An equaliser is probably the most fundamentally important tool you need when producing and mixing music. It allows you to increase or decrease the volume of specific frequencies in a variety of ways. This can drastically or very subtly affect the tone of any audio signal and is essential when mixing to ensure every element is in its place and there is no masking or muddiness. The Fruity Parametric EQ 2 is my go-to equaliser in FL Studio as it is easy to use and includes spectral analysis, so as well as hearing what you’re doing you can see how you’re affecting the audio signal.
In this post I’ll explain the basic controls of the Fruity Parametric EQ 2 so you can make the best use of it in your music. you may want to bookmark this page so you have it on hand for reference.
How to use the Fruity Parametric EQ 2
I would recommend that you have FL Studio open with the Fruity Parametric EQ 2 loaded up in a channel with audio running through it whilst reading this guide. That way you can try out the different options as I explain them and really hear how they affect the sound.
The Fruity Parametric EQ 2 comes with seven bands which can be any of eight different ‘shapes’ and can have their frequency, width and slope adjusted as required. There is also a global gain slider to adjust the overall volume.
In the image above the Band Tokens are marked with a 1 and the Band Type and Filter Slope Selectors are marked with a 2. You can simply drag the band tokens around to change the center frequency and the equalisation level of each band. Using the mouse wheel over a token adjusts the bandwidth of that band. In the area marked 2 you can see the settings for each of the bands, the top shape represents the Band Type and the dots below represent the Filter Slope and they can be adjusted by clicking and dragging or hovering over them and using the mouse wheel. You can also choose the band type and slope by right-clicking on the band token. I’ll outline the band types and their uses below. The filter slope settings change how steep or gentle the curves of the band are, as we go through the different shapes try adjusting the slope to see how this changes the shape of the band. This is all you need to know to get started. I’ll explain some of the other buttons and sliders at the end of this basic guide.
Let’s begin by going through the different band types.
The ‘Peaking’ band type
Here we have bands 3 and 5 set as peaking band types. Note that you can turn off bands you don’t need and save CPU. A peaking band is simply a boost or a cut around a specific frequency. Experiment with the width (mouse wheel) and slope to see how they affect the shape and the sound, a wide cut/boost with a gentle slope is more natural whilst a narrow cut/boost with a steeper slope is more precise.
Uses: There are many uses for a peaking band. They can be used to mould the tone of a signal with small, wide boosts in the sweet spots. They could be used to reduce problem frequencies that are jumping out too much with precise, deep cuts. A great use in the mix is to gently cut frequencies that you would prefer to hear more of another part in, for example making space for a vocal over a guitar.
The ‘High-Pass’ band type
The high-pass is so named because only allows the higher frequencies to pass and cuts off any lower frequencies. This band doesn’t have an equalisation level to increase or decrease, as you simply set the frequency below which you want to cut everything. As with all band types you can adjust the width and the slope to change how precise the cut-off is.
Uses: It’s common to use a high-pass filter on pretty much any instrument or track that isn’t needed in the bass end of the mix. Generally everything except the bass guitar/synth and the kick drum will benefit from having some of the lower frequencies removed. This is because most other instruments don’t need any of those lower frequencies and, importantly, there may still be subtle sounds down there that can add up and cause muddiness. I generally add a high-pass EQ to each instrument (whilst playing the whole mix), starting at the lowest frequency and sweeping up until I can hear it altering the sound, then drop it back a bit and leave it. As always, you should experiment and find what works best in your mix.
The ‘Low-Pass’ band type
As you’ve probably worked out, a low-pass EQ is the reverse of a high-pass EQ. This time only letting through frequencies below a certain point and cutting everything above. All the controls are the same but the slope goes in the other direction.
Uses: This is probably less used that the high-pass EQ although it can have a similar function in removing unwanted frequencies at the top end that might build up in a mix.
