A question I see time and again online is whether EQ should come before or after compression?
If you think about it, there are great reasons for both sides of the argument:
- If you compress first, your tracks will be more stable dynamically. The less your tracks are wavering around in volume, the easier time you’ll have EQing.
- If you EQ first, you have a chance to clean up your tracks before they hit the compressor. As a result, your Compressor will tighten up a more balanced signal. No low-end noise or mud causing your Compressor to overreact and over-compress.
Personally, I like to EQ into a Compressor:
- Open the Channel EQ in the 1st slot on a Channel Strip
- Open the Compressor in the 2nd slot on a Channel Strip
- Dial-in some general Compression to knock a couple of dB back
- Clean up my track with the Channel EQ while listening through the Compressor
- Fine-tune the Compressor’s settings once I’m done EQing
Compressors are fantastic because they stabilize dynamics and volume.
If your vocal track’s dynamics are more consistent, it’s easier to hear what your track actually needs EQ-wise.
A vocal track might only sound muddy because the vocal volume is too quiet in certain spots.
But I’ve also found that EQ can help deliver better results with Compression.
For example, the low end tends to exceed a Compressor’s threshold sooner than high end. If your track has too much low-end mud, the Compressor may overreact to that track.
The result: compressor settings that don’t feel right, no matter how much you play with the controls!
But what about our Console EQ decisions? Where do those play into all this?
That’s what today’s video is all about.