VST Equalizer

All About EQing | How Much is Too Much? | EQ FAQ

Most of the professional music/sound engineers prefer equalizing (EQ) to give a more pronounced impact to an audio track. But most of the amateurs are still in the habit of over EQ’ing. How Much EQ Is Too Much

They don’t even realize that doing so, and they are actually compromising over the original beauty of a track. That’s the area, where you may come across a question that how much EQ is too much.

Here, we will share some words about the EQ, how to use it, and to what extent you should use it to produce a good sound.

How Much EQ Is Too Much?

If you want to get most out of your EQ processing and get the best possible outcome, it is essential not to use too much EQ. You can do this by avoiding the mistakes listed below.

– One of the common mistakes involves ignoring Low-end response. To counter this issue, you must take into account the frequency-response limitations of the speakers

– Most mixing engineers like bumping up High-end frequencies in the higher treble and upper midrange areas. This is so, as it provides clarity and crispness to the mix. But there are chances of overdoing it. It may result in an excessively bright and unpleasant mix. Hence, make sure to avoid it by following a balanced approach.

– Equalizing all the instruments all at once can cause a loss of clarity. To avoid this, make sure to equalize each instrument or part differently.

– An overly prominent track or part can disturb the smoothness of a song. It usually happens when you use more EQ than required.

When less EQ is More

Equalization is an essential part of mixing, yet it’s not possible to transform a lousy sound into a good one. Furthermore, you can easily ruin a decent sound when overdoing EQ. The idea is to use the required amount of EQ. You can make your music sound better, even with less cutting and boosting.

When to consider other plugins over EQ

Plugins make our music better, and they are easy to use. When you encounter a bad sound, you can make it sound good by using plugins. Hence, it would be better to use plugins for superior quality mixing when you are not familiar with EQ.

When to prioritize active EQ over passive EQ

Active EQ is capable of boosting or cutting specified frequencies while passive EQ can only cut frequencies. Active EQ has a built-in amplification mechanism, and you may prefer using it to boost portions of the signal and cut them. You should prioritize active EQ when there is a lack of the frequencies that you wish to boost, on the other side, use Passive EQ if you want to add shine or to make your sound fresh and lovely. Believe it or not, when you will add passive EQ on your bus and adjust the frequencies for your needs, it will be tough for you to remove this EQ from your plugin’s chain. In the end, passive EQ is a more additional effect than a necessity. Meanwhile, active EQ is a must.

Do I even need to use EQ all the time?

Using EQ isn’t mandatory, as every time you cut or boost a frequency, but it alters the basic structure of a sound. Meaning thereby, too many changes may leave the sound dull and unnatural. Unnecessary use of EQ to modify a good sound is merely a waste of time and effort. Open your EQ in your bus whenever you feel the need to add just a little boost to improve your sound what will happen very often. EQ is a primary effect, and it’s one of the essential effects in music production, so don’t forget to add it in your DAW as much as you can.

How Does EQ Work?

In order to know the workings of the equalizer, you first need to understand some of its basic elements. Usually, equalizing software consists of individual bands. These include:

  • Bell Filter 1, 2, and 3
  • Low Shelf Filter
  • High Shelf Filter
  • Bell Filter 4Low Cut Filter
  • High Cut Filter

These bands allow you to control and adjust various parameters associated with them. The Gain/Slope and Frequency are a few of the most critical parameters. The Frequency parameter allows adjusting the frequency for each band. Whereas, the Gain/Slope parameter permits you to set the amount of gain or slope of the filter.

The ‘Q’ parameter plays an important role while controlling the range of altered frequencies. For instance, a low ‘Q’ setting like 0.83 offers a wide bandwidth. This suggests that it can affect a wide range of frequencies.

On the contrary, a high ‘Q’ setting like 20.0 offers a narrow bandwidth, which can affect a minimum range of frequencies. So, these parameters have the ability to introduce a noticeable change in the quality and clarity of an audio track.

EQ is an essential application, where the qualities of a filter determine how amazing results you can get. The basic characteristics of an individual band of EQ refer to gain, slope, type, and Q.

Here, we will explain each one of these characteristics and their effects.

Gain

It determines the level of cut or boost, which you are applying. Boost indicates the positive increase, while Cut shows the negative ones. This suggests that extensive EQ settings may change the levels to a great extent. Therefore, you must keep in mind the gain staging while equalizing.

