If you are ready to take your mix to the next level, it is time to EQ your room. This is also a great way to solve feedback problems.
This technique is somewhat of an advanced tip, but I am going to break it down in a way that is easy to understand. Once you have some basic EQ parameters set to compliment your room, it is going to be much easier to create a great mix.
Note: This article is specifically about how to EQ your room using the Behringer X32. If you do not have the X32, check out this article.
To properly tune your room, you will need a reference microphone. The one I use is the DBX RTA Microphone. Reference microphones have a flat frequency response so they can be used to effectively ‘hear the room’ without bias.
If you have an iPad connected to your X32, it is extremely helpful during this process, although not required.
How to EQ Your Room (Step-by-Step)
Step 1: Level your main mix EQ.
We will be using the main mix EQ to tune the room. So, if you already have EQ parameters set up for your main mix, you will need to level them out.
To do this, press the Main (LR) mix SELECT button and then hit the view button under the equalizer section. Then, set the gain on every EQ parameter to 0.
Keep in mind, you want to make sure the Equalizer is activated because we will be using it later.
Step 2: Set up the RTA.
There are a few settings I recommend when using the X32s built-in RTA. To do this, press the METERS button next to the X32’s screen and page over to the ‘rta’ tab. Use the following settings:
- Peak Hold: 3s
- Decay: 1s
- Auto Gain
Step 3: Set up reference microphone.
Set up the reference microphone in the middle of your listening area. The microphone should be pointed to the stage, parallel with the ground, and at ear level (~ 5 feet off the ground).
Connect the microphone to an open channel on your X32, select the channel, and use the following settings:
- Activate 48V phantom power (under the gain knob)
- Make sure Low Cut, Gate, Compressor, and Equalizer are all deactivated
- Hit the View button under the BUS SENDS section of your mixer and make sure all busses are turned off for this channel
- Under the ‘MAIN BUS’ section of the X32, make sure Mono Bus and Stereo Bus are both deactivated
Step 4: Set the gain for your reference microphone.
To set the gain on your reference microphone, you first need to generate the noise we will use to tune the room, which is called an oscillator. Here’s how you do it:
- Click the View button towards the top right of the X32 under the Talk A & B buttons
- Page over to the ‘oscillator’ tab
- Set Oscillator Type to ‘Pink Noise’
- Set Destination to ‘Main L+R’
- Turn the oscillator on by pressing the knob labeled ‘Generate’
- Use the same knob to set the level so that the sound fills the room (similar to what your regular service is like)
Now, select your reference microphone channel and set the gain so that the level meter’s -18dB orange light is mostly solid.
Step 5: EQ your room.
With the oscillator still going, select your reference microphone channel and hit the view button under the Equalizer section. On the X32’s screen, you can now see what the reference mic is hearing.
You want to look for the little yellow bars that are hanging out significantly above the rest. These are the frequency ranges that stick out in your room. EQ should be applied to your Main (LR) mix to cut these frequency ranges and provide a more even frequency response.
If you have an iPad handy, pull it out and navigate to the EQ for your Main (LR) mix. Now you can adjust the Main mix EQ on the iPad while watching the RTA on the X32.
If you don’t have an iPad, you’ll just need to navigate between the reference mic channel and the Main (LR) mix using their SELECT buttons. So, you’ll make an adjustment on your main mix EQ and go back to the reference microphone channel to see if it fixed the problem.
EQ Guidelines for Tuning Your Room
This is the part where you get to have fun, using EQ on the Main (LR) mix to create a more even frequency response, measured by your reference mic. Of course, every room is going to be different, but here are a few guidelines as you set EQ.
- Focus on areas where frequencies need to be cut. Only boost if absolutely necessary.
- Use PEQ filters only. There is no use for high cut, low cut, or shelving filters when tuning a room.
- Start with your Q at around 4 and then find the highest Q value that achieves the desired result.
- You most likely won’t need huge adjustments when tuning the room. If your EQ gain is set lower than -6dB, you may be a little too aggressive.
- Don’t obsess over perfection. You are simply looking to fix frequency ranges that are significantly out of line.
- If you prefer a warmer, punchier sound, then frequencies around 400Hz and lower should be registering a bit higher than those above.
Don’t forget, you are adjusting EQ on the main mix, not on the reference microphone. It can be easy to get them mixed up, especially if you are not using an iPad.
Don’t give up…it takes time to get it right.
Once you feel like you have solved the major EQ problems in your room, play your favorite song through the sound system and toggle the Main (LR) EQ on and off to hear the difference. You’ll also want to try the same thing when the band is playing.
If you are struggling to get it right, level out your Main (LR) EQ and try again. Also, be sure to review the EQ guidelines above to help diagnose any problems.
Note: This technique is a simplified version of ‘tuning you room’, but should not be confused with hiring a professional to truly tune your room, which involves much more than EQ. If you have the budget to hire a pro, it would be well worth the investment. If not, the technique in this post is a great alternative that will drastically improve your sound.