What Is An Equalizer? And Why It’s The Guaranteed Method For Success

Picture showing an equalizer saying now that's what I call bass

I think you will agree:

If there was only one plugin you could use on all of your mixes.

It would be an equalizer.

Why?

Because it’s probably one of the most important tools when mixing...

This is because:

...It’s glues all your tracks together and is also critical for anyone trying to improve their skill within the industry.

So, in today's post I am going to show why you NEED to be using EQ... And exactly how you can easily start using it in your mixes.

I think you will agree:

If there was only one plugin you could use on all of your mixes.

It would be an equalizer.

Why?

Because it’s probably one of the most important tools when mixing...

This is because:

...It’s glues all your tracks together and is also critical for anyone trying to improve their skill within the industry.

Picture showing an equalizer saying now that's what I call bass

So, in today's post I am going to show why you NEED to be using EQ... And exactly how you can easily start using it in your mixes.

More...

An equalizer is more commonly known as EQ and it allows you to raise or lower the volume of frequencies within the frequency spectrum (20Hz – 20KHz).

This Is Why You Need An Equalizer.

Imagine you recorded a whole band individually and listen to the tracks.

On their own they sound great.

But:

When you listen to the song as a whole your mix becomes lifeless, muddy and has no energy.

This is a result of all the sounds from every instrument fighting against each other for the same frequencies thus creating a mashup of noise and sounds.

And no​ one wants to listen to that:

Muting The Volume

​If it sounds complicated don’t get hung up because it’s NOT and by the time you’ve read this post you will understand exactly what EQ is and how to use it.

But if you don’t want to read it and just want to look smart.

​When someone asks you:

What is an equalizer?

You can say:

“It’s a program that adds clarity to your tracks so they can be heard clearly in the mix.”

That’ll get you the ladies. 😉

What Does It Do?

Basically:

An equalizer will boost or cut frequencies within your instrument in decibels (dB).

This can do many things:

  • ​It can remove muddiness
  • ​​Help with poor recordings
  • ​Remove feedback when playing live
  • Give more bass or treble
  • It can even make you sound like you are talking through a telephone.

And m​uch more...

As you can see an EQ is an extremely powerful tool.

The main reason it’s used is to connect all your tracks together so they can all be heard...

...And don’t overpower each other.

Think Of It Like a Jigsaw.

When you first get a jigsaw puzzle it’s a complete mess.

Messed Up Jigsaw Puzzle

And it’s not until you place the pieces the right way up and fit them all together that you get a completed picture.

Completed Puzzle

The same applies with EQ.

After you have recorded your tracks there will more than likely be problems such as:

Too much bass

Sounds boxy

Not enough treble

Doesn’t cut through the mix

Sounds harsh

And many more.

So, to remedy this and fit them together, you will need to cut away certain frequencies and boost others.

This in turn will allow every instrument to be heard in the mix.

And finally creating the finished picture (in music form).

Cubase Studio Mixer With Tracks

​Remember:

There’s NO right or wrong in music.

And there’s NO exact science.

It’s all about what you hear with your ears and what sounds good.

You’re The Judge And YOU Make The Decisions!

If you're wondering:

How do I improve my EQ skills?

Well:

There are amazing ear gurus that have studied EQ for years...

...And have the best ears possible.

They are so good that they are able to hear subtle changes of less than one decibel in volume!

Actually:

When you start off, you won’t really know what to look for.

And your ears won’t be custom to listening to good and bad frequencies.

But eventually:

After mixing for a year or two, you will listen to one of your mixes and a light bulb will go off.

Light Bulb Getting An Idea


Your ears will understand what they’re listening to...

...And you will notice your mixing will dramatically improve.

Also, the speed at which you mix at will be much faster as well.

What used to takes you days will now take you hours or even minutes!

That’s the power of understanding EQ and knowing exactly what to do in an instant!

But:

1-2 YEARS???...That's a hella long time!

However do not be discouraged, as your ear will constantly improve all the time and you will notice results within months if you keep at it.

Subsequently:

There are much faster ways to improve your ear.

And that’s by listening to hundreds of different EQ moves in minutes and guessing what they are.

