Question I never understood about EQ

So Wednesday I was at Elevation church’s studios observing Jeff Sanchez mix a Lauren Daigle track. I noticed he did a trick you often see Dave Pensado do where you stack 3 different EQ’s and have each one of them do a little bit of work. Since several Waves admins and product specialists were also standing around, I meant to ask this question afterwards, but as hectic as things were that day, I just forgot. From what I’ve observed, Chris Lord Alge is the opposite (in his Slate videos and in the MTWM classes) and seems to make much more aggressive broad sweeping EQ strokes.

Of course I understand the difference between surgical EQ at the front of the chain and tone shaping EQ at the back. And I see the purpose of a chain like this

Surgical EQ/Filter -> Surgical Dynamics -> Tone Shaping EQ -> Tone Shaping Dynamics -> More Tons Shaping EQ

But why this? Basic compressor -> EQ -> EQ -> EQ

Unless you run out of bands, why can’t you take an 8 band EQ and just make all the adjustments from one EQ? The dude was using the same EQ?

Forget about dynamics for a sec. Lets say we have this on a vocal chain:
EQ1: (HP Filter @ 120) + (-2 db low shelf cut @ 240) + (-1.5 db cut bell cut at 700) -> EQ2: (-3 db cut at 400)

How is that mathematically any different than this:
EQ1: (HP Filter @ 120) + (-2 db low shelf cut @ 240) + (-1.5 db cut bell cut at 700) + PLUS + (-3 db cut at 400)

…the difference being that the second thing was done with the same EQ?

…and also. What happens here:
EQ1: -2db @ 400 hz. EQ2: -2db @ 400 hz.


EQ: -4db @400 hz

@bozmillar, can you chime in here on how an EQ algorithm works? Or how some of this might make sense?

The only difference in doing a bunch of EQs in series is that you change your approach in the way you do it, which leads to a different end result. In my mind, the reason it makes sense to do it this way sometimes is because with each instance of the EQ, you are EQing it as if it were a printed track.

When you look at a parametric EQ with 7 bands, whether we want to or not, we look at the entire curve to make choices about what we are doing. If you EQ it, then open up a new EQ, you are no longer looking at the entire curve. Each EQ is then doing a single job, and it makes it easier to compartmentalize why you applying what.

For example, I know that when I’m eqing, if I feel like there’s too much mid range, but I already see that I scooped out a ton, I’m going to be weary of taking out more, because it feels like I’m doing something wrong. If I’m looking at a blank EQ and hearing that I need to take out some mid range (even if I already took it out a bunch in a previous EQ) I can do it without feeling any guilt or questioning my choice. It just a mind game, and mixing, at least for me, is 80% mind game and 20% technical. So anything we can to help ourselves trick our minds into making better mixes faster is fine.

A parametric EQ is literally a bunch of filters in series. So 2 parametric EQs in series is just more filters in series.

Mathematically it’s the same. Psychologically it is not.


For clarification, if the same EQ plugin is set to the same bell curve is the effect of a cut/boost a 1 to 1 cumulative?

-2db at 400 hz + -2db at 400 hz = -4 db @ 400 hz? I can hear what its doing but I can’t tell if its a simple additive calculation.

Ok. I almost never do this. I just try and make a more extreme cut. I’ve seen Dave Pensado do crazy stuff on the ITL like stack three L1 limiters back to back on a single bass guitar, each with a decreasing release time. I’ve seen Chris run out of EQ bands on his console then jumper two channels together to give himself more EQ lol. I try to do as much as I can with one EQ before moving to the next one.

I love the Massenburg and the Fab Filter. Also really like the Massive Passive. I guess at this point for sheer ease of dialing them in. Curve Bender, Millenia, and Pultec for broad decorative finishing sweeps. I’ve been using the Neve, Helios, API vision, SSL E, and UA 610 EQ strip for saturation and grit.

Like @ColdRoomStudio, the C6 was one of my desert island plugins. But I’ll probably start using the F6 more since seeing what it can do at the certification training thing.

It’s just easier. It’s a workflow thing. Use the first EQ to get in the ballpark, but then when you want to fine tune it, the psychological problem is seeng the Qs or GEQ bands all over the place, and then trying to adjust a control that is already doing 12db of cut. Much easier to insert another instance and ‘pretend’ that the other one isn’t there, and that you are starting from scratch, but this time with a source sound that is much nearer to the sound that you actually want.

To be honest I didn’t know that some of the big boys do it, I thought it was just something that I did.

Yes, it’s the same thing if the Q is the same. Many EQs change their Q as the boost/cut value changes, so if you test this out, it might not give you the same results. But you should be able to match it up pretty well by adjusting the Q.

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I had someone asking me this exact question yesterday when he pointed out I had multiple EQs in a row that could have been performed by one EQ.

For starters, shit happens, and as I’m building a mix, I might bring in another EQ without even thinking. Or there might be a compressor between the two EQs that I decide to ditch. There’s no sonic penalty that I pay for two instances of EQ in a row, so it’s not a big deal if that happens, and there could be times where it’s just easier.

There can be all sorts of cases where 2 EQs in series could easily be performed by 1 EQ. But I’m not going to stop everything to combine them. If it’s all working then it doesn’t matter if there are 2 EQs in a row.

Mixing isn’t a clean linear process in which you work on one thing at a time. Everything is interdependent in a mix, which makes it a far more circular process.

On many vocal chains, I’ll have as many as 4 compressors with an EQ ahead and behind each of them. This is especially true if it was compressed on the way in,. For whatever reason, plugin compression just works better when you do a little at at time in series, and the EQ acts as a tone control on the way in or out of each subsequent compressor.

Enjoy, #Mixerman

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