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EQ & Compression: Which Comes First?


EQ + COMPRESSION: Which Comes First?

The Age-Old question of the Chicken & the Egg, which came first? There are different theories as to what works and what doesn’t, here is a little insight into the question.

In our modern world of production & mix “in the box”, we do a variety of treatments to audio, for me, placing an EQ first on the track is the first step in removing any offensive frequencies. I’ll do “surgical” EQ-ing, that is, tightening the bandwidth of a frequency band and then sweeping it up in volume, then slowly thru the frequency spectrum to find any frequencies that may be offensive, problematic or a downright nuisance. So the first step for me is to EQ and make cuts in very narrow bandwidths. After finding the offending harmonic content and reducing the amplitude of them, I’m ready to do some sweetening. 

This can consist of doing some broader slight boosting or cutting with a wider bandwidth, which can come in the same EQ plug-in, or with one of different color or flavor. Here is the kicker: After adding a compressor I may add another EQ and do further surgical cuts, as sometimes compression can magnify a frequency that wasn’t offensive in its raw state but after compressing the signal and possibly bringing up. I’ll be adding more to this post as time permits, but for the most part, the steadfast move for me is the following:

  1. EQ (surgical) cleanup

  2. Compression

  3. (possibly) EQ sweetening