Equalizer is one of the most powerful tools in your virtual mixing desk. With it, you can make a huge difference how your mixes will sound.
There’s various equalizing techniques as well and one such is a method called EQ sweeping.
In this tutorial I will show you how to use EQ sweeping to find & fix problematic areas in the frequency range and also how to use it to find those sweet spots to make an instrument or sound to really stand out.
Using EQ Sweeping For Fixing Problematic Frequencies
First, you need to identify WHAT exactly doesn’t sound right in your mix. Generally speaking, EQ isn’t something you HAVE to use in every single sound: listen to your mix first – if it sounds good, don’t do anything to it. No need to use EQ then.
However, if there’s something that sounds bad, unbalanced or just not right, try to identify the problem as accurately as possible: WHY it sounds so bad? What’s actually wrong with it? For example, let’s say a lead synthline you’re using in your mix is sounding ‘nasal’ in a bad way – you feel it just doesn’t seem to fit in the mix. Try to keep that in mind: your target is to fix the excessive nasality out of the lead synthline.
Now, the problem is, you can’t tell what the exact frequency area is that is causing the nasality in this sound. This is where the EQ sweeping comes in.
Pick a Fruity Parametric EQ 2 (for EQ sweeping you’ll need a fully parametric EQ and in FL Studio, PEQ2 is PERFECT for such use) and drop it to the lead synthline mixer track. Leave only one peaking filter band there and disable all the other six bands. Set the band frequency to around 30Hz (this is just the starting point for the sweeping – it can be anything actually), gain to 10-12dB and bandwidth to something narrow like 10-15%. Try not to set the bandwidth too thin, because that’ll cause more resonance around the center frequency and more artifacts to the sound and that will make it harder to identify the actual problematic frequencies.
Ok. Play back your mix, and slowly increase the peaking filter frequency – sweep it across the frequencies – (it may help you to focus if you close your eyes while sweeping) until you start to hear that problem getting WAY worse and STOP right there: you have identified the problematic frequency area and it’s time to fix the problem.
Drop the peaking filter gain to 0.0dB and before you start cutting, let your ears rest a few seconds. I’ve found this is useful because listening excessively boosted frequencies – even for a short period of time – kind of makes ears ‘out of balance’ for a second.
Alright. Now to the cutting. Start by lowering the gain maybe 1-2dB for starters and keep decreasing until you’re satisfied. Experiment with the bandwidth settings as well to find a range where the annoying frequency gets fixed without affecting too much to the surrounding frequencies. Remember that the more wider you will set the bandwidth, the more neighboring frequencies it will affect.
And that’s it.
So in a nutshell: excessively boost a narrow section of frequencies to find the problem and then eliminate it by cutting.
Using EQ Sweeping For Finding Sweet Spots
EQ sweeping can also be used for finding a ‘sweet spot’. Sweet spot is a specific range of frequencies which makes the most important part of the instrument sound good – defined and clear. It’s different on every instrument and you just need to learn to use your ears to find it. I cant give you whole lot of recommendations as I haven’t yet completely mastered this skill myself either, but here’s how to apply this technique anyways:
While listening your mix, let’s say you’re not satisfied with your kickdrum. You decide that it could have a little more punch and high end ‘click’ to shine through the mix (of course, lot of depends how you have mixed other instruments in relation to kickdrum – are there any overlapping frequencies, how’s the volume levels etc. But let’s just assume that all the other sounds in the mix are somewhat in balance).
Drop a Fruity Parametric EQ2 to the kickdrum track, leave two peaking filter bands (one for the punch and the other for the ‘click’) and disable all the other bands.
First target is to increase the punchiness of the kickdrum. Set the band frequency to 20Hz, gain to 12dB and bandwidth to something narrow (15-20%) – basically the same settings as with finding the problematic areas.
Play back your mix and slowly start to increase the band frequency. Sweep around the 100-200Hz range. Usually the punch is in that area (depending on the kick of course).
When you find a spot that makes the punchiness of the kickdrum to really stand out (exaggarated of course due to the excessive boost), drop the gain to 0.0dB, take a few seconds pause to let your ears ‘recover’ and then increase the gain to a point where the punch of the kickdrum sounds sweet in the mix.
Experiment with the bandwidth controller: tweak it between wide & narrow and try to find a setting that gives the most natural transition to the boost.
Wider bandwidth gives more natural sound, but it also boosts the surrounding frequencies thus making it harder to focus on a specific frequency. Narrower bandwidth yields more ‘targeted’ result, but might sound a bit unnatural – if there IS a such thing as unnatural in electronic music.
Ok. The punchiness is there. Now for finding the area that makes the kick ‘click’.
It’s the same method as above, but use the second peaking filter band instead and start sweeping around 6-8kHz area. That’s where you’ll find the click most likely.
That’s it. Hopefully you found this guide useful. 🙂
Watch the video tutorial below: