Audio Recording Issues – The Right EQ for the Job Part 1Our goal with these 12 scenarios that require EQ starts with being able to address the “what” of the situation first. Before we can do anything, we need to know what the issue is, and then address this with the best tool. In this process, we look at the EQ as a wide range of utilitarian possibilities. The way one engineer can find a way to add sweetening to the highs and another might know how to get low's that no one else could achieve, proves the complexities of creativity and utilitarian skill.
Since this is about the use of Equalizer's strictly for making corrections as opposed to using EQ's for the sheer joy of coloration (which will surely come up!), we start by recognizing that there is something in the program material that needs adjusting. Take a few moments and let this sink in. There are times in our lives that things can have a profound effect on us, and I think this basic concept can mold an entire career.
The desire to reach for a great EQ program should be a direct response to something specific, or the capacity for doing something regretful to a track is greatly increased. When mixing a song, don't just jump to a device that is easy to use and start doing what comes naturally or what you were taught. Listen. Trust your instincts, but don't react out of habit, and don't just make EQ choices based on what someone taught you. There are times that boosting can sound better than cutting, and there are times where we get further by taking something away from an offending track than trying to boost it on another track. So, with corrective EQ, don't reach for your EQ choice before you've started listening to the things that need correcting. It is true that even incredible mixes might be 99% there, and a great mastering might involve a very picky 1%, but don't over-correct out of a need to do something or to justify your EQ arsenal.
Every tool truly has its time and place, and that doesn't have to be every session. To skim the surface with broad strokes, you want to choose the right EQ to work with each individual track as opposed to a bus group, or a bass guitar versus acoustic guitar, for mixdown versus mastering. With dozens of choices of inductor EQ's, channel strips, high voltage tube mastering EQ's, solid state op-amp EQ's, with and without transformers and more, how do we develop the instinct for the right tool for the job?