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EQ Strategies

Page history last edited by Randy Coppinger 11 years ago

These are my notes from the presentation.  If anything here is confusing, inspiring or absolutely incorrect your comments would be much appreciated.  Thanks!


T2 - Equalization

Alex U. Case


Proportional EQ: the more you drive the EQ (boost/cut) the more narrow the Q (as opposed to Constant Q).


Important things to know about rolloffs (filters):

>What is the slope?

>What happens in the pass band?

 In other words, listen for phase distortion in what remains


Quirkinesses: Pultec

Boost knob and attenuation knob for the same frequency selector.

Attenuation is for a higher frequency than the boost, so they do NOT cancel each other out.


EQ plug-ins may not sound exactly like the interface display looks. Don’t be misled by the nice curve of the GUI.



Boost > Search > Set


Choose a great equalizer. Use it often. Master its use.


Piano fundamentals are 30Hz to 4k Hz, not 20 Hz to 20k Hz.

The audio window: perception. Again, 20 Hz to 20k Hz is not the whole picture.

The audio window is in fact huge and complex (L1 measurement on top, L99 on bottom).


Three most important aspects of the Equal Loudness Contours:

1. Your hearing system is not flat.

2. We’re most sensitive at upper mids. Regardless that we may listening at different levels, upper mids are easiest to hear.

3. The contours have a different shape at different levels. Our perception is a confusing function of level. The volume knob turns out to be an EQ.


Change in freq = change in level perception.

Change in level = change in spectral content perception.


Strategies for using: the fix, the fit, the feature


The Fix – remove noise such as rumble, hum (60 Hz), buzz (60 Hz + harmonics), hiss, pops and wind, proximity effect.


Pops & wind are lower and need a steeper filter (12dB/ oct).

Proximity effect is higher and needs a more gentle slope (6dB/ oct).


The Fit – complimentary boosts and cuts.

Masking = similar signals fight to be heard. Every single thing we put in our mix makes it more difficult to hear everything else.

The Upward Spread of Masking. A single frequency “distraction” noise masks more above than below the louder you turn it up. The “shadow” below looks kind of constant Q, but it spreads high in frequency as you get louder above the frequency center.

It is not perfectly distracting.

The louder we mix one thing, the more perceptual distraction there will be above it.


Distance cues: level, reverb ratio, gentle rolloff of the highs.


Impulsive sounds need to have broadband signal. A perfectly instantaneous on/off MUST be broadband. The more transient a signal is, the more broadband it must be. Not just drums, but gestures of electric guitar, etc.


Develop your own spectral landmarks of each instrument, sound source. Make up your own rules – summary trends and characteristics.


Recipes remove you from the process. There is no right answer. Have a strategy instead.


Audio Wiki front page

Randy Coppinger - who I am and other stuff I'm doing.


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