In today’s video we are going to be talking about whether we should EQ before or after compression! There is not a lot of consensus on this topic, because the truth is, it may vary from case to case. The main question you should be asking when trying to make this decision is: what is the best thing to do on this project?
In the video, I will give you a few examples of where I EQ, why I EQ and how I use it, whether it is before or after compression, of a combination of the two.
In the first example, I have a lead vocal with loads of energy, where the vocalist is at the top of her range. First, I’ve got an REQ with high passing, and then I am going into a de-esser. This is a single band compressor set to 5 and a half K, and then going into a compressor.
So why am I doing this? The REQ is wiping off the low-end in the singer’s voice that isn’t necessary. There is a whole bunch of noise coming in the background – AC and foot noise – and a lot of low-end that we don’t need. Many of you know that low-end takes up a lot of energy, meaning that if there’s low-end in her vocal that I don’t want, that might compress earlier than anything else, so I am EQ-ing right away, before I do into any kind of compression or de-essing. I want you to do two things here: listen, and also look over to see how much compression is going on. On this vocal, there was about 2-3 dB of extra compression.
On the piano part of this track, a lot of the low-end was too compressed, and you lost some of the exciting bounce in the track, which is why you would EQ before compressing, in that case.
With many things, especially vocals, you will use a combination of serial EQ and compression. For me, de-essing always has to start as either the first or second step. Even though I high-pass, I don’t want to boost any of the high-mids and I wouldn’t want to do that without using a de-esser first, because I don’t want to boost something that I don’t want there in the first place.
In this case, I EQ before and after, because after I have brightened it a bit, and it is nicely controlled, I may want to brighten it some more.
Watch the full video below to see how I applied EQ and compression and learn more about when you should be applying each of these!