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Producers use EQ to shape sound generally, but I know a particularly useful feature of EQ is the ability to cut frequencies that are unwanted. For sounds that are created/designed digitally, though, is there any need for EQ? Are synthesizers and other electronic instruments already "EQ'd" by their very design?

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    Best anyone can say is "it depends".
    – Tetsujin
    Jul 6, 2021 at 15:56
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    Nothing "needs" anything. Do producers and engineers use EQ to change or improve the sound of electronic instruments? Constantly Jul 6, 2021 at 15:58
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    Welp, it does take out part of the equation. For instance, you probably want to use a bit of filtering when recording an instrument with a narrow range or in an unusual room (e.g. hi-pass to eliminate low room noise when recording a high instrument, etc.). Using an instrument that's already sampled removes that "requirement." But using EQ for expressive purposes is different (LFO, anybody?), and you might choose to tweak the instrument's tone. (Not to mention: If we're talking about live performance, you might want to EQ to suit the space! E.g. notch-filter out feedback frequencies.) Jul 6, 2021 at 19:17
  • "Are [...] already "EQ'd" by their very design": theoretically, yes; practically, no. Analog electronic instrument obviously are more prone to amplitude variations since their components don't always behave "in the same way" at different "electrical conditions". But, most importantly, electronic instruments also implement forms of signal processing that can be dependent on input frequency in order to create some modulation. The result is that you can have very different results at different pitch, or that some settings create unwanted harmonics that do require EQing. Jul 6, 2021 at 22:06

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Yes there can be a need for EQ on electronic instruments when recorded.

Yes, synthesizers and other electronic instruments can already have some form of equalization applied internally, but the design of that EQ only considers that instrument in isolation, not in combination with other sounds.

One of the most important functions of EQ while mixing (and mastering) is to make the combination of all of the sounds work well together, throughout the whole piece.

While there are ways to have EQ done entirely by the instrument in question (especially if it's totally "in the box", i.e. a plug-in), it makes more sense to have it done by the mixing system (console, DAW software, etc.) so that a uniform method is used for each instrument.

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    I would go beyond this and say that electronic instruments that are recorded direct might have more EQ on them in the mix phase than instruments recorded with a microphone. The reason is because you can use mic selection, mic placement, and mic preamp selection and configuration to alter how an acoustic instrument will sit in the mic before you even start mixing. Not so with anything recorded direct. Jul 7, 2021 at 3:13

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