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Applying EQ

From: Pro Tools 9 Essential Training

Video: Applying EQ

Equalizers, or EQs, are used to boost or cut selected frequencies within a signal. In this video, I am going to show you how to apply an EQ to an audio track, as well as demonstrate some of the more radical EQ plug-ins in Pro Tools. There are several reasons to apply EQ: to improve the tone quality or timbre of an instrument; to create a special effect, like a telephone vocal sound; to help a track stand out in the mix; to fix mic choice and placement problems like frequency, leakage, and noise issues; to make up for inadequacies in the recording equipment; to create a better blend of instruments; and to improve the sound of the overall mix if applied to the master output.

Applying EQ

Equalizers, or EQs, are used to boost or cut selected frequencies within a signal. In this video, I am going to show you how to apply an EQ to an audio track, as well as demonstrate some of the more radical EQ plug-ins in Pro Tools. There are several reasons to apply EQ: to improve the tone quality or timbre of an instrument; to create a special effect, like a telephone vocal sound; to help a track stand out in the mix; to fix mic choice and placement problems like frequency, leakage, and noise issues; to make up for inadequacies in the recording equipment; to create a better blend of instruments; and to improve the sound of the overall mix if applied to the master output.

Most home and car stereos have some form of equalizers. Even the simplest bass and treble controls are equalizers. Their purpose is the same as the EQ plug-ins that you use in Pro Tools; however, Pro Tools mixing EQ tools are more advanced and give us more control over the EQ parameters, allowing us to alter specific and controllable frequency ranges. Let me show you how to apply EQ. We'll start with the stock 7-Band EQ in Pro Tools. I've already got it inserted on this acoustic guitar track.

This is a parametric EQ, which enables us to control three parameters: the central frequency--or freq--the boost--or cut, the gain--and the width of the effected frequency range--Q. The central frequency is the frequency that you want to adjust. For example, say you want to reduce the low end muddy frequencies on this acoustic guitar track. So let's go over here, and I am going to choose 300 hertz, or thereabouts. So by moving this, I moved this orange circle, and I've set the center frequency right around 300 hertz.

Gain is the amount of increase or decrease in amplitude that we want to apply to the center frequency. If you want a slight reduction in the guitar part, let's cut it by 1 to 3 db. Or for a more drastic change, go down to 6 to 9. The third parameter, Q, is the width of the boost, or cut region, around the central frequency. Right now, it's pretty wide, with a value of 1. If we increase the Q, it becomes much more narrow.

The Q determines the degree to which frequencies near the center frequency are boosted or cut. As you can see here, a high Q value yields a narrow width for affecting a small range of frequencies, while low Qs--like closer to 1-- provide expanded widths to encompass a large range of frequencies. So let's hear what this sounds like. I am going to solo the guitar part and change the gain back to 0, and we'll hear what this sounds like. (Music playing.) With a low Q value, a lot of frequencies were taken out, and it really thinned out the sound of that acoustic guitar.

When you are looking for the frequency that you want to adjust, try this technique: it's called the 'Boost and Twist.' So you put an EQ on the track like we have here, and then you increase the gain significantly. We'll put it up to about 12 db. Then you make the Q very narrow, as we already have here, and then we can sweep across the frequency range until we find the frequency that we want to boost or cut. So we can take this Frequency control and go back and forth. So let's try this out and hear what it sounds like.

(Music playing.) Let's say I want to take out some of the nasally tone that I found here, right around this frequency: 627 hertz. So now that we've found the frequency, we'd actually dial the gain back down, and make it into a cut.

I can also decrease the Q and make it a wider cut, and let's hear what this sounds like. (Music playing.) It's a subtle but noticeable change, and you'll notice that I actually hit the Bypass button here a few times to AB this. ABing means to go between A and B--that is, with the effect and without the effect.

One thing that we are also doing here is we are listening to the track in solo. Now, we don't want to EQ just while we're in solo, so we need to listen to the track with the rest of the tracks in the mix. We can make this track sound amazing by itself in solo, but it might not sound good in the mix. So you don't want to EQ in a vacuum by keeping the track in solo. Let's move on and discuss another common mixing practice called carving EQ holes. For example, let's say we have this acoustic guitar track and a vocal track. It's often a good idea to cut out some of the mids in the guitar to allow the vocals to have some more room in that frequency area where they sound the best, like between 1 and 4 kilohertz.

