Learn How to Use Dynamic EQ with FabFilter Pro-Q3
Every once in a while, new technology comes along that dramatically changes the game. Dynamic EQ is one of those innovative leaps forwards. FabFilter has just updated its flagship Pro-Q3 EQ plugin to include this new feature (plus many more) and we’re excited to demo it for you in this tutorial video.
BigJerr will walk you through the updates. Here’s our game plan:
- Introduction to FabFilter Pro-Q3
- How Pro-Q3 is different from Pro-Q2
- What dynamic EQ is and how it’s different from regular EQ
- How to use dynamic EQ to get better mixdowns
- Pro-Q3 new feature: the tilt function
- Pink noise and why it’s important to the tilt function
- Pro-Q3 new feature: Auto Gain
The Problem With Regular “Static” EQ
Dynamic EQ is a novel solution to a problem that pops up with static EQ. Often, when you’re EQing a track, there will be a particular frequency that’s only an issue occasionally. An example of this is a vocalist who strains to hit a note and the tone of her voice gets particularly harsh in that range. Another example is a filter sweep on a bass synth that gets very resonant at just one point in the song.
If you use regular EQ, you’d set up a bell to notch out that exact frequency. The issue with this is that during most of the audio material, this frequency isn’t problematic. EQing it out throughout the whole track can make things sound thin. Of course, you could use track automation to temporarily pull down that frequency at that exact moment, but that’s painstaking work and there’s now a better way.
How to Use Dynamic EQ to Improve Your Mixdowns
Dynamic EQ is a game-changer. It works kind of like a compressor, where it only attenuates when the amplitude of an audio signal goes over the threshold. It’s different than a compressor though because it’s more surgical. When a compressor attenuates a signal, it pulls down the whole thing. Unless, of course, it’s a multi-band compressor. Even still, a multi-band compressor will pull down an entire band.
Dynamic EQ just pulls down the area selected by the EQ node. This can be a bell or a shelf, with fully adjustable Q / width. So when a vocalist strains and hits a note where 6,500 Hz really jumps out and sounds harsh, the dynamic EQ bell can pull down just that frequency at that exact moment, leaving everything else untouched.
Using Sidechaining With Dynamic EQ
As if that wasn’t incredible enough already, you can also route a sidechain signal in Pro-Q3. This helps you fix frequency masking when you’re mixing. Let’s say that the top end of your lead synth is competing with the hi hats in your mix.
If you decide that you want the synth to take center stage and really shine through, then you’d need to do something to make space for it in that competing frequency range. In the tutorial video, BigJerr shows how you can route a sidechain signal from the lead synth to the hi hats, and have Pro-Q3 duck (attenuate) the frequency that’s masking only when the synth is playing. When the lead synth isn’t playing, the hi hats sound full and bright as normal. For a mix engineer, this is an absolutely stand-out feature!
Advantages of Dynamic EQ
Dynamic EQ pretty much lets you have your cake and eat it too. You can eliminate frequency masking by being quite heavy-handed with the EQ attenuation but without sacrificing the fullness of all elements in your mix when masking isn’t a problem. Dynamic EQ is far more surgical than multi-band compression and lets you target very specific frequencies like a sniper!
FabFilter Pro-Q3 is our favorite plugin for dynamic EQ for several reasons:
- The interface is incredibly intuitive and powerful with their “what you use is what you see” GUI philosophy. There’s no clutter.
- The plugin is very clean and transparent sounding.
- The visualization functions with the spectrum help you to make better decisions.
- Auto Gain allows you to EQ without making significant changes in gain that may fool your ears.
- The Tilt function helps you to tailor the EQ to be more appealing to the way human hearing works.
- There’s a ton of advanced options to customize how the plugin works to suit the mixing task you’re performing.
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