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Qu16-EQ-section-2

We’ve already done a 3-part series on EQ, and we covered the critical listening skills required to use it, instrument by instrument, in our series “Taking It Apart”. These posts are great learning material, and I highly recommend looking back at them.

Our locations are getting new digital sound consoles. This is exciting for a number of reasons, one of which is EQ. Our old consoles were analog and had semi-parametric EQ, which means they had some of the functionality of a parametric EQ, but were missing a few features. In our case, the high and low frequency bands were fixed shelf filters. The high mid and low-mid bands were sweepable filters, but there were no width or Q adjustments.

Okay stop — if that last sentence confused the heck out of you, you really need to go back and read at least the overview post from the original EQ series.

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Part 1 of 3 in the series EQ

On Christmas morning, 1990, I received my first personal cassette player. It was a Sanyo BassXpander with AM/FM radio, auto-reverse and three glorious bands of EQ. I immediately set my nine year-old fingers to work mastering the use of this advanced tool with DC Talk’s “Nu Thang” as my source material. I discovered, naturally, that it sounded best with all three bands of equalization turned all the way up! I’m not sure when it clicked for me, but I eventually realized that I could achieve the same result by simply turning up the volume a bit. This new awareness opened the door to more subtle, artistic tailoring of the equalizer. I memorized different settings for at home vs. in the family van; for Christian Hip-Hop vs. Christian Hair Metal; for listening at low volumes vs. high volumes. This early introduction to equalization served me well when I started into live audio several years later.

EQ is essentially a volume control for a specific frequency. It allows you to tailor the sound of a source to make it fit well in the mix. These adjustments are a big part of the role of a sound engineer, as every source is unique. We make EQ adjustments to compensate for the way sources sound, for microphone placement, for the sound of microphones themselves and, most importantly, to help sources complement each other musically. EQ is one of the most artistic aspects of audio mixing and, like everything we do, it begins with listening. Continue Reading…