EQ – General Use (Tips/Tricks) (Part 3)

Avid Pro Tools Dyn3 7-band EQ (free plugin)

Understanding the overall structure of the EQ landscape is important to properly EQ individual tracks and to get them to fit nicely in the full mix. There are certain EQs out today that show the frequency band inside the EQ GUI. These can be quite helpful. Many EQs don’t have this feature. In either case, it is important to have a good understanding of essential frequencies for each instrument along with a fuller understanding of the overall spectrum.

If boosting a frequency band (using a bell curve), be conservative. Try to only boost 1, 2, or 3 dB. Don’t do anything crazy like a 6 or 10 dB boost. Also, when boosting, use a wide Q, which is a low Q number. Try starting with 1, or even less than 1. This type of a boost sounds more natural, as if the frequency is really there in the instrument or the recording if the instrument. This is seen below with the MF band using a 2.6 dB boost and a .84 Q setting.

Gentle boost with wide Q setting

Another tip is when cutting, use a narrow bandwidth, high Q setting. This can be seen below with the MF band. Notice the 2.54 Q setting.

EQ cut using narrow, or high Q, setting

We use a narrow bandwidth when cutting, so as to not affect too many frequencies. Usually we cut to take out annoying frequencies. If the bandwidth is too wide (cutting out a lot of frequencies), it will make the instrument sound unnatural.

This next one falls outside the context of our ‘Q’ setting discussion but is a really good idea. Use a HPF (high pass filter) on the low end to cut out unwanted or unneeded frequencies. Many instruments, including voice, don’t use frequencies below 100 Hz. Use a filter to take these out. It will clean up the track or instrument helping it to not sound so muddy.

HPF at 100 Hz

Try setting the frequency around 100 Hz. This will take out many unused or unwanted frequencies making the track “cleaner” sounding.

Starting with these three simple rules will help your tracks and mixes sound better, cleaner (not muddy) and more natural.

As always, Make it a GREAT day!!