• Tristan Roberts

ITB Mixing - What is an Equalizer? Article 1 on Equalizers.

This series is meant to educate you on equalizers further than most YouTube tutorials are able to.

I remember being a new engineer, that watched tutorials every day all day, and after watching so many videos and playing along with them I thought that I knew what to do when using an equalizer (EQ), but it turns out... I was very wrong.

So we are going to tackle things in a little different manner than you are probably used to. We will be answering broader questions, and then going into detail on how exactly they should or might be used. If you find that you have any questions or comments you can send me an email at tristan@tristanrobertsaudio.com or fill out my contact form on my website.

These seem simple but please stay with it we have to know the basics and fundamentals in order to get the end result of knowing exactly what you are doing and what you are looking for when using an equalizer.

The topics below are included but not limited to:

What is an Equalizer?

When should you use an equalizer?

How to use an Equalizer?

Micro and Macro Equalization.

So to start the series we ask:

What is an Equalizer or EQ?

An equalizer allows you to boost or cut specific frequencies or ranges of frequencies in an audio signal. These are often used in live venues to help with feedback. There are hardware Equalizers and digital equalizers in your Digital Audio Workstation (DAW).

The controls that are commonly used on equalizers are:

Frequency - the frequency control chooses which frequency band(s) to manipulate.

Q - the Q allows you to select the bandwidth of the affected frequencies.

Gain - the gain control allows you to boost or cut the frequency bands that were selected.

High Pass/Low Cut - the high pass or low cut both allow high frequencies to pass through.

Low Pass/High Cut - the low pass or high cut both allow low frequencies to pass through the filter.

Subtractive EQ

When you use EQ by cutting or subtracting frequencies to achieve your end result. "What can I subtract to make this better."

Additive EQ

When you use EQ by boosting frequencies to achieve your end result. "What can I add to make this better."

People often argue over which is better to use; additive or subtractive. I personally try to use subtractive, but whichever you use is up to you and what your research finds. So go out and research. Try both for yourself and see which works out best!

Micro and Macro Equalization

Before we get into when and how to use an equalizer you have to understand what changes you are making are actually going to do to your mix.

Micro equalization would be in my opinion at the track level.

Macro equalization would be in context of the whole mix.

What you do at the track level will effect the whole mix. If you cut a little at 500hz on every single track without listening to context of the whole mix you may make your whole mix sound thin. Think about this when boosting and cutting. Mixing is a constant push and pull. If you are cutting something it could mess something up down the line or the same with boosting. This is why it is important to NEVER USE EQ WHILE SOLO'd, but if you do just make sure to take that track out of solo and reference it to the track.. Bypass it. Does it sound better or worse? You may not need that EQ at all or maybe you need more.

Audio work is a science and an art. If you don't believe something I say in my articles try it for yourself and assume I don't know what I'm talking about!

Thank you for reading and make sure to check out the next article on Equalizing to understand When you should use an Equalizer.


Tristan Roberts

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