Equalization in the audio mix: learn how to EQ effectively | Marco Galvan | Skillshare

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Equalization in the audio mix: learn how to EQ effectively

teacher avatar Marco Galvan, Avid, Steinberg Certified Audio Engineer

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

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About This Class

If you want to learn how to improve the audio quality in your productions this class is for you!

Here you will learn how to equalize musical instruments in the context of an audio mix. You will understand what equalization is and how to use it to improve the audio quality of your productions. In the class we will cover topics like:

  • Frequency and Hertz
  • Hearing ranges
  • The parametric EQ
  • Controls
  • How to apply equalization in the mix

Then you will use your new EQ skills in a music project to polish the sound of the mix.

Join Marco Galvan, an experienced Avid, Steinberg and Meyer Sound certified instructor with more than 10 years of teaching experience. You will learn all you need to use equalizers in an effective and practical way for any kind of audio project.

Meet Your Teacher

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Marco Galvan

Avid, Steinberg Certified Audio Engineer


Marco Galvan has been active in the music and audio business for more than 15 years. He holds a B.Eng with a major in Acoustics and an MBA degrees from IPN. He is a professional musician, arranger and composer with studies at Berklee College of Music and he holds Certificates in Music Theory and Keyboard Performance from the ABRSM and Trinity College London. In the audio field, he studied at Alchemea College in London and holds several certifications like: Pro Tools User, Meyer Sound System Design, Nexo and DiGiCo operator. 

Currently he teaches at Anahuac University, with more than 10 years of teaching experience. Many of his former students currently work for companies like: Sony Music Entertainment (Grammy Award winner), Televisa, TV Azteca, OCESA, Meyer So... See full profile

