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How to Use Dynamic EQ

When you use dynamic EQ, how it’s operated will depend on the EQ itself, but the TDR NOVA, Pro Q-3, and Weiss EQ1 operate somewhat similarly. They all include creating a band, making it dynamic, and then altering the threshold and ratio to set the compression or expansion.

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How to Make a Dynamic EQ

For these first 2 chapters, let’s talk about how to dynamically EQ, if you don’t want to purchase a plugin for it.

With a stock EQ, or any EQ of your choice really, we can automate the amplitude of bands at various points. This will be time-consuming for sure, but it’ll give you a lot of control over when aspects of the EQ are amplified or attenuated.

Let’s listen to a regular EQ being automated at specific points.

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TDR NOVA Free Dynamic EQ

Alternatively, we could use a free Dynamic EQ, the TDR NOVA to dynamically expand or compress up to 4 bands. To do this we enable the band, then the threshold and adjust the ratio to 1.1:1 or high to compress, or 0.9:1 or lower to expand the band.

For example, I could expand my highs with the shelf, and setting a ratio of 0.5:1.

Let’s take a listen to the TDR NOVA and expand the lows and highs while compressing the mids.

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How to Use FF Pro-Q 3 Dynamic EQ

For the next 7 chapters, we’ll look at what may be the most versatile dynamic EQ, the FF-Pro-Q 3.

First, let’s look at how to use the dynamic bands - simply create a band, and determine the frequency and other parameters as you normally would. Right-click and make that band dynamic, then adjust the translucent band upward to expand or downward to compress, to whatever extent you’d like.

The EQ can make up to 26 dynamic bands, so you have a lot of options. Let’s use the same bands we did in the last chapter, and pay attention to how this EQ’s behavior is slightly different.

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Dynamic Stereo Expansion

Since the Pro-Q 3 has mid-side capabilities, we can use dynamic bands on either the mid or side, in turn, affecting our stereo image. For example, I could place a dynamic high-shelf filter on the side image to expand the high frequencies to expand my highest frequencies.

It’s a simple but really useful way to dynamic adjust your stereo image, making for more complex and interesting imaging.

Let’s take a listen and notice the widening of the highs.

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Dynamic Left-Right Processing

Similar to our last chapter, we can place bands on the left and right channels to subtly and dynamically the stereo image. I’ll create 2-bell filters, one on the left and right at slightly varying frequencies, then I’ll make them both dynamic, and expand both bands.

I find this sounds a little cleaner than mid-side expansion, and also has a unique sound comparatively. Let’s take a listen and notice how the image becomes wider.

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Inverse Dynamic EQ Trick

This is a complex trick but I’ll try to be brief - first I’ll use the external side-chain and select a competing signal; for example, if I’m equalizing the kick, I could side chain the bass. I’ll match their signals using the full 26-bands and delete any extreme bands.

Next, I’ll highlight all the bands, and use the gain dial to invert their gain. Now everything that made them match, separates the two competing signals. Lastly, I’ll highlight all bands, right-click, and make them dynamic.

Let’s take a listen to how inverse dynamic equalization sounds on a kick and bass.

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Side-Chain Dynamic EQ

This one is a little complex as well - first I’ll side chain a competing signal; for example, I could place the full instrument, and side-chain the vocal. I’ll create a dynamic band and place it on an area where they overlap, like 2kHz, and select the side-chain icon.

Then, I’ll drag the band downward to cause compression. Now whenever the vocal is sung, 2kHz on the instrumental is attenuated - making it easier to hear the vocal.

Let’s take a listen to this particular example and notice the vocal’s increased presence.

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Dynamic EQ De-essing

If you don’t like the sound of your de-esser, or simply want to try something different, use a dynamic EQ to de-ess your vocal. I’ll create a bell filter, place it over my sibilance, then place it on the mid image so that it only affects sibilance.

I’ll compress as you’d expect, and adjust my bandwidth until I’m only affecting the area I want to be compressed. Let’s listen and notice how effective this can be for de-essing.

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Kick and Vocal Dynamic EQ

Let’s look at a common use for dynamic EQ on a master or mix bus - what I want to do it increase the kick and vocal, but let’s pretend I only have access to the stereo mix. I’ll create a dynamic bell on the mids, and place it over the kick.

Then, I’ll create another dynamic mid bell and do the same to roughly 2kHz to expand the vocals. Lastly, I’ll create 2 dynamic bells on the side, and dip about 20Hz lower than the frequencies that I boosted on the mids.

The mid bands will amplify these instruments where they’re most powerful, and the sidebands will reduce masking.

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How to Use Weiss EQ1’s Dynamic EQ

Let’s use the last 2 chapters to talk about the Weiss EQ1.

It’s a little finicky, but the EQ1’s dynamic processing sounds great - to use it I’ll enable the band, select the dynamic band at the bottom left, and then adjust the threshold. The dynamic aspect is difficult to see, so we can use the full-screen mode to check it.

When triggered, the range is controlled by the amplitude of the band.

Let’s listen to the same settings we first used on the TDR NOVA and Pro-Q 3.

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Mid-Side Dynamic EQ with EQ1

Last up, let’s use the mid-side functionality of the EQ1 by selecting Mid-side, and delinking the 2 channels. Channel 1 will be our mid, which leaves channel 2 as the side, so we can switch between the 2 and create the bands accordingly.

Let’s use this EQ to boost the kick and vocal like we did in chapter 9.

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