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Ask, October 2011

October 1, 2011
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Each audio channel in Steinberg Cubase 6 includes four bands of EQ, and each band can have any of eight possible responses.

Each audio channel in Steinberg Cubase 6 includes four bands of EQ, and each band can have any of eight possible responses.

From everything I''ve heard, equalization is crucial to getting a good mix, and I want to become more proficient at using it. But what with the different responses (shelving, notch, bandpass, etc.), and even different categories like “character” EQ vs. “surgical” EQ, I could use some help sorting this all out.
TOMMY BEHR
INDIANAPOLIS, IN
VIA EMAIL

Check out the screenshot at right for a whirlwind tour. A shelving response (1) drops the response at a particular frequency, but then the response flattens out again. This provides a gentle overall emphasis (or in this case, de-emphasis) of the bass and/or treble ranges.

The peak/dip (also called bandpass/notch) response fixes problems in specific frequency ranges, like reducing a resonance with a dip (2), or improving intelligibility of a muffled vocal with a moderate boost at 3.5kHz (3). A peak or dip''s Q setting determines the range it covers—(2) shows a high Q for a narrow dip, while (3) shows a low Q for a broad boost.

A lowpass filter (4) reduces response more as the frequency increases, which can help remove hiss or excessive brightness; a highpass filter works in the opposite manner, reducing response more as the frequency decreases—great for attenuating room rumble or subsonics.

“Character” EQ refers to a response like that of the classic Pultec hardware equalizer, which imparted a unique character that was more about a gentle tonal change than extreme technical accuracy. “Surgical” EQ generally means highly precise EQ intended primarily to solve particular frequency response problems. You might also see the term “phase-linear” EQ, which means there''s no phase shift between the input and output, as was often present in older analog gear.

To translate this theory into practice, tweak, listen, tweak, listen, then tweak and listen some more . . . before too long, you''ll learn how EQ affects the sound, and know which type of EQ is optimal for particular situations.
—The Editors

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