In this first part of our upcoming series of EQ tutorials, you will learn to use the basic controls and workflow fundamentals of every equalizer plugin on the market.
EQ is one of the most powerful tools, if not THE most powerful tool in your mixing arsenal. In fact, it’s typically the first plugin I use on every track inside my DAW. If you don’t have the skills to implement some basic EQ moves right from the start of a project, your mix can suffer all the way through.
The equalizer is how you get rid of the “mud” in your mix. It’s how you add clarity and separation on a track by track basis. It’s not the only tool for this, but it’s arguably the most effective. If everything sounds like a big jumbled mess, then the listener is going to lose interest in a song. Our job as mixing engineers is to make sure there are “pockets” for each instrument to live in and work with each other.
Not every track needs to occupy the same frequencies to sound good. If we can carve, sculpt, and add some color to each track in context with the whole mix, we can turn a muffled muddy mix into a clear and defined mix with a few strategic EQ moves. Once you understand the fundamentals of EQ, it’s really not that hard to implement that knowledge to any mix. It will take a lifetime to master, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make large positive strides in the use of EQ in a short period of time.
That’s what this first video is about. The basic EQ controls. You need to understand how an equalizer works and what each knob and tool is for. In the video embedded at the top of this page, I’ll break down the controls for you in an easy to understand way. Again, this recording and mixing game we are all playing is a lifelong learning experience.
I, by no means, feel that I’ve mastered anything. Some of the best mixers in the world that I follow still say that they learn something new every day. And I still learn from watching other people mix and analyzing their workflow. We just take a little from here and there and file it away to pull out of our “tool bag” when we need it. Learn some fundamentals first, and you’ll be well on your way.
In the next video, which will be published right here on BPB and on our YouTube channel in around one week from now, we will cover the most common mixing technique – subtractive EQ. Stay tuned for that, and if you’re in a hurry, check out my article about using EQ on vocals. Thanks for watching!