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Linear Phase EQ: An In-Depth Look

Jul 01, 2010

Linear Phase EQ is Waves’ most transparent equalizer, designed especially for maintaining phase relations in mixing and mastering situations.

When we do regular equalization, we tend to think that we’re manipulating only a certain frequency range. While that’s true to some extent, what actually happens is that different amounts of processing delay take place on different frequencies. This is called phase distortion, which smears transients, happening most often with extreme gain changes and narrow Q values. The end result is that drums lose their punch, acoustic guitar strums lose definition, and overall sound quality suffers from unwanted artifacts. Linear Phase EQ is perfect for those times where you have to equalize, but want your sources to sound “unprocessed.”

Since linear phase equalization adds latency, it’s not usually a first choice for live sound mixing. However, there are many situations where using a regular EQ can be less than ideal, and that’s where Linear Phase EQ excels:

  • Acoustic instruments: Even at extreme settings, the sound of harmonically-rich acoustic instruments such as guitars and piano remains much more transparent with Linear Phase EQ as opposed to regular EQ.
  • Stereo sources: Linear Phase EQ is ideal for stereo-correlated sources such as left and right overheads, or stereo-mic’d piano. With regular EQ, adjusting the frequency response on one of the stereo correlated sources will introduce phase differences over parts of the frequency spectrum, which can cause the stereo coherence to collapse. This effect does not happen with Linear Phase EQ.
  • Transient-heavy tracks: Material with strong transients such as drums benefit from linear phase equalization, since regular EQ can cause the phase distortion which can result in smearing. When mixing drums or drum-heavy material, boosting high frequencies can lead to reduced punch and thin sound. Linear Phase Equalizer maintains phase coherence and therefore does not smear transients, allowing you to retain the transients as they were before equalization.
  • Mastering: Linear Phase EQ is perfect for “colorless” matching of sonic character between different songs on an album, without adding the artifacts that non-linear phase EQs can add.

Waves Linear Phase Equalizer is a professional precision equalization tool that delivers different results than non-linear phase equalizers. When you’re looking to color your mixes, use a regular EQ. But when pure, clean equalization is your goal, Linear Phase EQ is the way to go.