Flatten your EQ to make your affordable mic sound more expensive

A while back I picked up an MXL 770 after reading some good reviews. I enjoyed the sensitivity and build quality for the price, but the sound was harsh and sibilant.

What made the mic really shine though was using EQ to flatten the frequency response:

  1. Look up the tonal balance / frequency response of your mic.
  2. Use Waves Q10 to create an inverted EQ of the frequency graph. (If your mic has a +9db boost at 9.5k, apply a 9.5db cut at that frequency. Tune the Q to match as closely as possible. Do this for the whole spectrum, using as few EQ filters as possible to invert the curve.)
  3. Save the preset, and use it on every instance where you record (or even put it in your chain and bake it into the recording)
  4. Follow up with a good channel strip like SSL Channel or especially Waves Omni Channel and adjust your final EQ to taste.

In my case, flattening the EQ response of the mic made an enormous difference. What was harsh before became smooth and appealing after.

Final tweaks in your channel strip become easier because you’re starting with a more natural sound to begin with.

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Followup for REAPER users:

You know about Monitor FX – that’s where you use plugins like CLA NX, etc. Monitor FX process the output but the effects are not applied to your mixdowns or recordings.

The opposite of that exists: “Input FX”. I never noticed it before, but it’s on the mixer beneath the input. Click it, and whatever effect(s) you apply here will be permanent, baked into the recording.

In my case, the “inversion EQ” is something I always want, so applying it as an input effect means I don’t need to instantiate the inversion EQ plugin on every track. Useful!

This is a good tip. I actually tried doing this a while back and had reasonable success with improving my mic’s quality. Now I don’t usually bother as I have better quality mic.

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What mic did you end up upgrading to?

It’ll probably be a while before I make any big purchases – too much chaos in the air… But it’s fun to look forward to something!

Actually, I ended up going for a Roswell Mini K-47. I was impressed with the reviews as it really sounded like it punched above its weight.

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Oh! I wasn’t aware of that mic! It’s within the realm of affordability, too. Thanks for sharing that info.

Yeah, they make good mics, some that are are affordable. I’d like to sink a grand or two on one personally, or maybe a Telefunken, but its just not practical at the moment.

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Flattening is an interesting approach. I should try it.

I think it helps to begin with your mic’s frequency chart, inverse the curve and get it as close as you can. Then record a few things and make fine adjustments by ear so that they all sound a bit more neutral and not hyped in any way as flat is what your looking for.

Linear phase eqs are the best for this kind of thing, but you can’t track with them live. From there, though, once you have flat, add another character eq of choice and eq to your heart’s content.

Or perhaps you want to emulate the curve of a more expensive mic, then add your character eq after that. That’ll be 3 eqs all up, so you may want to be selective on what you apply it on.

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