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EQ in mastering? Dynamics Plugins
Old 9th November 2009
  #1
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EQ in mastering?

I want to learn more about EQ in the mastering stage. I'm practicing mastering but I find it difficult to determine where to boost and cut. Are there any 'sweeping' techniques I can use?

What I usually end up doing with my practice masters is:

1. Waves SSL Buss compressor (2:1 ratio and about 3dB gain reduction, slow attack and AUTO release)
2. Sonnox EQ (see picture)
3. Sonnox Limiter

But I never know what to do in the midrange with the EQ, I always only boost the highs to get clarity, and boost the bass if necessary. I have never cut frequencies before because I'm always afraid I'm cutting something important.



Any help/techniques about the EQ midrange would be highly appreciated!
Thanks!
Old 9th November 2009
  #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anon502 View Post
What I usually end up doing with my practice masters is:

1. Waves SSL Buss compressor (2:1 ratio and about 3dB gain reduction, slow attack and AUTO release)
2. Sonnox EQ (see picture)
3. Sonnox Limiter
The classic smiley curve.

Try to listen for what needs to be corrected, if anything.
Nothing should really be done by default.
Old 9th November 2009
  #3
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Maybe download Brainworx free solo plugin. This lets you solo the mid and side + the left right channels easily. You could use this to hear into your mixes a bit further and make observations with commercial recordings.
Old 9th November 2009
  #4
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Why are you high passing above 20 hz? Anything >20 is audible.
Old 9th November 2009
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mobius.media View Post
Why are you high passing above 20 hz? Anything >20 is audible.
Hmm good point. I guess I was thinking that it's good to cut up to 30Hz to avoid that bass 'crack' when you play a bassy track very loud in a car for example, and then boost around 40-50Hz to still give it some solid low end.
Old 9th November 2009
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anon502 View Post
Hmm good point. I guess I was thinking that it's good to cut up to 30Hz to avoid that bass 'crack' when you play a bassy track very loud in a car for example, and then boost around 40-50Hz to still give it some solid low end.
That's a trick that work well on some sources - but once in a while recordings do in fact come in with too much energy at this "boom" area and not enough "under the floor" - and sometime tracks come in to you where the bass end is great as it is already and shouldn't be touched! Main thing is the whole mentality that there are ever any kinds of "presets" in mastering is what is flawed. You just need to listen to what the source track sounds like first - and then based on this only do what the track "needs."

Anyway - when going for the "smiley faced" curve such as you posted sometimes a lower midrange (somewhere in the 200 - 400 Hz region) cut can in fact execute this a little cleaner than boosts at both ends. Main thing as you cut in this area is to make sure things don't get too "hollow" sounding - as it's an easy thing to overdo if you're not careful. Again - this is only when trying for the "smiley faced" curve - but is not a default by any means. Sometimes in fact if things are lacking body you might want to actually boost in this area.

Finally any frequency area is a candidate for boosting or cutting - it just depends on whether this area is lacking or is too much on the original source. Sometimes playing test tones at various frequencies helps you get a better of what number in hertz equates with what actual sound.

Hope that helps.

Best regards,
Steve Berson
Old 9th November 2009
  #7
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If your looking for loudness in mastering, boosting 1.5k to 2.5k a db or two goes a long way in making the track appear louder. Otherwise, it's like others have stated, no standard rules, it's all custom work.
Old 9th November 2009
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anon502 View Post
I want to learn more about EQ in the mastering stage. I'm practicing mastering but I find it difficult to determine where to boost and cut. Are there any 'sweeping' techniques I can use?

What I usually end up doing with my practice masters is:

1. Waves SSL Buss compressor (2:1 ratio and about 3dB gain reduction, slow attack and AUTO release)
2. Sonnox EQ (see picture)
3. Sonnox Limiter

But I never know what to do in the midrange with the EQ, I always only boost the highs to get clarity, and boost the bass if necessary. I have never cut frequencies before because I'm always afraid I'm cutting something important.



Any help/techniques about the EQ midrange would be highly appreciated!
Thanks!

You are using wavelab, which gives you a lot of analysis tools. I would suggest you open up some mastered commercial tracks to see where the frequency roll-off occurs.

The analysis section offers a “3D Frequency Analysis” so you can view the frequency response of a track from 20 – 20 kHz or limited frequencies. Since the analysis is a waterfall, you can see the duration of the dominant frequencies as well.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Anon502
mm good point. I guess I was thinking that it's good to cut up to 30Hz to avoid that bass 'crack' when you play a bassy track very loud in a car for example, and then boost around 40-50Hz to still give it some solid low end.
Bear in mind a lot of that “crack” you are referring to, is the sound system inabilities to play bass notes at high levels. What happens to those systems that can deliver less than 40 Hertz with ease? The frequencies you rolled off are the fundamentals and are needed to give the track a less ringing effect, which is exactly what you will get with such a setting on that Sonnox Equaliser.

You do not need to wait for a job to practice. Just load up a few commercial tracks in wavelab and manipulate the sound. Your biggest friend in equalisation manipulation is learning frequencies and the Q factor. That will enable to have a better understanding on what is needed to achieve a proper sound.

