EQs are a Mixer’s Best Friend

ableton_live_eq.pngI’ve been recently cleaning up old tracks for the next podcast of my own productions, and usually the first thing I do is to place an EQ on each and every track before even starting to clean up the mix.

With Logic Pro it’s so easy, just click on the eq area and you get an instance of the EQ plug-in. With Live, you need to drag in the EQ8 to each track, but it’s doable.

One of the biggest enemies as a mixers we have is muddiness. It happens easily when you have lots of tracks playing at the same time, frequencies battling about the same range, ending up as a mush of sound, and you can’t really hear anything interesting. There’s a reason why minimalist dance music sounds so clear, few tracks!

Anyway, just be like a sculptor and sculpt out various main frequencies for each track. Sometimes even the dreadful 2k range will make sense (this is the metallic range) for certain instruments, so they are popping out from the mix.

This is very similar to what ancient composers had to do, they had to learn inside out what the range and tonality was of each instrument, so then when they composed (in their head!) they could figure out the balances, and that’s why a symphony orchestra sounds so massive, and still so clear.

We working with electronic tracks have an even harder time, as each synth and sample is its own new world, so we just need to go in and carve out the frequencies, and take out others so that the total balance will make it sound clear and interesting.

I sometimes even suspect that one reason many subscribe to using external big mixer boards is that they immediately have access to eq for each tracks, and they could quickly balance the frequencies, not that solid state analog circuits also give warmth compared with digital harshness that we in the fully digital world always have to try to minimize.

6 Comments:

  1. EQ is essential tool in modern studio. However there are differences in the sound quality of EQ plugins.

    After changing every instance of EQ8 in my recent track to Apples built in graphic EQ, the sound quality got better that instant second.

    Sonalskis and Waves ones are known to be good too, but id avoidable, don’t use Live’s own EQ.

  2. Interesting, I need to check this out of EQ8 versus the built-in Apple EQ. The EQ3 is a colorizing one, as it was really designed for DJ use.

  3. Did you have the time to test this? What was the result?

  4. Sorry, got stuck in fixing a lot of tracks for autumn schedule releases through the label. I will look at it just now.

  5. OK, I did an A/B test, same test track, and did a 3db Boost around 100Hz, and -3dB at 2k, very typical adjustments. The Apple EQ is not a parametric one, but I tried to make the adjustments as close as possible. I must say, I don’t really hear much differences over here, with low volume listening to pick any nuances.

    Now, I’m doing more and more work with Logic Pro 8, and its parametric EQ has been very good for a long time. Some might want to look at Sonalksis SV-517 as a possible EQ replacement, as they try to simulate analog eq circuits. Anyway, sorry, based on the limited testing I didn’t hear much differences.

  6. Well, maybe it’s just me.

    I’m sticking with third-party EQ/Filter plugins from now on, though Live’s own are a breeze to use.

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