Both additive and subtractive EQ have their place in the mixing process. Additive EQ can add colour to a sound, but so can subtractive EQ. EQ’ing is a vital process in our production process, so it’s important to keep our minds open and be creative in order to achieve the best result for our music!

What is Additive EQ’ing?

Additive EQ’ing is the process of boosting frequencies in your desired frequency band. Does your kick need a little more body? Is your bass not meeting its target of punch in the 100 Hz range? Boosting these frequencies with an EQ may give you the result you’re after!

What is Subtractive EQ’ing?

Subtractive EQ’ing is the process of cutting frequencies in your desired frequency band. You would use subtractive EQ’ing when there’s a little too much going on somewhere in your sound. Does your kick drum have some undesirable high-end content? Place an EQ on its channel & see if reducing the gain of the band in question will do the trick!

Low and high pass filters are also forms of subtractive EQ. In our kick drum example, it may be a good idea to insert a high pass filter to reduce the highs rather than an EQ!

Top 3 Tips for Boosting and Cutting

Knowing what each method of EQ does is fantastic, but deciding which one to use can be difficult. Even if you do decide which method a sound needs, it can still be a little messy. How do we resolve this?

Apply Subtractive EQ Before Additive

Cutting bands that have too much frequency content before I boost anything I would like more of can be a great method to keep things clean & tight. It’s annoying when you boost a band of frequencies but also boost other undesirable frequency content, isn’t it?

This may not be a good methodology in all cases. When you’re mixing your bass, for example, you would want to keep frequency subtraction as minimal as possible.

Subtractive EQ is a great tool to use when you want to keep things tidy, as we have said. Applying it early on or as you go will allow you to manage the frequency content easier than you would if you left it all until the end.

Avoid Using the Solo Button

We don’t mean to say that the solo button doesn’t have its uses. Sometimes it helps to zero in on specific frequencies of the sound.

However, it’s important to remember that you need context. You need to listen to the sound in context to the rest of the mix. Mixing professionals make sure that every cut or boost decision is made with context to the entire song.

What’s important is to be aware of how each element of your mix is interacting with one another!

Use EQ’s on Your Bus Tracks

Using EQ’s to boost and/or cut frequencies in your groups like synths, drums, or guitars, can make the whole world of difference when aiming to tidy things up.

You can make use of cuts to carve out undesirable frequency content such as high-frequency bands, while also boosting desirable frequency content… all while monitoring how each sound group interacts with one another.

It can be great to apply a frequency cut when two groups are overlapping. Is your lead synth drowning out your snare? Rather than boost the snare or attenuate the lead synth, why not experiment with sidechaining with a dynamic EQ?

Maybe you’re looking for something to EQ? It’s great that you’re here because Mixxed has thousands of samples for you to incorporate into your music and EQ until your heart is content!

Mixxed has samples ranging from drums to other percussive elements, all the way to basses, live instruments, pads and more!