EQ Tutorial

Written by Durk Kooistra on Saturday the 04th of April, 2009

In this tutorial we look at the qualities of an EQ and what it can do for your mix. If you follow all these steps you will be on your way making fat, dynamic sounds! In order to get some knowledge of what an EQ can do for you lets cover some of the basics.

An equalization (EQ) filter is a filter, that can bring out frequencies in your mix that are too low or can cut off frequencies that are too high. This enables you to get a perfect balance in your sound.

By adjusting at least 1 parameter you alter the sound that is being processed by the EQ. Equalizers may be designed with peaking filters, shelving filters, bandpass filters, plop filters or high-pass and low-pass filters.

There are three primary types of equalizers with peaking filters:

  • parametric equalizers
  • graphic equalizers
  • notch filters

Now to know what kind of frequencies effect all the different sound characteristics, lets look at this overview :

• Sub-Bass — The very low bass between 16Hz and 60Hz that encompasses sounds that are often felt more than heard, such as thunder in the distance. These frequencies give the music a sense of power even if they occur infrequently. Too much emphasis on this range makes the music sound muddy.

• Bass — The bass between 60Hz and 250Hz contains the fundamental notes of the rhythm section, so EQ-ing this range can change the musical balance, making it fat or thin. Too much boost in this range can make the music sound boomy.

• Low Mids — The mid range is to be found between 250Hz and 2000Hz. From 250 Hz to 500 Hz, this range accents ambiance of studio and adds clarity to the bass and lower string instruments (cello and upright bass). From 500 Hz to 2 kHz, this range can give a horn-like quality to instruments (500 Hz to 1 kHz) and a “tinny” sound (1 kHz to 2 kHz).

• High Mids — this range of frequencies is responsible for the attack on percussive and rhythm instruments and the “projection” of mid range instruments. Equalization can be applied at any frequency in this range but still somewhat centers around 3 kHz.

• Presence — This range between 4kHz and 6kHz is responsible for the clarity of your mix.This range also provides you with the control of the “distance” in your mix . When you boost the full range your mix will feel closer to the listener. Reducing the 5kHz zone in a mix makes the sound more distant and transparent.

• Brilliance — The 6kHz to 16kHz range controls the brilliance and clarity of your mix. Be careful with boosting the upper regions of this range hence the fact it can cause clipping.

How to use the ranges

Well you would need an EQ to use one right? If you have good EQ's then just use the ones you have, but if you don't have any (good) EQ’s then lets look at the options. If you want to spend money on the EQ there are endless options I wont mention here. There are plenty, pretty solid free alternatives to get you on your way. Get a look at these mastering tools offered for free at KVR. For this tutorial we will use Pushtec 5+1A by Leftover Lasagne.

You will notice most (graphic) EQ’s already have these ranges preset as different parameters. So next time you are filtering a mix with an EQ look at the above characteristics of the ranges and actually know what you are tweaking! Most of the time you will be working with multiple filters. This means you are dealing with different specialties of the filters you are using. A common set up for a mixer track would be an EQ, limiter and compressor. Some people claim there is a golden rule in which order to apply the filters. Personally I think different situations call for different measures.

For instance, when at the beginning of a loop the velocity of a certain frequency is a lot higher then in the middle and the end, it might be wise to apply a limiter first. This will bring out the lower velocity parts. After this you can EQ without boosting frequencies you would have to boost if the limiter was not applied.

Resources:

We don't recommend any particular 3rd party software and the plug-ins used in this tutorial are just the preferred tools by the writer(s) of this article. We do however post links to freeware, to ensure you have all the means to follow this tutorial correctly.

WindowsVSTWIN:
Pushtec 5+1A - is a 6-band mid-range and program EQ. A Winamp plugin version is also included.
The Classic Master Limiter
- VST plugin is specially designed to boost the overall level of your final mixes, but can also be used on very dynamic instruments.
Classic Reverb is a nice and smooth reverb that does a good job on almost any instrument.
Mac OS XUniversal BinaryMAC
Rogue Amoeba Mastering Plugin - not tested by yours truly, hence I dont work with mac, but seems to be one of the view free mastering plugins for mac out there!
Slim Slow Slider: Linear Phase Graphical Equalizer 2.1 not tested by yours truly, hence I dont work with mac, but seems to be one of the view free mastering plugins for mac out there!

Comments:


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Better Late...

Posted on Friday the 09th of October, 2009 by Matthew Dowling
Haven't been by this site for a while, gotta say I love what y'all have done with it!!!! WOW! I'm looking for basic tutorials just like what you've laid out here (I'm slowly familiarizing myself with Logic Studio from the ground up, no previous background) is there any online resources you might suggest, or books you could recommend (from the basics to the real nitty-gritty)? Once again I really like the whole feel of what you guys are doing... great job.

Hey Matthew

Posted on Friday the 09th of October, 2009 by durk kooistra
Glad you like it! We will be updating out tutorials as often as we can (also with video's) For logic particular tut's check out http://www.logic-cafe.com/ cheers for the kind words