Graphic EQ tips and techniques

Graphic EQ tips and techniques (and how to get precise results)

EQ is the most basic editing tool available, and a graphic EQ is the easiest to use EQ tool. But is a more precise tool available?

If you read much on, you'll know that I think EQ is an important tool in working with sound. A graphic EQ is a way of seeing EQ. It tries to make it a little easier to use.

Does it? 

The short version: yes, but with limited power.

This is not a re-run of what EQ is and how it works. (Click on the link for that.)

Quick refresher:

Sound is built of frequencies. 

We often need to make adjustments to help things sound better. EQ (aka equalization) comes to the rescue by letting us zero in on a few specific frequencies. This makes the music sound better.

Graphic EQ tips and techniques

Operating one is simple - move a slider corresponding to a specific frequency.

The sound spectrum is divided into between 3-30 "bands." A band simply means a specific zone that will be adjusted by a single slider.

A band is the same thing in a graphic or a parametric EQ - a specific zone of adjustment. In a parametric, you have more control over which frequencies are affected. A graphic is more limited - whatever frequency the slider works on. That's usually similar to a band pass filter in a parametric EQ.

What happens when you find yourself boosting or cutting a lot in one place? This could end up sound unnatural. Try boosting or cutting the surrounding bands. (Of course, make that less than the first one.)

Most EQ plugins come with presets. They are helpful at solving common problems, such as electrical hum (60 Hz hum). Check out the presets. You may be able to start with one and customize it to exactly what you need.

My last tip is more of a cop out than a tip. I'm sorry.

Learn to use Parametric EQ!

I'm serious. If you are serious about getting a good sound, you will want to learn to use a parametric EQ.


As I said earlier, a graphic EQ is easy to learn and use. But it's not as easy to get precise results. 

How are the two kinds of EQ different?

In the end, they both do the same thing. They boost or cut frequency ranges to balance the final output.

The difference is in how they go about choosing which frequencies to change. A graphic unit works with predetermined ranges. That makes it harder to experiment. 

If you know already what adjustments the music needs, it will be fine. But if you're like me, you need flexibility to find the exact problem spot in the sound spectrum.

A parametric unit lets you sweep back and forth until you find the right area

So if parametric is so much better than graphic...

Why use it instead of parametric?

It's simple and quick.

Your car stereo may have a graphic EQ - highs, lows, and mids. It's not as critical to have precision in the car, and those are the rough adjustments that make the most sense. Plus when you're driving, it needs to be quick.

I recommend that you find both kinds of EQ in your software. Experiment with them both. Am I right? Or am I wrong?

Discover more about Parametric EQ

About the Author Lee Weaver

Lee started his career in recording with an auspicious goal - record tracks of his own voice singing in harmony. As a hobby project, it didn't have the funding to go to a studio and pay for someone to do it for him. Like many of you, he pulled himself up by the bootstraps to learn the art of recording.

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