When it comes time for students to mix their final class projects, a common question I hear is, “Should I put the EQ before or after the compressor? Which way is correct?” There’s not actually a right or a wrong way here. Instead, it’s about the sound that you’re going for, the sound that you hear in your head. Each position, EQ pre (before) or EQ post (after) compression produces a distinctly different sound, a different tonal quality and coloration. As a rule, using EQ in front of your compressor produces a warmer, rounder tone, while using EQ after your compressor produces a cleaner, clearer sound. So, the question you need to ask yourself for each channel in your mix is, “Do I want to EQ the compressed signal or do I want to compress the EQed signal? What sound do I want for this signal?”

I find that in most of my mixes about 80% of my EQ is post compression. I usually start with all of my channel EQ set up post compression, but in Pro Tools it’s a snap to drag and drop the EQ plug-in to a different insert slot and hear the difference. To facilitate this workflow I have my compressor plug-in inserted in slot C and my EQ plug-in inserted in slot D. If I then want to hear the EQ pre compression, I simply drag it to insert slot B. This works great even when I’ve already created my EQ curve post compression, I simply drag the EQ plug-in pre compression and Voila! I can immediately hear how my signal sounds when I’m compressing the EQed signal, versus EQing the compressed signal.

It’s also fine to insert your EQ pre and post compression. But, you should employ this technique sparingly because over doing will likely lead to an over EQed mix that sounds harsh and grating. An acceptable way to apply EQ pre and post compression would be to employ a single High-Pass EQ band pre compression, to sculpt your signal at a macro level before compression, and a multi-band parametric EQ post compression to really fine tune the sound.

EQ Pre and Post Compression

Of course, I can talk about how EQ sounds pre and post compression until I’m blue in the face. Carefully listening to the difference between the two positions is what will cement the sonic image in your mind and allow you to reach for the appropriate color in your mix. Below is a rather heavy handed EQ job pre and post compression for you to hear the difference. However, don’t just take my word for it—especially since streaming Web audio and computer speakers lack the clarity necessary to hear this level of fine sonic detail—you should also experiment with these two EQ positions in your own DAW software program in order to hear the difference on your own system.

    Thank’s Again, Hawk Eye !

    This will Help ! Panhead Roger

    That was short, but clear enough, I’ll try to experiment using another DAW.

    Great video!

    thaks somuch am very happy reading your explannation
    i’ve being having problem with mixing with eq,compressor an mix leavel.thak i ned more on effect to use in mixing vocal.thaks

    Good points. During Mastering, around 70% of the time I EQ (usually subtractive) before compression and get the track in the right shape. Any surgical eq and/or de essing is also done here to get rid of any particular problem frequencies, if needs be. Then after compression, I use a different, often more coloured eq for some general tone shaping and sweetening, usually gentle broadband boosts. This method gives a lot of control and flexibility, it’s by no means the right way to do it, but has worked for me on many records.

    I have a tendency to feel more comfortable eqing into compression. In mastering, any compression (if any is used at all) it is very slight and often a device is used for it’s signal path characteristics as much as it’s compression character. Again when mixing I tended towards eq before compression. Ultimately it depends if your plan is for the eq to affect the compressor GR or not.

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