Pro Tools 10 Essential Training
Illustration by Richard Downs

Applying EQ


Pro Tools 10 Essential Training

with David Franz

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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. But first I want to talk about the reasons for applying EQ. The first reason is to improve the tonal quality or the timbre of an instrument. You can also use EQ to create special effects, like a telephone vocal sound. You can use EQ to help a track stand out in a mix. You can use it to fix mic choice and placement problems like frequency or leakage or noise issues.
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  1. 13m 44s
    1. Welcome
      1m 20s
    2. Exploring the different versions of Pro Tools
      3m 22s
    3. Optimizing your computer before installing Pro Tools
      4m 18s
    4. Troubleshooting
      2m 19s
    5. Using the exercise files
      2m 25s
  2. 36m 56s
    1. Installing and authorizing Pro Tools
      1m 49s
    2. Connecting your Pro Tools system
      4m 31s
    3. Powering up and powering down
    4. Choosing the Playback Engine and Hardware settings
      5m 55s
    5. Optimizing Pro Tools' performance
      6m 26s
    6. Utilizing Automatic Delay Compensation (ADC)
      3m 36s
    7. Setting essential preferences
      2m 35s
    8. Creating a Pro Tools session
      4m 31s
    9. Identifying elements in a session folder
      2m 37s
    10. Creating new tracks
      3m 58s
  3. 42m 6s
    1. Exploring the Edit window
      6m 44s
    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 35s
    5. Investigating the menus
      3m 22s
    6. Understanding samples and ticks
      3m 34s
    7. Viewing and manipulating tracks
      4m 31s
    8. Selecting inputs, outputs, and busses
      3m 58s
    9. Selecting an I/O settings file
      4m 13s
    10. Understanding signal paths and gain stages
      3m 46s
    11. Utilizing keyboard shortcuts and Keyboard Focus
      3m 15s
  4. 21m 11s
    1. Using DigiBase and the Workspace browser
      4m 14s
    2. Importing audio
      3m 0s
    3. Importing MIDI
      2m 48s
    4. Importing session data
      5m 34s
    5. Importing tracks from a CD
      2m 51s
    6. Importing video
      2m 44s
  5. 56m 46s
    1. Recording audio
      6m 13s
    2. Playing back audio and Edit window scrolling
      4m 52s
    3. Creating a click track
      5m 24s
    4. Overdubbing and using the record modes
      8m 52s
    5. Recording with playlists and Loop Record
      4m 6s
    6. Punch recording and using the monitoring modes
      4m 14s
    7. Dealing with latency and ADC
      4m 58s
    8. Creating a group
      6m 5s
    9. Adding effects while recording
      5m 16s
    10. Creating a headphone (cue) mix
      4m 29s
    11. Assigning disk allocation
      2m 17s
  6. 1h 28m
    1. Understanding nondestructive editing and region types
      3m 19s
    2. Using the Selector and Grabber tools
      3m 37s
    3. Using the Trim and Scrubber tools
      7m 5s
    4. Using the Zoomer tool and zoom presets
      5m 51s
    5. Using the Pencil tool
      3m 10s
    6. Using the Smart tool
      1m 27s
    7. Understanding the Edit modes
      5m 51s
    8. Arranging clips
      6m 40s
    9. Undoing an edit
      2m 44s
    10. Utilizing fades and crossfades
      9m 41s
    11. Building a comp track using playlists
      5m 17s
    12. Locking and muting clips
      2m 48s
    13. Special Edit window buttons
      7m 15s
    14. Creating an audio loop
      5m 19s
    15. Editing a voiceover
      9m 41s
    16. Using Elastic Time and Elastic Pitch
      9m 12s
  7. 17m 21s
    1. Working with clip groups
      4m 33s
    2. Using time, tempo, meter, key, and chord
      5m 37s
    3. Creating memory locations
      7m 11s
  8. 33m 11s
    1. Setting up MIDI on a Mac
      4m 17s
    2. Setting up MIDI on a PC
      2m 14s
    3. Setting up MIDI in Pro Tools
      2m 44s
    4. Recording MIDI data
      3m 14s
    5. Recording multiple MIDI tracks with one virtual instrument
      2m 17s
    6. Recording options for MIDI
      6m 21s
    7. Using Step Input
      4m 36s
    8. Making a drum loop with MIDI Merge
      3m 36s
    9. Composing with virtual instruments
      3m 52s
  9. 57m 1s
    1. Using the edit tools for editing MIDI data
      10m 0s
    2. Editing MIDI data in the MIDI Editor
      7m 31s
    3. Working with the MIDI Event List
      2m 12s
    4. Editing MIDI data with Event Operations
      8m 33s
    5. Quantizing MIDI tracks
      12m 16s
    6. Creating and using Groove Templates
      5m 35s
    7. Utilizing real-time properties
      5m 50s
    8. Using MIDI Learn
      5m 4s
  10. 17m 31s
    1. Exploring the Score Editor
      5m 49s
    2. Using the Score Editor
      5m 5s
    3. Setting up a score
      4m 48s
    4. Printing and exporting a score
      1m 49s
  11. 25m 40s
    1. Writing and editing automation
      6m 40s
    2. Drawing automation with the Pencil tool
      4m 3s
    3. Editing automation with the Trim and Grabber tools
      2m 58s
    4. Cutting, copying, pasting, and clearing automation
      4m 12s
    5. Turning automation on and off
      3m 52s
    6. Automating plug-ins and virtual instruments
      3m 55s
  12. 1h 49m
    1. Setting up a session for mixing
      8m 50s
    2. Setting up an effects loop
      9m 30s
    3. Working with plug-ins
      4m 33s
    4. Utilizing ADC while mixing
      9m 8s
    5. Applying EQ
      12m 44s
    6. Adding compression and limiting
      14m 25s
    7. Using delay effects
      6m 52s
    8. Applying AudioSuite plug-ins
      6m 24s
    9. Adding reverb to your mix
      6m 50s
    10. Bouncing down a mix
      4m 15s
    11. Making an MP3 for iTunes and SoundCloud
      2m 53s
    12. Setting up a session for mastering
      4m 58s
    13. Mastering a session
      10m 37s
    14. Bouncing down master recordings with Dither and Noise Shaping
      7m 24s
  13. 9m 59s
    1. Importing and displaying video files
      2m 38s
    2. Adding music, foley, ADR, and FX
      4m 29s
    3. Bouncing down video and audio together
      2m 52s
  14. 4m 0s
    1. Archiving an entire session
      4m 0s
  15. 58s
    1. Further recommendations

