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Learning to listen

From: Foundations of Audio: EQ and Filters

Video: Learning to listen

Applying EQ is all about listening to an audio signal and asking yourself, where do I want to take this and why? Approaching every track as if it needs some sort of EQ applied to it without really having a reason why is a solution in search of a problem, and that's not how you want to approach EQ. Define your goals and work toward them. Try to hear where your signal needs EQ before grabbing the knobs. It'll be hard at first, and you'll need to practice.

Learning to listen

Applying EQ is all about listening to an audio signal and asking yourself, where do I want to take this and why? Approaching every track as if it needs some sort of EQ applied to it without really having a reason why is a solution in search of a problem, and that's not how you want to approach EQ. Define your goals and work toward them. Try to hear where your signal needs EQ before grabbing the knobs. It'll be hard at first, and you'll need to practice.

But in time, you will be surprised at yourself saying things like that guitar has a bit of resonance around 300 to 400 Hz, and it needs to be carved out a little. What you won't find in this course is a laundry list of frequencies for every instrument telling you how they should be boosted or cut. Why? Because I don't know what your specific instrument sounds like. For example, is your acoustic guitar a Jumbo Dreadnought Martin, a cutaway Taylor, a three-quarter sized guitar? They all sound very different.

What type of strings does it have? What key are you playing it? Are you playing high up on the neck? What other instruments are in the mix? Not only that, every genre of music has a different approach to what is considered ideal sonicsm so relying on a specific list of frequencies for anything other than a rough guide of where to look is a mistake. Don't get me wrong. Presets and rough guides are fine. I am sure your EQ came with a bunch where you could find such a list easily on the Internet, but I want to encourage you to listen, first and foremost.

For example, where is the body or roundness of the bass instrument in your mix? Pull up an EQ, grab a parametric band, and boost, sweep, and listen. Play around with it, run it through a high-pass or a low-pass filter, and listen to the different parts of the signal. Know what frequencies make up the sounds you're hearing. My sense of roundness might be different than yours. It's just an adjective that's loosely trying to describe a feeling.

When you're first starting out using EQ, experiment with your signals a lot. I recommend using EQ sparingly. If you find that you're using a lot of EQ, say more than 6 dB of boost in any one band on basic EQ tasks, take a step back and see if you're dealing with a level balance issue. Maybe turning up or down the entire track will get you where you want to go instead of using EQ. If you still find that you're using that much EQ, think about re-evaluating your source material, mic placement, and arrangement.

Ultimately, all these ideas are just a rough framework to give you a place to start, so if using 6 or 12 dBs of boost really gets you where you want to go and you feel it in your gut, do it. While everyone hears audio differently, the sooner you trust your own ears and stop looking for a magic-bullet list or a recipe of EQ tricks, the sooner you will be in control of your EQ and ultimately your mixes.

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Foundations of Audio: EQ and Filters

36 video lessons · 12804 viewers

Brian Lee White
Author

 
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  1. 3m 28s
    1. Welcome
      1m 36s
    2. What you should know before watching this course
      35s
    3. Using the exercise files
      58s
    4. Using the "Get In the Mix" Pro Tools and Logic Pro session files
      19s
  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 14s
    1. Get in the Mix: EQing FX returns
      4m 29s
    2. Using common vintage-modeled EQs
      5m 2s
    3. Using frequency analyzers
      3m 44s
    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
      19s
  7. 5m 51s
    1. A session with Brian Lee White
      5m 51s

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