Using Parametric EQ to Find the “Sweet Spot” of any Musical Instruments

3.) Then play the music (or confirm the sweet spot by “soloing” the instrument), refer to the following guide:

To find the sweet spot of:

a.) Vocals – sweep around 4000Hz down to 600Hz and find the frequency at which the vocals seems to be very clear and defined. Stop and then take note that frequency.
b.) Bass guitar – sweep down from 2000Hz to sub-bass frequency range around 30Hz to 200Hz and find the frequency where the most important sections of the bass are defined and clear.
c.) Guitars – it depends, if it’s a rhythm guitar you can sweep around 400hz to 2000 Hz. Or lead guitar from 800Hz to 5000hz.
d.) Cymbals/Hi-hats – from 8000Hz to 15,000Hz.

4.) Now that you find the sweet spot, start to widen the Q or bandwidth until the track sounds best according to your ears. For most adjustment; this is equivalent to Q of around 1.0 to 3.0. FL Studio is however using 0 to 1.0 so you can approximate using the affecting frequencies and using the techniques discussed in this parametric equalization theory tutorial. Regarding the gain/amount of boost, you can decrease it from +6dB to a level where it sounds optimum, such as +1dB to +3dB.

5.) Now since you have boosted the sweet spot to make the instruments sound defined and clear, it will also results to “mud” since there are other instrument frequencies that are affected in that range. Start cutting down the affected frequency range of other instruments. For example if you have the following “sweet spot” parametric equalizer settings:

Vocals: 1000Hz Q=1.0 +3dB
Bass: 50Hz Q=1.4 +6dB
Kick drums = 100Hz Q=1.4 (Kick and bass should have different sweet spot to prevent mud)- +6dB

Then the other affected/opposing instrument frequencies are cut:

Guitars, snares, etc – Cut -6dB at 1000Hz Q=1.0 to increase clarity and definition of vocal sweet spot.
Bass guitar – Cut -6dB at 100Hz Q=1.4 to prevent mud with kick drum sweet spot.
Kick drums – Cut -6dB at 50Hz Q=1.4 to prevent conflict with bass guitar sweet spot.

By following the steps above, you can greatly improve the quality of your mix. As a summary , always remember to: sweep the parametric EQ to find sweet spot -optimize the sweet spot (boost and Q adjustment)– cut affected/opposing frequencies for clarity and definition.

Content last updated on August 15, 2012