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Watch the Online Video Course Pro Tools 10 Essential Training
8h 54m Beginner Jan 20, 2012

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Pro Tools 10 Essential Training with musician and producer David Franz illuminates the process of recording, editing, mixing, and mastering in Avid Pro Tools, the industry-standard software for music and postproduction. The course covers recording live audio and adding effects on the fly, creating music with virtual instruments and plug-ins, editing for time and pitch manipulation, creating a musical score, and mixing and mastering a track.

Topics include:
  • Exploring the Pro Tools interface
  • Selecting inputs, outputs, and busses
  • Understanding signal paths and gain stages
  • Setting up Pro Tools hardware and software properly
  • Importing audio from multiple sources
  • Recording and editing audio and MIDI
  • Adjusting time, tempo, meter, key, and chord in arrangements
  • Mixing and mastering a session
  • Setting up an effects loop
  • Importing and displaying video
  • Adding music, Foley, ADR, and FX
  • Archiving a session
Audio + Music
Pro Tools
David Franz

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. But first I want to talk about the reasons for applying EQ. The first reason is to improve the tonal quality or the timbre of an instrument. You can also use EQ to create special effects, like a telephone vocal sound. You can use EQ to help a track stand out in a mix. You can use it to fix mic choice and placement problems like frequency or leakage or noise issues.

You can use EQ to make up for inadequacies in the recording equipment. You can use EQ to create a better blend of instruments, and you can use it to improve the overall sound of your mix. 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 you use to mix in Pro Tools. However, our Pro Tools mixing EQs 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 by using a stock 7-Band EQ. I have got it already on this track here. This is a parametric EQ, which enables us to control three parameters: the central frequency or FREQ for short, the boost or cut, GAIN down here, and the Q, which is the width of the affected frequency range. The central frequency is the frequency that you want to adjust.

For example, say I want to reduce the low-end muddy frequencies on this acoustic guitar part. So I can adjust this frequency to around 300 hertz, which is where a lot of the mud lives in a mix, and when I move this dial, you will see that this orange circle moves. So I will do that more radically here and you can see it move around. And that's the center frequency. The gain is the amount of increase or decrease in amplitude that you want to apply to this center frequency.

So if you want a slight reduction in your guitar part here, you can cut maybe 1 to 3 DB; for more drastic changes, bring it down to 6, or 9 or even deeper if you want. The third parameter, Q, is the width of the boost or cut region around the center frequency. So it is pretty wide here at one, but if I increase this number, the cut becomes more narrow. So the Q really determines the degree to which frequencies near the center frequency are boosted or cut.

High Q values yield narrow widths for affecting a small range of frequencies, while low Q values 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 I am going to adjust the gain actually back down to 0, and then I will press play and change the gain and we'll see how this affects the sound. (Music Playing) Did you hear how muddy it got when I really boosted the gain? And when I had a low Q value in a cut, a lot of the frequencies were taken out, and it really thinned out the sound of the acoustic guitar.

