It’s no secret that Equalization is a major role in getting a good mix but I see many people using it in the wrong way. I’ve read forum posts where people were asking about EQ charts and what the best way to EQ instruments were. Honestly there is a better way…
Identify The Problem
Here’s my non-technical approach to EQ.
The best thing to do at first is to try and identify any problems. Because why would you grab an EQ, if you really don’t need one. Do you hear something you don’t quite like? Is there something “rubbing up against” your vocal that is making it sound flat and muddy. If the vocal sounds great on its own, but sounds masked when the guitars are in the mix, then it’s probably safe to say that there is a problem with the guitars and the vocals. This is where EQ can help
I would say that this is best way to initially approach EQ, which is to fix a problem. You should never look at EQ as “well this guy says you should EQ something so that means I have to”. You shouldn’t be making EQ moves because you read a chart on line that said you should use one. If the Track sounds fine, that I would suggest just leaving it.
Find Your Answers to the Problem
It seems like as time goes on, we humans just have no patience at all for the art. We’re really looking for a quick fix solution to make our tracks sound great. This type of mentality usually leads to questions like “How should I mix my vocals”. I’m not trying to pick on anyone here, it’s really just a thought because even I do this. Again, we are conditioned as humans to think this way.
Ultimately no one can tell you how to technically EQ something because everything is a case by case basis. You must discover the answer to your specific track (and mix) in question. If you feel like something is off or out of place, than maybe that’s a good indication that something needs to be fixed. What you are trying to do is get the tracks to a point where they don’t interfere with one another so that the track sounds clean and clear.
Going the Distance
Now EQ is not just a corrective tool as it can paint many colors onto your track (or canvas). It’s not always about solving problems, it’s about creating art and having fun too. It’s also about creating new and different tones that helps give a new sound and dimension to your song.
Ultimately the listener doesn’t care what the frequencies sound like and neither should you. You should be focus on the music, exactly how the listener hears it. A good example is if you want the snare to have a little smack, you need to go out and discover how to get it to do that. It’s a thing of discover and not an equation.