Train Your Ears Guessing Frequencies

​So, what you could achieve in a year can be done in a much shorter amount of time.

There’s a brilliant program that I use, it’s called Train Your Ears...

Train Your Ears Box

​...And is amazing for anyone wanting to get better at mixing and recording

In my opinion it's a must have!

Especially for a beginner.

But, more on that later…


I Will Show You How You Can Easily Take Advantage Of This Tool TODAY!

The great thing with EQ is once you know how to use one;

You know how to use them all.

You can get different EQ’s such as 7 band, 4 band or even 1 band EQ’s.

All this means is:

The more EQ bands you have, the more EQ moves you can make.

You can also get one with sliders like this:

A Picture Of An Equalizer With Sliders

These don’t have bands because you can change all the EQ sliders individually.

I am going to be showing you the standard equalizer that comes with Cubase. It is a 4 band EQ and is called Studio EQ.

​Remember: Even though your EQ might look a bit different, everything will be the same just laid out in a different way.​​​​​​​​

Interface

Picture Of Studio EQ In Cubase Highlighting Gain, Frequency and Q-Factor

This is what your standard EQ will look like. On the left are 3 different controls,

These are:

  • Gain – This is how much you will boost or cut the frequency measured in dB (Decibels)
  • Freq – Short for frequency, here you can choose the frequency you want to boost or cut.
  • Q-Factor – This determines how wide your EQ move will be, the lower the Q-Factor the wider the EQ and more frequencies affected.

On the right is a diagram of the EQ moves you will be making, this can be very helpful to starting out as you can visually see everything you will be doing.

The line going across the middle is your neutral line, if you go above it you will be boosting a frequency and if you go below you will be cutting a frequency.

The amount you boost or cut will be determined by the numbers on the left and are in dB.

The numbers along the bottom are the frequencies, the ones shown are some base frequencies for guidance, you can choose any number in between them ranging from 0Hz – 20kHz.


Studio EQ In Cubase With A Boost At 1kHz

I have made an EQ move here; let’s take a look at what I did.

  • Gain – As you can see on the left I have boosted the frequency up 10.9Db.
  • Freq – I set the frequency to exactly 1004 Hz.
  • Q-Factor – This is set to 2.0 for a wide EQ.

Everything that is light blue (in the red circle) is being affected by the EQ move.

And even though we only boosted at 1004 Hz.

Because of the wide Q-Factor, the frequencies around it (about 500 – 2000Hz) are getting raised slightly as well.


Studio EQ In Cubase With A Very Tight Cut

This is the same EQ move but cut and with a very high Q-Factor.

As you can see if affects a lower amount of frequencies and is used mainly for removing specific tones that are heard sonically.

This is known as sculpting.


Low and High Pass Filters

As well as boosting and cutting you can also use a low pass filter and a high pass filter.

These cut a lot of frequencies out at once at either very low ​Hertz or very high Hertz.

A Picture Of Studio EQ With A High Pass Filter In Cubase

A high pass filter will cut out the low frequencies and a low pass filter will cut out the high frequencies.

Confusing I know...

...Think of it like this, a high-pass filter lets the high frequencies pass through and a low-pass filter lets the low frequencies pass through.

This can be useful if you’re EQing something with no low end (a high hat for example).

Using a high pass filter like the one shown in the picture above can remove unwanted bass that can muddy up the song, leave more room for the bass guitar and kick drum and can help clean up the instrument for a crisper sound that cuts through the mix.

I like to use a high pass filter on almost all of my tracks to remove any muddiness from the get go.

The only instruments I don’t touch are the ones that occupy them frequencies such as bass guitars and kick drums etc.

This is what a low pass filter looks like:

A Picture Of Studio EQ In Cubase With A Low Pass Filter

How Do I Know What To Boost and Cut?

While there is no right or wrong in music, there are “rules” to follow.

Never abide by these rules though.

You should always use your ears to hear what EQ moves to make as no two EQ moves will be the same.

The trouble with this is when you are just starting out your ears aren’t able to hear what frequencies are good and what ones are bad.

So, for the untrained ears, there are guidelines you can follow.