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1. SkillEQ1: Hello, Mark Obama. Welcome to this class about equalization. Well, I'm a mystical engineer. Old, especially East acoustic specialist. I'm also musician, producer, arranger, composer. I've bean working in music industry for more than 10 for more than 15 years on teaching for more than 10 years in universities and colleges. So some of my former students now are professionals working for companies like Sony Music for Fox Sports. May your sound and many orders. And well, let me tell you what you are going to learn in this class. You you are going to understand the purple self equalization, what equalizers are for and what they cannot do. Then you're going to learn how to equalize different instruments in an efficient way. This in the context off our music mix and all this is to improve the quality clarity off your instruments of the off your production. So who should take this class? Well, this class is great for musicians, producers Ah, DJs podcasters you name it. Any audio enthusiast can have Ah, good knowledge from this class. What did you need? Well, actually, you just need a digital audio workstation. It could be bro tools. Logic. Ah, recent whatever. And if you don't have one, you could down love, for example, Studio one our door or audacity or all those have free versions for PC and Mac so you can work right away. So I hope you enjoy this class and let's get started. 2. SkillEQ2: Okay, Now let's see. What's the purpose off? Ah, an equaliser. So equalization is made to compensate the frequency violence in a signal that is to, ah, improved amount off high frequency, low frequency made for conceits at a wrap. This help us to get more clarity for definition or punch in our signal, we have to be careful because too much Q could be bath for sound. Actually, usually less is more in equalization. For example, in this, in this picture, we can see a lot of equalization. We have a lot off lows and meats and you know it's too aggressive. That usually doesn't sound good, so we should avoid that kind of conversation. The we could use equalization also to get special effects, for example, the sound of a telephone. And if you want to reproduce that kind of effect, like some somebody's talking on the phone or the music coming out off a radio in post production, for example that we could use a quotation for that now unequal Isar, what we cannot do Well, we cannot fix a bad recording if we have about microphones or it was bad. We cannot really fix that with a Q is not the best, the best strategy. We cannot, ah, make speakers sound great with the Q. I mean, if the speaker is not good enough, then it you want, uh, is not a magic tool. You know, if you have a good speaker than it, you can improve it, but you need a good speaker. Another a myth. For example. We eat, you cannot remove distortion. If you are a hearing has started. Sound, then you cannot really fix that with any cube. Ah, the same with the noise. Perhaps we don't think you could attenuate a little bit the noise, the background noise. But it's not the best tool for that. There are other tools just like that, for example, that the noise, er it's just for that and finally, would Nick you. Obviously, we cannot improve a bad performance. So if the singers out of tune or the player is, you know, not doing a nice sound, you cannot really fix that. We don't accuse you will need another kind of tool 3. SkillEQ3: Okay, now let's talk about the frequency. Frequency means how fast on object vibrates. So if we have a nugget on object like, for example, string vibrating really fast and then it has high frequency and it makes a travel sound on the other hand, low frequency slowly that would produce a by bass sounds. Ah, frequency is measured, inherits That's the unit, and we use and many times that they kill hearts at one kilohertz equals to 1000 hertz. There's another key term, which is octave octave means the double or half the frequency. So, for example, if we have the note 83 its frequency is 220. So the double double that frequency, which is 440. It would be also the note A a four on the double of that would be the next a note. So that's what Arctic means. We use updates when we're equalizing now. Ah, the hearing range human hearing range. We cannot perceive every frequency we can hear on the frequencies between 20 on 20 kilohertz. Well, that's the, um the standard Arjuna look like a kind off a fresh, but our ear perceives Ah, need frequencies with more sensitivity around Triki Lawford's. So that's what this graphic re percents. We also see here that the low and the high frequencies in the arrows, if they need more energy to be perceived. So if you are boosting, for example, in two kilohertz, you will hear that amount of thank you very easily. But if you are boosting with jury que around 8 800 I mean it here it here. Sorry. Then you will need more energy to perceive the change. You will see that later, and this is because our ear is not leaner. So it's important to understand that our ear becase in a different way to different frequencies. That's very important when we are equalizing. 