One of the most essential aspects of creating a quality song mix is equalization. Every mixing engineer has their different procedures and steps of creating a great mix, but mine always starts with EQ since it’s the start of making sure your instruments, or vocals, have the sound you’re seeking.
The purpose of the equalizer is to clean up the sound of your mix very subtly and without drastically changing the uniqueness of the original sound it has. If by the time you’re done EQing and your song sounds very different from the original, you’ve most likely made a mistake or two during the process.
I will be breaking down some key steps and qualities that I’ve learned over the years when it comes to audio equalizer software, regardless if you’re mixing in Pro Tools, FL Studio, Logic, etc. These steps are really getting down to the basics of mixing and the techniques that I’ve found to be very successful in the studio.
Steps to EQing
After you’ve made sure that you’ve got a quality recording of a vocal or instrument, then you can jump right into the EQing stage. There is a framework I like to abide by each time I EQ and it looks something like this:
- Get rid of unnecessary low frequencies
- Look for frequencies to boost (mid & high)
- Cut out high frequencies (if necessary)
- Open a second equalizer
Follow these steps each and every time you open your equalizer to begin and you’ll notice a great change in ”crispness” in each song you mix. With frequent practice on what to listen for, you’ll be on your way to being an EQing expert!
Know The Sound You Want
It’s a great practice to go into a mix while having what you want it to sound like already in mind. Having some sort of direction, or a vision of the end result, and then following that will get your song sounding perfect.
What I personally like to do is grab a song or album to reference to for clarity on how I want my song to sound. You don’t have to do this but it helps to have a sense of direction from a song recorded by professionals.
There Is No “One Size Fits All” Technique
A lot of people have the misconception that they should save their EQ from one song as a preset so it can be used within another song’s mix and sound just as good. The truth is that is the absolute wrong thing to do. Every song is different and so should be the mix that creates each song.
Not to say that saving presets is a bad thing because they can be very useful depending on the song and situation. I use presets as somewhat of a bookmark to put me on the right track for what I’m doing next. If I’m using a plug-in and I like exactly the way that it sounds on a particular vocal, then I’ll save it as a preset. Once I’m on a new project to use that saved preset, I always make the necessary changes so it has the quality I’m looking for in the new project.
This doesn’t only apply to EQ, it goes for many other parts of mixing that require different and unique steps to get as close to perfection as possible,
Listen Listen Listen
Having been a victim of not listening to my mix as much as I should have in the past, resulted in overlooked mistakes. This can happen to many recording artists who mix their own music and are eager to release their music in a timely manner. Listening to your mix for mistakes is another extremely important step in the equalizing process as well as the overall music creating process.
Always have a second set of ears around to listen to your work as somewhat of a “proofreading” for your mix. It’s best for those ears to be unbiased ears so you don’t end up finding flaws after you’ve already released your song for the world to hear. It’s never a good feeling, trust me.
A Mix Without EQ Is Like A Sandwich Without Bread
I remember back when I was a rookie in the field of music production; I did everything wrong. I ignored the EQ, I would over-compress, my vocal recordings distorted more often then not, and I skipped the mastering process. I didn’t bother to research the key procedures to making a good song sound good. Many have been through this and many will encounter these same obstacles.
Do not overlook the equalizing process no matter what audio equalizer software you currently have. Quality mixing consists of quality EQ so don’t skim through it or cut any corners since it’s one of the most important steps of music production. Thank you for reading, and if you have any comments or questions, just leave them below and I’d be more than happy to assist.