10 Tips For Successful EQ
Understanding EQ is essential in crafting a great mix. For this, we have compiled 10 tips that will help you during your mixing sessions.
When adding or subtracting frequencies, the bandwidth size (Q) plays a dramatic role in the resulting changes. To preserve a track’s frequency content, we recommend to keep boosts wide (low Q) and dips narrow (high Q).
2. Problem Frequencies
Removing a track’s harsh frequencies will keep your mix sounding clean and transparent. Find problem areas by boosting a narrow EQ band and sweeping it across the spectrum. When these frequencies are found, apply a gentle and narrow dip.
3. HP Filter
Throughout the individual tracks in a mix, it’s easy for sub-bass frequencies to build up, making your mix sound muddy and disorienting. Applying a HP filter (80-100 hz) to your non-bass tracks will restore clarity and headroom to your mix.
4. Is EQ Really Necessary?
Processing a track that doesn’t need it can be devastating. Before firing up your EQ, first ask yourself…is it really necessary? Falling in the habit of EQ’ing because “you’re supposed to” is an easy way to destroy an already great-sounding track.
When applying EQ, or any processing for that matter, it’s useful to A/B the track in reference to how it sounds while the plugin is bypassed. Comparing the dry track to the adjustments you’ve made will tell you if they’re for better or worse.
6. EQ At Low Volume
When monitoring at louder volumes, our ears can exaggerate certain frequency content, leading us to make subjective and inaccurate EQ adjustments. Keep your decisions transparent and your ears fresh by working at lower volumes.
7. Avoid Soloing
The sound of a track while soloed will be quite different from how it sounds when the entire mix is playing. When adjusting a track’s EQ, be cognizant of how these adjustments will make the track sound in the overall mix.
MS (mid/side) EQ is a powerful tool in shaping the stereo image of a mix, allowing independent EQ of a track’s mono and side information. For example, take a stereo kick drum. With a HP filter on only the sides, the sub-bass can be centered in the mix while keeping the original stereo width of the high-end.
9. Watch The Mids
The low-mid (200-500 Hz) and high-mid (1-3 kHz) are two frequency bands that you must pay attention to. With the muddiness from the low-mid and the harshness from the high-mid, you will find problem frequencies in these areas 99% of the time.
When using effects-plugins, whether it be delay or distortion, keep your eyes out for its EQ parameters (if it has them). Typically providing both LP and HP filter, these controls allow you to narrow in the effect to a particular frequency range, being desirable for dense mixes.
We hope you found these tips to be helpful!
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