• Iona Catherine

What is an 'EQ' in Music Production?

Introduction

Ever wondered what an 'EQ' is? Read on for a breakdown of EQ's in music production.


EQ (or equalisation) is one of the most important tools for shaping and enhancing the sound of a track, and it should be used in almost every mix.

An EQ allows you to adjust the volume of sound coming from different frequencies according to the needs of each song. For example, to remove unwanted frequencies, boost desired frequencies and add new ones.


Equalisers can generally be split into two categories—linear and parametric.

Equalisers can be split into two categories—linear and parametric. Liner equaliaers have four bands (low shelf, low-mid peak, high-mid peak, high shelf) with fixed frequencies (Although sometimes they may be even more simplified into 'shelf' eq's with just low and high cut bands). Parametric equalisers are a little more advanced than linear ones and they allow you to select a frequency range (band) and boost or cut it.


Linear EQs are typically called “fixed” or “graphic” EQs.

When you hear the term “linear EQs”, it is generally referring to what are commonly called “fixed” or “graphic” EQs. These types of EQs have fixed frequencies associated with them, meaning that the frequency bands do not change when you move a slider or knob in your DAW plugin.

Parametric equalisers have bands that can be moved to whichever frequency you wish, giving you complete control over the frequency being altered.

In a parametric equaliser, you can select a frequency, and then adjust the gain of that frequency. Parametric equalisers are more flexible than linear equalisers because they allow you to select where in the spectrum you want to manipulate. For example, if you want to boost the low frequencies in your mix, but don’t know exactly where they are located, it’s easy to just choose "low" as your parameter and then move around until you find the right spot on which to boost or cut.


You adjust the 'Q' so that it affects a wide or narrow range of frequencies around the selected one.

The Q of an EQ is the bandwidth of its selected frequency. It is represented by a number that indicates how narrow or wide the frequency band is around the selected one. For example, if you have a Q value of 0.5, this means that there is only half an octave between your selected frequency and its adjacent frequencies. This can be used for precise EQing when you want to make small adjustments to specific areas in your mix. If you don’t need precise control over frequencies and just want to add some general warmth or brighten up certain parts of your mix, then it’s better to increase the Q so that it affects a wider range of frequencies around your target tone (like adding treble).


EQ's with graphs indicate how much of the signal is being affected by each band on the equaliser.

The graph included on some EQ's indicates how much of the signal is being affected by each band on the equaliser. This is helpful because it lets you see what frequencies each band affects in real time. In addition, there are often buttons that allow for instant bypasses for all bands allowing for even further control.


When you move a band up or down, more or less of that frequency range is added to or subtracted from the signal level.

When you move a band up or down, more or less of that frequency range is added to or subtracted from the signal level. In other words, EQing is about adjusting the volume and tonal characteristics of specific frequencies in your mix.


The most important thing to remember when using an equaliser is that it's not just about raising certain frequencies—it's also about reducing others! By lowering certain parts in your mix, like harsh sounds or noise floor elements, you're creating room for other elements to come forward and get heard by listeners.


Equalisation is an essential tool for mixing music.

Equalisation is an essential tool for mixing music. It allows you to shape and enhance the sound of a track, removing frequencies that you don't want, boosting ones that add more depth and clarity, and even making it sound more professional.


Conclusion

In conclusion, if you’re interested in learning more about EQs and how they can help your music production process then this article has provided a good starting point. Hopefully it has dispelled some misconceptions around what an EQ is. The next step would be to try out some different EQ plugins on your own projects—they offer an intuitive interface with plenty of presets, so you shouldn’t have trouble getting started right away!


If you would like further 1-1 guidance, or simply have a few questions, don't hesitate to get in touch with me - Iona Catherine - at learnhowtomusic.com. I would love to hear from you.

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