Everything you hear is made from a combination of frequencies. Sounds bounces around and interacts with your environment in many ways before reaching your ear (or microphone). Some say that the best way to get a great natural mix is to make things recorded with a microphone sounds the same as they would naturally in a real acoustic setting. For this purpose we can use an Equalizer, or EQ, to manipulate those frequencies to sound more natural.
Equalizers are mainly used to attenuate (remove) or boost certain problematic frequencies. For example, every object has a resonant frequency which it naturally vibrates at. Whether that object is a guitar, a wall, a water bottle, or anything else, there is one frequency that causes the object to resonate. The human larynx (voice box) typically has a resonant frequency around 500hz. An EQ can be used to remove unnecessary frequencies picked up by a microphone such as those below 80hz or to lower “room” tones which may be around 500hz. They can also add crispness or brightness around 8-15k.
There are quite a few different types of EQ’s, but there are really two main types with several subsets. The two main types are Graphic Equalizers and Parametric Equalizers. The difference between the two is that (fully) Parametric EQ’s can be used to select which ever frequency you wish to adjust, while Graphic EQ’s have set ranges of frequencies which can be adjusted. A guitar pedal EQ, for example, would be a Graphic EQ, while a mixer channel strip EQ (usually) is Semi-Parametric, meaning that some of the frequency selections can be changed. Within the Parametric type of EQ’s, there are several different filter which can be used to manipulate frequencies in different ways.
Hopefully this guide to EQ’s has been useful. I tried to minimize the amount of technical jargon I used to make it as understandable as possible while still going into detail.
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