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EQ tips Cheat Sheet by fredv

Tips for equalization. By frequency, by instrument with a glossary.

EQ Frequency breakdown (1/2)

<= 30HzVirtually undete­ctable, you can safely cut these freque­ncies
40-60HzSub bass Freque­ncies. "­Fee­l" only
60-200HzAdd for tom "­boo­m". Cut to decrease bass "­boo­m"
80HzBoost for the kick drum lower end to cut through the mix. Notch most other instru­ments here. Rolling off the electric guitar here is advisable
80‐200HzBoost bass instru­ments for presence. Boost will add warmth and fullness to guitars, vocals and horns
100Hz-4kHzScoopi­ng/­not­ching instru­ments here will provide room in the mix
<=120HzAdd for warmth. Too much will sound muddy
120-125HzTop of the range for most subwoo­fers. Also the low end of music such as kick drums and bass guitar. Bottom end of acoustic guitar and piano. Add for warmth
120-600HzBoost for strong vocal presence. Causes problems with vocal resonance and fatiguing
200HzSlight boost for depth. Cut to reduce muddiness. This is a good area to get the "­gon­g" out of cymbals.
240HzBoost to fatten the snare. Boost acoustic guitars slightly to add fullness. Scoop vocal here if muddy. Notch filter here can add thump to a kick drum
350-400HzCut to remove the "­car­dbo­ard­" sound of drums - Notch the bass guitar a little bit to reduce presence
0.6-3kHzProvides presence, but are hard in nature. Good for rock.
800HzBoost the bass guitar for punch. Cut the electric guitar to remove the "­che­ap" sound
2-4kHzIn this area you can emphasize the "­sma­ck" of the kick's beater
2.5kHzGood for adding to a dirty guitar for some real sizzle. Boost this area for bass guitar if using the pop/slap style
2.5-5kHzBoost for clarity with an acoustic guitar and piano

EQ Frequency breakdown (2/2)

3-7kHzThis is the area where vocal sibilance resides. Boost slightly to add sense of "­vol­ume­" It also adds a harshness that is partic­ularly fatiguing. Add warmth without loss of clarity by attenu­ating this region a bit
4kHzBoost vocal here for presence
4-9kHzBright­ness, presence, defini­tion, sibilance, high frequency distortion
4.5kHzExtremely tiring to the ears, add a slight notch here
5kHzAdd a crisp, sharp "­cra­ck" to the snare. Also a good place to add some attack to the toms. Cut on background parts to make them sink in to the back a bit
>=7kHzAdd for the sense of quality and accuracy for cymbals. Too much output will come off as lacking defini­tion. Cut vocals to decrease sibilance
8-12kHzCut or Boost to adjust brightness for cymbals and acoustic guitar
9-15kHzAdding will give sparkle, shimmer, bring out details. Cutting will smooth out harshness and darken the mix
10kHzBoost to add "­air­" and clarity to acoustic instru­ments


EQ Instrument breakdown

Vocalspresence (5 kHz), sibilance (7.5 ‐ 10 kHz), boom (200 ‐ 240 kHz), fullness (120 Hz)
Electric Guitarfullness (240 Hz), bite (2.5 kHz), air / sizzle (8 kHz)
Bass Guitarbottom (60 ‐ 80 Hz), attack (700 ‐ 1000 Hz), string noise (2.5 kHz)
Snare Drumfatness (240 Hz), crispness (5 kHz)
Kick Drumbottom (60 ‐ 80 Hz), slap (4 kHz)
Hi Hat & Cymbalssizzle (7.5 ‐ 10 kHz), clank (200 Hz)
Tomsattack (5 kHz), fullness (120 ‐ 240 Hz)
Acoustic Guitarharshness / bite (2 kHz), boom (120 ‐ 200 Hz), cut (7 ‐ 10 kHz)

EQ Helpful suggestions

Embrace the idea of “notch­ing”, when in doubt, cut instead of boosting.
Allow instru­ments to have their own “space” in the frequency spectrum; don’t make them fight for it.
Understand that instru­ments of the same type can and will sound different, EQ accord­ingly.
EQing WILL NOT save your mix; you can't EQ out bad sound.
Cut freque­ncies below 90Hz for vocals, they add little to the mix except mud
Listen to 15 minutes of well mixed audio before any mixing session
Limit Stereo Width to 30% except special effects
Don't forget the noise gate
The old RIAA AES mechanical rule for vinyl was to cut at 47Hz and 12k, and some great recordings were made this way. Human perception at extreme highs and lows is not all that accurate or sensitive, and a little goes a long way

EQ Glossary

Attenu­ationthe reduction of a signal level
Bandrange of freque­ncies
Boostselected frequency levels are amplified
Cutselected frequency are attenuated
Presenceincreasing causes the sounds of voices and such instru­ments seem more "­pre­sen­t"
Qdescribes the shape of the EQ curve (higher Q = narrower range, lower Q = wider range)
Sibilancerefers to the hissing "­s","s­h","z­", or "­zh", sound of the human voice
Warmthsound where the bass and low mid freque­ncies have depth and where the high freque­ncies are smooth sounding opposed to aggressive or fatiguing

Thanks to Tikmerd
As well as dB Masters @


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DaveChild DaveChild, 10:02 28 Nov 11

Very cool, Fred! I knew nothing about equalisers and after reading this I feel like I've learned something!

Pete Pete, 12:24 12 Jan 12

Invaluable chart, thanks for posting it!

david david, 14:13 13 Jan 12

This is really cool. I do a lot of recording, and this gives me some great ideas on how to improve the sound!

JLR0309 JLR0309, 12:20 31 Dec 12

I'll be using this for my guitar, cheers. :)

Joel Joel, 17:45 17 Feb 14

Very good but one thing, of course you can EQ out bad sound!

l.brooker l.brooker, 13:08 30 Apr 14

does anyone know how to get rid of unwanted bass sound from noisy neighbours electronicaly

Orestes Orestes, 12:23 1 May 14

Bass sounds from neighbours tend to propagate quite far and through walls. I was going to suggest noise cancelling headphones (over-ear might help in this bass-y case).
If it's a really loud neighbour, best thing would be to go talk to them politely and explain you can hear their bass through the walls...Good luck!

DickPope DickPope, 18:42 10 May 14

There are a few good tips in this, but in the most cases it's better if you use your ears. Take it with a grain of salt.

Alper Alper, 10:11 26 Jun 14

That chart really helped me .Thanks !

Lowell Lowell, 11:13 8 Sep 14

God bless you!, Your advice is more useful than the;
1. Ten books I've purchased claiming to be the guide to a "Pro mix"
2. The racks of one particular music magazine and it's less than professional end result.
3. The three educational DVD I posses.
4. All those real pro’s doing all those B.S. interviews on Youtube, but not really telling sH@t.
You’re the Man!

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