Slope

The parameter relates to the attenuation of the sound above its corner frequency. Usually, slope filter associates with LPF, HPF, and types. However, the majority of EQs also allows you to select the slope of shelving bands or bell.

Type

It provides the general shape of the EQ band. Some of the types include high/low shelf, bell, high/low pass, and notch. HPF and LPF filters relate to the range they cut. A High Cut is referred to as a Low-Pass filter, and the term Low Cut relates to a High-Pass filter.

Q Parameter

It serves as a bandwidth of your EQ band. The less than one value of Q offers broader EQ curves, and the values over one will give you selective and tighter boosts or cuts.

How to Use EQ

The primary purpose of using EQ is to perform mixing and minimize the effects of masking. As a result, you can clearly hear each of the instruments. Equalizing doesn’t form new frequencies; instead, it works with existing frequencies and produces desired outcomes.

Amateurs and beginners are always excited to try out new things. However, when equalizing, you need to be quite careful. You may get similar results by either boosting the lows or cutting the highs. But, you may find it much easier to boost a specific frequency range or its part.

To give you a better understanding how to use EQ, let’s dig deeper into the frequencies.

Bass

More bass sounds good, yet you need to keep it under control. It can overpower the rest of the mix. The frequency of Bass usually ranges from 60Hz to 250Hz.

Sub Bass

The range of Sub Bass starts from 20Hz and goes up to 60Hz. A calculated amount of Sub Bass may boost up your track. However, using too much may turn the low-end unidentified and muddy.

High Mids

This frequency ranges from 1500Hz to 4kHz. It helps to smooth down the lead synths.

Low Mids

Range from 250Hz to 1500Hz can create the essence of warmth in a sound. Most of the instrument deal within range of this frequency. When boosting Low Mids, you should try to avoid frequency clashes regarding these instruments.

Presence

This frequency ranges between 4kHz to 7kHz, and by boosting this frequency, you may add clarity to the mix.

While processing a soundtrack, your utmost desire would be to make the sound crisp and clean. That’s the situation where EQ comes handy. It allows you to trim frequencies and create a soothing mix.

To remove some unwanted frequencies, you need to follow these simple steps.

– Chose the relevant Bell Filters and set the value of a Frequency in the spectrum’s lower end. After that, select the Gain (not more than +10dB) and apply a high Q setting like 30.0.

– Loop the sound and slowly increase the frequency while playing it.

– Locate the awful frequencies and lower the amount of gain to minimize the impact of such a frequency.

– Continue with this process until the removal of all unwanted frequencies.

Why Using The Right Amount of EQ Is Important

There are numerous instances where you can use EQ. Following are some of the circumstances, where you can take advantage of using an equalizer.

  • When you come across a track, which throws out some particular frequencies, you can adjust them using EQ. You are allowed to boost or cut these frequencies by identifying them.
  • An ideal and well-balanced mix requires you to adjust the frequency spectrum in a way that no particular area is utilizing the most of available energy or headroom. You can make this happen by using EQ.
  • Usually, certain areas of the frequency spectrum grow higher, especially when combining two or more tracks. This combination and interaction of different tracks with each other may disturb their original sound. EQ helps to distribute the impact of different frequencies at their respective regions.
  • If the tracks are not blending well in a mix, you can resolve this issue by using EQ. To do this, just follow a simple strategy of cutting the main frequencies and lowering their range areas.
  • Equalizing is one of the most viable options if you need cleaning up the Low-end and High-end. For this purpose, you can use Low Cut, and High Cut filters.

Things to Consider when using EQ

While equalizing, you need to keep in mind these factors. It will help you to refrain yourself from overdoing the EQ processing.

  • EQ also boosts the noise
  • Deep and narrow cuts are less obvious and natural than Deep and narrow EQ boosts
  • Low and high pass filters help the sound to sit better
  • A lot of Boosts may result in clipping your signal
  • The high frequencies will appear to be brighter by cutting the low frequencies
  • The instrument’s level will change after using EQ
  • Avoid using only the solo mode when equalizing

Conclusion

EQ is the most prominent and essential process, which helps you a lot while mixing a soundtrack or song. It allows you to shape the tone of a voice or instruments. It offers much more refined and precise sound quality that is bound to grab the listener’s attention.

EQ serves as a highly useful tool to bring out the best part of an individual track or blend it perfectly with other tracks. After working with EQ, you will come to know how beneficial this tool can be while applying, adjusting, and removing different frequencies.