4. SkillEQ4: Okay, So if we want to learn how to equalize thing, we need to educate our ear to recognize some frequency ranges first. So he we're going to listen to some examples. I'm going to equalize these different ranges so you can hear the characteristics off its range. So the 1st 1 is the lowest. Um, it's between 20 and 50 hertz, and it has too deep frequencies. That is very difficult to listen to here, to here them to notice them. Ah, it's mainly used for effect. Sounds like earthquakes or explosions in movies. So in this case, you will need ah so buffer to hear it. You might try it with headphones or good monitors, but it's going to be a little hard to, uh, listen to it and please be careful about with the volume, in example. And let's just start, Okay, so you, as you can see, it's not easy to to hear it right. It's because the speakers then we have ah, this next ranges about one octave above between 50 and 100. Around that, it's the punch of sound. You will hear the punch off the base ah, into the big guitar or the kick drum. It's important, and it's also very effective if you have a buffer. But if you don't, you can hear anyway with a good pair of headphones are studio monitors. Let's give you trying. Okay, the next one is called. The upper based range is surround ah, 102 100 hertz. This is important because it may sound buoy. Or Mahdi. Yeah, so ah, it's important to to listen to the characteristic self trombones, male vocals, piano Tom's in these rains. Sometimes, for example, the bass guitar needs to be attenuated in this range. If it's sounding to Marty, you know, So let's give it a try, then the next eyes the low mid range, which has the fullness of sound. You will hear many resonances here and and it could saturate the spectrum. You know, it could be a little annoying to dirty, so let's hear it 5. SkillEQ5: well, let's continue with Ah, the next part of the range. The midrange is the most important for a voice, and you should be careful about this range because it may sound like a telephone. It's also important for continents, and pretty much every kind of speaker works in this range. So let's hear it. Well, the next range, uh, Hikmet, between two kilohertz on five kilohertz, this is a very important range because our ear is very sensitive and deranged, as we said before. So this may cause some kind off here. Fatty or harshness, it could be annoying. So if you find a sound being annoying and dating, you shoot. Ah, try cutting in this range. Then we're moving to the tribal range. The hikes is between around five kilo person, 12 kilohertz. Differences are, you know, like, uh, not exact ranges, but it's you know it's approximation. So in this range you will find the brightness of the sound on. Also, you may found see balance, which is this characteristic off an excessive s south. It's very important for high heart symbols, trouble instruments. So let's hear it. Yeah, well, it's important to say that these ranges this last ranges. The hikes in general need, um, a tweeter so you can hear them. If you don't have two years, it's very difficult. Yeah, this is the last range between 12 kilo hertz to 20 kilohertz, the top travel range. And, well, this will give some kind off sparkle or air sensation to the soundness. Not easy to to hear, because, um, not everybody is able to to hear this high frequencies Bet. Let's try it. Well, I recommend you to practice a little bit with this material over and over, so your ears get Ah, the idea how how this range of sound and what they do in music, that's the basis off equalization. 6. SkillEQ6: Okay, Now let's learn how to use Ah Parametric eq you, which is the most important que But first we need to understand at the concept off gain. So gain is usually measured in Debbie's. And when we have positive gain positive DBS, that means that we increase the signals energy. On the other hand, if we have zero DB, that means no change in signals energy. It's also called unity gain. That's the most important. Ah, setting. Actually, we should start equalizing with or accuse at zero db. It's also called flat que no increase. And we if we have negative jeebies, that means that we are decreasing the signals energy. So this is how we can change our energy in different frequencies. An infinite DB that's on infinite attenuation. That's usually for favors. When we have the failure in the bottom, that means that we have no energy at all. Now interesting things about the DBS, for example, zero. The bees, as I said, means no changed in signals, so it doesn't mean it doesn't mean no energy. It means that the energy remains the same as the original. I didn't want to be is barely haired by some people. So most of the time one DB cannot be perceived on your hand. Three D B's is our basis. We're going to equalize most of the time in three D. B's steps and 10 db is a lot of energy. Is is kind off twice as loud, so tend to be his a lot. We have to take that encounter. No, our parametric eq you the parametric eq You has, ah, three parameters. That's the name. And we have this three controls its central frequency Ah, which is the middle frequency, you know, on our filter injury, que. Then we have the gain which could boost or cut that the amount of energy remembers zero b means ah, everything normal, let's say and there's the third parameter is the cue queues of some somehow mysterious parameter related with the band with this is how many frequencies around the central frequency we are affecting. So, for example, in this case, the quality factor Q factor here is related with bond with it doesn't have any units and, for example, we can see that low values of Cuba, for example, 0.3 point ah four. It's like Avery ah white that the frequency range on the other hand, high values. For example, Ah, 56 10. It's very narrow, filtered. This is a very important tool because this