11 Common E.q. Mistakes Made When Mixing
Todd Simpson
Jul 24 2020, 03:13 AM
GMC:er
Posts: 20.784
Joined: 23-December 09
From: Atlanta, Georgia, USA


E.Q. [/b](Equalization) is something every musician should understand on some level. It’s easy to make things sound worse just as it can be easy to make things sound better. Let’s take a look at some common mistakes people make.
[b]
1.)USING ONLY FULL RANGE PARAMETRIC E.Q.

A full range parametric E.Q. is one of the most powerful tools in any musician/producers kit. However, it’s sometimes a bit of overkill. Try starting with a 3 band parametric like the FREE “Slick E.Q.” plugin. It’s only got 3 bands and they are knobs, not a visual type parametric, so it forces you to mix with your ears, not your eyes. The only visual feedback is you get to see what frequency you are adjusting and then another knob says how much. You get three sets of these knobs. This will actually help train your ears.
https://www.tokyodawn.net/tdr-vos-slickeq/

2.)THINKING YOU”LL NEVER BE ABLE TO IDENTIFY FREQUENCY BY EAR ALONE
Everyone thinks this at first. it just takes some doing and practice IMHO. Using the Slick E.Q. is a good way to help train your ear to identify a given frequency. When you dial in 200hz for example and boost it. You’ll hear the mix respond. Later, when you hear a bump at 200hz, it will sound familiar. The more you practice, the better you’ll get. This will help you know what frequencies you need to adjust before you start touching a mouse. You will be able to hear where problem frequencies are, before you start.

3.)USING WAY TO MUCH E.Q. ON VOCALS

Everyone has been guilty of this at some point. Once you start over doing it, the vocal won’t sit right in the mix. You end up cutting the guts out of the vocal, especially if you spend too much time with the vocal track on SOLO. Remember, the vocal is part of the mix, so what it sounds like by itself is only relevant because it needs to sound better as part of the whole. Try to be gentle on how much E.Q. you use on the vocal. Focus on getting a good recording of the vocal. If you are not the one recording it, listen to it in context as much as you can and trust your ears.

4.)ONLY USING SUBTRACTIVE E.Q.

When you add E.Q. (move to the plus side of range) you add noise. This is why folks try to use subtractive E.Q. as it reduces noise. Subtractive just means moving the knob to the negative side, making a given frequency quieter. This is a good general approach. However, sometimes you need to add in order to actually improve how something sounds. Again, trust your ears.

5)USING E.Q. JUST BECAUSE YOU THINK YOU SHOULD
First rule, trust your ears. If you don’t trust them, learning to trust them, by spending time mixing and listening, is part of the process too, so embrace it. smile.gif If a track doesn’t sound like it needs to be E.Q.’d, try the track in the context of the mix, if it works, leave it alone smile.gif If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.

6.)IGNORING THE MIX BUS

FIrst, this assumes you know what the “MIX BUS” is. It’s just a term that means the output section (default 2 ttrack/stereo output channel) on any given DAW. This is typically labeled “MASTER” as it’s also called hte MASTER BUS. “BUS” isn’t like a school bus, well kinda, but only metaphorically, it’s just where all the tracks are going before they come out of the daw. You can turn the slider/volume up or down on the MIX/MASTER bus and it turns up/down the entire mix. Also, you can add FX on the master bus and it will add those effects to every track in the mix at once since all the tracks have to pass through the mix bus. So, for example, you might, add a compressor to the mix buss to give a mix a bit more “oomph”. You might add OZONE to the master bus and do real time mastering, once your done mixing. smile.gif

7.)DOING ALL E.Q. IN SOLO MODE

If you “Solo” (to solo a track is to click the solo button which turns off all other tracks) tracks while mixing to isolate them and get better control over them, don’t forget that context is everything. You can use the E.Q. for the vocal track while playing the entire mix. You don’t have to solo the vocal, every time before you make any adjustments.

8.)AVOIDING BEING TOO AGGRESSIVE
We often read that we should only add a bit of E.Q. at a time. As a rule, this is a good thing. However, sometimes, you will need to let go of the rules, trust your ears and do what sounds best, even if that means using 12 Decibels of boost on the Vocal E.Q. at 4k. It sounds crazy, but it’s just ann example of not being thrown off by aggressive E.Q. moves if your ears tell you it’s needed.

9.)OPTION FATIGUE
It’s tempting to get a LOT of plugins in your DAW. Many plugins are FREE, many others are cheap, so it’s easy to get a wad of plugins going. E.Q. plugins these days, even the free ones can be really good and each has something cool about it. The bad news is that too many options can be a bad thing. It can slow you down, and keep you from making progress in your mix.

10.)NOT VOLUME MATCHING THE E.Q.
Hit the BYPASS button on your E.Q. on a given track, (solo the track first of course), and try to get the overall volume with and without the E.Q. to be similar, not the same, similar. Otherwise, the ears can be fooled by a bit more volume that’s added by additive E.Q.

11.)SEARCHING FOR THE SECRET E.Q. SAUCE
It’s not rocket science. It’s Rock N Roll. Don’t over focus on any one thing or detail. It’s easy to get lost in the subtle difference between 200 and 220 hz. Sadly, time is finite and keeping your focus on just creating a good sounding track will serve you better than getting to far down the rabbit hole.

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This post has been edited by Todd Simpson: Jul 24 2020, 03:14 AM
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