Modern equalisers provide plenty of utility features that will make life easier when mixing. Let’s take a look at the key ones…
1: Many EQ plugins feature some kind of A/B comparison feature. Use this to copy your current A settings over to the B state, slightly change those B settings, then flip between the two at the press of a button to evaluate which one works best in context.
2: Boosting or attenuating frequencies is essentially altering the volume of those areas. Humans perceive a sound’s overall ‘quality’ based on its loudness, so you may think that a heavily EQed sound is ‘better’. Counteract this by using the EQ plugin’s output volume control to compensate.
3: Get into the habit of regularly punching your EQ’s bypass button as you dial in settings. This will help you to evaluate exactly what your moves are doing to the sound, and will keep you firmly in the ‘evaluation’ mindset at every stage.
4: As EQ is such a commonly used process, it pays to become familiar with your preferred equaliser tool’s shortcuts. For example, many EQs allow you to double-click on the interface to create a band, drag the node into place, then scroll your mouse wheel to quickly set the band’s Q value.
5: Almost all mix signals contain superfluous frequencies at the extreme high and low ends of the spectrum. Since you’ll probably be doing a lot of high- and low-pass filtering, then, consider setting up your favourite EQ’s default preset with approximate filter settings ready to go straight away.
6: Some EQ plugins allow you to audition a frequency range in complete isolation, which will help you identify problematic areas in a signal. This is usually done by holding a keyboard modifier as you click on the frequency area you want to listen to.