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Proper EQ'ing

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Is the apostrophe really needed there? EQing, EQ'ing, E'Q'ing?

But seriously folks, thats not my question. I've always had a very loose understanding of using EQ during mixing and that's one thing I am trying to strengthen.

To give you an idea of where I am, I start by rolling off the bass around 70-90hz most of the time and then I look for frequencies that I want a whole lot less of. I sharpen the Q and boost but then... I can't really tell what a "bad" frequency is. Today after spending some time eq'ing one of my instruments I left to grab a tasty beverage only to come back and dull my teeth to probably the most abrasive guitar ever.

Can anyone shed some light on what they listen for when they are taking certain frequencies out?


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If it hurts your ears, fix it.

Basically, I just listen for anything that hurts when I turn up the volume. Once I figure out when and where it is (time, instrument), I look for what frequency it is. I do this by making a thin, loud boost and moving it up and down the frequency range until I notice the offending frequency is worse. Then I change the EQ from boosting to cutting.

Carve space for the foreground stuff.

If I have tracks occupying the same frequency range, I decide which one I want to have in the foreground and which ones I can push back. The ones I can push back get a wide EQ cut. Where? Where they're leaving room for the foreground instrument and its harmonics. Because the harmonics give the instruments its clarity, those need to punch through. Lead vs pad, lead wins, carve some in the pad. A subtle EQ cut and more reverb make stuff sink into the background more.

Needs to sound more like x.

When a track is done, if I'm not too tired of it, I do some basic mastering stuff to help it fit in with similar tracks. Usually, the lows are too loud and the highs have some problem (too little, too much, or just seem boosted around the wrong frequency). This is why having some good tracks to compare your finished tracks with is so important, it shows the overall frequency balance you should strive for.

Okay, I got a little carried away and forgot your question, but those are the three things I do when working with EQ (aside from filter effects and stuff). The first one should answer the question tho. Raise volume, boost an EQ, scan to find what hurts. Can't tell with my speakers, but I reckon it hurts more on headphones.

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