tube preamp from a retro tape recorder using the dynamic microphone that came with it. The sound is warm and dense. But after I applied the software equalizer, just a few decibels, the sound immediately lost its warmth and became kind of dry. Why?
Which eq did you use, which frequency did you cut, was it a shelf or bell, how wide is the Q?
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #19
Lives for gear
 
sourpatch's Avatar
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by andersmv ➡️
If it sounds worse, move on to something else or leave it alone. I've been doing this professionally for over 15 years now, it probably took me the better part of the first decade of experience to accept that. I still have problems leaving things alone. I have heart palpitations when I'm at the end of a mix and there's tracks with nothing on them.

I remember times where a $300 mic sounded better than the $3000 one. For the longest time, it frustrated me to no end to the point that I was convinced I was doing something wrong. I would spend hours setting a mix up on a huge SSL console, throwing it to tape, back to the console, dozens of top tier outboard gear all over the place. Print the mix, feel good about myself. The next day I realized a rough mix from the recording session sounded better to me.

Software EQ's are not ruining anything. It just didn't work for you in this one instance. It's like trying to drive a Lamborghini across the beach, you get it stuck in the sand and say to yourself "wow, Lamborghinis are horrible cars".

I'm guessing you're fairly new to recording? Ear training is a thing, it takes time to be able to "actualize" what you're hearing and be able to break down what you're hearing in more productive ways. The funny thing is, you're ears are still going to hear things exactly the same way 10 years later. You're not training your ears, you're trining yourself and your brain to analyze information and break things down in more meaningful ways. Your ears don't lie. If it sounds bad, save yourself the headache and move on to something different. At the end of the day, it really is that simple. The more you record and hear different things, the "better" (more like quicker) you'll be able to recognize why you actually don't like what you're hearing and what you need to do to rectify that.

Wrong gear or user error. Try something else until you like what you hear. Do that a lot for a few more years and it will start to make more sense. I'm still going through that process years later, on a daily basis. It never ends, it just gets a little easier.
My songs that do well on Spotify, the mixes are not good at all lol, so it's funny to make good mixes now, only to have people gravitate to my older stuff.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #20
Lives for gear
 
andersmv's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by sourpatch ➡️
My songs that do well on Spotify, the mixes are not good at all lol, so it's funny to make good mixes now, only to have people gravitate to my older stuff.
I’ve got a handful of people that I show my music to when I’m working on it. For years, one of my friends kept saying she liked my voice better when I was in college. I’ve gotten WAY better at singing since then, my recordings have improved as well. It drove me nuts to hear that over and over again. I pushed her on it at one point, it turns out she didn’t like delay on the vocals…. Reverb was fine, but anything with delay was like an instant turn off. I used a lot of reverb when I started out mixing and have started using more delays as time goes. She just isn’t a music person and had no idea how to vocalize that other than “your vocals sound bad”. It’s amazing how something that’s such a small thing to us in production can make ALL the difference to some people and the way they hear things.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #21
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sourpatch's Avatar
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by andersmv ➡️
I’ve got a handful of people that I show my music to when I’m working on it. For years, one of my friends kept saying she liked my voice better when I was in college. I’ve gotten WAY better at singing since then, my recordings have improved as well. It drove me nuts to hear that over and over again. I pushed her on it at one point, it turns out she didn’t like delay on the vocals…. Reverb was fine, but anything with delay was like an instant turn off. I used a lot of reverb when I started out mixing and have started using more delays as time goes. She just isn’t a music person and had no idea how to vocalize that other than “your vocals sound bad”. It’s amazing how something that’s such a small thing to us in production can make ALL the difference to some people and the way they hear things.
As long as you're happy with your direction now and there's more than just her streaming your music then it's all good haha.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #22
Lives for gear
 
thismercifulfate's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by andersmv ➡️
If it sounds worse, move on to something else or leave it alone. I've been doing this professionally for over 15 years now, it probably took me the better part of the first decade of experience to accept that. I still have problems leaving things alone. I have heart palpitations when I'm at the end of a mix and there's tracks with nothing on them.

