How Does EQ Work & How To Use EQ?

EQing Explained: How Does EQ Work & How To Use EQ? |

Most of the professional music/sound engineers prefer equalizing (EQ) to give a more pronounced impact to an audio track. But..

How Does EQ Work?

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

EQing Explained: How Does EQ Work & How To Use EQ? |

To give you a better understanding of 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

The 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 in 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.

Related Readings:

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How Much EQ Is Too Much?

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

Other than that, 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.

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.

However, add the EQ whenever you feel you can improve the sound just a little bit.

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