EQ carving – it’s the death of a (good) mix

EQ carving is something you have surely heard about. Even if you’ve just started out. I assume that you frequent audio related forums or meet people that are only half-clueless about the whole recording/mixing stuff. Chances are pretty high that they’re gonna tell you about their secret tips and tricks. These usually include advices regarding how to shape this or that sound with EQ. Forcefully. Is this kind of EQ carving what mixing music is all about?

EQ carving – the death of a (good) mix

Well, my friend, tweaking the knobs of an EQ is a helluva fun. It’s just not what mixing should mainly be about. EQ carving of course has its place. It’s when something needs major correction. That’s when you have nothing else left but to modify the sounds you’ve been provided with.

EQ carving – the death of a (good) mix

eq carvingSo there are those stories you’ve heard about doing EQ carving sort of automatically. Like adding 60Hz to the kick, rolling off low end or taking away 200Hz from everything. They should be taken with a grain of salt. The reality is, each and every track is different. At least to an extent. There are of course similarities. But they are usually not great enough to make EQ moves automatically. Without taking several actual, deep listens to the music itself. The “density” of the arrangement and the quality of the recorded tracks should guide your ears. If you listen with an open mind, you’ll know when to EQ. More often than not, you’ll hear that certain tracks need only very little adjustment. Some of them will need none. The whole idea of mixing is not to change the living crap out of what’s been recorded. Rather, you just need to help the original idea to get through as good as possible. The zen of mixing is to reach a point. At this point, your goal is to do as little as possible. In other words, to leave the tracks as thick, as dry and as raw as possible. If you wondered why some of the tracks mixed by big name engineers sound so good and organic, well, that’s why.

EQ carving – the death of a (good) mix

With EQ carving, you can change that ideal state. In the end, you may get a chaotic sounding mix, with elements that are very small. Taking away too much will result in taking away actual tones. Like chord tones, melody and bass notes. Also a lot of harmonics. They are there because of room resonances and all kinds of distortions. Let these remain intact, and let the music do its job.

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