I remember times where a $300 mic sounded better than the $3000 one. For the longest time, it frustrated me to no end to the point that I was convinced I was doing something wrong. I would spend hours setting a mix up on a huge SSL console, throwing it to tape, back to the console, dozens of top tier outboard gear all over the place. Print the mix, feel good about myself. The next day I realized a rough mix from the recording session sounded better to me.

Software EQ's are not ruining anything. It just didn't work for you in this one instance. It's like trying to drive a Lamborghini across the beach, you get it stuck in the sand and say to yourself "wow, Lamborghinis are horrible cars".

I'm guessing you're fairly new to recording? Ear training is a thing, it takes time to be able to "actualize" what you're hearing and be able to break down what you're hearing in more productive ways. The funny thing is, you're ears are still going to hear things exactly the same way 10 years later. You're not training your ears, you're trining yourself and your brain to analyze information and break things down in more meaningful ways. Your ears don't lie. If it sounds bad, save yourself the headache and move on to something different. At the end of the day, it really is that simple. The more you record and hear different things, the "better" (more like quicker) you'll be able to recognize why you actually don't like what you're hearing and what you need to do to rectify that.

Wrong gear or user error. Try something else until you like what you hear. Do that a lot for a few more years and it will start to make more sense. I'm still going through that process years later, on a daily basis. It never ends, it just gets a little easier.
This is real talk! Thank you!
Old 1 week ago
  #23
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
In general plugin eqs are pretty bad, so yeah they do ruin your tube sound.

Digital eq sucks.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #24
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swafford's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by andersmv ➡️
I have heart palpitations when I'm at the end of a mix and there's tracks with nothing on them.
Right!?! My current mantra is "get out of your own way".
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #25
Gear Guru
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ross Stranger ➡️
I did not try to mix, I just lowered one equalizer strip by 1-2 dB. Should this change the sound a lot? Can you hear the difference by lowering any frequency by 1-2 dB?
Depends on the instrument, and what is going on at that frequency, but you should be able to in many cases. Did you try a different EQ? Maybe the plug in you are using has some 'emulation' thing going on that is doing more than just EQ?
Quote:
The feeling that the sound has changed, the warmth has disappeared, simply because the program equalizer has started working in the circuit.
That seems to me to be reading an awful lot into a simple perception. I would think that if the software equalizer itself was to "blame" (as opposed to the cut you made) then it should probably have manifested itself the moment that the plug in was instantiated. It should NOT have 'waited' until after you turned a knob. Do you have an analog EQ you could reamp it with? You would lose a generation, but it might be at least instructive as an experiment.

IMO if "software" is harming your analog vibe, you are already years too late. You recorded this vocal through a tape deck and then into a DAW, right? So it's already been digitized.

One experiment might be is to see what happens if you boost 1 or 2 dB at that same frequency. Another would be to cut only .5 dB. Maybe that is Goldilocks. Another would be to see what a similar cut at some other frequency did. As implied above, if a certain cut "kills the warmth", then don't do the cut.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #26
Gear Nut
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Timesaver800W ➡️
In general plugin eqs are pretty bad, so yeah they do ruin your tube sound.

Digital eq sucks.
Why write such nonsense? Maybe it was a joke, but it could end up being a 1000$ cost for someone new to recording. If its not a joke, that's fair, but thousands of Top 10 tracks have been using digital EQ for decades and at least wouldn't be the real issue at hand here.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #27
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DistortingJack's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
In general plugin eqs are pretty bad, so yeah they do ruin your tube sound.

Digital eq sucks.
This is probably the dumbest take I've read in this website and I've been here for 10 years. OK maybe people claiming digital summing "sucks" might be slightly more egregious, but still.

If when using a well-coded, non-cramping EQ, the audio sounds worse than the source, the only problem is the user. Full stop. Also, "tube sound" is distortion. Just... distortion.
Old 1 week ago
  #28
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Here’s a joke —

Patient: Doctor, it really hurts if I do this < Patient touches left ear with right arm >

Doctor: < long pause > …well, don’t do that.
Old 1 week ago
  #29
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
No, tube sound is not 'distortion'. Noob-alert!
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #30
Lives for gear
 
andersmv's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Timesaver800W ➡️
In general plugin eqs are pretty bad, so yeah they do ruin your tube sound.

Digital eq sucks.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Timesaver800W ➡️
No, tube sound is not 'distortion'. Noob-alert!
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