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Thread Should EQ come before or after compression?

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icetone

icetone

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First post
1 Posted on 11/13/2014 at 10:47:20
Simple question. Still getting the hang of this mixing thing :lol:

I've seen people say eq before, and others say alwasy use compression first. Does it even matter? should the order be different for different applications?
clinicallyguitarded

clinicallyguitarded

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2 Posted on 11/14/2014 at 07:38:31
There's not exactly a one-shoe-fits-all sort of solution. However, in general it's a good idea to compress BEFORE you EQ.

If you have compression settings predetermined for certain scenarios, but place this compression ahead of your EQ, the EQ could affect how your compressor will react to your track and ultimately, might not sound the same. However, if you compress first, the compression won't change the way your EQ works, as the same cuts and boosts will occur on the same frequencies.

That doesn't mean compressing after EQ will always sound worse or different. It may not even make a difference. But aside from certain scenarios (i.e. if you sing way too close to your mic and pick up lots of low end from the proximity effect, then it might be a good idea to cut the excessive lows before EQing), it's usually a good idea to compress first
EQlikeaboss

EQlikeaboss

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3 Posted on 11/15/2014 at 02:09:46
This is actually a great question. The order depends based on the specific application.

[*] Subtractive EQ before Comp:[newline]
Subtractive EQ can be thought of as a way to soften your signal, then you would compress your tamed signal. Here, it's ok for the compressor to come after as it's only working on the frequencies that you're most concerned with.

[*] Subtractive EQ after Comp:[newline]
This method would make the compressor work harder as it's addressing all frequencies, both tame and excessive and nasty. This may be the sound that you're after, you have to experiment to see how you like it, but then you would tame your frequencies after the whole signal has been feed into your comp.

[*] Boost EQ before Comp:[newline]
Similar to the last example, but even more exaggerated as you're feeding even MORE to your comp. This might be desirable, as you can manipulate certain reactions from your comp by feeding more of a boosted frequency range. (again, one of the easiest ways to notice this change is feeding lots of low end to your compressor for a really strong effect)

[*] Boost EQ after Comp:[newline]
This might be a more polished approach, as here, your comp controls your signal making it easier to safely cut or boost the desired frequency ranges, as you will get an even and more dependable response.

[*] A typical workflow:[newline]
For a vox track, I often hipass up to 120-160Hz before compressing, then maybe tame a specific freq, eg. -1db at 700hz, then compress again before boosting for air, eg. +1db at 20K.

Even given my user name, I'm not the expert on EQ or compression, but this is my approach. It's important to learn the nuances between each approach and experiment to fine-tune your own, unique style. good luck
Mike Levine

Mike Levine

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4 Posted on 11/15/2014 at 07:18:02
Great info, thanks for sharing it.
angelie

angelie

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5 Posted on 11/15/2014 at 08:04:30
Woow i couldn't explain it any better.
Great job and thank you.

- Angelie

It's not about what you got to use ....    but how you use what you got...

[ Post last edited on 11/15/2014 at 08:04:48 ]

icetone

icetone

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6 Posted on 11/17/2014 at 04:24:50
Wow thanks for putting the time into that post, it really helps me understand. But I have one hopefully not stupid question to ask regarding your first point. When using subtractive EQ before any compression, wouldn't the compressor try and compensate for this, as compressors are basically meant to sort of level-off a tracks dynamics? So would it boost the frequencies that I just subtracted?
EQlikeaboss

EQlikeaboss

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7 Posted on 11/17/2014 at 07:48:10
Quote from icetone:
Wow thanks for putting the time into that post, it really helps me understand. But I have one hopefully not stupid question to ask regarding your first point. When using subtractive EQ before any compression, wouldn't the compressor try and compensate for this, as compressors are basically meant to sort of level-off a tracks dynamics? So would it boost the frequencies that I just subtracted?


No. A compressor evens out the dynamics of a track by using gain reduction to level the overall signal. It won't boost cut frequencies, certainly not to the same extent that it would lower the gain in louder frequencies in order to even out overall dynamics. A good general rule of thumb to follow when compressing is that the most prominent frequencies that stand out will typically be far more affected than any subtle frequencies
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