Dynamic EQ with Waves F6

The Waves F6 has some intriguing features, like mid side, per band sidechaining, per band parallel processing all with compression and expansion potential.

Why use dynamic EQ?

If you try controlling a boomy or harsh frequency using a static EQ you can alter the quality of the audio unnecessarily. By using a dynamic EQ, you can remove the problem only when the specific frequency passes the set threshold, saving you the effort of automating an EQ.

The Waves F6 has some intriguing features, like mid side, per band sidechaining, per band parallel processing all with compression and expansion potential. The plugin is very CPU efficient therefore the EQ itself can very easily replace your standard DAW EQ, with the bonus of offering you dynamic processing when needed.

I decided to implement the F6 on a song I am busy mixing to put it through its paces.

Lead Vocal

The obvious place to start testing the F6 is vocals as vocals these days might not be recorded in the best space available. With so many bedroom recordings there are a lot of problems with room modes, and resonances. Normally in the past, I would use either just the standard EQ3 from Avid, or a Waves C6 to resolve these issues but the F6 provides the best middle ground between static EQ and Multiband compression.

Listening to the vocal two problems stood out. The first, more noticeable frequency was around 2kHz, where the mic just wasn’t flattering to the female vocalist. The cool thing about the F6 is that it operates exactly like a normal EQ, but has the added features of compression. Another smart thing is that if you right-click on any EQ band and drag the number it solos that band automatically.

So, I right-clicked and searched for the offensive frequency and removed it just like I would with a standard EQ, setting the Q correctly and everything. Then instead of cutting that frequency, I set the range to -8 and just dialed in the threshold until the frequency is tamed. The nice thing about this is that it won’t be as drastic in sections where that frequency is not as obtrusive. I also removed some low-mid build-up in the same way, cleaning up the vocal in a more natural-sounding way.

Guitar Bus

Next was the guitar bus. All the electric guitars are bussed through a single aux with some harmonic processing affecting it. Listening to the guitars I noticed that it was very dark (possibly because I didn’t add any EQ), so I decided to try the F6. Firstly, I added a small boost around 2khz with a relatively wide Q, then set the range to -3 and dialed in the threshold to compress by a small amount. Immediately the guitars got some bite but whenever it gets too much the compressor controls it. I also added a band to remove just a bit of 200Hz, which was more prevalent in the chorus of the song. Helping to keep the guitars present in the verse, but removing the buildup in the chorus.

Bass Sidechain Technique

I wanted to try some of the other features of this plugin next so I decided to use the sidechain input on the bass guitar. I set up a send on the kick to use as a key input to the sidechain of the F6. I searched for the frequency in the bass where the kick needed to be more prominent, set the Q as needed and a decent range (-10). Then I adjusted the threshold, attack and release settings to taste. Next you need to set the sidechain source to external so the EQ band looks to the key input from the kick. Immediately the low end of the kick had more space and was more audible without overpowering the bass.

Drum Overheads

After success with the bass, I explored even more. On the overheads, I decided to experiment with the mid-side features of the plugin. The overheads had a very natural, well-recorded picture of the drums. I decided to increase the brightness with a shelve EQ type, which made the cymbals pop out too much. Easily fixed with the F6 by just setting the range and threshold to react mostly to the crash cymbals.

Next, I went to the high pass filter, set it to only affect the sides, and filtered out frequencies below 150Hz on the sides of the overheads.

I wanted to bring out the snare more so I searched for a frequency that would help it stand out by right-clicking a band and searching for a frequency. By boosting around 1300Hz the snare stood out more but it made the overheads more nasal. The solution was to use Mid/Side, set it to the mid-band & cut 3dB. Then I set a positive value in the range and set the threshold to react to the snare (and toms). Now every time the snare hit it brings up the level of that frequency band while leaving it cut the rest of the time.

Finally, I decided to bring out more kick in the overheads as well. I boosted 100Hz in the Mid channel by 2dB, and again set a positive range of +10, then adjusted the threshold to react to the kick. The kick now had more power in the overheads, again without the overheads being overpowering in the 100Hz range.