3 RULES OF EQ You Need To Know




Hi! I've been using EQ for the past 25 years. Today, I'm going to tell you my three rules of EQ. And, at the end of the video, I'm going to tell you how you can get thousands of free hours worth of training on EQ. Rule number 1 is how do you think about EQ? What is EQ essentially? So, when you think about EQ, you are essentially just lifting the volume of each individual frequency or set of frequencies. You're either turning them up or you're turning them down. So, when you're turning the volume up or down on a certain frequency, most of the time you'll want to affect the frequencies around that main frequency too. Because just raising one frequency will be pretty sharp and won't be as effective. So, normally when you're lifting the volume of one frequency, it's probably too narrow and you won't be able to tell the difference when if it was just one frequency on itself.

That's where a thing called queue comes in on an EQ. Now queue is how wide or how narrow the bands are that you use. So for example, if I was to raise 5K, and then I was to set the Q, so it's very wide, you can see that all the frequencies around that 5k are also affected by the volume change, whether that goes up or down. So, if I go to a tighter Q and I bring that up, you can see it's not touching any of the wider frequencies. It is just the more narrow frequencies around the 5k. So, let me give you an audio example of that. As I'm talking now, you'll hear, this is a very wide queue around 5 kHz, 5k. And, then this is a very narrow queue around the 5 kHz. So, you can hear, it sounds a little bit more spiky when you're raising with a tighter queue than it is when you're with a wider queue. That covers far more frequencies within my vocal range.

So, it's a lot smoother and not as sharp. So, now that leads me on to rule number two, which is sections of EQ. So we're going to lift and lower different sections of EQ. Now, these different sections that bands you may have heard of them before. And, it’s really easy, simple way for you to understand what needs to be louder and what needs to be quieter. So, you have low bass frequencies that say 50 Hz, then we'll go up to the higher bass frequencies, which are a hundred Hertz. Then, we have another band of low mids, which is 500. Then, we have the high mids, which is again, 5k. And, then we have the tops, which are 10K. Now, when I say these frequencies, that's the center frequency for each of those bands. Now, as I said with the queue that is where you're widen them out or narrow them down within those sections.

But, when somebody says it's got too much top on it, for example, it's in that top frequency range. And, when someone says it's got too much sub or too much low end, it's in that 50 Hz range because our hearing goes from 20 Hz to 20 kHz. So, it's within that range that we're going to be able to hear is within that range that we're going to adjust. So, if somebody says there's too much high mids, that's the 5k range. And, so all you do is you move around that until you find the place where you want, and then you move the queue wider or narrower to then deal with the frequencies that are either right or wrong. So, as an example of the different frequencies within a whole song. This now is the frequencies. As you can see from the Fabfilter EQ what is affected when you've got a kick drum. You can see all the high frequency, all the top frequencies and the high mids aren't involved.

You will have a tail that is in the low mids.  But, most of the action is happening in the hundred Hertz down to the 50 Hz. And, they're all in the low end. That whole section is called the low end. So, then let's look at this next example. Well, we have a vocalist as the vocalist playing, you can see most of the energy frequency wise is in the 5k area. So, there is frequencies happening, go lower and where you can get some more warmth is around the 500, the low mids. But really if there's anything going lower than it is in the low end, you really you're going to cut that off because it's going to be rumble and noise because our voices don't normally go that low. This leads me into my next rule, which is rule number three. And, this is how do you get the balance of EQ?

So, the balance of an EQ is really to do with, is there too much top in a vocal? Is there too much bottom? So, really by listening to instruments and learning how instruments should sound, you can know whether a kick drum, for example, needs some more 50 Hz or whether it needs more 100 Hz. So, you can hit you'll know whether it needs more thump in the low end or where if it's sounding muddy, it means there's probably too much in the low mids. So that you can cut that low mid, and then just get it tighter around its main frequency range. So, with balance, it's a good idea to understand with individual tracks, how each of those tracks should sound. If you hear with my vocal now, as I'm talking, there's quite a lot of low, mid frequencies happening. But strip those off, it starts sounding much thinner and a lot brighter.

So, you need to add some of those back so that’s how sound when it's a nicely EQ voice. And, the same goes for guitars. The same goes for drums. The same goes for any instrument that you're using EQ. Now, when we look at a whole track, in my case, I'm a mastering engineer. So, I'm listening to the EQ of the whole mix across. I'm not listening to the individual instruments. That's already been taken care of mixed stage and production stage before me. So with mastering, is it too bright? Is the whole track going to be neat? Has it got too much high end on it? Has it not got enough low end on it? So, what I need to do is listen to a lot of tracks, a lot of music, and then reference those and think that's how I want my track to sound.

What balance of EQ have they got across that whole sound? There are some other element that go into mastering apart from EQ obviously. There are dynamics, but we're talking about EQ here. And that's one of the main things that I do. So I'm listening. Has it got too much? Has it got too much bottom? If it's sounding boxy, I know that's in the low mids, so I'll deal with, and I'll listen to it and I'll decide, is it too much queue? Is it too less queue? Which frequency I'll just pan through the frequencies until I hear the one that I think, okay, I need to take a bit of that out, or I need to add a bit more to it. Is it bright enough? The other reference tracks I'm listening to, does the mix need lifting up in the top end or does it need lowering down in the bottom end so that I get a nice even sound that across the whole mix and that's really what you want to do with EQ.

Don't overthink it. It's all about raising volumes and lowering volumes at different points in the track with a different Q, with a different width or high and lows. You can also use things called cuts. You can also, which will just cut frequencies off, or you can use shelves, which essentially is a shelf and lifts frequencies from your point. And, it lifts them all the way up. So, there are a few different types of EQ shape, but essentially you're just raising and lowering the volume of a frequency range based on the settings that you've put into your plugin or hardware.

So today, if you've enjoyed this video, please make sure you like this video on EQ. It means that YouTube will give you loads of other great videos on EQ from a lot of other channels around YouTube. I've also got hundreds of videos on this channel too, about Equeuing and about mastering and about mixing. If you want to see one of those videos now there is me, mastering in a program called Ozone 9, and that will show you all the basics you need to know to master for yourself at home. Thanks for watching. I'll see you on the next one. Bye.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published