How to Use EQ in Ableton Live

by Seamus Islwyn ; Updated September 22, 2017

Equalization shapes the character of a sound by removing certain frequencies and increasing others. Ableton Live music software includes two built-in EQs that you can use to alter audio samples and software instruments. Use the EQ Three plug-in to make quick, broad adjustments to a sound, and use Ableton's EQ Eight to make precise, fine adjustments. EQ Three is best suited for live performances and DJ mixes, while EQ Eight is designed for audio production and sound design.

EQ Three

Drag and drop the EQ Three plug-in from the "Live Devices" section onto the channel you want to equalize in the mixer window. Click the Play button to start listening to the audio.

Click and drag the GainLow knob to the right to increase the volume of the lower frequencies. Move it to the left to decrease them. Repeat the process for the GainMid and GainHi knobs to alter the mid-range and high-end frequencies, respectively.

Adjust the FreqLow and FreqHi knobs to change which frequencies the EQ considers "low" and "high." Remove a frequency range completely by clicking the L, M or H button below the frequency range knob. Click the 24 button to make equalization more gradual and subtle. This setting also conserves CPU power.

EQ Eight

Drop the EQ Eight plug-in onto a channel in the mixer window. Click Play to listen to the audio.

Click the 1 tab in EQ Eight to enable the first equalization point. Click one of the buttons at the bottom of the EQ to select an equalization effect. Select Low Cut or Low Shelf to remove or boost frequencies lower than the equalization point.

Click Bell or Notch to affect frequencies to either side of the point. Use the High Cut or High Shelf options to change frequencies higher than the equalization point.

Click and drag the Freq knob to set the frequency at which the EQ point applies. Adjust the Gain knob to change the amount by which the EQ point affects the audio. A gain value greater than zero boosts the volume of the specified frequency range, while a negative value removes frequencies.

Adjust the Q knob to set the resonance of the EQ point. The higher the resonance, the more drastic the equalization. Use a low Q value for subtle equalization and a high value to make dramatic changes to a sound.

Click the 2 tab to enable the second equalization point, and then adjust its settings as before. Repeat the process for up to eight EQ points. To enable EQ points five through eight, click the grey boxes next to their tabs to activate them.

Tip

  • By default, EQ Eight’s output spectrum is shown in the Ableton Live display. Turn off the Analyze button to disable the spectrum view.

    Enable the Adaptive Q setting to raise the Q amount as the boost or cut increases. This results in a more consistent output volume.

About the Author

Seamus Islwyn has been writing for radio, print and online publications since 2003, covering subjects from independent Canadian music to automobile smuggling in the Balkans. His work has appeared in the "Tirana Times" in Albania, and he also composes and produces electronic music. Islwyn holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from McGill University and a certificate in radio broadcasting from Humber College.