Learning what different frequencies sound like and the effect they have on the sound of different instruments is an invaluable skill. These are the names we use to classify the bands – the frequencies are approximate, so use your ears!
> 20 – 60 Hz – Sub-Bass: Gives boom, depth, and richness – too much sounds flabby and out of control. Small speakers don’t reproduce this.
> 60 – 150 Hz – Bass: ‘Thump’ and punch in drums, especially kick and snare, and richness in bass and guitars. Too much sounds woolly.
> 150 – 1 kHz – Lower mid: Important for warmth, but too much sounds thick and congested. The 500 Hz – 1 kHz region especially is crucial for a natural vocal tone, but too much sounds boxy and nasal.
> 1 – 3 kHz – Upper mid: The most sensitive area of the ear, important for edge, clarity and bite, but too much will sound harsh and tinny.
> 3 – 8 kHz – Low Top: Provides fizz and sizzle; and edge and aggression in guitars – too much sounds thin and brittle.
> 8 – 12 kHz – Top: Gives openness, air and clarity – too much sounds over-bright and glassy.
> 12 – 18 kHz – Very high top: These frequencies can add sheen and sparkle and sweeten things up, but too much sounds unnatural, gritty and forced. [FYI – I have the Kush Clariphonic parallel EQ hardware. I add these frequencies on my mixbuss or sometimes use it for vocals. It really opens up that top end. A little goes a long way.]
Tip #1: Don’t solo an instrument when EQ’ing. Set the EQ when playing the instrument in context with the rest of the track. You can solo to quickly check things, but be sure to take out of solo mode fairly quick.
Tip #2: Sometimes when soloing a track or instrument, the EQ we add makes that instrument sound worse! But in context of the whole mix it sounds great. That is what matters. Part of the time you can expect this to happen.
Tip #3: If there are two parts that are fighting in the mix because they occupy the same frequency range, it can sometimes help to boost the EQ on one of them and cut the other at the same frequency, then reverse the strategy and boost the second sound in a different place while cutting the first. This emphasizes the contrast between the two parts, with gentler boosts, and helps stop things sounding unnatural.
Tip #4: In regard to Tip #3 above, this can sometimes be called ‘masking.’ Masking is when two instruments are fighting for the same frequency or frequency space. For example, kick and bass guitar. If when the kick hits, the bass is obscured some, this is masking. Using Tip #3 above will help get rid of this problem. Make sure to ‘cross-EQ’ both ways. In other words, boost instrument 1 and cut instrument 2 in same place. Then boost instrument 2 and cut instrument 1 in same place.
Tip #5: Do a ‘boost & sweep.’ When searching for a frequency that you want to get rid of, use a bell curve EQ (band, or parametric), boost @12 dB with a somewhat narrow bandwidth (high Q). Sweep up and down in frequency until you find (hear) the unwanted or annoying frequency. Then set that band for a cut instead of a boost. How much you cut depends on the specific situation, it might be a little or a lot.
As always – I hope this helps!
And ……. HEY! Make it a great day!