EQ Before or After Compression?

So where in your chain should you place the EQ?  Should it go before the compressor or after?  Does it matter?  Here are a few thoughts on the placement of the EQ and its effect on the sound.

1. Before Compression

EQing before compression can be a great way to achieve a more natural sound.  When you EQ before compression the compressor can help to glue the EQ to the source and help it become part of the sound.  Doing this can make the EQ sound like it is part of the original sound, like the way it was recorded.

EQing before compression is also great when you are cutting and filtering frequencies.  When you cut and filter out any unneeded frequencies, prior to compression, you are reducing the amount of work the compressor has to do.

2. After Compression

EQing after compression is great if you need a sound to cut through the mix.  One of the downsides of EQing before compression is that you are compressing any of the frequencies that you just boosted.  This can reduce the impact and the goal of helping that instrument to standout in the mix.

EQ after compression is also great for parallel processing.  Parallel compression can often emphasize some unpleasant frequencies.  So post compression is a great place for cutting and/or filter out said unpleasant frequencies.

3. Cut Before Compression, Boost After Compression

This is a best of both words approach.  By cutting and filtering before the compressor you are reducing the amount of work the compressor has to do.  And when you boost after the compressor you aren’t compressing the frequencies that you want to cut through in the mix.

At the end of the day, I wouldn’t worry too much about where you place the EQ in the chain.  If it sounds good to your ears then do it!  These thoughts are just here to give you a little insight into how the order can affect the sound.  Feel free to share your thoughts on how you like to order EQ and compression in the comments.

Stay creative, stay encouraged, stay inspired, and stay motivated.

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