Equalization. Basic Principles of Equalization in Mixing.
Equalizing is the process by which we manipulate the frequency content of a sound. As you know, the human ear is (theoretically) capable of perceiving sounds in the range of frequencies ranging from 20 Hz (sub-bass) to 20,000 Hz (very, very, very sharp).
Normally when we record an instrument we worry about getting the best sound in the recording, choosing the most appropriate microphone depending on the style and instrument, the positioning of the microphone, the mic-pre if we have several, etc … Even so it is normal that when we mix a theme, we have to equalize most of our tracks.
Why? Very simple, read on and I’ll explain it to you.
Think of the mix as in a building. The low frequencies are the foundations, we need them to be solid since everything we are going to build rests on them. The medium are the walls, they create the structure, which gives us the feeling of a house. In the medium is much of the intelligibility of our mix. And finally the high area, the roof. The final touch of the house, here there is also part of intelligibility but there is also the air of our mix and a certain sense of space.
As I said above we perceive sounds from 20 Hz to 20Khz, and that is the sound «space» that we have in our mix to locate the instruments. And there they begin to pose certain «problems». We will need to create holes so that the instruments can live in the mix. Why? Because both the bass drum, the toms, the bass and the guitars are going to overlap in certain parts of the frequency spectrum. A bass drum hits hard from 50 hz to 400hz but it also has content in 7000 hz. A bass moves between 50 hz and 4000 hz. The guitars can be between 80 hz until 8000. If we do not create spaces at the frequency level for each instrument there will be certain ranges in which our instruments are literally fighting each other. Conclusion, a mix with little definition, confusing, without punch.
How we solve this. EQUALIZING How? Keep reading
Something that many do not know and is very important. I repeat VERY IMPORTANT !!!!!
Normally, in mixing we perform subtractive equalization, we remove frequencies, we lower dbs in certain frequencies, with which we create spaces for the instruments to live together. In mastering … Well, we leave it for another day… 😉
The tool we are going to use, an equalization plugin, usually parametric. An prametric eq allows us to choose the frequency within a range, accentuate or attenuate it and give a Q or bandwidth to the frequency, that is, that affects the neighboring frequencies more or affects less.
Ultra Professional Tip: The wider you use the Q of your eq. more musical / natural will sound.
You can use the one you want but I recommend several. On the one hand the REAEQ of Cockos is clean and effective. The TDR VOS SlickEQ is a wonderful eq that sounds very musical and with different curves of Q depending on the model we choose. Other eq. high quality, the Sonimus SONEQ, this one also with a saturation section. And finally the BOOTEQ mk2 of Variety of Sound, a musical equalizer and also with its pre-section to add character to the sound. All of them are free and excellent tools with which you can make totally professional mixtures.
How much are we going to have to accentuate or mitigate? Here you will have to use the ears. Equalize, listen and then put the equalizer bypass. Sounds better? It’s okay. Does it sound worse? You are shitting it, breathe and take a break.
Text Alvaro Delgado.
Mix & Mastering technical.