I get asked this question all the time.

“Should I use outboard EQ or compression while recording?”

My answer?

It depends.

If you’ve watched my Understanding EQ videos then you should have a solid grasp on how to use EQ plugin to make the most out of your tracks.

And if you’re confident with an EQ plugin, you should be just as confident with an outboard EQ (like the 3-band EQ on my Presonus Eureka channel strip).

A few things to keep in mind with outboard EQ:

1. It’s permanent.

You can’t go back and “un-EQ” a poorly EQ’d track once it’s recorded.

2. Keep it subtle.

At least at first. Rather than doing huge EQ cuts and boosts. Start small. You can always add more EQ to the track later, inside the comfort and safety of your DAW.

3. Adjust the source FIRST.

If you’re using a microphone and aren’t happy with the tone, move the mic before you move an EQ knob. If you’re recording bass direct, have the bassist change his tone first (if possible) before reaching for the EQ.

4. Have a good WHY.

If you can’t tell me WHY you’re using that EQ, then it’s probably best you don’t use it.

As you can probably tell, as cool as outboard EQ can be, it can be a thorn in your side if you don’t know how to use it right, causing many more problems than it fixes.

However, if you know how to EQ the right way, outboard EQ is just another way to show off your skillz. Dialing in the right frequencies will become second nature to you.

To learn how to be a confident EQ ninja, go here: