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81 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here is a cheat sheet of basic settings I found on the web, handy for beginners but can be handy for the pro's too.

These are not golden rules but they can help you to get things right. However all recordings will need their own tweaks to get the desired sound.

Thanks to the many people that contributed to this ....

EQ basics
20 Hz and below - impossible to detect, remove as it only adds unnecessary energy to the total sound, thereby most probably holding down the overall volume of the track
60 Hz and below - sub bass (feel only)
80(-100) Hz - feel AND hear bass
100-120 Hz - the "club sound system punch" resides here
200 Hz and below - bottom
250 Hz - notch filter here can add thump to a kick drum
150-400 Hz - boxiness
200 Hz-1.5 KHz - punch, fatness, impact
800 Hz-4 KHz - edge, clarity, harshness, defines timbre
4500 Hz - extremely tiring to the ears, add a slight notch here
5-7 KHz - de-essing is done here
4-9 KHz - brightness, presence, definition, sibilance, high frequency distortion
6-15 KHz - air and presence
9-15 KHz - adding will give sparkle, shimmer, bring out details - cutting will smooth out harshness and darken the mix

60Hz with a Q of 1.4 -- Add fullness to kicks.
100Hz with a Q of 1.0 -- Add fullness to snare
200Hz - 250Hz with a Q of 1.4 -- Adds wood to snares
3Khz with a Q of 1.4 -- Adds attack to snare.
5Khz with a Q of 2.8 -- Adds attack to Kicks
7Khz with a Q of 2.8 -- Adds Sharpness to snares and percussion
10Khz with a Q of 1.0 -- Adds brightness to hats and cymbals

Kick drums I usually cut the bass below 90 to keep the phatness without conflicting with the bass
I usually notch somewhere around 250 which seems to clear up a bit of muddiness
cut all sounds below 20hz as they also muddy up the mix.

kick drums which I cut below 75Hz.

For your vinyl masters make a harsh cut at 12khz or preferably de-esser in that region.(this applies to mastering tasks for vinyl only)
for cd masters, that gives the desired air on top.

The 4500hz region is the main content of any human vocals. So if no one understands your voice sample and you want it to be understood, boost it.

To find the sweet spot of a sound...

solo it.

make the q as small as it will go and boost the eq 6dB and sweep the frequency untill you really hear the sound come out (usually on the attack).

then reduce the amount of q and gain.

this also works if there is something you want to get rid of in a sound.. find that sound by using this same method and reduce the gain.

if you want to add OMMPH to the kick or snare.

tune an oscillator to the same pitch as the kick or white noise to the snare.

and KEY it with the Kick or the Snare and it will add that ommf your looking for.
heard a lot in hip hop on the kicks and in the 80's on the snare..

another way of doing it if you don't know how to key an oscillator... is just get a sample and have it play at the same time as the kick or the snare.. the keying just does that for you. hehe

Something that often gets over-looked is COMPARING to the original. Whenever you re-EQ something you NEED to be able to cut everything you've just done and compare it to the original sound. Theres no use doing it if you can't look back on how it was to see why you EQ'd it in the first place.

Basically make sure whatever you use to EQ has some form of bypass so you can flip between before-after. If you have something that will take 'snapshots' then thats even better as you can listen to a few different versions of EQ setting to see which fits best.

probably one of the most important things to remember with eq if you ask any engineer; i haven't seen anyone mention it, so i will.

when it comes to eq, try as hard as possible to use a cut rather than a boost. this will give you more room to work with. one of the most common uses for eq is to resolve conflicting instruments. rather than boosting the one that you want to stand out, try cutting the frequency in the instrument that doesn't quite require it.

but i normally cut off kicks at 80-100 (with a not-too gentle roll off) and take a big piece out at 300ish. i also usually boost snares aroung 150-200 and 1000-1500. 150-200 is where the meat of the snare is, and 1000-1500 is where the snap is.

Boost or Cut? Or both in combination?

I just recently read an article that recommended EQing sounds in the mix (not solo) and then finding the most prominent frequency range (by sweeping a heavily boosted paramteric EQ) and boost that just as much as needed to bring out the target sound in the mix, not more.

Then use a heavily cut parametric EQ and sweep below the frequency you just boosted, to see if you can find a frequency range that is good to cut in order to bring the target sound out in the mix even further.