The ‘High Shelf’ band type
Similar to a low-pass band, the high shelf band effects all frequencies above a certain point. The difference is that with a shelf you can cut or boost those frequencies as much as you need. By now you should be getting a good idea of how the bandwidth and slope types affect the shape of the bands we’ve looked at so far. The high shelf shape can be changed the same way.
Uses: This can be used to affect the brightness of the audio going through it. Boost for brighter, cut for duller, but be subtle as an extreme high shelf could sound nasty, especially a boost. Can also be used to cut high frequencies in the same way as a low-pass filter, but less extreme.
The ‘Low Shelf’ band type
The opposite of the high-shelf, applying a boost or a cute to all frequencies below a certain point. All controls are the same but the shape is reversed.
Uses: Good for gently boosting the low-end of a mix or as a less extreme alternative to a high-pass.
The ‘Band Pass’ band type
A band pass cuts everything outside of a specific frequency range. Essentially it is a high-pass and a low-pass combined and as such has no equalisation level, just a frequency, bandwidth and slope type.
Uses: I’ve yet to find a use for this on a track within a mix, other than as an effect (by automating the frequency you can create a cool sweeping sound). However, I do use this all the time as a very useful tool on the master bus/track when mixing. As it only allows specific frequencies through you can use it to listen in on those specific frequencies in your mix. Set it to a narrow bandwidth with a steep slope then, starting at the lowest end, slowly sweep up through the entire frequency range, whilst listening carefully. This allows you to hear precisely what’s going on in different frequency ranges. The value of this is being able to hear where you may have different instruments clashing with each other or where there may be some unwanted noise, for example. In a nicely separated mix you should be able to hear each instrument in it’s own space as you sweep through the frequencies. I found this trick really helped improve my mixing. Just be sure to turn it off when you’re done.
The ‘Notch’ band type
The notch EQ is the reverse of the band pass EQ, in that it cuts everything around a specific frequency and leaves the rest. Just like the band pass, high-pass and low-pass it has no no equalisation level, just a frequency, bandwidth and slope type.
Uses: This is another one I’ve not found much use for. If you had a serious problem at a specific frequency you may want to use this to notch it out… Otherwise it could be used as an effect, or to make room for another instrument.
Those other buttons…
If you’ve been playing with the Fruity Parametric EQ 2 whilst reading through this you will have noticed that the sliders and dials on the right change as you move the tokens about. They are also used to adjust the equalisation level, frequency and bandwidth and may be useful for more precise adjustments. To be really precise, ctrl+click a token, knob or slider for fine adjustment.
Finally the ‘options and settings’ buttons at the bottom near the middle work as follows.*
From left to right:
- High precision monitor – Increases the resolution of the background frequency spectrum monitoring at the expense of display latency (plugin audio latency remains unaffected).
- About – Shows version details and credits.
- HQ – Uses oversampling to improve audio quality, particularly in the region above 15 kHz. NOTE: HQ mode increases CPU load.
- View Band tokens – Turns the tokens ON/OFF.
- Monitor – Turns the spectral monitoring ON/OFF or shows the spectrum of the plugin output.
- Compare – Click the first down-arrow to save the current EQ settings to a spare bank. Click the up/down arrow control to swap between the saved bank and the main bank. Tweaking any parameter in the spare bank will cause it to become the main bank again. Use this to compare EQ settings. Note that the comparison bank is saved along with the main bank, so keep this in mind if you are creating presets.
* From the FL Studio help file
Although equalisation is such a simple concept it’s a really powerful tool and you should avoid using it to extremes if it’s not really required. Many subtle changes can add up and sound more natural than big changes. Don’t be afraid to use more than one EQ if you need more bands. I would also recommend cutting wherever you can, rather than boosting (Subtractive EQ). Get rid of all the bits you don’t need and allow the good bits to shine through.
So there you go. A fairly in-depth explanation of the Fruity Parametric EQ 2 in FL Studio. I hope you find it useful. Please do let me know in the comments or via the contact form if you have any thoughts or suggestions on this post. Please like my Facebook page to keep up to date with new posts and join our FL Studio Q&A group to ask for advice and help each other.
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