For hands-on practice don't miss our EQ Ear-Training tools in the EQ Playground.
But how does this training impact on how your music sounds? Below, we explain how EQ ear training will improve the quality of the music you produce.
1. Easily Remove Problematic Resonances
In almost any mix you do, there will be one or more instruments that are a little too resonant at certain frequencies. Perhaps your snare or your toms are too ringy and you need to tame that aspect of their sound a little. Or perhaps you are working with a vocalist whose voice is just a bit too piercing when they hit certain notes.
With well-trained ears, you will quickly be able to identify the problem frequencies and EQ them out in no time at all.
2. Identify Areas Where Instruments Have The Most Character
This is the inverse of the tip above. Rather than identifying a problem area, you identify the part of the frequency spectrum where an instrument has the most character.
Where is the cello most beautifully sonorous? Where does the synth really fizz? Identify these important areas, and try to retain them in your mix – you may be able to EQ out other parts of the instrument, but try to keep hold of what makes it special.
3. Identify Areas Where Masking Is A Problem
Reducing masking is one of the trickiest aspects of any mix. Masking occurs when two or more instruments are prominent in the same frequency band.
For example, a kick drum and a bass guitar might both be prominent in the 100Hz region. Or a lead guitar and a lead vocal might clash at around 2kHz. These elements will need balancing in order to create a clear mix, in which each instrument has its own space and can be heard with clarity.
Identifying these problem areas is, once again, something that will become much easier if you are training your ears regularly.
4. Listen Critically To Your Arrangements
When orchestras are recorded, the various instruments are not captured individually. This means that they cannot be EQd individually in the way that instruments are in a popular music production.
So how do those orchestral mixes still come out sounding so great? Isn't masking a problem here? The answer is that masking is often much less of an issue as the music has been very carefully arranged by an orchestrator.
Different sections of the orchestra will stay 'out of each other's way' by playing at different registers. There is a lesson here for music producers – learn to identify where each new part you write will appear on the frequency spectrum.
Of course, ear training will help with this! If your arrangement is already too busy at a certain frequency, perhaps move the new part up or down an octave, or re-write it so that it sits more comfortably in between your pre-existing musical elements.