Understanding E.q. Part 2 - Parametric E.q.
Todd Simpson
Feb 29 2020, 12:09 AM
Posts: 20.302
Joined: 23-December 09
From: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Understanding E.Q. Part II- Parametric E.Q.

Graphic E.Q. and Parametric E.Q. are two different beasts that have the broad similarity of both being types of E.Q. Where as Graphic E.Q. uses fixed bands and sliders, Parametric EQ uses sweepable knobs that that select any given frequency in a certain range and then focus that band from a bell curve to a notch or vertical spike.

On a Parametric E.Q. Each band has a knob to select a given frequency, for example. On a six band parameetric EQ, you may set the first frequency (it’s variable and up to you) to 100 HZ. If you are using a parametric with knobs, you twist the knob to 100, if you are using a modern software parametric EQ such as a plugin in your daw, you use your mouse to select the frequency.

Once the frequency you want is selected, you then move to the plus/minus section. Or Additive/Subtractive section. If it’s a knob, you turn it right to positively add more of that frequency or left to decrease it. If you are using a modern plugin parametric eq with a wave form screen instead of knobs, you drag the dot representing that frequency up or down to add or subtract..

QUICK NOTE: Subtractive E.Q. (Turning a frequency down) is generally better than additive E.Q. Turning a frequency Up. The simple reason is NOISE. When you add positive E.Q., You add noise and this is not a good thing.

Next you determine the “Q”. The Q function determines if you want a bell shape on your E.Q. frequency or if you want more of a spike. The more you increase the Q the more like a Spike your frequency becomes and it isolates that frequency. This can be handy for creating a “Notch filter” to get rid of a certain frequency that is causing problems in a mix.

So whether you are using a knob/dial based parametric E.Q. or a software DAW/line based parametric E.Q., you will get a lot more flexibility than you would if you were using a fixed graphic E.Q. which is why so many audio professionals prefer Parametric E.Q.

Even though Additive E.Q can add a bit of noise. There are times when you will want to use it. For example, the attack on any kick drums usually happens somewhere around 2 to 5 khz. So using a tight Q and boosting just a bit in this range can really make your kick drum pop.

Each instrument lives in it’s own frequency space and it takes time to get used to this. Your ears are your best guide. As a general rule, NEVER MIX WITH YOUR EYES. Don’t trust your eyes on a mix, no matter what. Always trust your ears. Whether using a rack mount parametric E.Q. or a software plugin parametric E.Q., your ears are always your best guide.

In addition to E.Q. Functions, most rack and plugin parametric E.Q. can be used for ‘SHELVING”. This is a simple term meaning a hard cut of all frequencies above or below a certain point. Using this technique is a good way to get each instrument to stay in it’s own lane. Trust your ears on this. If you are mixing guitar and it’s too boomy and getting in the way of the bass guitar, use a shelving E.Q. (set the amount/number to 0 at that frequency) to get rid of the unwanted bass and bam it will sit in the mix just fine.

This Video Helps explain it in context. Parametric EQ in Reaper.

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This post has been edited by Todd Simpson: Feb 29 2020, 12:31 AM
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