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EQ is a vital tool in any producers arsenal, but knowing when and how to use it isnt

always easy. Allow us to give you some guidance

1. Try and avoid massive cuts and boosts unless theyre absolutely necessary.
Generally, an adjustment of just a few dB will be enough.
2. FX channels, particularly reverb, can often harbour untreated low rumble, even if
youve cut most of the unwanted low-end from the tracks feeding to them. A mix
can really benefit from applying high-pass filtering to its reverb channels.
3. Remember that while soloing a track can be helpful at times, it wont necessarily
help you sit the instrument in a full mix.
4. If you add 10dB at 150Hz, 10dB at 1kHz and 10dB at3kHz, all youre really doing
is boosting the volume of the track by 10dB. Just because the volume is louder, you
might mistakenly perceive the track as better dont be seduced.
5. When it comes to the bottom end of a track, youre looking for clarity rather than
just lots of woofing. Be sure to apply a high-pass filter to instruments that have no
real low-end content. Below 50Hz, guitars will just add cabinet rumble to the mix.
Below 80Hz, rumble from the mic stand (or a tapping foot) is all youre likely to get
from a vocal.
6. You may find yourself automatically adjusting EQ just because you feel you should
dont make changes unless your ears tell you theyre needed. Many parts wont
need any EQ at all.
7. While modern EQ plug-ins can work wonders, nothing beats having a high-quality
original recording. Dont rush the process of getting a great tone to record youll
save time in the long run.
8. Its always better to remove frequencies you dont want to hear rather than boost the
good ones. As we mentioned earlier, raising the volume of something can make it
difficult to distinguish whether the end result is better or just louder.
9. If a certain frequency is bothering you and you want to get rid of it, set your EQ to a
narrow Q setting and slowly sweep through the frequency range with a 5-10dB
boost until the errant sound jumps out at you. Once youve identified it, change the
boost to a cut.
10. Dont make EQ adjustments blindly think about which part of the instruments
frequency range youre adjusting.
11. Dont make changes unless your ears tell you theyre needed. Many parts wont
need any EQ at all.
12. Its easy to get lost in a world of colourful plug-ins and EQ curves, so make sure
you hit the bypass button every so often to hear whether or not your adjustments are
really making a positive difference.
13. Although you may not be recording live drums, lots of drum ROMplers, like
EZdrummer, authentically recreate the microphone spill that occurs when a real kit
is miked up, so its important to remember that EQ adjustment in the overheads will
also affect the tone of the snare drum in particular.
14. Remember that even minor EQ adjustments can have quite an effect on how an
instrument sits in the mix. Not only can it make it more or less audible, but it can
also change the weight of the panning. So watch out!
15. Always try and listen to your mixes through as many different sets of speakers as
you can. This way, you can triple check that your EQ adjustments dont just sound
good on your studio monitors.
16. When it comes to adjusting upper frequencies, consideration should also be given to
sibilance (unwanted s sounds) and noise, both of which can be dramatically
increased if a high-frequency boost is coupled with compression.
17. Recording instruments near reflective surfaces will add unwanted frequencies to a
sound. Be under no illusion: this is very difficult, if not impossible, to remove later
on, regardless of the quality of your plug-ins, so dont take a chance isolate your
instrument from these reflections before you switch those mics on.
18. EQ modifications made during the mastering process should be very subtle. Stick to
1-3dB adjustments as much as possible. If you feel heavier changes are necessary,
you might need to revisit other parts of your mix, as they might be the real cause of
the problem.
19. When dealing with a crowded mix, its sometimes a good idea to just focus on the
key part of an instruments sound. Cutting out everything apart from the main area
in which an instrument is playing will leave room for other instruments elsewhere in
the frequency range, while the one in question still cuts through.
20. Mastering the use of EQ isnt something that just happens overnight it takes lots
and lots of practice. Dont be afraid to experiment by mixing multiple versions of
your tracks in order to discover how different EQ treatments affect the end result.
Eventually, youll instinctively know how to get the sound you want.

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