Dynamic Equalization

Example #1

The hi-hat can sound slightly aggressive and sometimes overshadow some of the other music.

Using traditional tools, you could use an EQ to insert a notch filter to cut somewhere around 5 k and adjust the Q (width of the band) appropriately. This lets you attenuate the hi-hat slightly.

Dynamic EQ provides an ideal solution.

  • Insert a notch filter at 5K and a Q=1 which is about 4 to 6 K.
  • The compressor settings for 5K Hz is Attack @ 0.5ms and Release @ 20ms.
  • Now, you can precisely affect only the frequencies where the hi-hat resides, cutting with this filter dynamically as the hi-hat is active.
  • This solution is transparent because of its deep control in both frequency and time.

Example #2

Subtle Shine

Sometimes the mix is missing some brightness that needs to be boosted during a performance.

With a dynamic EQ, you can boost more aggressively without overloading the listener.

  • Use a shelf filter (HS12) for 3K Hz.
  • The compressor settings for 3K Hz is Attack @ 0.5ms and Release @ 20ms to adapt to the song, backing off slightly as elements like cymbals and snares emerge.
  • You can boost the top end of your song beyond where a static EQ filter would allow, while not introducing a harshness to your master.

Unique Features of Dynamic EQ

Inverse Mode

The previous examples, the DEQ acted like a multiband compressor: As audio exceeds the threshold, boosts and cuts are reduced, thus compressing the dynamic range of the affected frequencies. However, you can also flip this logic so that the filters respond more like an expander. In inverse mode, boosts and cuts occur as signals exceed the threshold increasing them the further they do.

If you wanted to bring out the snare in a mix, you could adjust a filter to boost at the appropriate frequency and set the dynamic settings to respond to the level of the snare hits. Now, the boosting filter will only activate when the snare is present, thus expanding the dynamic range of these frequencies. (Conversely, a cutting filter in the same scenario would only attenuate these frequencies when the snare wasn’t present, acting much like a gate.)

Static Gain Offsets

An additional feature you’ll find on many dynamic EQs is the ability to boost and cut gain both statically and dynamically with the given filters. As dynamic EQs often share many paradigms of EQs and are used in similar ways, it is sometimes useful to make a more traditional boost or cut with a filter as well as dynamically controlled boosts and cuts to ensure certain results.

For example, if you’re looking to boost the top end of your mix as in the Subtle Shine example above, you may want to ensure that the shelf filter is continuously or statically boosting 1dB and dynamically boosting between 1 and 3 dB. These static gain offsets give you much greater control over how dynamic filters behave.

Although we’ve provided some specific use cases, dynamic EQs are beneficial any time you’re looking to process your audio transparently—in other words, you’re looking to solve a problem or achieve an effect in a way that the processing has no artifacts and is unperceivable to the listener. We hope you’ve found these guidelines useful, and we encourage you to fully explore the capabilities of a dynamic EQ yourself.

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