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Old 04-18-2012, 02:21 PM   #1
JamesSheasgreen
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EQ tips

Can anyone give me some tips on how to utilize EQ settings for recordings? I play mostly rock and use pro tools.
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Old 04-18-2012, 07:26 PM   #2
Moseph
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INTRO TO EQ

There are two basic types of equalization: graphic and parametric. Both types are similar in that they can provide means of tone-shaping using filters, however, parametric EQ provides more control over the general parameters of the individual filters.

Graphic EQs basically give you control of the gain of a particular set of frequencies, as dictated by design. There's no such thing as a "perfect" filter, so you determine the approximate set of frequencies by choosing to work at a "center frequency" (i.e., where the gain change is most dramatic). For graphic EQ's, there is typically a bit of overlap between the ranges that are affected by adjacent filters. The range of the filter around the center frequency is known as the bandwidth of that filter.

Parametric EQ gives you two additional controls, in addition to gain:

(01) You can control the center frequency of a filter
(02) You can control the bandwidth of the filter

Note: sometimes the bandwidth will be presented as a "Q" value, which goes back to old signal processing nomenclature for "quality factor." Q is inversely related to bandwidth, meaning a high Q will have narrow bandwidth and vice versa.

This makes the parametric EQ a very powerful tool in your arsenal, as it can let you make very broad or very narrow gain adjustments, and typically you can also find a more precise center frequency to give you the effect you're looking for.


The most common type of filter is a "peaking filter", sometimes called a "bell" filter, and sometimes referred to as a "notching filter" (typically when using the filter to attenuate). Other filter types exist, but I'm not going to go into details on them in this post.


The Simplest Rule-of-Thumb When Using EQ

Generally-speaking, "cut narrow, boost wide." The reason being that a wide cut tends to be more detrimental to the sound, and a narrow boost tends to have unnatural-sounding results.


The First Trick of Parametric EQ You Should Learn

Got a weird frequency ringing out in your signal? Maybe you want to pinpoint the tones you want to emphasize? Here's how you can find it with parameteric EQ:

(01) Set up a high-gain, narrow-bandwidth filter.
(02) Adjust the center frequency up/down the available frequency ranges.
(03) With a sufficiently high gain and sufficiently narrow filter, you should have a changing "ringing effect" of a small set of frequencies. If done properly, your "sweep" should sound similar to a wah pedal.
(04) When you hit the frequency you're looking for, you'll have an incredible emphasis on that particular tonal element. You've just found your most relevant center frequency! Now you can adjust your gain and bandwidth to better suit the desired sound.

So for example, if you have an offensive ringing on a snare drum, you create a big narrow peaking filter, sweep until you find it, and then you can reduce your gain to the negative range to attenuate the ringing. Adjust bandwidth to taste.

Or, if you want to emphasize the warm tones of a bass guitar, do a sweep until you find the tones you like audibly, and then reduce the gain/bandwidth so you get a natural emphasis of those tones.


The Second Rule-of-Thumb for EQ

"Try a cut before a boost"

This means two things:

(01) If you have a tone you like a particular part (e.g., guitar) and you have conflicting tones you don't like in a different part (e.g., snare), then rather than boosting the first part, try cutting those frequencies out in the second (e.g., don't EQ the guitar, find the bad frequencies of the snare and reduce them).

(02) If you have tones you like in a particular part (e.g., distorted electric guitar), try attenuating frequencies in that part that DON'T accentuate what you like (e.g., reduce the high-frequencies where the amp-hiss is audible and harsh).

Start with that. If you have more specific questions, maybe somebody will be able to help you with more specific answers.
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Old 04-20-2012, 06:00 PM   #3
JamesSheasgreen
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Thanks for the info
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