So let's cut out some 3 kilohertz from the guitar track. I am going to boost this up to about 3, bring the gain down, and make the Q a little bit narrower. So now I have just carved a little EQ hole for the vocals to come in and shine through over the guitars in this area. Because we've taken out some EQ here, we might actually be able to boost some guitar frequencies in another range. So I am going to boost this up at around 6 kilohertz, and turn this into a peak EQ, increase the Q, and increase the gain.

Now, we've got a little bump at 6 kilohertz. Let's see what this sounds like. (Music playing.) This takes a little bit of bite out of the mids that will allow the vocals to shine through but then adds a little bit of shine to the guitars just above where the vocal range is. Now something you should note here: I am not suggesting that each instrument should have its own dedicated frequency range in the mix.

Instruments will share frequencies, but clearing a path for the predominant frequencies of a certain instrument can make your mix sound much clearer. Also be aware that any EQ settings you change on a particular instrument will affect not only its sound, but also how the sound of that instrument interacts with all of the other instruments in the mix. Now, let's look at some of the more radical EQ effects you can add to your tracks in Pro Tools. I am going to close this and solo the bass track. I am going to bring up this AIR KILL EQ, and currently it's bypassed.

Now, the KILL EQ is a 3-band EQ with kill switches on each band. With this plug-in, you can cut off the lows, mids, and highs. With the track playing, I will demonstrate some of the sonic possibilities for this plug-in by tweaking the controls, as well as loading some of the presets. (Music playing.) Let's try another one. We've got the vintage filter set up here.

This is related to the KILL EQ but with some different parameters. The vintage filter is a resonant multimode filter--that is, an EQ--that can be manually adjusted or modulated over time using the built-in Low Frequency Oscillator, or LFO, and an envelope follower. I am going to press Play and tweak this a little bit and have a little fun. (Music playing.) We've got a lot of opportunity to get creative with this plug-in.

So now you know how to properly EQ a track using the Boost and Twist method. You can also sonically sculpture tracks pretty radically with this EQ plug-ins, available in Pro Tools.

