eq tutorial: beginner
here comes the first of many eq tutorials. eq is tuly a powerful tool. used correctly, eq can turn a great recording into a superb track. used incorrectly, the user might get discouraged or frustrated. let's talk about it.
So what is an EQ anyway? EQ stands for "equalization." Simply put, and EQ is a fader. That’s the easiest way to remember it. Just like a normal fader on a soundboard, it is used to equalize the sound relative to something else. Instead of turning the volume up or down on the entire track, the purpose of EQ is to adjust the volume of different frequencies inside of that track, equalizing it to its self.
So Let’s talk frequency for a second. The human ear generally hears frequencies between 20Hz and ~16kHz (kilohertz), depending on how old you are, and how many rock concerts you attended. As the number of Hz gets higher, the frequency also gets higher pitched.
To understand frequency a bit more, we can categorize frequency into three main sections: Bass, Mids, and Treble. The bass region is between 20Hz and, say 200. The mid frequency region covers the largest area, from 200 Hz to around 5kHz depending on who you ask. The treble is everything above 5kHz, all the way up to 16kHz.
Your stock EQ probably looks a little like this. I am using logic pro for this example. If you use a different daw (digital audio workstation), your eq will look a little different. that’s okay. all the same rules apply. notice that the white line in the center of the graph displays numbers 20 through 20k. These are the Hz markers. The distance between 10k and 20k is about the same s the distance of 20Hz to 30Hz. That is because this graph is exponential, and all EQs are. Also notice that I have audio passing through the EQ, and you can see that audio reprisented by the squiggly lines. As you can tell, there are much more bass frequencies than treble.
an eq uses volume faders called filters. These filters are a little bit fancier than volume faders: they can change shape and move freely around the frequency spectrum.
Let’s first cover the three main types of EQ filters:
high pass and low pass filters
These filters roll off frequencies above or below the set frequency. You can remember high pass because it allows the high end to pass, meaning that it cuts the low end. The exact opposite is true for a low pass.
notice how the frequencies above and below the filters get removed.
high shelves and low shelves
These behave similarly to the last EQ filters, but instead of cutting completely, you control the gain of the entire frequency spectrum above or below the shelf frequency.
the low shelf is displayed gray-orange and the high shelf is displayed purple
Bell filters get their name because they kind of look like a bell (yup, very creative). Rather than everything above or below the set frequency, bell filters are used to boost or cut specific frequencies
Okay, so we know our filters now. How do we control them? Well, let's discuss our controls:
Use this to select the frequency you want to edit.
Raising the gain increases the volume of the selected frequency, and lowering the gain decreases the volume.
Simply put, Q adjusts the curve of your frequency filter. The smaller the Q, the thicker your band will get, and the larger the Q, the thinner. Q does not do anything to shape the sound unless gain settings are also applied. The Q also can do some funky things to non-bell filters, so make sure that you use your ears.
So now you know every control that your stock EQs have. Let's put them to use right away!
Here's a free multitrack of a little beat I produced: Click here to get your free stems. Download these stems, import them into your DAW, and follow along with me on YouTube while I dial the EQ on each track and explain my thought process. (YouTube video not yet available)
Hopefully this video helped you. Please type in the comments below if you have any questions, comments, or concerns! If you are struggling with an area of EQ, I would love to help. Have an awesome day, friend.