Applying Creative/Corrective Equalisation

Applying Creative/Corrective Equalisation

Understanding Equalisation (EQ)

  • Equalisation (EQ) is a process in music production used to boost or cut specific frequency ranges within a sound. It helps to balance individual tracks and the overall mix.
  • The sound spectrum is divided into bass (low), mid and treble (high) frequencies. A good understanding of these ranges is vital for equalisation, as boosting or cutting in incorrect areas can detrimentally alter the sound.
  • EQ comes in two types: passive EQ and active EQ. Passive EQ naturally attenuates or boosts certain frequencies where the audio circuitry allows, while active EQ requires power and allows for more precise control.
  • EQ can be used as a creative tool to shape the sound or correctively to solve problems such as reducing unwanted noise or frequencies.

Implementing Creative/Corrective Equalisation

  • Applying corrective equalisation is often the first step to clean the track. Identify problematic frequencies that are too dominant or too recessed. Cutting these frequencies helps remove any unwanted noise and shapes the sound.
  • Using EQ creatively, you can introduce additional character to the sound. Boosting certain frequencies can add warmth or brightness, while cutting can reduce muddiness.
  • When manipulating EQ, always remember to maintain balance between tracks. Each track in a mix should have its own ‘space’ in the frequency spectrum to avoid clutter or conflict.
  • Subtractive EQ is often preferred over additive EQ, as it helps prevent a phenomenon called ‘frequency masking’ where certain sounds become inaudible due to the dominance of others.
  • Use of specialised EQ like a parametric EQ provides additional control allowing for specific frequency adjustment and control of bandwidth.

Avoiding Common Mistakes

  • Avoid over-equalising. Excessive EQ adjustments can lead to a loss of naturalness and warmth in the sound.
  • Be mindful of the gain staging. When you boost frequencies, you also boost the volume, which could lead to distortion. Always remember to adjust your levels accordingly.
  • Always EQ in context. Changes should not be made just on soloed tracks; listen to the change in the mix to understand its impact accurately.
  • Try to make changes with your ears, not your eyes. Visual aids should serve as guides, but always trust your ears when making adjustments.

Understanding and applying equalisation effectively can dramatically improve your mixes, allowing you to control and shape the sound to your liking. Practise and ear training are keys to mastering EQ.