If you are even remotely serious about mixing or sound engineering, you have to know what the Parametric Equalizer. Many would call it man’s best friend in mixing. I’ll go over the basics of frequencies and eq’ing at first and later, I’ll cover the massive impact it can have in making your tracks sound better as well as the most common cases of potential abuse.
Here’s a track where I used the EQ to make space in the mix, allowing every instrument and drum to “shine” in its frequency range.
As per format, I will be discussing in terms of FL Studio 10, which comes equipped with a nice eq of its called, Fruity Parametric EQ 2. Why the number 2 and not 1? Because it has a better graphical interface and it’s easier to see what’s going on as far as which frequencies are strongest.You equip the EQ in the mixer channels and it is an effect that is applied onto a channel and not to a specific instrument. Thus, you can have as many instruments as you want running into that channel and getting the effects of the EQ on it. For starters, here’s a closer look at the interface and design of the Fruity Parametric EQ 2.
A great place to start is to run your instruments through the channel and see it in action. You’ll immediately see the pink columns start to appear. These are the frequencies the instrument or drum track hits. This in the image is a cello, so it is populating the mid-lows and a little bit of the mid range.
What can the EQ do:
1) Boost/ cut certain frequencies of the instruments running through the channel.
Why would I use that:
1) To cut unwanted frequencies of an instrument, especially if those unwanted ones preside in the same range as some of your other principle instruments.
2) To boost an instrument in a frequency range that would help it stand better in the mix, or just sound better in general.
How to use it:
1) Increase a band, which is indicated by the numbers in the circles, to boost in a certain region. Ex: The image shows increasing the 6 band in 3000 Hz region to make the cello have more of a presence in the upper register.
2) Decrease a band to cut. Easy as that!
tips on using it WELL:
1) Keep your ear really tuned in to see how it affects the track as you adjust the bands.
2) Cut the areas that a particular instrument doesn’t need to have like the bass end of a lead synth, or high harmonics of a bass guitar.
3) So by cut, I don’t mean roll off. Roll off is a term used to mean entirely remove. In the mastering process, rolling off is extremely imp0rtant.
4) When you boost, make sure you use it judiciously because too much boosting (above 10% in a given band) will give you a pretty bad sound that is hard to recognize for novices.
5) In general, good EQ-ers cut more than they boost. And great EQ-ers make their changes to be very precise and don’t dump it on every track unless absolutely necessary.
6) Keep your eye on the volume levels. This goes back to my Loudness War post. Cutting and boosting will affect the overall volume of a track so make sure to mix your levels accordingly.
Wrapping up, the Parametric EQ is a simple tool to use if you get the fundamentals down and it has tremendous power in controlling the clarity and quality of your overall sound. Good luck using it and feel free to ask specific questions.