Complete EQ settings to Start when doing Audio Mixing

In this post, I would like to share my most favourite EQ settings for different instruments in the mix. Feel free to try, of course this is not a one setting-fits-all solution; at least you have something to start with. The following settings assume that your mix has lead vocals on it as well as guitars, bass, and drums etc. You should use a parametric equalizer to implement the settings below such as Waves Paragraphic EQ:

Waves paragraphic EQ

Waves paragraphic EQ

Some settings suggest low/high shelf filtering. Please read this post to find out what is low shelf and high shelf filters in parametric EQ if you are not still familiar with this.

These are the settings (drop me a message if you want to add some more instruments that are not included in the lists):

1.) Vocals (female)

3000Hz Q=1.0, +2dB (Note: improve vocal clarity and lyrics)
15000Hz Q=1.0, +2dB (Note: improve the vocal ambiance)
Low shelf = 150Hz, -6dB (Note: remove lower bass on vocals)

2.) Vocals (male)

1000Hz Q=1.0, +2dB
15000Hz Q=1.0, +2dB
Low shelf= 100Hz, -6dB

3.) Background vocals (female)

3000Hz Q=1.4, -6dB (Note: Cut to make lead vocals clear with backup vocals)
12,000Hz Q=1.0, +3dB
250Hz Low shelf, -6dB

4.) Acoustic Guitars or Clean guitars

3000Hz Q=1.0, -9dB (Note: Make lead vocals cut through the mix)
200Hz Low shelf, -9dB (Note: Cut to remove bass sound of guitars avoids mud with bass guitar or kick)
5000Hz Q=1.4, +2dB (Note: Improve brilliance high-end sound on guitars)
800Hz Q=1.4, -6dB (Note: Remove irritating harsh mid tones on some guitars)
8000Hz High Shelf, -2dB (Note: Remove the disturbing sibilance on guitar tones associated with using pick)

5.) Distortion Guitars

200Hz Low shelf, -9dB
400Hz Q=1.0, +3dB (Improve the power and body of distortion guitar sound)
3000Hz Q=1.4, -6dB (cut to improve vocal clarity with rock music)
6000Hz High Shelf = -2dB (cut to remove harshness and sibilance in poor sounding distortion tone)

6.) Bass guitar and Kick Drums

These two should go together and there are two approaches on how to mix them. Either you want the bass to sit above the kick drums (common in pop and country genre) or you want the bass to sit below the kick drums (common in rock music).

You can read the details in tips on mixing bass guitar.

7.) Snare

100Hz, Q=1.4, +2dB (increase body sound of the snare)
2000Hz Q=1.4, -6dB (reduce for vocal clarity)
8000Hz Q=1.0, +3dB (improve the clarity of the snare strings)

8.) Cymbals and Hi-hat

2000Hz low shelf -3dB (cut to remove harsh)
12000Hz Q=1.4 +2dB (boost to improve brilliance sound of cymbals)