Audio Recording Techniques - Equalization

This white paper presents key guidelines for equalization in audio recording and mixing.

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Correlative Creative White Paper - Audio Recording Techniques Equalization - Frequency Spectrum

Frequency Spectrum

Non-Musical Range
0 Hz - 40 Hz
Generally unusable in the mix.
0 Hz – 40 Hz Cut to:
  • Clean up the mud and enhance clarity.
  • Add clarity to harmonic content

Low Bass Range
40 Hz - 80 Hz
The first usable octave for recording.  Gives a sense of power to the mix.
40 Hz – 80 Hz

Gives music a sense of power.
Boost to:
  • Gives music a sense of power.
Cut to:
  • Clean up the mud and enhance clarity.
  • Add clarity to harmonic content.

Bass Range
80 Hz - 250 Hz
Determines the fullness and fatness of the mix.
80 Hz – 125 Hz

Add sense of power to bass instruments and vocals.  Also can contribute to boominess.
Boost to:
  • Add power to bass instruments and vocals.
Cut to:
  • Reduce boominess.
160 Hz – 250 Hz

Bass and bass instruments fundamental frequency range.
Boost to:
  • Add warmth.
Cut to:
  • Increase power and clarity of mid range instruments.

Lower Mid / Bass Presence Range
250 Hz – 500 Hz
Defines the clarity of bass instruments.  Low-end range of string and percussion instruments.
300 Hz – 500 Hz Boost to:
  • Increase clarity of bass instruments.
Cut to:
  • Reduce boxiness in higher range instruments.

Mid Range
500 Hz – 2 KHz
Equalization commonly centers around 800 Hz and 1.5 KHz
500 Hz – 1 KHz

Strings, keyboards and percussion fundamental frequency range. One of the most important ranges when shaping natural sound.
Boost to:
  • Accentuate the voice of the instrument.
Cut to:
  • Reduce the “horn-like” quality of the instrument.
800 Hz – 1 KHz
Boost to:
  • Accentuate and warms up instruments.
Cut to:
  • Reduce the “horn-like” quality of the instrument.

Upper Mid Range
2 KHz – 4 KHz
Equalization commonly centers around 3 KHz
 2 KHz – 4 KHz
Boost to:
  • Make brighter.
Cut to:
  • Reduce tinny quality.
  • Reduce listening fatigue.

Presence Range
4 KHz – 6 KHz
Makes vocals and instruments sound closer or more distant. Equalization commonly centers around 5 KHz.
4 KHz – 6 KHz
Boost to:
  • Make vocals and instruments sound closer.
Cut to:
  • Make vocals and instruments more distant.

Treble Range
6 KHz – 20 KHz
Adds air to the mix.  Equalization commonly centers around 7 KHz, 10 KHz and 15KHz.
4 KHz – 10 KHz

Good range affecting percussion.  Also contributes to adding transparency and distance to the sound.
Boost to:
  • Accentuate percussion, cymbals and snares.
8 KHz – 20 KHz

This range often defines the quality of the mix.  This range can help define depth and add “air.”
Boost to:
  • Add more air.
Cut to:
  • Reduce shrill and brittleness from mix.
Correlative Creative White Paper - Audio Recording Techniques Equalization - Vocals

Vocals

Critical Ranges Affecting Vocals
80 Hz – 125 Hz Boost to:
  • Gives vocals a sense of power.
Cut to:
  • Clean up the mud and enhance clarity.
160 Hz – 250 Hz Boost to:
  • Enhance vocal fundamentals.
315 Hz – 500 Hz Boost to:
  • Enhance vocal quality.
630 Hz – 1 KHz Boost to:
  • Accentuate the voice’s natural sound.
Cut to:
  • Reduce the honky or telephone-like quality.
1.25 KHz – 8 KHz Boost to:
  • Increase intelligibility of the vocals.
2 KHz – 4 KHz Cut to:
  • Increase intelligibility of the certain vowels.
3 KHz To highlight vocals in the mix, boost the vocals at this range and simultaneously cut instruments at this range.

7 KHz Cut to:
  • Reduce sibilance (“S” sounds) of voice.
12 KHz - 16 KHz A narrow boost centered between this range, will add air to vocals with minimal effect to sibilance or other vocal characteristics.

Correlative Creative White Paper - Audio Recording Techniques Equalization - Guitar

Guitar

Guitar Spectrum
82.4
87.3
92.5
98.0
103.8
110.0
116.5
123.5
130.8
138.6
146.8
155.6
164.8
174.6
185.0
196.0
207.6
220.0
233.1
246.9
261.6
277.2
293.6
311.1
329.6
349.2
370.0
392.0
415.3
440.0
466.1
493.8
523.2
554.3
587.3
622.2
659.2
E - open 6th string
F
F#
G
G#
A - open 5th string
A#
B
C
C#
D - open 4th string
D#
E
F
F#
G - open 3rd string
G#
A
A#
B - open 2nd string
C - "middle C"
C#
D
D#
E - open 1st string
F
F#
G
G#
A - 5th fret on 1st string
A#
B
C
C#
D
D#
E - 12th fret on 1st string
Critical Ranges Affecting Guitar

75Hz – 100 Hz

High pass at this range.

Cut to:
  • Clean up the mud and enhance clarity.

200Hz – 300 Hz

Boost to:
  • Enhance the low end.

400Hz – 1 KHz

Mid Range.  Likely the most critical shaping range.

Boost to:
  • Enhance the natural sound of the instrument.

1 KHz – 4 KHz

Upper Mid Range

Boost to:
  • Brighten up the guitar.
Cut to:
  • Reduce harsh brightness (ice-pick).

4 KHz – 6KHz

Presence range

Boost to:
  • Bring guitar forward in the mix (sound closer).
Cut to:
  • Push guitar back in the mix (sound more distant).
Correlative Creative White Paper - Audio Recording Techniques Equalization - Bass Guitar

Bass Guitar

Critical Ranges Affecting Bass Guitar

35Hz – 60 Hz

High pass at this range.

Cut to:
  • Filter out detrimental rumble and inaudible frequencies that add bass energy without contributing to the quality of the mix.

60Hz – 120 Hz

Fundamental bass frequencies.  This range defines how fat or thin the tone will be.  Too much will add boominess to the mix.

Boost to:
  • Adds fullness.
Cut to:
  • Make the tone thinner.
  • Reduce boominess.

120 Hz – 250 Hz

Fundamental bass frequencies.  Too much will add mud to the mix.

Boost to:
  • Adds fullness and warmth.
Cut to:
  • Reduce mud.
  • Allow the bass’ mid range to be more pronounced.

400 Hz – 800 KHz

This range can affect finger-picked playing.

Boost to:
  • Possibly adds clarity and quality to finger-picked bass.

800 Hz – 2 KHz

Mid Range.  Brightens up the bass and allows it to better cut through the mix.

Boost to:
  • Allow the bass to cut through the mix.
Cut to:
  • Reduce brightness and harness.
  • Allow the bass’ low end to be more pronounced.


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