One of the great things about the digital audio revolution is being able to see on screen the effects of applying EQ, Compression, De essing, etc. You can see all the ups and downs in your eq curves, reminding you of how draconian you were about to be with the signal.”Look at that!” you exclaim to yourself…”That CAN’T be right!” …Out it comes. We can look at the phase curve on a SIM system while Eqing and see phase relative to the adjustments we are making. Yikes!

All the while the upper midrange is building up and things are getting more and more abrasive sounding. But it must be correct right? “I read everywhere that if you use good mics and put them in the right place that you don’t need EQ and using it is evil.” Well, not really.

EQ lives on consoles for a reason. Almost never in the real world are you going to be able to place mics at naturally phase aligned points on stage, nor would you have the time to determine where those were. You also have the output of the stage monitors to consider, and with 18 open mics on a small, loud stage for example, there are going to be some radical peaks produced. Not only will they be peaky, the peaked areas will sound very “phasey” because its the phase alignment of several signals that is producing the peak in the first place.

How many concerts have you been to that employ state of the art digital equipment and sounded terrible? I bet things would get much better if the engineer could turn off the monitor they are looking at and just use their ears.

Our ears are better instruments to use for evaluating subjective sound quality over any contrived instrument. A well trained ear can detect minute phase changes, a non well trained ear can as well, its just that the person attached to them can’t correlate what they are hearing with what they need to do about it on the board.

So, mix with your ears, not with your eyes and what you think you know, and pay attention to the crowd’s reaction.

For a fairly comprehensive online course on ear training and related education visit