What does a "musical EQ" mean

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Post 11 Oct 2020

I often hear how people refer to some EQ's or filters being "musical".

What does this mean? And how does the sound compare to a non-musical EQ ?

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Post 11 Oct 2020

I think it means having fairly broad curves rather than surgical precision. Making the overall tone sweeter but maybe not so useful for carving out space in a mix.

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Post 11 Oct 2020

"Musical" is a buzzword that virtual instrument/effect marketers like to apply to anything. Our product will bring a uniquely musical character to your music!

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Post 11 Oct 2020

Good question. I know that EQs affect phases and gain in the frequency domain. Often EQs curves are not just simple curves, rather more complex curves, pushing a frequency and lowering a frequency right after the affected frequency band and this often having different phase response, changing the overall sound.

And some add saturation with different harmonic components.

Some are bound to typical frequency bands, making things easier in some cases.

I guess, how the EQ works with Frequencies, Curves, Gain, Phase responses and Saturation gives the character of an EQ. If it fits, some may call it musical...maybe...

Curious how others understand this term.
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Post 11 Oct 2020

Simply put,

it colours the source material.

Adds Harmonics / Saturation etc, or in the case of say Pultek the cuts & boost add Brightness....
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Post 11 Oct 2020

Not sure. Like someone mentioned, mostly it's probably buzzwords to sell a product.
But imo some EQs are just easier to make it sound good. For example I've always preferred GQ-7 to MClass EQ. The way GQ-7 does high shelf sounds smoother and more "musical" to me, while MClass sounds harsh doing the same thing. Some people will probably argue that you could get the same result with MClass with enough work. But why make it hard for yourself when some REs/plugins just work better right away?

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Post 17 Jul 2021

I use that word to mean an EQ with gentle slopes and wide bands. Punching up 738Hz by 6dB with a narrow Q is not musical, it's a special effect. Notching out 120Hz is not musical, it's problem solving. Gently tilting the entire spectrum towards the bass around 250Hz is musical. Shelf EQs are musical. Pultec-style EQs are musical. Tilt EQs are musical (Audiothing Tilt is lovely). Baxandall EQs are musical (Audiothing Springs uses a Baxandall EQ, very nice)
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