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EQ BEFORE OR AFTER COMPRESSOR?

December 22, 2018

BY CJ JACOBOSN

I get asked this question get asked all the time, "should I place my EQ before or after my compressor?"  The answer is not just for EQ placement, but it can go for reverbs, chorus and any other audio effect you want to insert on the track or bus.


There is no right or wrong way to place the EQ. Its all about how you want it to sound. This is how I see (hear) it. If you want the EQ adjustments compressed, then put it before the compressor. If you want the EQ adjustments not compressed, put it after. Try it both ways and see if you can hear a difference and if you can, choose the best one that fits that song or instrument track you are working on. sometimes I put one before and after a compressor. Its actually common practice to do that.


Things to consider:

  • When an audio compressor is inserted before an EQ, It will allow you to make a lot of drastic cuts and boost, without adjusting your compression settings every time you adjust the EQ. This is good if you like making a lot of changes to your EQ.
  • When you insert an EQ before the compressor,  you can regulate the strength of the frequencies you cut and/or boost. This gives you a less intrusive, more stable and consistent response in your audio.


EQ's and Compressors are used for controlling audio signal levels:

  • EQ's control audio levels that are contingent to individual frequencies, not dynamic. Most of the time, EQ's are locked to one setting. 
  • Compressors effect and control audio levels dynamically, Compressors are not fixed to any frequencies, like an EQ is. When you set a compressor and it increases or decreases the audio level, it will effect the entire frequency range of that sound source. There are a few exceptions. Some Compressors, like a multiband compressor can be set to certain frequencies. But we are talking about single band compressors


To summarize, when deciding what to do, just trust your ears and do not be afraid to experiment. You can surprise yourself by creating something you never thought possible, just by experimenting.