How to EQ a Pop Rock Song

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The acronym EQ, in audio terminology, stands for equalize. Learn how to EQ a pop rock song with help from an experienced audio engineer in this free video clip.

Part of the Video Series: Guitar & Professional Audio
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Video Transcript

What's going on, guys? My name is Joey Biagas, and I'm an audio engineer and musician of about seven years now. And today, I'm going to show you how to EQ a Pop song. So, let's get to it. Alright, so, let's go ahead and EQ a Pop song. But I first, have to say that there's no correct way on EQing a Pop song, or just EQing in general. There are some techniques to know, which I'm going to go through right now, but there's no proper, absolute correct way. Now, I'm also using a program called T-Rex,and it has its own equalizer in the program. Now, I do also have to say that you can use any EQ, because most EQs have similar parameters within each of them. So, it's just knowing the techniques. Aright, so, let's go ahead and dive right into this. Now, I'm going to play you a clip of a song that, that we're using for an example, it's one of my songs, and, yeah, so, let's start it. O.k., you get the point, that one's called Contagious Love. But what one popular technique is called sweeping for frequency. And this is to either, to boost frequencies or to cut frequencies. Now, what I mean by boost, is obviously raise the volume of certain frequencies and cut is to lower the volume of certain frequencies. And by doing that, you need a little notch. And then, what I like to do is, I like to raise them dramatically. Raise the notch dramatically and then, slowly move from frequency to frequency, until we find what we're looking. Now, sometimes in Pop songs, there's a little bit of muddiness somewhere around you know, 200 hertz to 500 hertz. It really depends on the song and the mix, because it could be even outside of that range. It's just about finding that frequency that you don't necessarily agree with, or even vice versa. Finding the frequency that you do agree with and you do want to boost up. Alright, so, let's go ahead and focus in, on these, these lower mids right here. So, I'm going to raise this drastically, you know, about nine dB or so, maybe not so much. But, just so we can really hear the frequency and find, find some muddiness. O.k., so, let's play it. So, I'm going to, I'm going to play the song and then, I'm going to sweep through it. And what sweeping through means, is I'm going to move this knob here, which controls where this notch is boosting in what frequency. So, we're going to be boosting eight point seven dB. It's currently at three seventy three, which is what I originally found, that I did not like so much. But let's sweep through it anyway, just to double check. O.k., so, could you hear how, where I originally had it somewhere around three sixty five, three seventy, there's this boost of a little bit of muddiness that we just really don't need. And so, I'm going to go ahead and attenuate that, and I'm going to bring it down. And since this is just, we're EQing, this is like a mastering phase of EQing. Normally, you can EQ individual tracks in the mixing phase, but since this is a two track, this is usually of the mastering phase, it's an overall mix. You don't really need to, to be too dramatic about it, but do you know, maybe negative three point five would work. Let's take a listen. O.k., and if you noticed, I was turning it off and on to see what we originally had. That's what I love to do to, I love to A and B what I'm doing. So, I can tell if, what I'm doing actually does make a difference, or if it's what I kind of want from what I previously had. So, I;ll be doing that throughout this tutorial here. But as you can see, it's just a soft, little, little touch to it, when I attenuated it and I turned it back, off and on. It's not a huge, huge difference, but it does bring down a little bit of that muddiness, it kind of makes the vocals sing out a little better. I just thought that the base was just a little bit too much and there's just a little bit of muddiness in that area. So, let's move onto what I found before, which is two point two seven, was a little bit too harsh as well. So, I'm going to play and I'm going to raise the frequency and sweep through it, to double check if that's correct. O.k., so, you heard that, that was about right, somewhere from two point two kilohertz, I think, the guitars were a little bit too harsh in that area. So, you just, just drop it down to about negative three point two dB. O.k., now, I'm going to move onto another EQ, it's the same one, it's just, I put two in the same chain, just to kind of keep things separated. And so, I'm going to switch over to that one. O.k., so, don't be confused with it being reset, because what we, what we attenuated is still there, it's just on this other EQ here, see, see what I mean. Alright, now that I've gone through the confusion, let's kind of sweep through a little bit more of the low mids. Because I still feel like there's a little bit of, a little bit of boom, maybe somewhere around this area, five hundred and thirty seven hertz. O.k., so, lets sweep that. O.k., yes, it's somewhere around 537 hertz, it had a little bit too much boxiness. O.k., so, now, let's go ahead and continue onto some, some highs, o.k. So, let's focus somewhere around nine hertz here, or nine kilohertz here, alright. O.k., I think, that is sounding pretty good, just somewhere around nine kilohertz was the sweet spot. And when you're attenuating and you're sweeping and obviously, we raised it up, nine dB for that, so we could drastically hear that sweet spot. Obviously, we're not going to keep it there, we're going to bring it back down. But we're going to, we're going to boost it up, about three point seven dB. So, nothing too drastic, but we do want, I did want to raise up some of the high end. Just so, it feels nicer, it feels fuller, it feels, because of all the muddiness and boxiness that was from earlier. Although, we did attenuate it, raising up some, a little bit of, some of the higher end, kind of helps round up that entire feeling, o.k. So, that's basically it, there's not much else to it, that's all I needed for the song. Now, let's go ahead and give a quick listen to before and after. I'm going to turn off both of these EQs and then, turn them back on, just by simply clicking on these, o.k., so, let's check it out. Alright, now, I'm much happier with the end result, now that we've got that done. That's pretty much it, now you know how the pros do it. Now, you can EQ your very own Pop song. If you do have any other questions, please let us know.

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