Equalizers or EQ are one of the most important tools in music production you can use to mix your songs. It allows you to shape your sound by adjusting the frequency content of your mix, so everything sounds clear and balanced. A problem that many of us run into when starting to EQ is that we tend to BOOST rather than Reduce. This will make your sound disproportionate and lost. Today, I will be sharing tips I learned from when I first started to now.
The Act of Removing Resonating Frequencies
You might be familiar with the most annoying sound: the dreaded whistle. The whistle is a resonation that occurs from sounds having too loud of a sine layer, drums with harsh reflections, bad vocal recordings, and synths after processing. You can most commonly notice the resonation on an EQ because it will spike up above your other frequencies.
Once you hear the resonation, you might want to EQ the sound down but do not EQ to the point that you kill the resonation. Resonations sometimes can sound good, but you just gotta tame them.
So, you might be wondering, when does this apply? Well, resonating frequencies should be reduced when you feel your sound has too much whistle and it is out of control. You can also choose to remove the resonating frequencies when you’re mastering, drums, lead bus, or messing with vocal sibilances. Resonating frequencies are normal... it's when they are overly accentuated that they suck and kill your mix.
Reduce Rather Than Boost
Instead of trying to make a sound better by boosting frequencies, you might want to reduce it. Digital EQs aren't the greatest when it comes to boosting frequencies, so I usually recommend people use them to reduce instead. If you are dealing with a sound that sounds muddy, don't boost the high-end, reduce where the mud is located. For leads, this will usually be around 300-400hz if played at a C3 Octave. For Basslines this will land between 200-300HZ.
A good rule of thumb is to Reduce 90% of the time and boost the other 10%.
The purpose of using the Mid-side EQ is to EQ your Mid (Center), and Sides (WIDE) frequencies independent of each other. How does this help translate to a cleaner sound?
For example, if you have a SUPERSAW Chord and a monophonic SAW Lead. They will both be taking up the 500hz range of the spectrum. If you remove this crucial frequency in both sounds you will find the leads and chords will sound thinner.
This is where MID/SIDE EQ works its magic. Obviously, supersaw chords will have MID, and Side signal as it's a stereo sound. However, your monophonic lead will only have information in the MID Signal! So we can use MID/SIDE EQ on the Chords to remove 500hz in the center to make room for our lead without cutting too much from the sides giving you a full wide supersaw sound.
You can do this technique with anything like vocals in the center of the mix. If you have a vocal you can always remove its main frequency from every other sound in the MID Signal rather than killing it.
Learn the Dynamic Equalizers
If an EQ and a compressor mated the offspring would be a DYNAMIC EQ!!
Dynamic EQ's are helpful when you have instances in a sound where there is an abundance of sound or you have resonating frequencies that keep moving around.
You can set them up to only boost/reduce when the frequency hits a certain DB.
You can also use them to add a punch to a sound by boosting on key transient points.
Very useful tool when in the right hands.
These have been some important things to look at when you EQ. I suggest you look up these terms on google if you want to dive deeper into them. I have some videos on my youtube channel as well about EQ'S.
All the best