In this article, we’ll take a good look at how to EQ violins when you come across them in your mix.
First, keep in mind your musical idea, genre, as well as whether you use an acoustic violin, electric one, or a violin library. As you can imagine, this would greatly impact your EQing decisions.
With that understood, some general guidelines to keep in mind are as follows: start with getting rid of any inaudible frequencies that are located under 100 Hz. After that, you may need to apply another cut around 100-250 Hz to eliminate muddiness if it’s there. If you want to make a solo violin sound fuller, you should boost it while using a wide Q around 200-360 Hz.
Regarding high range, your actions are based on what result you want to achieve and how it will fit in your mix, as there are certain frequency ranges that can either be cut or boosted.
Types of Violins to EQ
One thing that differs the equalization of acoustic violin from violin library is that when you’re one-on-one with the raw recording, you’ll need to be extra careful and precise while removing peaks and any unpleasant sounding frequencies.
If something goes sideways, you may need to record the whole part again, which will result in extra time and possibly money spent. Violin libraries, like any other VST instrument’s libraries, are already equalized to be more commercially attractive for a buyer. So, the only thing you need to do during the EQing process is to cut any frequencies that sound too harsh, plastic, or are generally unpleasant to the ear.
EQing VST violins
Violin libraries are generally already EQ’d. So, after you’ve composed a melody, applied a reverb, and run an equalizer, your job is pretty much done.
You may need to listen to your recording again, discover all moments when the violin sounds muddy or extra high, and apply gentle cuts to those areas. Afterward, listen again and make some necessary changes to be sure that the violin sits well in the mix and doesn’t stand out that much unless, of course, it’s intended.
EQing acoustic violins
You know already that EQing raw material is always trickier, since there’s plenty more audio noise and excess material that needs to be filtered away to get a good sound.
So after you you’ve recorded everything in a nicely treated room with natural reverberation, re-listened to the whole material again, and balanced it accordingly, adding an extra reverb of your choice if needed. Then, and only then, you’re finally ready for EQing.
The procedure itself consists of finding any frequencies that sound unnatural, muddy, or too high and cut them out from the violin track and you can boost some of the frequencies to achieve better sound.
Basic principles of EQing violins
In this section, you will gain an understanding of how to EQ solo violin as well as a violin that sits in the mix with other instruments.
The low end is a home for frequencies that are inaudible to the human ear and those that cause mud and rumble in tracks. So you should get rid of anything that lives under 100 Hz.
Mids, same as the low end, are the place where muddiness lives, so it’s a good idea to cut around 100-250 Hz. Also, if you need your violin to sound warmer, you should boost around 250-300 Hz. If you’re dealing with a solo violin, then it’s a good idea to apply a boost with a wide Q around 200-350 Hz to make it sound fuller.
Depending on the genre of your track and your initial idea, you can cut or boost the following frequencies in the high range.
So, if you want to enhance string scraping, you should boost around 1.5-3 kHz, but if you want to achieve the opposite result, then you should cut within the same range. In order to add more clarity, you should boost around 2 kHz. You might find some peaks or shrills of the violin at 3 kHz, so if it doesn’t sit well in your mix, you should carefully cut it. To make the violin sound brighter, you can apply a slight boost around 8-10 kHz, but try not to overdo it. Finally, the bow noise lives at 7.5-10 kHz, so based on the said idea, you can either emphasize it a bit more by boosting, or if it’s too much of it, you can cut.
Choosing a Violin VST Plugin
Violins have a special place in every music producer’s heart and toolkit. They can add a different extra to various music genres, but it always will be special.
It has been proven a bit difficult to create a really good violin library because there are a lot of nuances, such as the fact that the tone of the violin constantly interacts with bow angle, bow speed, vibrato depth, and vibrato speed, etc. That’s why searching for the best violin library may be rather a tricky quest. And there’s no common advice on which library to choose as there are lots of very respected manufacturers with state-of-the-art libraries. So you should rely only on your taste and musical ideas.
Choosing an acoustic violin may be even a greater challenge than choosing a VST, despite the shape of all of the acoustic violins being the same, but the devil is in detail. The key factors in choosing the right acoustic violin playability and tone for you are the skill with which it’s constructed and the quality of tone. The best acoustic violins are made from the soundboard, spruce, for instance, and vary from affordable to insanely expensive. The majority of the violins use maple necks, backs, sides, and spruce tops and also differ in price based on the quality of the wood.
When choosing an electric violin, the first question that you need to ask yourself is what exactly do you need it for? From there, you can get a headphone practice, performance, acoustic-electric, fretted, MIDI violins that will differ in price and purpose.
A headphone practice violin is basically an electric violin that has a headphone jack on the body. Performance violins vary greatly depending on how ambitious your goals or performance are, so the more challenging they are, the stronger the full-frequency output signal you need. Acoustic-electric violins have an acoustic body with mounted pickups and some other features such as tone controls and an integrated output jack. Fretted violins allow usage of guitar techniques while playing them and provide a visual aid on the fingerboard. MIDI violins can control synths and record tracks in MIDI and trigger MIDI sounds in computers, though they work only with specific MIDI equipment.
Whether you recorded an acoustic violin, an electric one, or used a violin library, it all still will sound better with an additional reverb applied. Violin, being an instrument from the string section, will sound well when it’s recorded in a medium or large artificial hall. If you don’t have a chance to record in such a place, then the well-treated room will do just fine, you can then apply a reverb with this kind of preset. Another good choice is a reverb with a short decay time as it will make things bigger. Based on your initial idea and music genre, you may find that other types of reverb will fit better in your mix.