The best way to get better with using EQs is by listening to how EQ adjustments alter a track or sound. I’ve heard some people suggest creating a steep bell-curve (see the image below) and boosting the gain, sweeping the frequency spectrum back and forth to listen for problem areas. I think that this method is actually more useful for simply getting used to what parts of the spectrum sound like. Creating a frequency sweep allows you to hear what things sound like at 1000hz versus 500hz. For easy reference, check out my blog post that discusses the frequency spectrum. Or just check out the guide below.
40-100hz: This is the thud of your sub-bass and kick drum. Boosting this too much and you’ll clip your meters and make a mess of your low end. Keep the sub-bass levels too low and your track will feel like it’s missing something when played over a sound system.
100-200hz: This is your standard bass range. You can boost this area for additional snare punch, or to increase the beefiness of your bass lines. I find that often the kick drum has a ‘knock’ in this range.
200-500hz: The higher end of bass frequencies. Lower synth lines can be situated in this range, and boosting too much can create jumbled sounds. Too little in this area leads to a weak sound. Boosting the bass harmonics in this area can help them stand out on sound systems with poor low end capabilities.
500-1000hz: The range where a lot of things are usually happening. Boosting too much can lead to nasal or awkward sounds. Too little though will make a weak mix. This area is often where lead synths sit in tracks.
1-2khz: An area where the body of clap and snare sounds sit. EQing this area can be tricky because you want your percussion and drum elements to stand out but not interfere with lead synth sounds. But high-passing elements in this area can lead to thin drum sounds. This is also where the lower ranges of hi-hats and cymbals tend to sit. Don’t boost too much in this range though because this is where human hearing is most sensitive.
2-5khz: This is where vocals often sit. They go lower in the spectrum too, but this is where the clarity comes from. Adding a boost will give an edge to your vocals and synth lines, but cutting too much will result in somewhat of a muted sound.
5-10khz: This area contains the crispness of snares, the brightness of hi-hats, clarity of synths and vocals, and the top-most part of bass sounds. Boosting will help these elements stand out more, but too much can lead to an unwanted scratchiness. Likewise, cutting too much will lead to a muted or dull mix. You also have the sibilance of singers, that ‘s’sound. Too much will be harsh on the ears, but too little makes the vocals harder to understand.
10+khz: This is the part of the frequency spectrum that provides breathiness, air, and a certain brilliance or glitter. When you think your mix sounds dull or like something is missing, but you can’t place it, it is often this range of the spectrum. On the opposite end, too much presence sounds hissy and artificial in a bad way