Audio Mixing Tips: 3 Essential Things to Do While Adding EQ
Equalization is by far the most potent tool that any audio engineer must learn to use for audio mixing. If you are new to it and beginning to learn the elusive art of mixing, equalization, in fact, is a good place to start. There are many ways in which equalization can help make a track sound better. You can use it to make your tracks sound cleaner as well as give the instruments its right tonal character. The basic idea is to understand the range of frequency a certain instrument occupies so that it sits well and does not interfere negatively with frequencies of other instruments in the overall mix. Here, I will share a few things that helped me EQ my tracks better and control the sound of the mix.
Know what you want: This is the first step towards adding EQ to any track. As plain as it may sound, most make the mistake of adding EQ with no foresight of how the track is going to sit in the mix. Make sure you are aware of the frequency range and the timbre of the instrument that you are EQing, keeping in mind the overall mix and sound of the track. Keep a reference track handy to guide you. You should start with subtle EQing and gradually build on instead of drastically changing the sound of the instrument.
Clean up the noise: As much as you would like to boost frequencies in a track, keep an eye (and ear, haha!) for frequencies which you can completely roll off to make more space in the mix. For example, try rolling off the low end of a guitar track around 100Hz to 140Hz and you will hear that there is more space in the low end for other instruments to occupy.
Be smart, don’t over EQ: Make sure you don’t stray away by stacking up EQs in the mix. Many times, you will feel a track needs to be EQed after adding EQ on another track. This may set up a chain and your mix will sound entirely different from the sound you were hoping to get. Don’t feel shy to reach out to the reference track, it’s your guiding light. You may also disable all the EQs to see if you are in the right direction.
Factors like the acoustic treatment of the room and placement of monitors greatly affect how you listen to your tracks and ultimately help you make the decision of using equalization. I’m sure these above tricks will help you make your mixes sound better.