Lesson 51

E.Q. Basics

Let’s take a quick look at what an Eq is, and the various controls 

There’s a bunch of different types of Eq’s, but they all do pretty much the same thing.. boost or cut specific frequencies. They come in many different shapes and sizes, and configurations, but once you know the terminology and standard types of controls, it’s easy to just look at any EQ and figure out how to use it.

The easiest type of EQ to visualize is called a graphic eq, because it actually shows the visualization. The bass is represented on the left, and the treble is on the right. And the mids are of course in the middle.

These dots here represent bands. On this eq, I have 6 dots, which means there are 6 bands to work with. Each band gives me 1 adjustment.

Some EQ’s only have 2 very wide bands for bass and treble, and some EQ’s have 32 bands that are very narrow.

With this eq that comes with Logic, there are 8 bands, and the width and frequency can be adjusted on each one. The width adjustment is called the “Q”, we’ll get into that shortly. Of the 8 bands available, on the left is a low cut filter, also called a high pass filter. Next is a low shelf EQ’s, and then there are 4 bell EQ’s, then a high shelf EQ’s, and then last here is a high cut, also called a low pass.

These are the standard EQ’s that that are used. Now I’ll explain them individually.

First let’s start with cut off filters. They eliminates all sound above or below a specific frequency. There’s a few different names for this. High cut, low pass, low cut high pass... but this really isn’t as confusing as it sounds. Each name is self explanatory. 
A low cut and a high pass are the exact same thing. 2 different names with identical meanings. Think about it, a low cut filter, will cut out the low frequencies, which is the same as a high pass filter, which lets the high frequencies pass. This EQ’s cuts the lows and lets the highs pass, hence the 2 different names.
A high cut filter, also called a low pass filter, is the same concept. It allows the low frequencies to pass, and cuts the high frequencies.
With this EQ’s, you will generally have 2 controls. The cut off frequency, and the slope. The cut off frequency is the frequency which it will begin the cut off. The slope is the rate which the cut off is engages. A steep slope will be more drastic, and probably more noticeable. I’ll often use a steep slope when placing a low cut on a bass part to eliminate unwanted rumble.
A gentle slope is less intrusive, and can often go unnoticed. I always use a gentle slope on a low cut filter on cymbals and hi hats. To be honest, I use low cut filters more than any other effect. I use them on almost every track.
It’s common to see these terms abbreviated as LPF, HPF... etc.

While we’re on the topic of cut off filters, I’ll just explain how I personally use the terminology. First I’ll say that this is just my personal preference, it is not the official definition.... but I use the terms this way because I like it better.
Low pass filter, I’m allowing the lows to pass, so I use this term instead of high cut filter if the cut off frequency is in the low range. If the cut off frequency is in the mids or higher, I’ll call it a high cut filter.

Same with low cut filter and high pass filter... if the cut off frequency is in the bass range, I’ll call it a low cut, if the cut off is in the mids or treble, I’ll call it a high pass. 

Ok, the next type of EQ’s is a shelf. Here’s the on/off activator for the shelf EQ’s. This EQ’s will have a threshold frequency, and all sound above or below that frequency is evenly raised or lowered in volume. 

These 4 EQ’s in the middle are bell EQ’s. No... they don’t sound like a bell. The shape of the EQ’s curve looks like a bell. This can give pinpoint accuracy to manipulate a specific frequency, or frequency range. Bell EQ’s sometimes also have a “Q” adjustment, which gives control of how wide the bell is. You can focus in on a specific frequency, or make it wide and effect an entire range.

I’ve been using the EQ’s that comes with logic because it’s a good example of the various controls found on EQ’s. Not all EQ’s have all these controls, so let’s take a look at some different eq’s and how they work.

Also, I just want to point out to not overdo the EQ’ing. Try not to have several EQ’s working against each other, such as boosting the highs, and then adding another EQ’s to the same track that cuts the highs. This simply results in a loss of fidelity.

Not all EQ’s have Q controls, and it can be represented in a variety of different ways.