Effects of Equalization – 1/3 octave center frequencies

Sub Sonic (31 to 63 Hz)

  • These very low bass frequencies are felt, rather than heard, as with freeway rumbling or an earthquake.
  • These frequencies give your mix a sense of power, even when they only occur occasionally.
  • However, overemphasizing frequencies in this range will result in a muddy mix.
  • The 50 or 60 Hz band reject of AC hum.
  • Increase 50 Hz for clarity.
  • Decrease – 50 Hz to reduce boom.
  • Reduce rumble with High Pass filter at 30 Hz

Bass (60 Hz to 250 Hz) 

  • Because this range contains the fundamental notes of the rhythm section
  • Changes will affect the balance of your mix, making it fat or thin.
  • Too much emphasis will make for a boomy mix.
  • Increase 100 Hz for hardness.
  • Decrease 100 or 125 Hz for hum rejection.
  • Increase for 3rd harmonic mains
  • Decrease for hum rejection and to reduce boom effect

Low Mids (250 Hz to 2 kHz)

  • To emphasize the lower portion of this range and de-emphasize the upper portion.
  • Boosting the range from 250 Hz to 500 Hz will accent ambience in the studio
  • Increase to add clarity to bass and lower frequency instruments.
  • The range between 500 Hz and 2 kHz can make midrange instruments (guitar, snare, saxophone, etc.) “honky,”
  • Too much boost between 1 kHz and 2 kHz can make your mix sound thin or “tinny.”
  • Within the range of 315 to 500, increase 400 Hz for clarity.
  • For 630 to 1k, increase 800 Hz for clarity and punch.
  • Also within 1k to 2k decrease 600 to 2 kHz to reduce horn effect.

High Mids (2 kHz to 4 kHz). 

  • The attack portion of percussive and rhythm instruments occurs in this range.
  • High mids are also responsible for the projection of midrange instruments.
  • Increaase 3000Hz for bass punch.
  • Decrease the 2 to 4 kHz range to reduce “listening fatigue”.

Presence (4 kHz to 6 kHz). 

  • This frequency range is partly responsible for the clarity of a mix and provides a measure of control over the perception of distance.
  • If you boost this frequency range, the mix will be perceived as closer to the listener.
  • Attenuating around 5 kHz will make the mix sound further away but also more transparent.
  • Increase 1.25 to 6 kHz governs clarity and definition. and 5k to 6k for more finger sound on bass.
  • Decease 5 kHz to makes more distant and transparent and Reduction of tape hiss and system noise.

Brilliance (6 kHz to 16 kHz). 

  • While this range controls the brilliance and clarity of your mix.
  • Boosting it too much can cause some clipping, keeping an eye on main meter.
  • An increase can cause sibilance and clarity, plunk, harmonics and punch.
  • Decrease for the reduction of tape hiss and system noise.

Summary of adjustments that will affect different sound characteristics:

Instrument What to Cut Why to Cut What to Boost Why to Boost
Human Voice 7 kHz Sibilance 8 kHz Big sound
2 kHz Shrill 3 kHz and above Clarity
1 kHz Nasal 200-400 Hz Body
90 Hz and below Popping P’s
Piano 1-2 kHz Tinny 5 kHz More presence
300 Hz Boomy 100 Hz Bottom end
Electric Guitar 1-2 kHz Shrill 3 kHz Clarity
90 Hz and below Muddy 125 Hz Bottom end
Acoustic Guitar 2-3 kHz Tinny 5 kHz and above Sparkle
200 Hz Boomy 125 kHz Full
Electric Bass 1 kHz Thin 600 Hz Growl
125 Hz Boomy 90 Hz and below Bottom end
String Bass 600 Hz Hollow 2-5 kHz Sharp attack
200 Hz Boomy 125 Hz and below Bottom end
Snare Drum 1 kHz Annoying 2 kHz Crisp
150-200 Hz Full
90 Hz Deep
Kick Drum 400 Hz Muddy 2-5 kHz Sharp attack
90 Hz and below Boomy 60-125 Hz Bottom end
Toms 300 Hz Boomy 2-5 kHz Sharp attack
90-200 Hz Bottom end
Cymbals 1 kHz Annoying 7-8 kHz Sizzle
8-12 kHz Brilliance
15 kHz Air
Horns 1 kHz Honky 8-12 kHz Big sound
120 Hz and below Muddy 2 kHz Clarity
String section 3 kHz Shrill 2 kHz Clarity
120 Hz and below Muddy 400-600 Hz Lush and full


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