Transform Your Rough Recordings Into Released Records, Even If You Only Have a Home Studio

How To Use Subtractive EQ While Still Getting the Punch You Deserve From Your Instruments

You know how you’ve heard that you should cut rather than boost right?


Well, you might also think your instruments always sound weaker afterwards if you only cut the signal.

Not to worry my friend, that’s absolutely understandable.

Better yet, there are a couple things you can do to make your instruments cut through while still feeling righteous in your heart.

Boost the Output

This is normal gain staging. If you’re reducing a bunch of frequencies you’re cutting a whole lotta amplitude out of the signal.

And another name for amplitude is volume. So there’s no wonder your tracks sound weaker in the mix. You’ve turned down the volume all the way down and our dumb @$$ ears think that everything that’s louder is better and here we are making everything quieter like idiots.

So instead of pushing the fader as far as it goes on your mixer, just turn up the output gain of your EQ instead. You’ve reduced the volume of the signal by EQ’ing a bunch of it out. instead of cranking up the volume of the fader.

Trust me, it’s simpler. Especially if you already have a good level balance before you started EQ’ing.

You did balance the faders before you started EQ’ing didn’t you?

But with all those cuts you still might want to accent some frequencies with some boosts.

That leads us to…

Boost Inside Your Cuts

Say your keyboards and guitars are clashing in the mids. You want the keyboards to be dominant so you cut the mids in the keys to make room.

But now the keyboards sound weak but you don’t want to increase the gain of the overall EQ because they’ll just start clashing with the guitars again.

So what you can do then is add another bell boost inside the cuts to accent the fundamental frequency of the keyboards, preferably one that doesn’t sit right on top of the guitars.

So a good way to do it is to do a broad cut through the mids and then adding a narrower boost to help the keyboards cut through.

Check out the image below for an example.

eq boost and cut

Try that next time you’re having problems. Whether you need to add some of that punch back after heavy subtractive EQ or need to accent some punch into a wide boost these techniques can help.

Free Next Step

If you still want help with your EQ but are not sure where to start, my free EQ course is a great next step. You will get over 70 tips and tricks to cleaner mixes.

Sign up for the course here.

Even more?

For an in-depth look into every frequency range of the EQ spectrum check out EQ Strategies – The Ultimate Guide to EQ

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About me

About Audio Issues and Björgvin Benediktsson

We help musicians transform their recordings into radio-ready and release-worthy records they’re proud to release.

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