Your EQ is lying to you
Your EQ is lying to you.
So are some other plugins in your library.
How do they lie? They boost the level of your audio just by inserting them into your audio chain. An example of this is the “Legacy” Pultec EQ from UAD. Just by inserting the plugin, the sound being processed gets louder. Another plugin that does this is the Manley Passive EQ from UAD. Keep in mind, this happens without adjusting anything in the plugin.
So why does this matter?
Gain staging once again. Immediately our minds think louder is better. One way to fix this is by inserting a gain plugin after these type of plugins and trimming the volume to compensate. Another option would be decreasing the input level of the next plugin you insert, say a compressor.
This will help with headroom and really giving you insight on what that plugin does. So before you crank listen, did this plugin do something to my signal? You might be surprised.
Here is a quick tip:
Load an audio file and duplicate it.
Insert an instance of the plugin you want to test for “boosting” on one of the 2 identical audio tracks.
Flip the phase of the track without the plugin. (This can be done easily with a gain plugin which usually has a phase switch.)
Play both tracks at the same time, this will allow you to hear what the plugin that is being tested is doing to the audio.