help us to select the frequencies we want to equalize. This is why Parametric accuse are very, very powerful and that's why we're going to learn to use them. 7. SkillEQ7: Hello, guys. Well, now we're going to see the practical part of this. We're going to equalize. Ah, the kick drum. So I have here on Equaliser a session. You're going to work with this decision, but let me show you this Equalizer. It's from logic, Pro, but you could use, um any order equalizer that you have, you may have. So, uh, let's hear it. The first thing you have to do before equalising is actually here. The sound of the instrument. So in this case, I have others frequency analyzer, so I can see that my drum has a lot of energy in the lows, Andi less energy in the hikes. So it's important to to taking count, as you know, because in this case, as the the kick drum has a lot of low energy, it's not necessary in many cases to boost these regions. So my approach would be to listen, do what you don't like from the South. In this case, it's a resident, so I'm going to show you. Let me activate one part metric you. Here it is. So we have or three parameters its frequency gain and Q so I'm going to boost and listen to around 12. Maybe it's okay most of the time. So now I can change my frequency. This is what it is called sweeping, and you can hear all the residences. Maybe it's a little white, so I'm going to make it not aware with Ah higher cute, I could use my mouth's instead which, actually, it is simpler. The point is to look for rest announces. For example. We know that around 60 we have a bunch. We can feel that in the case of the kick Drum, it's very common. Teoh attenuate this region. We have to look this kind of Mahdi sound, so I'm going to enjoy that and maybe make it a little wider, so it's kind of better. It's a matter of taste here. Now I'm going to add a little bit off, um, presence. I'm going to use order. Parametric Cute. I want more attack, perhaps a little. Here. It's a matter of taste. You need to hear what you want from the sound and finally, just two. To make an example, I'm going to add a little bunch. It may not be necessary, but I want to show you so I Notre Fielder, another apartment. And as you can see, I have to play with the three parameters frequency to gain on the Q. To look for the frequency I like or the one I don't like. For example, these sounds nice, but I'm just going to add a little bit so you can see my equalization. I have a little boost here. Bigger got here in a little boost here. So now let's hear the whole process. I'm going to bypass my cue. That's before you queue, and that's what it is. More solid. So that's pretty much the that idea. You have to to practice, of course, but you could use this frequency. A Subasic I'm using 63 350 on 2.5 kilo words. The amount off equalization. It's up to you, but you don't need a lot of you, so be careful 8. SkillEQ8: Hello, guys. Well, now we're going toe work. Which Ah, snare drum. Here we have the snare drum. This is the analyzer to spectrum. And so, as we can see here, thats party around 200 hertz. Well, that's the fundamental frequency of his name That is lowest frequency coming out from that drum. So every drum has a fundamental frequency. And if we look for that frequency and we raise it, the effect will be as we're listening me just it has more bottom. And if we take it out, we take away the foundation of that sound. So that's very important. Actually, in this case, I don't think it's necessary to coach frequency so far doesn't hurt from what you have to do it. Do you listen to the sound and to try to figure out what you want? For example, maybe I want to control these 500 yards for its announces. I could get rid of them or a t least attenuate them. Or maybe I want some brightness. No, this snares produce high frequency around 34 I feel so what? Pretty much that's for the snare. It's up to you to define the final sounds. Now I'm going to tackled a symbols decision. Symbols have a very important frequency, and I'm talking about the fort around four kilohertz. Just cute. So it's not aware thes frequencies are somehow annoying, so I usually have to take to take it in my way a little bit. That's too much. Maybe 34 debates. Okay, that could be good. Or I could add some travel, you know, around nine or 10. So, for example, for the symbols, maybe I could just take this. And with this ban, I queued take out this four kilohertz annoying frequency because that's very important. Sometimes things kind of setting is more than enough for for the same balls. Also, we could use a high pass filter, which is here. It's just a tenure rates and maybe around 2 300 hertz to get rid of their rumble, the bass rumble. But this kind off peak, you could work for symbols because we are bringing a little more brightness on. The most important is to take out this Ah, middle high frequencies that the travel here around 10 or 12 kilohertz cease entirely optional 9. SkillEQ9: Okay, well, now we're going to work with a bass guitar. So here I have the analyzer and we can see that the bass guitar has planete off energy in the low frequency. That's obvious. But actually ah, equalized. The best guitar doesn't require to boost these regions, usually because the base already has a lot of low frequency, so boosting lows, it may work, but it may sound Mahdi mainly and around 101 115. Well, this area could be very Mahdi. If you are hearing these with your good headphones for money tours, you will notice energy. If you are