Foundations of Audio: EQ and Filters
Illustration by John Hersey

Get in the Mix: Automating EQ


Foundations of Audio: EQ and Filters

with Brian Lee White

Video: Get in the Mix: Automating EQ

Most songs contain a variety of different I can use the same technique with For example, during most of the songs I So adding back or even boosting some of the same previously removed frequencies Let's take a look at an example of automating EQ.
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  1. 3m 28s
    1. Welcome
      1m 36s
    2. What you should know before watching this course
    3. Using the exercise files
    4. Using the "Get In the Mix" Pro Tools and Logic Pro session files
  2. 15m 46s
    1. What are frequency and amplitude?
      2m 27s
    2. Measuring frequency
      1m 48s
    3. Measuring amplitude
      1m 58s
    4. The perception of frequency and amplitude
      4m 18s
    5. Frequency and pitch
      5m 15s
  3. 36m 10s
    1. What is an equalizer?
      4m 14s
    2. Hardware and software EQ
      1m 58s
    3. Understanding frequency and gain EQ controls
      3m 41s
    4. Using the bandwidth, or Q, EQ control
      5m 35s
    5. Parametric equalizers
      2m 36s
    6. Shelving filters
      5m 11s
    7. High- and low-pass filters
      5m 42s
    8. Putting it all together with multiband EQ
      3m 43s
    9. Using graphic EQ
      3m 30s
  4. 46m 13s
    1. Creating focus
      3m 47s
    2. Get in the Mix: Using EQ to fix problems and place elements in the mix
      8m 30s
    3. Get in the Mix: Creating complementary EQ curves
      9m 7s
    4. Get in the Mix: Creative EQ with the telephone effect
      5m 30s
    5. Get in the Mix: Frequency bracketing with filters
      5m 44s
    6. Get in the Mix: Automating EQ
      6m 18s
    7. Learning to listen
      3m 10s
    8. Balancing expectations from the recording process
      4m 7s
  5. 41m 15s
    1. Get in the Mix: EQing FX returns
      4m 29s
    2. Using common vintage-modeled EQs
      5m 2s
    3. Using frequency analyzers
      3m 45s
    4. Using harmonic generators to excite frequency content
      5m 44s
    5. EQ or compression first?
      3m 3s
    6. EQ and room acoustics: Is your room lying to you?
      6m 15s
    7. Boost or cut? The relative nature of EQ and headroom
      4m 0s
    8. Building healthy EQ strategies
      8m 57s
  6. 19s
    1. What's next and EQ summary
  7. 5m 51s
    1. A session with Brian Lee White
      5m 51s

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Watch the Online Video Course Foundations of Audio: EQ and Filters
2h 29m Appropriate for all Jan 11, 2012 Updated Jan 17, 2014

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In this installment of the Foundations of Audio series, author Brian Lee White shows producers and audio engineers how to properly apply equalization (EQ) and improve the sound of their mixes. The course covers the use of parametric and graphic EQs—and filters such as the high/low pass filters and shelf filters—in a variety of musical settings. These principles can be applied to any digital audio workstation platform, including Logic and Pro Tools, as well as analog workflows.

Topics include:
  • Measuring frequency and amplitude
  • Understanding the relationship between frequency and pitch
  • Working with EQ controls such as bandwidth (Q) and gain
  • Using graphic EQ
  • Understanding the shelving and high-pass and low-pass filters
  • Creating focus with EQ
  • Creating complementary EQ curves
  • Performing frequency bracketing with filters
  • Automating EQ
  • Using frequency analyzers
  • Using harmonic generators to excite frequency content
Audio + Music
Logic Pro Pro Tools Waves
Brian Lee White

Get in the Mix: Automating EQ

Most songs contain a variety of different sections, as in verse, chorus, bridge, et cetera. It's fairly common for an engineer to have to automate a level of a track in a mix up or down to accomodate the new section's arrangement density. For example, I might have to turn up my vocal in the chorus as additional elements are added to the arrangement. I can use the same technique with e q for the same exact reason. Since e q is just a frequency specific level control, and most daws allow me to easily automate plug ins.

I can automate bands of e q to boost or cut during certain sections of my mix. To better accomodate the sections elements. For example, during most of the songs I might want my guitar to complement the lead vocal by removing some of the frequencies that compete with the vocals intelligability. However during the guitar solo, the guitar becomes the lead instrument and has no vocal to compete with. So adding back or even boosting some of the same previously removed frequencies during that section, can help it really pop out and come into focus.

Let's take a look at an example of automating EQ. Take a listen to this track. Pay attention to the fact that the acoustic guitar plays on its own during the intro, but then accompanies the rest of the instruments when the beat drops. I already have an EQ that I'm happy with for the intro. I've got a bit of top end rolled off to give it a dirtier vibe. I've added a bit of 2K for a little more honk. And also a low shelf boost to emphasize the bass frequencies a bit, since there's not actual bass in this section. But I don't think this curve is working for me as well as it could when the.

Full band drops in. To achieve better separation between the instruments when all the instruments are playing together, I can start by undoing my low shelf booths to leave space for the bass. I will leave my cut at around 250 hertz to keep the guitar from feeling muddy, but I will also cut around 850 hertz to make room for the piano stabs that play on beat one of each measure. I'll top it off by moving my top end booths to around five k. To emphasize more of the Picks drum, and less of the honk, and also remove my low pass filter to let it breathe a little bit more.

Now lets put the two pieces together, and listen to the full context of the EQ automation. Watch out for a bit of added EQ automation when the reverse guitar chord crescendos into the beat. By altering the EQ curve on the guitar from intro to full band, I'm achieving two things. First, I'm accommodating the change in arrangement so that the acoustic guitar fits into the context of its new surroundings once the music comes in. And second, because I played down the high frequency content in the intro by using a low-pass filter to roll off the top end, and ramped up the top end boost on the crescendo, I am further extending the idea of the song opening up into this big power punch moment right after the reverse guitar chord crescendo.

So not only am I using EQ to better fit elements into context, I'm also using it to propel the song forward. And create an even greater contrast between the lower and higher energy moments of the tune. This thought process can work all over your mix. Try adding a top end bite to a snare during the chorus. Sometimes just a DB or two at the right frequency can do the trick Or maybe try darkening up the kick drum with a low pass filter during the intro or verse.

Then open it up when the song gets moving. EQ automation is extremely common in the post production world too. We're automating EQ curves to fit the context of a camera angle or scene change is fairly normal. The same basic concept of using EQ to create focus and contrast apply. However, the elements in a post production mix tend to change more often as the scene changes. Requiring much more automation than a typical music mix. Regardless of whether you're mixing music, dialog or effects, EQ automation is a valuable tool you can use to help individual tracks fit better into a mix and make your overall mixes more dynamic.

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