5 Common EQ Mistakes In Music Production
When it comes to mixing your tracks, EQ is arguably the most important tool in your production arsenal. It is used to "clean up" muddiness and accentuate the certain frequencies that need it. Although it is good to use EQ creatively by boosting some frequencies, corrective and subtractive EQ is the more important one for me as it really fixes the problematic frequencies that clash with each other.
I often use the frequency jigsaw puzzle analogy when talking about EQ, which is a great way of thinking when you're mixing your tracks. Using EQ to make each track fit together nicely like a jigsaw puzzle is what helped me truly understand EQ'ing.
In this blog we're going to take a look at 5 common EQ mistakes in music production and how avoiding them can really help to improve your mixes and understanding regarding EQ.
1.EQ'ing Too Much:
More often than not subtle EQ tweaks are better than drastic ones when it comes to mixing. When you're recording, it's important to capture the sound well both quality and EQ wise. This way, you shouldn't have to tweak it too much when you're mixing. This can save time as well as not having to process the sound as much. Try and think of EQ as a corrective tool to be used as subtly as possible and for removing unwanted frequencies so the individual tracks fit nicely together.
Of course, you may still need to boost EQ to accentuate certain frequencies in instruments that need it, but just remember that adding too many frequencies can cause more problems than not.
2.Forgetting About The Mids:
I often find people focussing too much on the low and high end of the frequency spectrum and often neglecting the mid frequencies that actually make up the majority of our music.
Removing low end rumble and muddiness is very important, as is giving high end air and sparkle, but crafting the mid frequencies together nicely can really make or break a track!
3.Boosting EQ Instead Of Cutting:
When I was initially learning to produce music, I could never get my vocals to cut nicely through the mix. I would spend ages trying to boost the higher frequencies to get it to cut through more, with not much success.
This is because I was adding even more frequencies that were clashing with the other incorrectly EQ'd guitar tracks. Someone then showed me how simply cutting off the very low end and low mids completely cleaned it up making it sound louder. Of course, it wasn't actually louder but now had its own space in the frequency spectrum to give it more presence.
This is why cutting frequencies correctively can be so much more effective than boosting them.
4.Putting EQ In The Wrong Place:
Firstly, there is no right or wrong place to put EQ but most of the time there is a more effective place it can go in context to what you're doing.
For example, it's usually best to do any corrective EQ'ing before using a compressor because if it's done the other way, you're compressing the unwanted frequencies first which can be undesirable and cause more muddiness. I often do corrective EQ'ing first, followed by compression and sometimes more creative or additive EQ after the compressor as well.
Like I said, there is no right or wrong but the order of your processors and effects can affect the sound quite a lot, so always take this into consideration.
5.Removing Too Much Low End:
Whilst it's good to clean up the low-end rumble of certain tracks and the low mids that cause muddiness, over doing this can cause your track to sound thinner and harsher. Only remove the low frequencies that you need to and try and be mindful of just putting a low cut on absolutely everything, especially if you're cutting off quite a lot on everything.
Try not to do it so automatically, but always remember to use your ears! Reference tracks are great for helping with this as well as they give you an idea of what you want your mix to sound like.
EQ really is the mixing super tool that often does get misunderstood and used to adversely affect a track instead of improving it.
As I've already said, there is no right or wrong, but certain principles are important to stick too and remember that your ears are the best guide!