QuickTip – Too Much EQ
I’ve got a couple quick EQ tips for you if you’re struggling with knowing how much EQ is too much. I’m not opposed to extreme uses of EQ when it’s needed
1. If your input sounds worse with EQ, it’s too much EQ.
When you bypass your EQ, your input should sound worse than when you started. When you turn the EQ back on, things should get better. If your EQ doesn’t make something better IN THE CONTEXT of the mix, then you’re likely using too much EQ.
2. If your input is quieter (or louder) with the EQ on, you’re using too much EQ.
Your input’s volume shouldn’t change drastically when you apply EQ, but this is something I see happen a LOT in churches.
I was recently working with an engineer who had a really good mix up so I started looking at what he was doing. On a majority of inputs there were multiple layers of EQ from the console and plug-ins with broad, almost full-range swaths of EQ being cut. These inputs were all right on the verge of clipping as well and bypassing the EQ’s brought the inputs up often 6 dB or more.
As I mentioned, the mix sounded fine, but the gain structure was a disaster. Finding yourself in this position on occasion isn’t the end of the world because ultimately what matters most is how it all sounds. However, I’ve seen many engineers develop bad habits with this use of EQ that ends up biting them in the future.
If you want to develop some good habits, make sure your EQ doesn’t change how loud your inputs are by more than a dB or 2.