If you’ve been looking for a great EQ guide to fix those nasty frequencies in your mixes, look no further.
Using EQ is the first step to making your instruments play well together. Knowing how to EQ can help you make room for all the instruments in the mix. It helps you avoid clashing instruments and gives you complete control over the frequency spectrum.
In the following EQ guide I’ll give you a run-down of the frequency spectrum. By recognizing what certain frequencies sound like, you’ll become faster and more effective at EQ’ing your mixes.
11 Invaluable Articles About EQ
Before we dive into the frequency spectrum, here are some additional articles to read. When I said ‘Ultimate EQ Guide’ I wasn’t kidding. This is literally everything I know about EQ.
- The 3 Simple Principle of Great EQ’ing
- A Simple and Effective Guide to Drum EQ
- How to EQ Bass Using These Little Known Harmonic Secrets
- Your Ultimate Guide to Acoustic Guitar EQ
- 7 Quick and Dirty EQ Fixes for the Guitar
- How to Eliminate Vocal Muddiness From Your Mixes
- The Three Inglorious Gangsters of EQ
- How to EQ Like the Grammy Winning Engineers at AES
- When to EQ and When to Compress, That’s the Question Isn’t It?
- 6 Warning Signs That You Don’t Know the First Thing About EQ
- All the EQ Information You’ll Ever Need in One Handy Chart
The lowest frequency range adds fullness to those bass instruments like the kick drum, toms and bass. Cut in the 50 – 100 Hz area if they are getting too thick and interfering with the clarity of the low-end of your mix. It can also add extra punch to dance music, because it adds a dimension of “feeling” the bass instead of hearing it. Of course, you’ll need pretty juicy, low-end speakers for this. If there’s too much rumble in your mix, I would recommend cutting or filtering some of this area.
Boosting here will give the low frequency instruments a ‘harder’ sound. It adds fullness to guitar and snare. Too much can also clutter up and add boominess so cut in this area for added clarity in the low end. It also adds warmth to piano and horns.
I like calling this the muddiness frequency because I always used to cut it so much when I was doing live sound. It really adds muddiness to live venues but it can also fill up your mix in a negative way. However, if you need to boost, it will add fullness to vocals and snare as well as give your guitars a thicker sound. If you’re still struggling with muddiness, subtle cuts in the master EQ can help reduce unwanted thickness.
3 – 600 Hz
Cuts here will increase punch for kick drums. It’ll reduce boxiness and give it a thicker sound. Boosting at 400 Hz can add clarity to bass lines, especially when you’re mixing for smaller speakers.
7 – 800 Hz
Boosting 700 – 900 Hz can bring out the bass line without cluttering up the low end. You’re targeting the upper harmonics to make them audible in the mix, all while leaving the bass sound itself alone. Reducing 800 Hz takes out the cheap sound of an acoustic guitar as well as reduce the DI sound of plugged in acoustic guitars.
1 – 4 Khz
Boost 1.5 kHz to increase the string sound of the bass guitar. Cut to reduce nasal sound of vocals.. 3 kHz adds attack to most everything. Gives you more punch out of your acoustic guitar chords. Gives presence to piano parts, especially if you’ve needed to cut its low-end. It brings out the clarity of the voice. It helps to cut the electric guitars here to make extra room for the vocal if you’re having problems with them clashing. Boosting between 2 – 4 kHz brings out the beater of the kick drum.
Adds extra presence to vocals. Brings more attack to the tom drums. Cuts will make instruments more distant so cut here if you need to pull something back without using volume.
Use a de-esser targeting the frequency range between 6 – 8 kHz to reduce sibilance. Exact frequency range depends on the singer. Boosting can add extra life to dull vocals. Boost for more “finger sound” on acoustic bass. Increase to add sharpness to synthesizers, rock guitars and piano.
10KHz and Above
Most everything above 10 kHz adds air and high-end ‘sheen’ to instruments. It doesn’t always sound good so don’t go boosting everything up there excessively. It can quickly result in a trebly and obnoxious high-end craziness.