How do graphic equalizers work?
Most graphic equalizers divide sound between 6 and 31 bands of frequency, with a physical or virtual slider controlling the volume of each band. If, for example, the treble is too loud on a track, cutting the volume on one or two of the higher frequency bands can soften it. If the bass is shaking the windows, you can just lower the slider of one of the lower frequency bands.
(Frequency — the rate at which a sound wave passes a certain point — is measured in hertz (Hz), which is the number of waves that pass a point in one second. Low notes travel in slow waves, high in fast. The most sensitive human ears can hear roughly between 20 and 20,000 Hz.)
On a 31-band graphic equalizer, the center frequency of each band is one-third of an octave away from the center frequencies of adjacent bands. With so many bands to work with, you can adjust narrow ranges of frequency. On a 10-band EQ, the center frequencies are an octave apart, so each adjustment covers a whole octave of tones. This makes for easy cutting and boosting, but you risk altering frequencies that you aren’t trying to alter.
“The cool thing about graphic EQs is how simple they are,” says producer and engineer Gus Berry. “You can either go up or go down on one of the fixed frequency points. If you boost something and don’t like how it sounds, you can cut it a little bit. If you cut something and all the beefiness to the sound just goes away, you may want to keep that in or even boost it a little more.”
Set limits with high-pass filters and low-pass filters.
Use a light touch when you tweak EQ controls.
For precise frequency tuning, try a parametric equalizer.
Graphic EQs work at live performances and in the studio.
How can you improve your production and mixing skills?
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