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Chapter 4 Equalizers

4 Equalizers

In the beginning there was sound, and the plug-ins made them equal

After basic gain controls, equalizers seem to be the most ubiquitous audio processors in recording gear, live-sound rigs, broadcast, right down to your car stereo. Yet for as much as we see them (and use them), many novice engineers aren’t sure what to do with them.

Most equalizers are designed to either cut in very poorly defined and broad strokes, such as the “treble” and “bass” tone controls of your car stereo, or to dial in overly precise measurements like +1.2dB at 187 Hz with a plug-in on your vocal track. To make matters worse, we are often taught to reach for these tools to adjust the tone of a sound according to arbitrary descriptions.

You might be asked to make a sound “brighter” or “warmer” without agreement about what those terms mean. Does warmer sound mean more lows, more harmonic content, or something else entirely? Where does “brighter” stop and “shrill” begin? The controls on the devices won’t help since they don’t measure sound in such helpful adjectives. So unless you know what all those Hz, Q, kHz, and dB numbers are supposed to mean, it can be confusing.


  

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