Wonder what an EQ is and how to properly use it? An EQ is the other term of a graphic equalizer which is used to change the frequency response or the tone of a song, sound or instrument.
Many folks are not familiar with what an EQ looks like. As the EQ lives on in digital form and is found from technology products such as Smartphones and tablets to wireless speakers, people are at least vaguely informed how an EQ really works. An EQ is not an actual superpower but it can put the power of sound sculpting right at your fingertips. It can get you closer to the sound you needed the most and will open a door of equalizing audio the best way.
Learning to use a graphic organizer is a fundamental skill for everyone in the audio world. It only takes a bit of practice to get used to and here is the top beginner guide in using an EQ.
How To Use An Equalizer
STEP 1 – Set EQ Control to Neutral
Before you start using an equalizer, don’t forget to set all the EQ bands at the neutral or 0 (zero) position. Setting an EQ at this range will make the audio come out from the speakers without any effects. Since you don’t know who may touch the EQ last, it is always the best idea to check the levels right before the job starts. Each slider of the EQ may be labeled as Hz, dB, bass, treble, and midrange in between.
STEP 2 – Evaluate the Sound Quality Being Produced
If you are done in making the setup, spend some time listening to the sound by using your speakers to evaluate its quality. Basically, changes don’t happen immediately. To hear fully the change, you may want to turn the volume up and down a bit. If you got the best results, proceed to the next step.
STEP 3 – Make Small Adjustments
Based on your own listening preferences, make some increasing or decreasing adjustments to one frequency controls at a time. Make sure to only play a familiar song for you to do this step with ease. Adjust equalizer controls to get the best tone. A small adjustment can make a big difference so be careful with the outcome of the sound you produce. Moreover, all frequencies in the instrument may interact with each other which could damage the whole performance so try reducing the frequencies instead of increasing them.
STEP 4 – Proceed on the Finale
Make further adjustments to achieve the best result. You can re-adjust the controls to make minor changes. You can also pick another frequency band or repeat step 3 until the desired sound quality is finally achieved. In this step, you can play different tracks to hear the variety of vocals and musical instruments. Don’t hesitate to try and experiment all EQ settings and see if all of them are functioning and how they work best in the process.
TIPS On Using EQ
TIP 1 – Uncover the Right Frequency
The first thing you should be doing in using an EQ is to find the right frequency. This is how you can make the right adjustments especially if you don’t have the experience of knowing where to start. To do this, get a parametric EQ that allows you to control the target frequency. Play the sound and sweep the frequency slowly back and forth. Continue doing so until you find the point where the tone you are looking for is the loudest.
Once you’re done, make a note of the frequency and don’t forget to turn the EQ back to zero. The frequency can be best identified where your target tone occurs. This would be the best part where you can cut or boost it suitably.
TIP 2 – Set Up Instruments Correctly
Knowing where this instrument is going to sit in the mix and what it needs to achieve is important before you hit the recording course. Any instrument that is badly placed will end up contributing to a muddy mix therefore take the time to think what role do instruments have in the mix and plan how to accomplish great tone accordingly. To do this better, think from the very beginning what sort of room you choose to record in. Know your choice of instrument and placement as well.
Speakers are one of the best tools needed for recording or mixing. Before you even touch the equalizer, place all speakers correctly. Speakers should also be positioned to sound their best and easy EQ adjustments.
TIP 3 – Learn to Understand
Whether you are a beginner or not, to experience ups and downs is unavoidable. Sometimes, individual instruments may sound terrible when you listen to it yourself but sounds different in the mix. If this has happened in your case, you don’t have to worry too much. Some individual tracks need to sound good on its own at some point. There are cases that those fantastic sounding instruments are often the hardest to polish in the mix.
All that matters here now is not how you hear it but how it sounds in the mix.
TIP 4 – Get Perfect Tone as Soon as Possible
If you are not able to get a perfect tone from the start, keep trying! It is better to fix everything right from the start than fixing it in the mix later. EQ should be the last option. Get a perfect tone as soon as possible before proceeding to the next step. If you have set all of your instruments correctly then you’re on a half way there. If you aren’t still getting the best results, spend some time trying as many different placements as possible.
Try to be completely happy with the tone you’re getting without any EQ help as this will lessen both your time and effort in making adjustments in the mix.
TIP 5 – Keep EQ Subtle
One way to help keep EQ subtle is to use a narrow (high) Q while having a wide (low) Q. Do this when boosting. This trick is a good rule of thumb to cut its best. It is said to be better to cut than to boost. One reason is that excessive EQ boosting may denote muddiness while losing clarity at the same time. Too much boosting can also lead to phasing problems which can destroy the whole mix.
On the other hand, boosting can also give desirable tones when done carefully.
TIP 6 – Prevent Low-mid Junks
Low mid-range, for many instruments, is something where all the fullness and body lies. With this in mind, it can be tempting to give instruments a lot of low-mids. What makes it wrong is that plenty of low-mids can leave a muffled, meaningless mess as all those low-mids fights for a room in the mix. The low-mid range is an overlapping point for various instruments and this problem has been the most common dilemma in modern music.
To lessen the trouble, you can change some arrangements of the track to avoid low-mid mess or check frequently what’s happening in the low-mid range of the song while using EQ properly.
Most electronics manufacturers have their own ideas how a piece of an instrument sounds like but EQ is the thing that allows you to speak – what’s there inside you. If you are like people who don’t always get to listen to ideal music environments in which ambient noise can have a nasty effect on the sound, an EQ can lend you a hand.