How to EQ with ReaEQ - Reaper's Stock EQ plugin

As I've mentioned in other posts, Reaper has many stock plugins that are native to the software. I'm going to cover the most important plugin of all, EQ. If you don't run Reaper, then don't worry, this plugin is available FREE with the ReaPlugs download  off the Reaper website. Many sound engineers agree that ReaEQ in particular is one of the best EQ plugins out there.

Let's first of all look how to open it:

Each track has a green (or grey if no other effects are activated) FX button that allows you to add any FX to the track (this is also the button to hit to select VST instruments). Select the FX button on the track you want to equalise.

This will open the selection of plugins and effects you can use. If you can't find ReaEq, type it into the search and ensure All Plugins is selected. The view will be different for each person depending on what plugins they have downloaded.

You will now have ReaEQ up. Let's take a look at the features and how to EQ. The first view is a black background with the frequencies along the bottom. If you play your music with the EQ enabled, you will see a yellow line running along the visual part of the plugin. The height of the line represents the volume of that particular frequency.

Let's make some adjustments. If you look at the picture above, there are four circles, each numbered. These are Bands. They are just the points with which we can make adjustments. Band 1 and Band 4 are 'Shelf' filters. These can be used at each end, cutting off any frequency beyond the the far ends of the frequency spectrum. Imagine book-stops, there are no books on the outside, all are enclosed between the book-stops. This is a good technique to practice with all your mixes. The human ear hears between 20-20,000 Hz so anything outwith those frequencies is just wasted sound and therefore wasted energy in the mix. A point to bear in mind is what notes are needed, if you are EQing a guitar, look for the lowest note of the guitar (usually E 82.41 Hz) and anything below that is un-needed noise so just set your shelf to roll off at 82.41Hz. It works differently for the high frequencies as instruments have harmonics so be careful if you want to preserve them, also, higher frequency notes hold less energy so take up less headroom anyway.

We can look at bands 2 and 3 now. These, if you look at 'Type'  are 'Band' Bands (sorry if that's confusing). If you click and drag around these points, they will boost and cut the frequencies. The blue line represents how much each frequency is boosted. This can also be controlled by  the Frequency and Gain faders on screen. 

The last point is helpful if you want to boost a broad spectrum of frequencies but what if there is just one specific frequency you want to cut? This is where the bandwidth comes in handy. It controls how wide the boost or cut is. The numerical value is measured in octaves so if you want a narrow band cut out, it's probable going to be a number below 1. If you are looking for a rogue frequency or one you hate/want to boost, my advice (as well as peoples' who are good at this stuff) is to get a very narrow bandwidth and boost the band, then sweep it across every frequency (which boosts every frequency) until you identify the on you want to adjust. From here you just make vertical adjustments to taste.

You are not limited to four bands. At the bottom is an 'Add Band' selection where you can add as many as you like. Each can be a different type of band and each can be a different bandwidth. The above picture shows multiple bands boosting the bass and the highs while cutting a lot of the mids. This is perhaps a low frequency instrument with the mids cut to make room for the vocals or other mid range instrument.

There are also tonnes of presets which I recommend if you can't get a start on it. Try out all the presets you want and see how it changes the sound. See what frequency does what, edit the presets accordingly to your own particular sound, they are there to be used as templates to get you started.

My main advice is that since EQ adjusts the volume, you don't want to do too much boosting as this may take the sound into the red if it is already too loud. The best thing to do is cut the bad frequencies and then adjust the volume up if necessary. 

Compressors are a big consideration with EQ, try compressing both before and after the EQ and see what the difference is, different people recommend different things but I have never settled for one right way, simply put, the right way is the way that sounds best. 

For more plugins check out my Top Pick of FREE VSTs

For Compression Tips check audio compression intro and basics Part 1 and, Part 2

For tips on small P.A setup click here