The parametric EQ

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Before I get into this discussion, A footnote is that the EQ section is usually split into three or four sections, each operating on a different frequency band.  But, in this discussion I’m going to look into the Q of a filter which is defined as its center frequency divided by its bandwidth.

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It is usually the distance between frequencies where the output of the filter is 3dB lower than the peak output.  The Q, in practice affects the ‘sharpness’ of the filter peak or notch, and high Q gives the sharpest response.  When on the other hand low Q gives a very broad response.  Low Q would be used when boost or cut over a relatively wide range of frequencies is required, while high Q is used to boost or cut one specific region.  A good mental note is that, High Q settings affect very narrow bands of frequencies, while low Q settings affect wider bands.

The low Q settings sound “warmer’ because they have gentle slopes and therefore have a more gradual and natural effect on the sound.  High Q slopes are good for a rather more overt emphasis of a particular narrow band, which of course can be just as useful in the appropriate situation, Some EQ sections are labeled parametric even though the Q is not variable.  This is a misuse of the term, and it is wise to check whether or not an EQ section is truly parametric even though it may be labeled as such.

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Giovanni Hamm

Sound Engineer


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