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This video is part of

Image for Pro Tools 9 Essential Training
Pro Tools 9 Essential Training

106 video lessons · 11361 viewers

David Franz
Author

 
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  1. 13m 13s
    1. Welcome
      1m 16s
    2. Exploring the different versions of Pro Tools
      2m 30s
    3. Optimizing your computer before installing Pro Tools
      4m 6s
    4. Troubleshooting
      2m 18s
    5. Using the exercise files
      3m 3s
  2. 31m 3s
    1. Installing and authorizing Pro Tools
      1m 50s
    2. Connecting your Pro Tools system
      4m 1s
    3. Powering up and powering down
      58s
    4. Choosing the Playback Engine and Hardware settings
      4m 13s
    5. Optimizing Pro Tools performance
      5m 52s
    6. Utilizing Automatic Delay Compensation (ADC)
      1m 38s
    7. Setting essential preferences
      2m 35s
    8. Creating a Pro Tools session
      3m 43s
    9. Identifying elements in a session folder
      2m 33s
    10. Creating new tracks
      3m 40s
  3. 42m 9s
    1. Exploring the Edit window
      6m 52s
    2. Exploring the Mix window
      3m 11s
    3. Exploring the Transport and Big Counter windows
      2m 57s
    4. Using the Color palette and window arrangements
      2m 36s
    5. Investigating the menus
      3m 13s
    6. Understanding samples and ticks
      3m 34s
    7. Viewing and manipulating tracks
      4m 31s
    8. Selecting inputs, outputs, and buses
      3m 58s
    9. Selecting an I/O Settings file
      4m 12s
    10. Understanding signal paths and gain stages
      3m 46s
    11. Utilizing keyboard shortcuts and keyboard focus
      3m 19s
  4. 19m 31s
    1. Using DigiBase and the Workspace browser
      4m 22s
    2. Importing audio
      3m 1s
    3. Importing MIDI
      2m 46s
    4. Importing session data
      3m 44s
    5. Importing tracks from a CD
      2m 44s
    6. Importing video
      2m 54s
  5. 1h 0m
    1. Recording audio
      6m 14s
    2. Playing back audio
      10m 0s
    3. Creating a click track
      5m 25s
    4. Overdubbing and using the record modes
      8m 29s
    5. Recording with playlists and Loop Record
      4m 3s
    6. Punch recording and using the monitoring modes
      4m 17s
    7. Dealing with latency and ADC
      4m 58s
    8. Creating a group
      4m 52s
    9. Adding effects while recording
      5m 17s
    10. Creating a headphone (cue) mix
      4m 29s
    11. Assigning disk allocation
      2m 17s
  6. 1h 19m
    1. Understanding nondestructive editing and region types
      3m 3s
    2. Using the Selector and Grabber tools
      3m 29s
    3. Using the Trimmer and Scrubber tools
      8m 16s
    4. Using the Zoomer tool and Zoom presets
      5m 41s
    5. Using the Pencil tool
      2m 46s
    6. Using the Smart tool
      1m 28s
    7. Understanding the Edit modes
      5m 9s
    8. Arranging regions
      5m 33s
    9. Undoing an edit
      2m 8s
    10. Utilizing fades and crossfades
      7m 22s
    11. Building a comp track using playlists
      4m 50s
    12. Locking and muting regions
      2m 52s
    13. Special Edit window buttons
      6m 47s
    14. Creating an audio loop
      4m 13s
    15. Editing a voiceover
      8m 37s
    16. Using Elastic Time and Elastic Pitch
      7m 38s
  7. 19m 27s
    1. Working with region groups
      6m 39s
    2. Using time, tempo, meter, key, and chord
      5m 37s
    3. Creating memory locations
      7m 11s
  8. 30m 47s
    1. Setting up MIDI on a Mac
      4m 7s
    2. Setting up MIDI on a PC
      2m 13s
    3. Setting up MIDI in Pro Tools
      2m 37s
    4. Recording MIDI data
      3m 7s
    5. Recording multiple MIDI tracks with one virtual instrument
      2m 17s
    6. Recording options for MIDI
      5m 44s
    7. Using step input
      4m 14s
    8. Making a drum loop with MIDI Merge
      3m 36s
    9. Composing with virtual instruments
      2m 52s
  9. 54m 25s
    1. Using the edit tools for editing MIDI data
      9m 47s
    2. Editing MIDI data in the MIDI Editor
      8m 17s
    3. Working with the MIDI event list
      2m 13s
    4. Editing MIDI data with event operations
      8m 35s
    5. Quantizing MIDI tracks
      12m 16s
    6. Creating and using groove templates
      5m 35s
    7. Utilizing real-time properties
      3m 49s
    8. Using MIDI Learn
      3m 53s
  10. 17m 44s
    1. Exploring the Score Editor
      5m 56s
    2. Using the Score Editor
      5m 11s
    3. Setting up a score
      4m 48s
    4. Printing and exporting a score
      1m 49s
  11. 25m 45s
    1. Writing and editing automation
      7m 21s
    2. Drawing automation with the Pencil tool
      3m 58s
    3. Editing automation with the Trimmer and Grabber tools
      2m 26s
    4. Cutting, copying, pasting, and clearing automation
      4m 2s
    5. Turning automation on and off
      4m 0s
    6. Automating plug-ins and virtual instruments
      3m 58s
  12. 1h 33m
    1. Setting up a session for mixing
      7m 53s
    2. Setting up an effects loop
      9m 30s
    3. Working with plug-ins
      4m 33s
    4. Utilizing ADC while mixing
      9m 11s
    5. Applying EQ
      9m 25s
    6. Adding compression and limiting
      13m 27s
    7. Adding depth effects: Delay and reverb
      12m 45s
    8. Applying AudioSuite plug-ins
      4m 14s
    9. Bouncing down a mix and making an MP3
      5m 44s
    10. Setting up a session for mastering
      4m 36s
    11. Mastering a session
      7m 35s
    12. Bouncing down master recordings with Dither and Noise Shaping
      4m 52s
  13. 10m 6s
    1. Importing and displaying video files
      2m 42s
    2. Adding music, foley, ADR, and FX
      4m 32s
    3. Bouncing down video and audio together
      2m 52s
  14. 4m 22s
    1. Archiving an entire session
      4m 22s
  15. 52s
    1. Further Recommendations
      52s

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