One of the most important aspects of mixing music in a live venue or in the studio is the use of equalization. The other day I wrote about how to tweak your guitar amplifier EQ settings. Today I’m going to write about the effect of equalization on other parts of the mix.
Having a good EQ at your disposal with your P.A. or home studio is one of the most important pieces of gear you can have. It seems like every time I play in a different venue I have to change the EQ of the main P.A. system. Every room has unique sound characteristics and in order to have your band sound the same from room to room you will have to make changes on the EQ. Mackie makes a fantastic EQ called the
Mackie Quad EQ 4-Channel Digital Graphic Equalizer. It’s an extremely powerful live Equalizer that will let you analyze the room with a built in pink noise generator and a microphone input. By generating pink noise through the P.A. and putting a microphone out in the room the Quad EQ will give you a visual readout of the frequency response of the room. This is the easiest way to make sure your EQ settings are consistent from room to room. By boosting or cutting specific frequencies you will be able to get the same frequency response in every room you play. The nicest thing about setting your main EQ like this is you won’t have to touch individual instrument, channel or board master EQ’s at all after they’ve been set at one room. The Quad EQ will also give you a visual readout of frequencies that are causing feedback allowing you to cut those frequencies and eliminate the feedback. It really is a must for proper live sound.
If you’re mixing music at home or you’re searching for a great live mix you should know which frequency ranges affect which instruments. Bob Dennis has written a great table that outlines each frequency range and which instruments they most prominently affect. You can check out his article here: Equalization Key Frequencies.
Now that you have some reference for your EQ settings all you have to do is listen and decide what you like to hear. One way I approach EQ’ing is by listening to some of my favorite album mixes. I then try to match what I’m hearing on my own music. It all comes down to what sounds good to you and having a good EQ at your disposal will let you find that perfect mix.