A Professional approach to EQ
In this quick tip we will focus on 3 fundamental approaches to EQ:
It’s easy to go to those basic settings but it’s better to listen and understand.
When approaching EQ in this manner it’s important to keep the following 3 tips at hand. These are common sense no nonsense approaches to EQ that all professional mixing engineers use in their decision-making process.
Tip 1: Clean up the mess from your instrument or vocals
Using a subtractive approach you can remove the frequencies that you don’t need to be there, from low rumbles, mid-range mud or harsh highs.
By finding what sounds nasty and cutting it out, you can achieve two things:
- Reveal the better sounding parts of your track more clearly
- Free up headroom in your mix
These are two very helpful results because both give you a mix with more clarity and musicality. And remember, headroom in the digital world is paramount.
Tip 2: Enhance the best bits
Now the mess has been cleaned up it’s time to enhance what’s left. This is where boosting makes it’s first appearance.
The question every mixing engineer should ask themselves, what do I need to hear more of? If not done properly, this is where problems can start to creep in. Think about these two elements
- Have I boosted this frequency on other tracks? If so how do those tracks sound together with this one?
- Have I boosted too much, losing some of the integrity of the original instrument or vocal part?
Remember: Clean up the bad, enhance the good.
Tip 3: Listen to your track in context
This is a simple tip and will stop you making big mistakes. Don’t EQ tracks completely in solo mode! Solo mode is good for finding and removing the mess but it’s useless when you are trying to place your instrument or voice in the mix. Two tricks I use when EQing and Mixing:
- Listen to your instrument or voice with all other tracks in your mix, listen to how it’s positioned and works with all of the instruments and voices before making SMALL adjustments.
- Listen to your instrument or voice in sub-groups so you can hear how it works in a smaller sectional environment before making small adjustments.
If you practice these three tips as part of your production workflow you will soon be achieving better mixes with more control and performance values.