How to EQ Any Instrument

What is an equalizer? It is volume for frequencies.

What are frequencies? They are periodic vibrations that are audible to the human ear. In layman’s terms, they are the parts that make up a sound wave.

Equalizers were invented originally for telephone systems. They were used to increase audible perception of electrical signals that are sent over long distances. Without the help of EQ, telephone calls would be frustrating to understand.

In the same way, equalizers help audio engineers create better audio signals. Could music be made without equalizers? Sure. You would need access to a large microphone selection and place it in the perfect spot in front of a high quality instrument along with using high fidelity (expensive) microphone preamps.

Most of us don’t have the luxury nor the time, so equalizers are a great substitute for audio that wasn’t recorded perfectly.

EQs are also employed during the recording process for the very same reasons. Even if a studio has a large collection of microphones and very nice preamps, they may not have the time to audition each microphone to hear which one works best for a particular instrument or voice. EQs are time and money savers.

So, how do you use them? My favorite way is layed out in this video:

I use that technique in every mix because it simply works. Now…what are some of my favorite equalizers? Watch these videos:

I have an affinity for clean equalizers like DDMF IIEQ Pro at the start of a chain. Then a “character” equalizer like an API 550b, Neve 1073 or Pultec next. Rounding everything off, a nice dynamic equalizer after compression may be needed. So yes, I am a fan of serial EQing to get the job done.

None of this matters if what you’re hearing isn’t accurate. So, before touching any EQ make sure that your speakers are calibrated and your room has been properly treated.

Author: Adam

Adam is a professional photographer, videographer and audio engineer. He started Real Home Recording back in 2011 and in 2017 launched Don't Go to Recording School.