I get asked a lot, “Hey man, what’s your favorite plugin for ________?”

Today I want to share with you my favorite EQ.

There are lots to choose from: free plugins, paid plugins, rack-mounted EQ’s, channel strips with EQ, mixers with EQ on each channel.

Then within each of those categories you have approximately a bajillion different options.

Here’s my favorite EQ.

Ready?

It is…

THE MICROPHONE.

“Dangit, Joe, you tricked me!” you may be saying to yourself.

I know…I kinda did. 🙂

But there’s a good reason behind it.

I’ve made PLENTY of bad recordings over the years, and do you know what was the culprit almost 100% of the time?

Was it the musician? Usually not.

Was it the mix? Not exactly.

Was it an alien invasion? Possibly.

But most of the time the culprit was MIC PLACEMENT.

See…I would rush so quickly through setting up the microphone, because I would be SO excited to get something recorded. If it didn’t sound great, I would just say to myself smugly, “I can always fix that in the mix.”

And we’d be off to recording.

Bad Joe.

The truth is this…my best mixes come from my best recordings. The time I invest on the front end (recording) pays off exponentially on the back end (mixing).

So before you look to something like my Understanding EQ course (www.UnderstandingEQ.com) to “rescue” your recordings, take a step back and make sure that you’re making the most of your mic placement during recording.

Small mic adjustments can make a HUGE difference in the tone of the recording.

Take the time to do it right, and you won’t have to “fix” it later.

  • J.C. Mack

    What is the best mic placement for a condenser mic? I see some hanging upside down, some tilted forward, and some both… Some say right at level with your mouth and some say below your mouth at your chin…. can anybody help me or direct to a tutorial… I’ve tried them and my recording still seems boomy. I’m using a sE 2200 a ii c.

    • The right one is whatever sounds the best. You need to experiment until you find the spot that works on that instrument/voice on that day. 🙂

  • I agree. I’m still relatively new to having other people come to my place and record and I often make the mistake of thinking I should speed up the process and not waste time fussing about everything. I just recorded a vocalist and was mixing the track and realised there is only so much you can do with a recording that wasn’t exactly right at the source. I’ve tried to correct every possible EQ and it’s just not happening. Must spend more time getting it correct first.

    • And if you do a good job of setting expectations with your clients and explain WHY you’re taking time to set things up properly, they’ll appreciate it. 🙂

  • A microphone….? Fair enough, different mics have different freq responses and even the same mic placed differently can cause massive changes in “EQ”.

    But what about a real EQ, Joe? I have quite a preference for this Blue Tubes plugin I have…I think it’s a rough model ov a Pultec or something. It is just killer on guitars and anything where you want to f**k around with the 2K region.. 🙂

    • Of course EQ’s are important, but I prefer to use them for enhancing rather than fixing. The fixing (for me) happens with the microphones.

  • Jon

    Lol I totally knew you were going to say “the microphone” before I even read this post and had just looked at the title!  It’s true though 🙂

  • Zyguli

    Yes, but what about electronic instruments like synth that are recorded thru line in, or plugin synth? Beside having the right patch for the job, some EQ is sometimes needed and recording through a speaker and mike is not always an option, because it changes the sound too much.

    • You’re right. It’s a different story when you’re dealing with samples etc. At that point, I’d think it makes a lot of sense to really dial in the right sound before committing to it.

  • Is it mandatory to have a trated room to try mic placement 100% safe? I ask this cause my room isn’t treated (althought it doesn’t bring me BIG problems), and I imagine a scenario where moving the mic could bring it up the room frequencies issues.

    • Nothing’s really mandatory, but your room might be affecting the sound more than you think. Go listen to the sound examples here:

      http://www.homestudiocorner.com/auralex-roominators-project-2-review-with-audio-examples/

      The before example doesn’t sound too bad, but the after (with treatment) sounds NOTICEABLY better than the first.
      It’s one of those things you might not THINK you need, but when you hear the difference it can possibly change your mind.
      Either way, there are certainly no rules. If YOU’RE happy with your recordings, then keep on making great recordings. 🙂