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Audio systems and media players are one of the places where you can find an equalizer. In fact I’m sure we have all had the experience of trying to use an equalizer in an audio system or media player.
Another place where you can find an equalizer is in audio production software. Equalization is one of the audio production techniques that is used by professional producers all around the world to make songs sound good for the listeners.
Equalizers have been a part of audio systems and audio production software since frequency modulation was discovered.
Manipulating the frequencies in a song to make it sound good is a technique used by professionals for controlled music production. Various types of equalization techniques are used to carry out these processes in audio production software.
Every track should undergo equalization to make it sounds good for the listener. Equalization is carried out in audio production software by a music producer. The frequency spectrum of the whole song is analyzed to yield a better sounding track in equalization.
Just knowing that a song needs equalization is one thing, but understanding why and how it’s used, in projecting the ideas of the artist, will aid in creating a more immersive song creation experience.
Let’s take a deeper look at the reasons why every track should be equalized shall we,
7 reasons for equalizing a track
- Translates well in all speakers
- Makes space for all instruments
- Creates clarity in the mix
- Extenuates the mood of the song
- Reduces the low-end rumble
- Eliminates resonant frequencies
- Lower the muddy mid frequencies
Let’s look at them one by one.
Translates well in all speakers
When you are equalizing a particular track, the ultimate point of doing this is to create a track that can translate well in all sound systems.
Sometimes if a song is not equalized properly, it can be difficult to translate adequately in all speaker systems, in the same way it was played during production. Ultimately you will have different results in different speakers.
Equalization makes sure that you are getting the same result in every speaker system your song is played in. This is why every music producer will tell you to check the tracks in your car speakers, home theatres, and computer speakers.
While doing this you will find out if the track is properly equalized or not. If it’s not equalized properly, you will hear significant differences while the song or audio track is being played in these different systems.
This is one of the main reasons why equalization in a song is very important, prior to it being released commercially.
Without equalization, you might lose many details when the song is translated over different speakers. You can easily find mistakes in equalization yourself in most cases.
Makes space for all instruments
Musical Instruments make the song complete in a mix. They are the structural elements in a song. Often music producers will encounter a problem where a lot of instruments are fighting for space in the same frequency spectrum, of say 499Hz to 700Hz.
Making sure that these frequencies can be split and allocated to different instruments is one of the main reasons why equalization should be done on every track.
Equalization creates space for all the instruments by the allocation of different frequencies. When looked at from an outside perspective, people wouldn’t understand the importance of equalization, as it’s often seen as just another way to add more space to the song.
This is not the same in the eyes of a music producer.
A music producer has to look into the deeper ends of every frequency to make sure there is no clash in harmonies and there is no clash in chord changes in the frequency spectrum. This makes equalization an important part of audio processing.
Spatial dimension in a song can make or break the convening message in a song. This can be easily explained by the audio processing for a sound from underwater.
You can’t hear high frequencies when a sound is made underwater. Equalization is used to cut these high frequencies and add the effect of sound being muffled.
Creates clarity in the mix
Every music producer has a horror story or two of how they ruined the song by not focusing on the clarity of the mix in an audio track. This is almost always due to not placing enough importance and emphasis on equalization.
You cannot have all the frequencies that are recorded during a recording session in the end output of an audio track. There have to compromises made to ensure that all the frequencies fit perfectly inside the frequency spectrum in order to create clarity in the mix.
Nobody wants to hear a song that is completely distorted or just has instruments put together that create a bunch of noise.
This is the main reason why every track should be equalized before it is send for mastering. Even in the process of mastering, equalization is added in small amounts to make the track shine even more.
If a normal person with untrained ears can distinguish the instruments in a song and point them out, then the mixing engineer has done a great job in equalizing the song.
If not, then the song has to be equalized properly, not just for the music producers’ ears, but for a normal person to be able listen and enjoy the song.
Extenuates the mood of the song
In most songs, you would require certain filters to say the story of the audio track. One such example would be creating sound effects for movie scenes that require you to add background noise.
You should be able to separate both the background noise and the main voices in the track, by using specific filtering techniques in equalization.
This makes sure that the mood of the song is maintained throughout the track.
Reduces the low-end rumble
Bass frequencies tend to operate in the frequencies band of 30Hz to 400Hz. They are dominant in these areas. When they are untreated and not optimized through equalization, you might hear a rumble and noise. This has to be corrected through equalization.
Eliminates resonant frequencies
Resonant frequencies are another nightmare for producers. It’s nothing more than the same sound being repeated over the frequency spectrum in an interval. This can be completely avoided by properly recording the instruments.
In some cases, if the problem persists, sweeping through the bell curve in audio production software over the frequency spectrum is needed.
Lower the muddy mid frequencies
If low-end rumble is a problem, then you have the next region from 400 – 800Hz, where you can find frequencies that are straight noises, but give fullness to the track. It can pose a challenge in deciding whether to cut them out or leave them in.
If you cut them too much you lose the quality of the instruments in the track. If you don’t cut them, it will occupy space in the mix, lowering the clarity of the elements in the audio track.
What is the point of EQ?
EQ is an audio technique used to extenuate or suppress a frequency of sound in the audio spectrum. Equalization is a process that is carried out in every audio production project to produce high-quality tracks.
How much EQ is too much?
The moment you start to lose the flair and natural sound of an instrument is where you have to stop EQ’ing, and focus on other techniques to make the song sound better.
Which equalizer setting is best?
There is no one size fits all setting when it comes to equalizer settings. Every song would have a genre and a specific equalizer setting that is preferred by the people who listen to it.
Should you EQ or compress first?
You should always EQ the track first before compression. This ensures that the unwanted frequencies don’t cause problems in the compression stage and are also eliminated in the equalization stage.
Equalization should be part of every music production process and implemented in every track. If you are looking to equalize a song or learn equalization, it’s important to understand that you have to train your ears to perfect this craft.
Equalization in most cases, can make or break the success of the song. It’s very essential to equalize the song according to the needs of the track.