January 30, 2023
Understanding the Vocabulary Associated With Equalizers

What is Eq.? Eq., short for electronic signal processing, is digital electronic processing of the physical frequency spectrum in sound recordings to adjust the perceived balance of certain characteristics, that include bass, warmth, clarity or depth. When properly used, it can have quite a large effect on the perceived sound quality of a music recording and is a key element of music audio engineering. 

It is often misunderstood by users of music production software and heard as something else entirely, such as’amplitude expansion.’ Although this may be true for some programs, such as Nuendo, Pro Tools and Cubase, and is the primary function of many analogue audio interfaces, the term’eq’ can apply to any digital interface that alters the level of digital noise, which is also the main function of some of today’s modern digital mastering equipment.

Basically, electronic signal processing (also called equalization) uses filters and equalizers to enhance or decrease the strength or sharpness of particular characteristics. For example, you might use an equalizer to make the sound more bass heavy or to make the sound brighter. 

Electronic equalization uses complex mathematical algorithms to control the way that different frequencies are added or subtracted from a signal, so that the resulting waveform has the desired strength. Using complex mathematical equations, the eq boosts or cuts specific frequencies according to what the user wants.

How do we define an Eq? An Eqiser is a device that employs an EQ to compensate for lacking (or uneven) frequency response or to boost or cut specific frequencies. It can also be used in conjunction with compressors and limitors. Some people consider an Eq to be a compressor/limiter in one unit. Basically, an Eq increases or decreases the output of a signal without affecting the other characteristics of the signal.

What is FFT? FFT ( Frequency Thresholding Tracking) is a simple equalizer that measures the minimum and maximum frequencies of an audio spectrum. The frequency of any note will be swept through the range of frequencies generated by the device.

This method is usually used as a means of producing flat response. Some people view FFTs as providing “sonic” quality in their sound. Others view them as providing a “factory” equalizer with adjustable crossover points.

What is Acoustic Reflection? Acoustic Reflection is an electronic equalizer that alters the high frequencies of a sound in order to create a perceived thickness or “weight” in the final mix. In effect, the EQ moves a signal’s energy mid-frequency and high frequencies so that all notes are played in a similar fashion.

What is Acoustic Reflection? This can be a double edged sword. While using high-frequency eq to “stretch” or move a sound’s energy, it also has the potential to suppress certain emotions. Perhaps you’re working on a song and realize that some of the instruments aren’t sounding quite right. 

Rather than push these instruments toward a more gruff tone, experiment with the use of a lower-frequency equalizer such as an acoustics fade to add a smooth, warm element to the mix.

What is Acoustic Reflection? Some folks argue that low cut filter sweeps should not be included in the equation of equalizers. These people argue that although low cuts filter out unwanted frequencies, they do so by lowering the overall volume of the mix. Because of this, using an equalizer with a high cut filter can actually cause some sounds to be amplified, resulting in what many call “pumping”. 

By raising the volume of one component, unwanted frequencies are dropped to prevent the same sound from being heard over a wide area.

What is Acoustic Reflection? It can be difficult understanding some of the terminology involved when discussing EQ. Basically, a high cut filter essentially cuts off lower frequency frequencies while a low cut filter cuts off higher frequency frequencies. 

Equalizers with both low and high cut bands utilize phase shifts to achieve their results. To better understand the difference between frequency filters, take a listen to the song or production you’re attempting to listen to and try to decipher the differences.

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