7 principles about EQ

Let's talk about EQ

We posted a question sticker on our INSTAGRAM stories (do you follow us?) last week, asking about your biggest mixing challenges right now. One of the questions we responded to was about EQ, so we thought we'd put together a blog on the subject.

As you may already know, EQ is fundamentally a tonal shaping tool. There are MANY principles and tips out there; so here are 7 of them.

Before we start: We are firm believers of “learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” Music is art, first and foremost. As with ANY tips we teach, we recommend that you learn them, learn their sound and what they do, and add them to your tool belt. But don’t live and die by them either. Each song is different, and sometimes you might need to ignore them altogether.

That being said, let’s do this.

1: High pass everything*… even your mix bus

If you wonder how professional mixes have so much punch and low end… well it starts at removing the garbage and letting only a couple of things hang out down low. But even they are high passed to make them play nice together.

*Some sample libraries don’t need to be high passed.

2: Level match in and out of an EQ

When you do this, you might be surprised to discover that the EQ was only acting as a gain adjustment tool rather than a tonal shaping tool.

3: Not everything needs to be bright

Low pass a few things to give space up the top. You might be surprised that some things actually sound better sounding a little darker.

4: Generally-speaking, wide boosts and narrow cuts sound more natural

If natural is the sound you're going for, of course.

5: All EQing causes phase shifts (unless its linear phase EQ)

What? Phase? Yes - it not only adjusts the gain at a particular frequency but also the timing of that frequency (and neighbouring frequencies). At high boosts, listen for the ring (lengthening). At deep cuts, listen to the shortening. Linear EQs are different. They retain their timing (apart from a few cases). When it’s a steep low cut, pre-ringing can occur.

There are so many but these are just to get you started thinking differently about EQ. But before I finish up, here are two more…. but these are a bit more advanced - for the ones who are ready to shift their thinking.

6: Your favourite analogue compressor is also an EQ

Next time you slap your favourite analogue modelled or real one across something listen to what it’s doing to the frequency domain. You might be surprised what it’s doing.

7: Use EQ as compression

This is a bit of a curly one. Remember what phase does - sometimes the track needs EQ rather than a compressor. Yeah crazy hey! This little beauty comes from a hardware designer who was once quoted as saying “Use compressors as EQs and EQs as compressors.”

Over to you

So there you go. 7 principles about EQ. Did any of these surprise you? Let us know if you give them a go!

Why not share with a friend too?

Questions, thoughts? Comment below - we’d love to hear them.

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