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The Most Important EQ Techniques

Kade Young
Kade Young
Chief Audio Guru
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Low Cut Filter Cheat Sheet

It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner or have been mixing for years, EQ is probably the most overwhelming thing on your mixer.

But turns out, there are actually a few simple EQ techniques that can really improve your sound without having to become an EQ master.

So, let me give you some simple EQ techniques that also turn out to be the most important when it comes to creating a great mix.

The EQ Golden Rule

When you are looking to get more clarity out of a vocal, your first thought might be to boost high frequencies…but, don’t do it. Instead, let your first thought always be,

“What frequency range can I cut to solve this problem.”

In other words, to get more clarity from a vocal you need to remove what is making it unclear, which happens to be the low frequencies. So, you cut this out with a low cut filter at about 120Hz and vualá! You fixed the problem.

EQ Golden Rule: Cut frequencies before you boost.

Of course, there are times when boosting is the answer to your EQ problem, but when it comes to live sound, you’ll cut way more often.

Stay simple with EQ.

One of the most important things I can tell you about EQ is keep it simple.

Just because you have four filters available for each channel does not mean you should use all of them. Every EQ setting should be well thought out and used to solve a specific problem.

If there is not a frequency problem, then no need to use EQ.

Be generous with the Low Cut Filter.

I know I just told you to be stingy with your EQ filters, but there’s actually one place I recommend using EQ every time, and that is to put a low cut filter on vocals.

Start by activating the low cut filter and setting the frequency to 120Hz. If it still lacks clarity, move the frequency up. But you most likely do not want to go higher than 180Hz on a vocal low cut filter.

The goal is to get a nice, clean sound from the vocal that still has plenty of warmth and power.

The frequency placement may be slightly different for each vocal, but it is going to land somewhere between 120Hz and 180Hz.

Putting a low cut filter on all of your vocals is going to make a HUGE difference in your mix. It’s also helpful to have low cut filters on your instruments, but the frequency placement is going to be different for each.

Frequency Sweeping

For pretty much every other type of EQ issue you need to solve, there’s one method that will help you solve it every time called frequency sweeping.

For example, let’s say you are having problems with a vocal still lacking clarity after you’ve applied a low cut filter. You may not know which frequency range is causing the problem, but you can easily find it with frequency sweeping.

  1. Activate a peaking filter (often called PEQ)
  2. Set the filter’s gain to +9dB
  3. Set the Q value to 4
  4. Then, while the vocal is singing, use the Frequency knob to slowly sweep through the full frequency spectrum until the problem area really stands out
  5. Once you’ve found the annoying frequency range, go ahead and cut it using the EQ filter’s gain control until you achieve the desired result

The Most Important EQ Techniques

  • Cut frequencies before you boost.
  • Keep EQ simple.
  • Use the Low Cut Filter generously.
  • Use Frequency Sweeping to solve EQ problems.

I hope this took the overwhelm away for you when it comes to EQ. Because it really can be that simple.

Low Cut Filter Cheat Sheet

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10 comments on “The Most Important EQ Techniques”

  1. Thank you for this easy to understand primer on EQ. ASthe resident techie, I've been made The Sound Guy. Which I do gladly as my way of serving. I have a pretty good basic understanding of SR. I have a degree in Electronics, played in bands for 30 years, DJ'd for 15. But back then it was my system and I had access to a noise generator and a spectrum analyzer. The church system I've inherited is all good stuff, but whoever built it has separate EQ's on everything. The board, each wireless mic. 15 band, 31 band, and parametrics. The vocals are pretty mushy. I think I'll take your advice, flatten everything and start fresh.

    Thank you for this wonderful service you provide.

  2. First Thank You, Thank you for helping people like me who knows the very basic of mix board operation.

    Your channel will help so much in making my praise team sound better.

    I do have one question:
    when EQing everyone (vocals and instruments) how should I go about doing this? While they are practicing or one person at a time?

    1. I'd say both/and. Start with EQing with the band playing to you can find places to cut that help it blend well with everyone else. Then, single it out by itself to figure out any fine tuning. Hope that helps!

  3. Hey, Kade. In our current world, the quality of the EQ in FOH sound is not as important as EQ in a streaming world. I have been a professional video sound guy and I do a pretty good job with EQ in a broadcast world. But don't ask me to teach it (not patient enough I guess). How's about sharing your ideas about broadcast sound and EQ.

    1. Good point, Joe. I'll work on creating more in-depth EQ training.

  4. Hi Kade, Thanks for the great information! The high pass filter changed my life! I think I've always been more of a cutter than a booster so it's good to hear from someone like you that I'm on the right track with that. Thanks again for doing what you do!

  5. Hi, when you say low cut at 120 does that mean that the point of the yellow is at 120 or the bottom of the yellow reaches 120 ? Thanks

    1. Not sure on the visual aspect. Most mixers have a number for the low cut filter placement. That is what I am referring to.

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