Subtractive EQ

Subtractive EQ

“Why you need to do it to improve your audio mixing.”

Jacob Hagloch

I have been editing audio for many years now. Mostly blind, in the dark, not knowing what I’m doing or how to actually affect the waveform and get what I want out of it. I didn’t really think about waveforms in general. I just recorded something, recorded something else and slapped everything together. Maybe adjust the volume here or there so the listener could hear what I wanted them to hear but never adjusted the EQ.

EQ = Equalization

I’m sure everyone in this day and age has worked with an EQ at some point in their lives. It may be in your car, or on your stereo and you just didn’t think about it. Everytime you adjust the “Bass”, “Trebel”, or “Mids”, you are adjusting the EQ of that sound. We all can move things around till we hear what sounds best to us but to truly understand how to effect the waveform/sound to get the clearest sound, that takes time, experience, and understanding.

Parametric Equalizer

I work mainly in Adobe Audition and typically the Parametric Equalizer is my go-to for EQ’s. The image is showing a “preset” within the Parametric EQ known as “Vocal Enhancer”. If you follow along with the blue line depicted on the image, you will see the different frequencies that it is limiting or embellishing.

Parametric Equalizer in Adobe Audition


Both the music track and the VoiceOver is fighting for the same space

Many times a VoiceOver is being put together with some music or “sound bed”. In the process of doing that typically the audio editor will then bring down the music so the most audible content is the message of the VoiceOver. It is hard to find a balance of this because both the music track and the VoiceOver is fighting for the same space; the same frequencies if you will. The “[SUB] EQ Method” is how we can help these two waveforms exist, not on top of one another, but inside of each other.

In simplest terms: What ever frequencies you boost in the VoiceOver, you subtract in the music. Like anything, you must be careful with the amount subtracted because you don’t want the lack of those frequencies to be noticed. However, by removing in the music, the same frequencies you boost in the Voiceover; you have now created a pocket for the Voiceover to live inside the music.

Let’s put this to the test!

Below are two tracks, one without the Sub-EQ Method and one with.

Listen for yourself and see if you can hear a difference.

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