A good tool to use is an EQ chart.

EQ Frequency Chart

​This will tell you roughly where different instruments lay within the spectrum but it should only be taken with a grain of salt...

...As no two instruments ​occupy the exact same frequencies even if they are the same!

Click here to check out ​the interactive EQ chart.

With the EQ chart, it tells you heaps of information about different instruments.

For example:

A Snare Drum:

Can have ring at 900Hz

Fullness at 120 – 240Hz

Attack/crisp at 2.5k – 5kHz

Snap at 10kHz.

This is more than enough information to get you started.

Just remember all these values are approximate and they will be different when you are EQing your instruments.

They’re to be used as a guide only!

Another good tool when starting out is to use presets.

Studio EQ PreSets In Cubase

​You can see what eq moves have been made on different instruments and see how they sound with yours.

These are general EQ settings that shouldn’t be kept.

Once you have chosen your pre-set, you will want to change the settings to find what works with not just your instrument but with the whole song.


A Better Way

A much better way to find what to boost and cut is to use a process called sweeping.

All you have to do is set your Q-Factor to the max and your gain to at least 12dB.

Studio EQ Setup For Sweeping In Cubase

​Then start sweeping your EQ curve up and down the spectrum until you find the frequency that sounds nasty and harsh on your ears.

Studio EQ Sweeping The Frequency Spectrum In Cubase

​Once you have found it, remove it by dropping the gain and cut that frequency while widening the Q-factor a little if you need to.

Cutting Out Certain Frequencies In Cubase With Studio EQ

Remember to only cut the frequency as much as you need to or you could do more damage than not cutting it at all.

Is EQ Really That Important?

EQ and compression are the foundations of the mixing process after your tracks have been recorded.

And usually:

They’re the first tools to go to.

You could create a great mix with just EQ and compression.

It will sound dry without reverb or delay...

...But nevertheless, it could still sound tight, punchy and clean giving it great clarity and making it already almost as good as any commercially produced track.

Not everyone has the facilities to create an amazing million dollar studio.

Many people don’t even have a spare room to use as a studio. ​Many beginners will just be using their bedroom ​without any proper room acoustics.

This can make recording a pain at times and also be much hard getting that perfect recording.

Now:

This is important so listen carefully.

Don’t think that your recordings can be fixed in the mix, if your recording was bad it will always sound terrible in the mix.

EQ can only do so much.

It Can Help a Good Track Sound Great, But It Can’t Make a Bad Track Sound Good!

So what’s the moral of the story?

You can’t polish a turd!

Make the recording sound incredible first and then the mixing phase will be so, so, so much easier!


Train Your Ears And Become The Best With This One Simple Strategy!

Before I go I just want to say how important training your ears to be able to hear subtle EQ moves and nasty frequencies can be in mixing.

It's more important than any studio equipment you could buy.

In my opinion, it is one of the best things you can do in your mixing career...

...It’s what separates the amateurs from the pros and is something you will be studying for the rest of your life.​

The faster you start training your ear the faster you will become an amazing mixer.

You might be asking:

How do I train my ear?

Well, I’m glad you asked.

The first way is to mix and mix a lot, if you constantly mix new material and keep banging them out week after week.

After a year you will listen to your tracks and think.

“Hey! That actually sounds pretty good”.

But a year is a long time to wait.

So, to speed up the process of being a great mixer you will want to train faster while you are not mixing.

What do I mean by this?

Well let’s say you do 1 mix a week and in the mix, you do 30 EQ moves, not that much right.

What would you say if you could do 30 EQ moves every 5 minutes? Or 100 EQ moves every 15 minutes?

That’s what train your ears will do, you listen to hundreds of EQ moves and try to guess what they are.

Train Your Ears Box

​This allows you to increase the rate of improving your listening skills ​dramatically!

It’s so simple yet so effective.

​​What Did You Think?

Speech Bubble

I hope you enjoyed this guide about EQ. 

Did you learn something new?

Or maybe you have some questions?

Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below.

I hope you enjoyed this guide about EQ. 

Did you learn something new?

Or maybe you have some questions?

Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below.

Speech Bubble

Leave a Comment: