EQ sweeping – way to get rid of character

EQ sweeping comes up often when audio people start discussing equalization techniques. And on the surface, there’s nothing better and more effective. Fans will say it’s great for either finding “problems”, or finding sweet spots to boost. Think about it. You set up a bell filter with a reasonably narrow band (high Q). Boost it to about 10 dB. Then you start sweeping the frequency range from low to high. And then back again. If anything pops out at you, like suddenly gets louder and sort of busier, just turn ’em down. Easy as pie, right? Let’s see what actually happens during EQ sweeping.

EQ sweeping – way to get rid of character

eq sweepingSo how come the sound jumps out at you at certain points? Well my friend, it’s because there’s resonance present. Ahh, so that’s what it is! Resonance is bad, right? When you hear a bad speaker cabinet or a non treated room, that’s usually the problem. They often resonate at certain frequencies. That makes the frequency response uneven. Which is far away from the ideal, flat response we desire. At least when it comes to speaker cabs and rooms. But man, these are instruments! Their very nature is to resonate here and there. Uneven frequency response is part of their character. With EQ sweeping, you can effectively take away part of that character. Often quite a big part.

EQ sweeping – way to get rid of character

So yep, with EQ sweeping you can screw up your sounds. If lifeless is your goal, that shouldn’t bother you though. But what else is there? There are these funny things called notes. Or, going by the correct term, they are actually tones. Don’t look at me so clueless. I mean the pitches being played on the instruments. So what’s with these? Nothing special, mate. Except that the fundamentals of them are exactly what we discussed above. They are resonance points. They are the main ones, actually. Which means they are the loudest point. So when you dive into EQ sweeping, you can effectively dampen all the notes that are being played. Cause for sure they’re all going to sound like “problems”. Wtf, right? You keep sweeping, notching the living shite out of the mix. Just to finally end up with something flatter and uninteresting. On the other hand, there might be an actual room resonance present. Or something like an obtrusive snare ring, or a guitar wolf tone. The bad news is, EQ sweeping won’t be able to eliminate these. Only a different recording approach can. Damn.

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