In this article I'm going to feature two very potent and usable, but sometimes overlooked, EQs: the Tonelux Tilt and Tilt Live and the Focusing Equalizer from the Passive-Active Pack. I don't think these EQ plug-ins get the credit that they deserve, perhaps due to their unorthodox approach to EQing. But both EQs are extremely powerful when you quickly need to tonally shape your tracks, but may not be the EQs to suit all your needs. For more surgical tasks, you might need a more precise tool to remove resonances or other problem frequencies.
Cut more and your mix will be better.
The Tonelux Tilt and Tilt Live and the Focusing Equalizer are in a way close siblings in that they share the same mindset for EQing. They force you to rely on your ears by hiding the actual math and frequencies, which is a more musical way of working than staring at filter curves. They also share a couple of controls, for instance the high and low cut filters. We at Softube are strong believers of "cut more and your mix will sound better". Remove the mud at the bottom and leave the space at the top end, and those tracks that should have that extra sparkle and shine will be able to cut through.
The Tonelux Tilt
Often you find that a track is just 'a bit to dull' or 'a little bit to bright'. The Tonelux Tilt and Tilt Live is a one knob EQ that might be the quick fix needed in those situations. Turn it to the left for more bass and less high end, to the right for more treble and less bass. It works as a see-saw pivoting around a carefully selected frequency. It also have a loudness mode that turns the Tilt see-saw action to a happy/sad face mode, like the loudness button on a hi-fi amp. Together with the low and high cut filters the Tilt gives you a tool to quickly whip your track tonally into shape. In the sidebar you can find a tutorial video with the Tilt in action.
Learn to trust your ears rather than relying to heavily on filter curves. If it sounds good, it is good!
The Focusing Equalizer
The Focusing Equalizer shares the philosophy of the Tilt, but has more controls which make it more flexible. The Focusing Equalizer is a three band Equalizer with high- and low-cut filters. On top of this, it also has a saturation knob to distort and 'compress' your tracks. You can also select which filter type to use, the gentle filters from the Passive Equalizer or the steeper filters from the Active Equalizer.
The main idea behind the Focusing Equalizer is to first set the band width with the Low and High Cut faders, so that the low and high cuts "focus" on the part of the spectrum where the energy of the track is. This will in turn tune the center frequencies of the three high, mid and low bands so that they match that selection. There is no need for separate frequency selectors for the different bands since these have already been set in a very natural sounding way by the High and Low Cut. If you check the sidebar you can find a video describing the different features of the Focusing Equalizer.
The saturation section is based on the input section and compression from our FET Compressor and can be used to add a little extra bite or energy to a track to cut through your mix.
I made a quick example mix of some tracks provided by Scott Fritz. The song is called 'The Reds Are Taking Over' by The Morning Stares. Except from a Tube-Tech PE 1C "Pultec" Equalizer on the Kick track and a some cases of Cubase channel equalizer for notching, I have only used the Focusing Equalizer for my EQing needs.
My idea was to leave some of the top end for the vocal by using the high cut on the other tracks. The bass end was cleaned up by using the low cut. Then I used the different EQ bands to, among other things, beef up the bottom of the drums, give the guitars some extra bite and make the snare a little brighter. Saturation was used on the drums and to distort the vocals a little. You can see some of the settings in the screen shot to the right and find the sound examples in the sidebar.
One or both of these EQs might get you a long way in terms of quickly getting your mix tonally into shape. Bundle it up with the channel EQ of your DAW to remove problematic frequencies, and add a favorite sweetening EQ like the Trident A-Range for that extra character.