So you have a lot of control over your sound when using EQ. Now let's talk about the technique of applying EQ. When you are looking for the frequency that you want to adjust, try this technique. We call it the boost-and-twist technique, and what you do is once you have an EQ on your track like this, you increase the gain significantly on one of the parametric bands, and then you make the Q value really high so it's a very narrow value, and then you sweep across the frequency range. So let's play this, and I am going to do that. You'll hear what this does is picks out the frequencies that we want to adjust and make some much more noticeable.

(Music Playing) So let's say that I actually want to get rid of some of the nasally tone that's right around the 600 to 700 hertz area. Now that I know that that's the frequency area, what I can do is just bring the gain down and then adjust my Q accordingly to see how wide I want the bandwidth to be on that cut.

(Music Playing) Now it's a subtle but noticeable change, and it's useful to use the Bypass button to AB this effect, that is, to listen to the track with the EQ in and with it out, so let's try that. (Music Playing) Let's make this more noticeable.

(Music Playing) So use that AB technique with the Bypass button to check out how your EQ is affecting the track. One other thing that you will notice that we are doing here is that we are listening in Solo. This acoustic track is soloed, so we don't actually want to EQ only while we are in solo.

We also need to listen to the track with the rest of the tracks in the session. We could make this track sound amazing by itself, but it might not sound good in the mix. So don't ever EQ in a vacuum by keeping the track in solo. Make sure you listen to what it sounds like in the entire mix. Now let's move on and discuss another common mixing practice called carving EQ holes. For example, let's say that we have this acoustic guitar track and a vocal track as well. Often it's a good idea to cut out some of the mids of the guitar to allow the vocals to have more room in the frequency spectrum where they sound the best, like between 1 and 4 kilohertz.

So let's cut out 3 kilohertz from the guitar signal. We are going to carve a little EQ for the vocals to poke through the guitars in this area. So I am going to dial in 3 kilohertz or thereabouts and reduce the gain, and of course I need to un-bypass this. And actually I am going to take out this low-mid frequency range by clicking this IN button, and that actually takes it out. So now I have only got this cut here, and I will just kind of narrow it up a little bit.

So now we have 4 dB cut at 3 kilohertz with a Q of about 3 to 4. And what this is doing is taking out a little area to let the vocals poke through the mix. And because we have taken out the EQ here, we might actually be able to boost some frequencies in the guitar in another range. So we could do that up here around 6 kilohertz and add a little bit of shine back to the guitar sound in that area. And this frequency range on the guitar is mostly out of the way of the main vocal frequencies anyway.

So let's boost this up. I am going to choose this Peak button right here, and that turns this band of the EQ into a peak filter EQ. So now I'll adjust my Q and move my frequency about to 6 and then add a little gain right there, and I probably will make it a little more narrow too. So now the acoustic guitar will have some shine up here at 6k, and we'll have a little bit of a cut here at 3k. Let's check out what this sounds like. (Music Playing) I will make it more dramatic for you.

Now I wouldn't recommend usually going to this extreme of a gain boost or cut for these frequencies, but I wanted to exaggerate it here for you to hear it. Another thing here. I am not suggesting that each instrument should have its own dedicated frequency range in the mix. Instruments are always going to share frequencies, but clearing a path for the predominant frequencies of certain instruments can make your mix sound much clearer. Also be aware that any EQ settings that you change on a particular instrument will affect not only its sound but also how the sound of that instrument interacts with all the others in the mix.

Now let's take a look at some of the more radical EQ effects you can add to tracks in Pro Tools. I am going to close this up and solo the bass track and then take a look at the AIR Kill EQ. Now this, the AIR Kill EQ, is a three- band EQ with kill switches on each band right here. So we have kill switches on the low, mids, and highs. And with this plug-in you can cut off those ranges for some really cool effects, so let's take a listen.

So I am going to play this track back and demonstrate some of the sonic possibilities for this plug-in, by tweaking the controls as well as loading up some of the presets. (Music Playing) So you can have a lot of fun with this one.

Let's try one more. And I am going to bypass the AIR Kill EQ and open up the Vintage filter. Now a filter is just another word for EQ. The Vintage filter here is basically an EQ that can be manually adjusted or modulated over time using the built-in Low Frequency Oscillator, or LFO, and an envelope follower to create resonances at certain frequencies. I will just put this on here for fun and load up some presets and tweak some knobs, and I encourage you to do the same thing, using some of your own music.

Experiment with all these cool plug- ins to find your own unique sounds. (Music Playing) Well, that was kind of fun.

Now I know I haven't explained what any of these parameters do within this plug-in. I would recommend checking out our Foundations of Audio series to learn more about these types of plug-ins and effects. So now you know how to use the boost-and-twist method to EQ a track and you can also get creative by sonically sculpting your tracks with these EQ plug-ins, available in Pro Tools.

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