4. Don’t Overwhelm Yourself With Too Many Options
DAW newbies hear seasoned professionals and professional forum posters swearing by this EQ plug-in and that one. Naturally, they think, “Yeah! I gotta get that! Oh yeah, that one, too!” Before long, their plug-in collections look like an inventory lists for music retail companies. I’ve laughed more than a few times upon hearing someone say, “I’ve never used most of these. Heck, I don’t even know what half of them are,” while scrolling through an absolutely massive list of plug-ins.
It takes DAWs longer to launch when they have to scan loads of plug-ins, and it takes you longer to pick a plug-in when you have to wade through too many of them. So, to be more efficient with your mixing time, it’s okay to rely on a few trusty processors. (Consider investing in one that includes multiple, high quality mixing processors, like Neutron 2.)
Another party foul is casually trying different EQs in your arsenal just because you’re curious. It’s great to be interested in various EQs, but explore them on your own time, not on the client’s dime. There is a time and place for learning how to use your tools, but it’s typically not when you’re supposed to be mixing a song in a limited amount of time. If you’re caught up on your important to-do list and boredom is setting in, feel welcome to read manuals, watch tutorials, and play around with other processors.
5. Have Different EQs for Different Tasks
Honing in on a few go-to EQs can keep you using your time effectively by utilizing appropriate tools for specific tasks. For example, find a tone EQ, a transparent EQ, a simple EQ, and a complex EQ with all the options you can think of.
A tone EQ is one that is designed to impart a specific character such as harmonic distortion; think about a tube EQ or a vintage console EQ, and you’ll be in the right territory. There are many plug-ins that model and simulate the traits of such marvelous gear. They can deliver unique coloration that other EQs won’t, even if set to the same settings.
A transparent EQ is one with the opposite design philosophy of a tone EQ. Transparent EQs are made to be colorless so they do not impart a specific character. They should only do what you tell them to do and not add anything extra. Some analog EQs and many digital EQs are designed this way.
A simple EQ is intended to be good at a few key things, but not offer a plethora of options. Picture a 3-band EQ with fixed bandwidths and just a small handful of selectable frequencies. Sure, it’s nothing fancy, but the advantage there is the minimal time it takes to configure it and move on.
A complex EQ should offer a bounty of adjustable settings. The core importance is that you can make such an EQ do pretty much whatever you want it to. It’s awesome to have that versatility, but the downside is the increase in time required to figure it all out!
Compare the EQs shown below. The first is a straightforward 3-band model, whereas the second is an 8-band luxury unit with all the amenities. Sometimes simple is good, but other times complexity is critical.