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EQ FUNDAMENTALS

Ebony Red Audio Mastering Studio provides audio mastering, stem mastering and mixing & mastering services. John Mottram is the engineer & producer behind Ebony Red. His innovative approach gives your mixes the clear, powerful and engaging sound demanded by the music industry.

FUNDAMENTALS - EQ


Low end clutter

A key EQ process for a great sounding mix is removing low end clutter. In this example you have a snare hit. You can see from the graphic below that there is significant content 100 Hz and below. This low, rumbling sound is common on many instruments and contributes very little to the overall sound.

EQ Fundamentals 1

High pass filter

By applying a low cut / high pass EQ notch at 100 Hz, you can see this area has been removed, represented by the faded out waveform. The audible difference to the snare is minimal. This is because you are not effecting the dominant areas key to its tone.

EQ Fundamentals 2

Freeing space

If there is little difference in sound why do it? The principle is to free up space for other instruments who make better use of it. In the example below we have a Kick Drum with a large percentage of content below 100 Hz. This low bass is a key to the sound of the Kick Drum, whereas for the Snare, it was insignificant.

EQ Fundamentals 3

Combining

This means when we combine the two sounds together in the graphic below, we have a much more cohesive join. If we had not removed 100 Hz and below from the Snare, it would be sitting on top the Kick Drum content in this area. As a result, the Kick would be less defined and less punchy.

EQ Fundamentals 4

Across the mix

Once this principle is applied across the mix it will be advantageous in two ways. Not only do you remove areas of clutter serving no useful purpose, you also stop it interfering with sounds you do want.

Further demonstrating this point, returning to the Kick Drum, we can see in the graphic above significant content below 20 Hz. Whilst it will add harmonics to the overall sound, the human ear can only detect above 20 Hz so is it better to cut this area and trade it for another part in the mix?

There is a limit of 0dB on every recording. Therefore, there is only so much sound you can pack in. It is this decision processes of what stays and what goes which is fundamental to music production and unique to each individual.

It is important to note that care must be taken with this principle. The 100 Hz frequency in this example is merely that. Each instrument or sound you EQ will need an individual judgement as to what is useful and what is not. If you remove too much across your mix, it will sound thin so strike a balance to suit.