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Hi all,

maybe this question has already come up (though I couldn't find it ...), and surely most of you will have their own best practices here...

EQ or Compression, what do you put first and why?

best, Julian

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Maybe there are two additional things I can contribute to the discussion... 1. as far as I understand it, EQing before compressing will have more impact on the comp's behaviour than the other way round (as you move your signal towards or away from the comp's threshold) 2. what sort of confuses me: on many live mixing consoles the channel insert (where you'd put a compressor) lies before the EQ... is this just an exception to the rule, i.e. does this make sense for live mixing but nowhere else...? –  Julian Aug 1 '10 at 13:42
    
In a live console i think the compressor is used as a first leveller tool after the gain, to get a consistent sound that can be eqed and mixed. –  Davide Favargiotti Aug 2 '10 at 0:18
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7 Answers

It is general practice to compress first, then EQ. That is why, in almost every hardware channel strip you can buy, the compresser is before the EQ. Also, most consoles have their inserts before the EQ section. Consoles that have a built in dynamics section almost always have the dynamics before filters (EQ) (Some of the really high end ones - SSL, Harrison, Trident, etc... are switchable).

Certain filters are almost always located before the dynamics section, such as HPF, LPF, etc... If you really want to change the sound, or have an "egregious" frequency in the source sound, you might notch or shelf certain frequencies before compression, but it isn't all that common.

Also, try to use equalization as little as possible. If you are the one doing the original recording, ALWAYS play with mic placement before even thinking about touching and eq. Equalizers work by using small changes in phase. If you heavily eq something, you are heavily altering the phase of it. Never a good thing if you can avoid it. If you can't, try to use it sparingly (unless you find yourself a linear phase eq).

As always, there are really no set rules with this, so you are more than welcome to put them in any order you'd like. As long as you get the sound you're looking for, it doesn't really matter how you get there.

Good luck and happy knob tweaking!

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Depends on if you want to equalize the compressed sound or compress the equalized sound. What do your ears say?

There is no rules in this area but for starters first EQ then compressor is suggested.

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For VO mixing I use compression first - to even out peaks, and then EQ for any overall tonal adjustments.

In varying circumstances, the frequency content of the source signal may suggest the processing order, depending on the outcome you're looking to achieve.

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I tend to EQ first then compress. But the great thing about DAW's and plugins, is that it is quick and easy to change the order and determine what sounds the best. And you can always compress, EQ, and then compress some more!

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I'll usually put compression last in my chain, as it can easily be undone by other processes like eq. Maybe undone isn't the right word, can I change that to "mucked up"?

I've just never liked the sounds I get if I put compression too early in the chain, the only thing I'll ever put after compression is a limiter, but that's actually just more compression.

Another reason, is that sometimes I find it's not needed after I've finished doing everything else. I not a bad habit to avoid using compression needlessly.

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When I mix dialogue I usually have   Gain/trim -> filters -> denoise -> eq -> opt special treatment -> fader -> compressor

I like to have the compressor  at the end of the chain, working just a little on the dialogue at normal level, and more and more when I rise the level. Sometime I have eq and then compressor, there isn't an absolute rule.

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why you would compress taking into account frequencies you didn't want in the first place is beyond me.

then again, boosting things after compression makes sense..

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