I find I often use cutting frequencies to remove irritating ringings, rumble, noise etc but I don't think I've thought about it in terms of actually listening if it brings out the sound more in the mix by subtracting some of the frequencies of said sound.

on some sounds where it seems too sharp & hurts your ears, lower/notch it at around 3KHz

i definitely think that its best to start by cutting frequencies rather than boosting as this gives you a lot more room to play! you can allways boost things a bit more later if you need more OOMPH in that freq range!

fatness at 120-240Hz
boing at 400Hz
crispness at 5kHz
snap at 10kHz

Voice: presence (5 kHz), sibilance (7.5 - 10 kHz), boominess (200 - 240 kHz), fullness (120 Hz)
Electric Guitar: fullness (240 Hz), bite (2.5 kHz), air / sizzle (8 kHz)
Bass Guitar: bottom (60 - 80 Hz), attack (700 - 1000 Hz), string noise (2.5 kHz)
Snare Drum: fatness (240 Hz), crispness (5 kHz)
Kick Drum: bottom (60 - 80 Hz), slap (4 kHz)
Hi Hat & Cymbals: sizzle (7.5 - 10 kHz), clank (200 Hz)
Toms: attack (5 kHz), fullness (120 - 240 Hz)
Acoustic Guitar: harshness / bite (2 kHz), boominess (120 - 200 Hz), cut (7 - 10 kHz)

EQ>Cut below 80Hz to remove rumble
Boost between 80 -125 Hz for bass
Boost between 3 - 5kHz to get the slap
PROCESSING> Compression 4:1/6:1 slow attack med release.
Reverb: Tight room reverb (0.1-0.2ms)

EQ> Boost above 2kHz for that crisp edge
Cut at 1kHz to get rid of the sharp peak
Boost at 125Hz for a full snare sound
Cut at 80Hz to remove rumble
PROCESSING> Compression 4:1 slow attack med release.
Reverb: Tight room reverb (0.1-0.2ms)

EQ> Boost above 5kHz for sharp sparkle
Cut at 1kHz to remove jangling
PROCESSING> Compression use high ratio for high energy feel
Reverb: Looser than Bass n Snare allow the hats and especially the Rides to ring a little

Compressed, EQ'd with a full bottom end and some mids

I find myself often having to boost the midrange in my drums lately, last night I did a track and had to put a +3 dB EQ in the 800-3000 Hz range on the final mix (obviously not the most optimal choice but I'll fix it in the sequencer later with specific channel EQing and so on).

EQ Reference: Frequencies

Boost: To thicken up bass drums and sub-bass parts.
Cut: Below this frequency on all vocal tracks. This should reduce the effect of any microphone 'pops'.

Boost: For bass lines and bass drums.
Cut: For vocals.
General: Be wary of boosting the bass of too many tracks. Low frequency sounds are particularly vulnerable to phase cancellation between sounds of similar frequency. This can result in a net 'cut of the bass frequencies.

Boost: To add warmth to vocals or to thicken a guitar sound.
Cut: To bring more clarity to vocals or to thin cymbals and higher frequency percussion.
Boost or Cut: to control the 'woody' sound of a snare.

Boost: To add warmth to toms.
Boost or Cut: To control bass clarity, or to thicken or thin guitar sounds.
General: In can be worthwhile applying cut to some of the instruments in the mix to bring more clarity to the bass within the overall mix.

Boost: To thicken vocal tracks. At 1 KHz apply boost to add a knock to a bass drum.

Boost: To make a piano more aggressive. Applying boost between 1KHz and 5KHz will also make guitars and basslines more cutting.
Cut: Apply cut between 2 KHz and 3KHz to smooth a harsh sounding vocal part.
General: This frequency range is often used to make instruments stand out in a mix.

Boost: For a more 'plucked' sounding bass part. Apply boost at around 6KHz to add some definition to vocal parts and distorted guitars.
Cut: Apply cut at about 3KHz to remove the hard edge of piercing vocals. Apply cut between 5KHZ and 6KHz to dull down some parts in a mix.

Boost: To sweeten vocals. The higher the frequency you boost the more 'airy/breathy' the result will be. Also boost to add definition to the sound of acoustic guitars or to add edge to synth sounds or strings or to enhance the sound of a variety of percussion sounds. For example boost this range to:

Bring out cymbals.
Add ring to a snare.
Add edge to a bass drum.

Boost: To make vocals more 'airy' or for crisp cymbals and percussion. Also boost this frequency to add sparkle to pads, but only if the frequency is present in the original sound, otherwise you will just be adding hiss to the recording.

Specific Instruments


Roll off below 60Hz using a High Pass Filter. This range is unlikely to contain anything useful, so you may as well reduce the noise the track contributes to the mix.

Treat Harsh Vocals:
To soften vocals apply cut in a narrow bandwidth somewhere in the 2.5KHz to 4KHz range.

Get An Open Sound:
Apply a gentle boost above 6KHz using a shelving filter.

Get Brightness, Not Harshness:
Apply a gentle boost using a wide-band Bandpass Filter above 6KHz. Use the Sweep control to sweep the frequencies to get it right.

Get Smoothness:
Apply some cut in a narrow band in the 1KHz to 2KHz range.

Bring Out The Bass:
Apply some boost in a reasonably narrow band somewhere in the 200Hz to 600Hz range.

Radio Vocal Effect:
Apply some cut at the High Frequencies, lots of boost about 1.5KHz and lots of cut below 700Hz.

Telephone Effect:
Apply lots of compression pre EQ, and a little analogue distortion by turning up the input gain. Apply some cut at the High Frequencies, lots of boost about 1.5KHz and lots of cut below 700Hz.


Get Definition:
Roll off everything below 600Hz using a High Pass Filter.

