If you hang around recording circles long, you’ll probably ask this question I got from Andrew:

Hey Joe, when should I use linear-phase EQ and why?

Linear-phase EQ is essentially a highly-accurate, “surgical” EQ.

Regular EQ’s have phase shift between the different bands. When you boost or cut 250 Hz, that frequency range is technically delayed by a tiny amount, which causes some…”smearing” is the word, I think.

Linear-phase EQ keeps all the frequencies 100% in phase. In other words, all the frequencies pass through the EQ at the same speed, resulting in zero phase issues between bands.

No, that’s not a super-technical definition, but I’m okay with that. 🙂

So…it’s easy to assume that since linear-phase EQ gets rid of any “smearing” that it must be better, right?

Maybe it is…but does that really matter?

Think about it for a second.

My wife and I have been in our current house for two years. Are there bigger, better, fancier houses out there? Of course.

Does that make our house inferior? Not at all.

Linear-phase EQ is a fantastic tool. It’s wonderful. But that DOESN’T MEAN that you can’t get fantastic results with a “regular” EQ.

I can see how linear-phase EQ would be useful for mastering, but I bet most home studio owners can’t hear the difference.

Or if you CAN hear a difference, neither would probably sound “better” to you…they would just sound different.

I wouldn’t be terribly concerned with it. “Linear-Phase EQ” is a really cool marketing term, but give a great engineer an entry-level EQ and he’ll make magic happen.

This applies to almost everything you do in the studio. There will always be a better option out there, but you’ll be much better off learning HOW to use the tools you already have, rather than constantly upgrading to fancy new ones.

Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not AGAINST linear-phase EQ. I’m simply trying to keep you from putting your hopes in a piece of gear or software to do things that only YOU (the human) can do.

Before you can “graduate” to linear-phase EQ, I recommend becoming a MASTER of “regular” EQ. That involves really understanding the concept of EQ and how to use it to get great results. And practice, practice, practice.

The practice part is up to you. I can help with the learning part here:

www.UnderstandingEQ.com