How Many EQ Plug-ins Does It Take?
Does anyone remember when Willy Wonka is talking about the "Everlasting Gobstopper"? The scene where all of the kids are gathered around and they all want gobstoppers. He said, "One is enough for anyone". This reminds me of dynamic and spectral processors on the market today. Many manufacturers want you to believe that you need various models of classic EQ plug-ins with more and more flexibility. Sure there are more of these plug-ins than ever, but do we really need them?
Stop for a moment and think back for a moment about the evolution of recording. Many classic albums were made on consoles. On consoles there are only a few bands available. This in many ways is in great contrast to the various designs that exist in the market today. Call me "Old School", but I still believe that in any recording if you need extensive amounts of EQ then you should consider re-recording or reconsidering your signal-chain. I still like analog or digital equalizers that have only a few knobs on them. You know, the types of equalizers that don't have the little color dots that make it all too tempting to mix with your eyes instead of with your ears. Sure, there are those cases when you may struggle a bit to achieve exactly what you want with a simple 3-4 band EQ, but remember that when applying EQ it has an impact on the entire mix. There was a time where EQ was referred to as "Balance" and that is important to keep in mind. All engineers must remember that equalization has a Yin & Yang cause and effect and applying equalization typically is best achieved by making subtle adjustments throughout a mix. This can often be achieved with the simpler EQ designs found in consoles. We don't always need all of the added flexibility granted to us by the plug-in manufacturers.
So, next time you are considering that new plug-in ask yourself, "How many equalizer plug-ins do I really need". Consider using a simple high-quality equalizer and you just might find more pleasure in the balancing process.