EQ cut to high frequencies on recordings

Creating a home studio for recording the classical guitar. Equipment, software and recording techniques. Amplification for live performance.
Kurt Penner
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EQ cut to high frequencies on recordings

Post by Kurt Penner » Wed Jan 18, 2017 4:34 am

After making a few recordings and videos, I have noticed a bothersome amount of high frequency content that I can only describe as handling noise. Just having my fingers lightly moving about the strings causes minor persistent noises that drive me batty. I don't mind the occasional string noise, but my experiments find it quite helpful to cut the 10-12 kHz bands to clean up the sound. Does anyone else use an EQ to cut high frequencies off of their recordings? Do the pros do this?

Of course I am well aware that good playing technique eliminates much of the extraneous noises and that different mics will have different frequency response. I am using a single Neumann KM 184 into a Zoom H5, editing in Reaper.


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Re: EQ cut to high frequencies on recordings

Post by Blondie » Wed Jan 18, 2017 12:35 pm

If you are using Reaper then use the free EQ plug in :-)

However, you can't satisfactorily remove handling noise this way because its wide band, and you will end up losing part of spectrum you want to keep, not least up there making the guitar sound dull. I inevitably cut the low end of recordings with a HPF to remove the rumble, and usually reduce the low mids but never the high end.

I usually handle issues like this with editing techniques eg setting up a volume envelope that notches things out at a trouble spot or at least makes them quieter (between position changes, it won't work over a sustained note). Learning how to crossfade neatly to join up parts is crucial too - in the studio a performer will do several takes of the whole piece and what you get in the master is basically a seamless stitching together of the best sections, that's the way I always do it now.

You might also want to try miking further away from the guitar & using coated/polished strings for recording to reduce noise.

For tips on reducing your handling noise to start with, check out William Kanengiser's excellent video on technique.

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Re: EQ cut to high frequencies on recordings

Post by chiral3 » Wed Jan 18, 2017 12:46 pm

Great mic. I agree with everything Blondie said. My first thought was his second-to-last re moving the mic farther away from the guitar. Regarding eq, note this mic boosts the dB in the upper frequencies, probably accentuating nail noise. Flattening the boost in 5kHz-15kHz might help.

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Re: EQ cut to high frequencies on recordings

Post by el_guitarrero » Fri Jan 20, 2017 7:38 pm


I think, that most professional recording's have the higher frequencies cut off.

It is also common to use ribbon microphones and those have a natural high frequency roll off ...

I think, you could check with Uros Baric Website, there is a short tutorial where he works / edits a song sent to him by an amateur guitarist. He did a high frequency rolloff starting around 5-6 khz.

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Re: EQ cut to high frequencies on recordings

Post by 2handband » Wed Jan 25, 2017 7:25 pm

I'm nobodies idea of a recording engineer, but when micing an acoustic instrument for live sound I try to solve these issues with mic placement. It's too easy to kill the presence by screwing around with frequencies that high. If you have to do more that a HPF and a notch out of the lower mids (say around 250hz) you are doing something wrong.

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Re: EQ cut to high frequencies on recordings

Post by UliRawks » Wed Jan 25, 2017 8:06 pm

Right before the new year I spent a week recording my guitar. I ran into this issue of handling noise a lot as I was starting, and for me the biggest solution is within the performance. I really sat down and analyzed why the noise was occurring in certain measures, and I problem solved to see if there was any solution to it.

Sometimes, there is no solution, such as a quick position switch or a long slide on a bass string. But in a lot of cases I was able to focus on my technique and fix these little things I was hearing. And after this week of recording, I found my playing all around was a lot cleaner, less noise to everything I played.

The other tips here are great, I've also heard of professionals in the industry using the plug-in "Izotope RX" to clean noises from any audio files they receive. It is a very expensive plug-in so I haven't had the budget to try it, but it might be worth a look.

One last thing, since you are the performer and the engineer, it is too easy to hear every little thing in the recording. Try to take a step back, maybe even wait til the next day and then see if you really do have a noise issue. Think of the average listener and if they would notice this noise... a lot of times I think they won't! So make sure you are not being too hard on yourself.

Take care and happy recording!!

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Re: EQ cut to high frequencies on recordings

Post by gabasa » Thu Jan 26, 2017 1:56 am

I've seen some photos and videos of David Russell where the mics are placed off to his right side, further from his left hand. I've also read that in smaller studios, there are engineers who place the microphone in the area between the bridge and the tail of the guitar, so that the music-to-squeak ratio improves. In that spot, the guitar is nice and loud, but the mic is much further from your left hand.

A KM184 can be a great mic, but from what I've heard, it wouldn't be a first choice for classical guitar because the high end can be a little exaggerated and harsh, which would accentuate handling noise in a way that's undesirable. This could be untrue, because I've never used one, but I've read it many times. A very clean and detailed, but neutral mic might work better, along with a change in placement away from the fretting hand.

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Re: EQ cut to high frequencies on recordings

Post by Mach13 » Mon Mar 13, 2017 8:54 pm

This has been a good read... I'd agree that using EQ to lose an intermittent and annoying HF noise can be difficult to get right. The frequencies that get cut are often lost to the detriment to the remainder of the track. I'm not familiar with Reaper (I use Cakewalk's Sonar With Izotope). Rather than use basic EQ, you might see if Reaper has anything like a dynamic EQ. These work like an EQ but you can set a threshold so that the EQ cutting only gets applied when the chosen frequency volume jumps past the level you've chosen. Similar to the way a DE-ESSER works for vocals. Not the best solution but if its a recording you otherwise want to keep it might help.
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