Get Sizzle:
Apply boost at 10KHz using a Band Pass Filter. Adjust the bandwidth to get the sound right.

Treat Clangy Hats:
Apply some cut between 1KHz and 4KHz.

Bass Drum

Apply a little cut at 300Hz and some boost between 40Hz and 80Hz.

Control The Attack:
Apply boost or cut around 4KHz to 6KHz.

Treat Muddiness:
Apply cut somewhere in the 100Hz to 500Hz range.


Treat Unclear Vocals:
Apply some cut to the guitar between 1KHz and 5KHz to bring the vocals to the front of the mix.

Apply a little boost between 100Hz and 250Hz and again between 10KHz and 12KHz.

Acoustic Guitar

Add Sparkle:
Try some gentle boost at 10KHz using a Band Pass Filter with a medium bandwidth.

Try applying some mid-range cut to the rhythm section to make vocals and other instruments more clearly heard.

kick>> bottom depth at 60 - 80 Hz, slap attack at 2.5Hz

snare>> fatness at 240HZ, crispness at 5 KHz

hi hats/cymbals>> clank or gong sound at 200 Hz, shimmer at 7.5 kHz - 12 kHz

rack toms>> fullness at 240 Hz, attack at 5 kHz

floor toms>> fullness at 80 - 120 Hz, attack at 5 kHz

horns>> fullness at 120 - 240 Hz, shrill at 5 - 7.5 kHz

strings>> fullness at 240 Hz, scratchiness at 7.5 - 10 kHz

conga/bongo>> resonance at 200 - 240 Hz, slap at 5 kHz

vocals>> fullness at 120 Hz, boominess at 200 - 240 Hz, presence at 5 kHz, sibilance at 7.5 - 10 kHz

When mixing bassline and kick drum, give the kick some extra dBs at 90-something Hz (listen to the sound and find where it has it's punch) and remove a few dB from the bassline sound at this same frequency. Then go to around 400 Hz on the kick drum (where it's boxiness resides) and remove a few dB, this will make it feel more punchy and thumpy, in a nice way (at least it has worked well for me in the sound I am trying to achieve). Finally add a few dB to the bassline at this same 400-something frequency, this will increase the presence and audibility of the bassline when played at the same time as the kick.

Good point - those frequency tips are taken from many different sources and I think I've learned more over the time now so I wouldn't say that particular tip is really something to rely on. I more often cut at around 400 Hz, add at around 100 Hz, notch at 250 Hz and also I always cut my kicks at 70-80 Hz. Though sometimes I also layer sub hits underneath

just to add to the bass-kick debate, for those using fm kicks ala; teebee, dom n roland. I found that cutting 16-30hz and boost at 250hz worked a treat. But I'm increasingly coming to the conclusion that there really is no one size fits all rule when it comes to kicks, apart from getting rid of the lower end of the bass spectrum to make way for any basslines in your tunes.

91 Posts
Sounds like this guy has been doing FOH for a while!!! This could go over to the Sound reinforcement area or live sound. I agree with a lot of this. Good technique!
Well you don't really have to be a FOH engineer to know this things, just need to be a sound engineer with an experience really. :whistling: But definitely great material. And most definitely it deserves to be pinched to the wall. Hehehe. Good stuff. :T

5 Posts
Now I don't have to transcribe all my notes from class. These are pretty good starting points. It would be helpful to know what mics the author uses and the usual placement. The right mic and placement should do most of these EQ moves for you, but that is much trial and error. I agree, STICKY!

2 Posts
Yep, make it sticky.

Now, I can imagine a soft/plug what will do all of this for you for "free" and have a good mix.

Of course mixing is an art, but still...
I once researched the possibility for a software that could read the frequency signature of a track and then look at other tracks and see if they were significantly stepping on each other. The Software could then suggest or make gentle cuts to clear out the mix. However, every mixer/engineer I spoke to about developing it was deeply offended by the idea that a plugin or piece of software could even begin to make the choices that the human ear needs to make.

That's probably a good thing in the end.


1 Posts
Thank you for taking the time to put all the hints together! I'm going to copy them all, put them in a word doc and print them out. So cool, dude!:clap::clap::clap:

151 Posts
I once researched the possibility for a software that could read the frequency signature of a track and then look at other tracks and see if they were significantly stepping on each other. The Software could then suggest or make gentle cuts to clear out the mix....
While no software plugin does this completely...there is ONE EQ (I believe its a Voxengo, going to look into it later) that Ive read about that does this on an elementary level.

Basically u put EQ "X" on multiple/all tracks. With any one instance of the plugin open, u turn on its spectrum analyzer. With just a few more clicks, u can also view the other spectrum analyses from the other tracks!! So basically, it would layer (and color code I assume) the live spectrums of all of the tracks u have the plugin on. Whether or not u can edit ALL of the EQ filters from all tracks in one plugin instance, I doubt, but still....it has its potential.

Great post btw....love stuff like this!!! Ive been in the REW forums for over a year now and never came over here lol...THANKS!!!
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