If you’re going to get into recording, you’re going to have to know your EQ – there’s just no way around it. Worse yet, there’s no real hard and fast rules when it comes to proper EQing. Much like writing music itself, EQing has to be felt out by ear to hear what sounds best along with a healthy dose of trial and error. It’s a game of observation and tweaking. But it’s not all bad; there are certainly a few general guidelines that will send you towards the right direction. So, if you don’t know your 50Hz from your 500, read on because ProAudioLand has got you covered with a few tips on when and where to apply EQ!
Starting with the lowest common frequency, the 50Hz-60Hz range, this is where your bass gets that deep rumble. Need some thickness on that kick drum? Want a bass line that your audience will literally feel beneath their feet? It all resides in this range. Essentially, you’ll want to boost the 50Hz-60Hz range in order to thicken up deep bass and bass drum parts. Conversely, you also want to make sure that your vocals do not hit anywhere near this frequency as this is usually a sign of those unwanted microphone pops.
Moving on, the 70Hz-100Hz is where the main body of the bass resides. Not the deep rumble, but the core build that most of us are familiar with when we hear a bass or bass drums. If your bass line isn’t coming through in the mix, you can try boosting it in this range but try not to overdo it; low frequency sounds such as those in this range are more vulnerable to phase issues when coupled with a similar frequency, meaning you’ll end up with bass frequencies cancelling each other out rather than boosting each other. And just like the 50Hz-60Hz range, you’ll want to cut this frequency for any and all vocals.
The 200Hz-400Hz range is probably one that you’re more familiar with. If you’re looking to add warmth to your vocals or thicken up your guitar sound, try giving it a boost in this range. Conversely, if you’re looking to thin up your chunky guitar, vocals, cymbals or other high frequency percussions, give them a cut in this range. This is also the range where the typical ‘woody’ sound of the snare drum resides. Cut or boost this range in order to control how little or how much of this sound you’d like.
When boosted, the 400Hz-800Hz is particularly handy in warming up those tom drums. Not only that, if you’re looking to control the clarity of your bass instruments or trying to thicken or thin guitar sounds, try a boost or cut at this range. Keep in mind that if boosting or cutting this range on the bass track still doesn’t improve its clarity in the overall mix, you might want to try cutting this range on other instrument tracks as this will typically help.
The 800Hz-1KHz range can be boosted to specifically thicken vocal tracks. Also, try applying a boost at the 1KHz range to add some attack to a bass drum.
The 2KHz-3KHz range is typically used for in order to make instruments stand out in an overall mix. For example, boosting this range on a piano track will give it more attack, making it sound more aggressive. Furthermore, applying a boost between 1KHz and 5KHz is particularly handy in making guitar and bass parts cut through. This range is also very helpful with smoothing out harsh sounding vocals when a cut is applied.
As far as the 3HKz-6HKz range goes, try adding a boost here for a bass sound that’s a bit more ‘plucked.’ You can also try applying a boost at around 6KHz to give those vocal parts and distorted guitars a bit more definition. Conversely, you can mess around with a cut at about 3KHz in order to quell the harshness or piercing vocals. And finally, try applying a cut between 5KHZ and 6KHz to tone down some parts in a mix.
When boosted, the 6KHz-10KHz range is a great way to sweeten up those vocals. The higher the frequency you boost, the brighter and more ‘airy’ the parts will be. Also keep in mind that you can boost this range to add definition to the sound of acoustic guitars, to smooth out the rough edges of synth/strings or to bolster the sound of a variety of percussion sounds. For example, by boosting this range, you can bring out cymbals, add ring to a snare or smooth out the bass drum.
And finally, we have the 10KHz-16KHz range. Boost this range to give your vocals a brighter feel or add to cymbals and percussion instruments for a crisper sound. You can also boost this frequency to ass some sparkle to pads, but be wary of this as it only works it the frequency is present in the original recording, otherwise all you’ll be doing is adding unpleasant hiss to the overall sound.