Unlike some people out there, I nearly always end up placing EQ before compression in my insert slots whenever I’m mixing. Personally, I just believe it sounds a lot better when I do it this way, but of course, some of my friends have high end equipment, and there are a few who do it the exact opposite way, and admittedly, they often get fantastic results. Nonetheless, I still recommend putting EQ first because it will make your life so much easier, and it will still deliver great results.
The main reason why I recommend putting EQ first is essential because you need to get rid of all junk that is doing nothing other than clogging up your mix. It doesn’t matter how cautious you are, or how dedicated you are when you make a recording, you’ll almost certainly end up with at least one frequency (probably more) that needs to be cut out. EQ will instantly enhance your mix, regardless of whether you are working with a high pass filter to remove unnecessary low end, or whether your focus is on a strategic low-mid notch to remove unwanted mud from your tracks.
For me, this sort of subtractive EQ was life changing, and as a result, I always place a great deal of emphasis on it when I’m teaching others to mix. Like so many others, I also ignored this advice at first, and I was quite happy to boost crazy with my equalizers. Thankfully I eventually came to my senses, and I began cutting first, and I couldn’t believe how much easier mixing became. The bottom line is filter out anything and everything your mix doesn’t require before you even think of doing anything else.