using legal speakers, you may not notice a lot this, but that's why it's very important to have a proper monitors to equalize because it could be deceptive. So what, in this case, ah, more important frequency for bass guitar would be Ah, this slow meets around, Ah, 508 100. Okay, because this frequencies give the base more definition of the notes, so that's unusually mawr. More important, we have to be careful of not letting this sound too hunky, but it's up to you now. The key to equalize base. He's two related which Ah, the kick drum self, for example. I must hear the kingdom on the base working together. That's the key off you. If you work in a separate way, as I've been doing it just to show you well, it's not going to be very, very nice. You know, the blending will not be correct. So, for example, here have the kick drum frequencies we mentioned before. For example, I added a little bit around 50 hertz, you know, really low bottom. So a rather thumb this that my base in my base. And I shouldn't add around 50 in this example, because that's frequency afford the kick drum. So my base maybe could work a little better here. I don't know. We should try it. But the point is that I need to get a good plan between the two instruments. So even in sometimes, this is not a case, but it there being some situation where I need I would need to lower the low frequency off the base or the kick drums are low frequency. So that's very important in this case is ah, we need to be sure that, uh, my low frequency from the base on the kick drum are not fighting each other and that's what excuse for. And that's why we need to do here both instruments that this is going to be the rule for every instrument sharing similar frequency ranges. 10. SkillEQ10: Okay, well, now we're going to work read vocals, which is our last, uh, example. So in this case, I am I have this female vocal today, Okay? Todo going to analyze the vocals Have a lot of you in on frequencies, as we can see. So it's it's important to be careful when way are equalizing vocals. What can we do about it? Well, and first place, remember that we have this area around 200. It's the new audio today. So cooped up, e. I am so, uh, try to be nice heuristics today, for example. Here I find the fundamental tools. It's the body of the voice who do get you to do that. He fucked will be aware of male voices A low one octave well over 101 100 do dio dio So it is case and I don't think that that the voice suit more body about Let's let's see, dude, it's well here. Dio dio trace the midrange during the O gives your presence and the finish. But it did you to do that. But the frequencies around five okay, duped up way have to be careful not, but it sounds like a telephone. Todo todo better. Better you hear Geo little beach. Que Maybe that I'm talking about BB. Dude, that's common. You know, I could have some high frequency. Oh, but today did you do that? But never blame. This will give you right. Do do do Do do Ah, that is like that. Okay, won t be. So you know, this was recorded with good a microphone. Dude, you know I am cured. But today sit around here, dude. Dio dio dio I don't like it. Sounds like a box or so that it Didn't they do that? They've it'll be double. But it did dio but ever do, do do do do Ah, but today maybe Dio dio but dude buttered Okay, dude. So in this way we can use the equalizer exactly in the same way to add just or voices. Of course, I could do this in a mawr aggressive way, but you have to be careful. It's way too much more than 12 db So that way they call up little steps around three steps . Wait a little, a little more to to listen for the really affect it. And then if you decide that you need more accu and just apply a little bit more, but it's better to remain conservative in this way. 11. SkillEQ11: Okay, well, this is the last part. I'm going to show you. Um, a whole project you're going to mix this song. Do, uh So there's bound. You have vocals, Brahms, brass piano sold. The point is that you have to make your own practices. I want to show you I have equalized the hold song, Every single track I want to show you. I have a different politization schemes for different instruments. So if you want to hear the difference without any que gives more, uh, clarity, that's the idea. So, um, I want to give you, ah, one last advice. That's ah, very important. It's called to compensate and let's tried with the kick drum, for example. In this case, if I'm using on equalization, I have to be sure that Ah, my overall loudness is not affected. So that's why we have this gain in every equaliser to compensate for that. For example, if I take this out, the volume changes. So if I notice a change in volume, I need to compensate lowering board, increasing the gain. You know, it's like the volume because the goal is that the volume is not effective with the cue For example, let me say that I used this kind of extremely aggressive Acura Equalization. Yes, to show you something like that, that the version without Q, it's ah, softer. So I need to compensate my cube lower in the game. So when I compared, I could compare with same loudness or similar loudness. So in this case, I have to lower the game because I boosted too many frequencies. But if I was guarding, then the opposite applies. You know, if this if this was my equalization, then I need to increasing gain to compensate for my, uh Q. So that's ah, pretty much the point. And I hope you can enjoy the song I prepared for you and see you next time.