EQ Frequency Guide:
If you’re recording, mixing or mastering your own music, then it’s almost certain that you’ll be using an equaliser (or EQ). But to use an EQ effectively, you need to understand the frequency spectrum. This article gives you an introduction to the frequency spectrum with our simple EQ frequency guide.
Understanding the frequency spectrum:
When you open up an EQ plugin inside your DAW, you may be faced with a number of different scenarios. Some EQ plugins feature graphs which show you the frequency spectrum. Others don’t. That’s because different equalisers operate in different ways. One thing that all equalisers have in common however, is that they’re there to control the way we hear the frequencies of what ever channel they are placed on.
The numbers along the bottom of this graph, taken from the ProTools EQ 3 4 band plugin, represent the frequency spectrum:
I’m sure that you’re already familiar with the idea of low, mid and high sounds. But how do those terms translate to frequencies like the ones we see here?
Well, the numbers shown here represent 20 hertz (Hz) to 20 kilohertz (kHz). You may also see this referred to as 20 hertz to 20,000 hertz.
20 Hz – 20,000 Hz represents all of the frequencies that can be heard by human beings. It is worth noting however, that our ability to hear higher frequencies decreases with age. Most adults can only hear frequencies up to 16,000 hertz.
Low, mid and high frequency sounds fall between the following frequencies…
EQ Frequency guide – Low, Mid & High:
Low = 20Hz – 300Hz
Mid = 300Hz – 5kHz
High = 5kHz – 20kHz
Knowing this gives you a great indication of how frequencies translate to the types of sound that we’re familiar with. But we can go further. We can break each of the high, mid and low groups of sounds into more specific categories.
EQ Frequency guide – Low end:
Sub Bass = 20Hz – 40Hz
Low End = 40Hz – 160Hz
Upper Low End = 160Hz – 300Hz
EQ Frequency guide – Mids:
Low Mids = 300Hz – 800kHz
Mids = 800Hz – 2.5kHz
High Mids = 2.5kHz – 5kHz
EQ Frequency guide – High end:
High End = 5kHz – 10kHz
Ultra High = 10kHz – 20kHz
So a full breakdown of the frequency spectrum would look like this…
Complete EQ Frequency guide:
20Hz – 40Hz = Sub Bass
40Hz – 160Hz = Low End
160Hz – 300Hz = Upper Low End
300Hz – 800kHz = Low Mids
800Hz – 2.5kHz = Mids
2.5kHz – 5kHz = High Mids
5kHz – 10kHz = High End
10kHz – 20kHz = Ultra High
So now, armed with the knowledge of the types of sounds that are occurring across the whole frequency spectrum, we can cut, boost or filter a specific part of the spectrum to alter the way that type of sound is being reproduced.
So tell me, do you think that knowing more about how different bands of frequencies sound will help you make better EQ decisions? Leave your thoughts below.
Discover how to get the best results from EQ, compression, vocals & drums in your home studio with the FREE 'Home Studio Bundle'
Get all 4 guides sent straight to your inbox when you subscribe to our mailing list here: