Become a member
Become a member

or
Continue with Google
Log in
Log in

or
Log in using a Google account
learning

Mastering at Home - Part 5

How to Use EQ when Mastering — In Practice

The latest installment of our Mastering at Home series deals with some common situations when using an equalizer.

View other articles in this series...

In practice

The upper and lower-mid frequencies, generally speaking, are the areas that the human ear is most sensitive to, so they have a great influence on the overall perception of sound. That’s the main reason why you need to pay special attention to them. So let’s start with that in mind.

A “muddled” mix lacking definition, will gain a lot of precision with a slight dip between 100 Hz and 300 Hz. There’s no need to chop at it, one or two decibels ought to be more than enough to improve things in a significant way. If you cut too much, you risk losing “thickness” and your mix will sound “hollow.”

Mastering EQ

A very nasal sound can be corrected by reducing the energy of frequencies between 250 Hz and 1 kHz. Once again, don’t overdo it or you’ll end up with a dull mix.

If your music is excessively aggressive or sharp, you should try to cut down frequencies between 1.5 kHz and 3 kHz. The punishment for an excess of zeal in this case is a muffeled sound.

When “cutting” the mids, pay special attention to collateral damage on vocals, guitars and the snare, because these instruments occupy a prime spot in this part of the frequency range. If the vocals disappear too much, try to also boost around 2 kHz and 3 kHz. As for guitars and the snare, you’ll have to focus around 500 Hz.

Let’s move on now to the low end of the frequency range. If your mix lacks air, before aiming for the highs, it is often wiser to first reduce the low frequencies with a shelving filter around 90 Hz. As always, do it in moderation. If your bass loses definition, a good trick consists of identifying which key the song is in and slightly increasing the frequency of the corresponding root note (search online to find charts like this one that show each note’s relevant frequency). If it’s the fullness of the bass drum that disappears, a peak filter could mitigate the problem.

The high end of the frequency range must be treated with care because it can unbalance a mix. While a boost above 6 kHz can add some life, air or brilliance to the sound, an excess will quickly take up a lot of space and mask the rest of the frequencies, which will rapidly lead to an unpleasant fatigue in the listener. On the other hand, boosting the high end where the original mix might be lacking doesn’t really bring much to the table, except for an increase in unwanted noise. In such cases it’s better to use a harmonic exciter to create audio material.

We have now more or less approached the question from all angles. But before we move on, always bear in mind that every time you modify a part of the frequency range, you will also need to readjust the rest of the spectrum, since it’s all connected. Also consider bypassing the EQ from time to time to make sure that what you are doing is really improving the overall sound. 

Tools of the trade

And now, let’s close this chapter of “how to use EQ in mastering” with a useful (but non-exhaustive) list of EQ plug-ins that can get the job done:

Mastering EQ

FabFilter Pro-Q

Blue Cat’s Parametr’EQ

ToneBoosters TB Equalizer

iZotope Ozone 5

MeldaProduction MEqualizer

 

 

← Previous article in this series:
Mastering at Home - Part 4
Next article in this series:
Mastering at Home — Part 6 →

Would you like to comment this article?

Log in
Become a member
cookies
We are using cookies!

Yes, Audiofanzine is using cookies. Since the last thing that we want is disturbing your diet with too much fat or too much sugar, you'll be glad to learn that we made them ourselves with fresh, organic and fair ingredients, and with a perfect nutritional balance. What this means is that the data we store in them is used to enhance your use of our website as well as improve your user experience on our pages (learn more). To configure your cookie preferences, click here.

We did not wait for a law to make us respect our members and visitors' privacy. The cookies that we use are only meant to improve your experience on our website.

Our cookies
Cookies not subject to consent
These are cookies that guarantee the proper functioning of Audiofanzine and allow its optimization. The website cannot function properly without these cookies. Example: cookies that help you stay logged in from page to page or that help customizing your usage of the website (dark mode or filters).
Google Analytics
We are using Google Analytics in order to better understand the use that our visitors make of our website in an attempt to improve it.
Advertising
This information allows us to show you personalized advertisements thanks to which Audiofanzine is financed. By unchecking this box you will still have advertisements but they may be less interesting :) We are using Google Ad Manager to display part of our ads, or tools integrated to our own CMS for the rest.

We did not wait for a law to make us respect our members and visitors' privacy. The cookies that we use are only meant to improve your experience on our website.

Our cookies
Cookies not subject to consent

These are cookies that guarantee the proper functioning of Audiofanzine. The website cannot function properly without these cookies. Examples: cookies that help you stay logged in from page to page or that help customizing your usage of the website (dark mode or filters).

Google Analytics

We are using Google Analytics in order to better understand the use that our visitors make of our website in an attempt to improve it. When this parameter is activated, no personal information is sent to Google and the IP addresses are anonymized.

Advertising

This information allows us to show you personalized advertisements thanks to which Audiofanzine is financed. By unchecking this box you will still have advertisements but they may be less interesting :) We are using Google Ad Manager to display part of our ads, or tools integrated to our own CMS for the rest.


You can find more details on data protection in our privacy policy.
You can also find information about how Google uses personal data by following this link.