Wavelab also offers a spectrum analyser so you can view what is going on in real-time. Learn the tools in Wavelab, practice often, and your midrange issues will be minimised.


Cheers!
Old 9th November 2009
  #9
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looking at the picture, i'd say your boosts, smiley or not arn't subtle are they...for me i find that 0.5 db or 1bd of boost, at the right frequency, and mor importantly, the right q is the key.
be subtle as a little goes along way
Old 10th November 2009
  #10
Gear Maniac
 

I know this has been said many times, but get Bob Katz's book Mastering Audio: The Art and the Science and read Chapter 8 (Equalization Techniques) and Chapter 3 (Earientation Session.) A wealth of info on thinking about how to use eq and qualitative effects.

In Chapter 3, there's a great chart that translates subjective terms on sound to frequencies that will help you decipher what you're hearing to make eq choices (and what cutting and boosting will do.) I looked to see if that was a chart taken from somewhere else so I could link to it, but it appears to be a Bob special so you'll have to buy the book to see how valuable it could be for you.
Old 10th November 2009
  #11
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Here's a chart similar to Bob's (though Bob's is better laid out for mastering in terms of cutting & boosting plus he has the Carnegie chart also in his book) that could be helpful:

http://www.dallashodgson.info/files/...mapexample.jpg

See towards the bottom of the chart for subjective terms
Old 10th November 2009
  #12
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tonmeister's Avatar
try flat to start with
start with small narrow corrective cuts where frequencies bunch up
presets don't work because mixes are so diverse
Old 10th November 2009
  #13
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It's quite difficult to learn the art of EQing unless you have a good room/speakers/DA-converter to work with. If this is the case then I suggest a pair of high quality headphones but that's still a huge compromise.

Cheers!
bManic
Old 10th November 2009
  #14
Here for the gear
 

Small cuts with a narrow Q is where I start too.
Sonnox is a great EQ!
Do you have the inflator as well? ... Great tool to boost the presence.
Old 10th November 2009
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lord_bunny View Post
If your looking for loudness in mastering, boosting 1.5k to 2.5k a db or two goes a long way in making the track appear louder. Otherwise, it's like others have stated, no standard rules, it's all custom work.
What if the mix is already hot in that range?


The only trick to eqing is knowing what you're going for. That takes a room, monitors and an inner ear on what it could/should sound like. Add in the client's wishes and start to balance it out.

(and I would not put a compressor on everything, that's for sure.)
Old 10th November 2009
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Loki View Post
Here's a chart similar to Bob's (though Bob's is better laid out for mastering in terms of cutting & boosting plus he has the Carnegie chart also in his book) that could be helpful:

http://www.dallashodgson.info/files/...mapexample.jpg

See towards the bottom of the chart for subjective terms
Have I mentioned lately how much I disagree with using charts for eqing? If not, I should do it soon.


DC
Old 10th November 2009
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dcollins View Post
Have I mentioned lately how much I disagree with using charts for eqing? If not, I should do it soon.
Frequency charts are only useful if you list up in Excel the instruments used in the track and start cross-referencing to the chart. Then you use a Midi keyboard to find out where the resonance is. Of course, you need to buy the Ibis to make any use of this.
Old 10th November 2009
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dcollins View Post
Have I mentioned lately how much I disagree with using charts for eqing? If not, I should do it soon.


DC
The purpose of the chart is to help familiarize new engineers (not you, DC!) with the ranges of the musical instruments and how they correspond with the frequency ranges, for god's sake...
Old 10th November 2009
  #19
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Originally Posted by bob katz View Post
The purpose of the chart is to help familiarize new engineers (not you, DC!) with the ranges of the musical instruments and how they correspond with the frequency ranges, for god's sake...
Right, well it's my opinion that these charts are counterproductive and confusing even to the experienced engineer.

They don't have anything to do with EQ'ing music, as I have come to do it. In fact it's almost funny how different my approach to "Thump, Warm or Tinny" is compared to the chart.............


DC
Old 10th November 2009
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Virtalahde View Post
Frequency charts are only useful if you list up in Excel the instruments used in the track and start cross-referencing to the chart. Then you use a Midi keyboard to find out where the resonance is. Of course, you need to buy the Ibis to make any use of this.
What's the best MIDI controller for mastering?


DC
Old 10th November 2009
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dcollins View Post
Have I mentioned lately how much I disagree with using charts for eqing? If not, I should do it soon.


DC
Yeah, it doesnt make much sense.

Start out by learning the Eq, i.e, just turn the knobs around for a couple of weeks (or years, whatever it takes) and se what happens with the music, cold, hot, harsh, smooth, find it and then learn to apply it.

My 0.2 FWIW.
Old 10th November 2009
  #22
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EQ as I hear it is more like timbre than pitch.
Old 10th November 2009
  #23
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Quote:
EQ as I hear it is more like timbre than pitch.
Ha fancy seeing you here.

Paul thanks for the great mastering session today.

Listen to this guy he knows what he is talking about

Old 11th November 2009
  #24
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In practice it's all about energy balance ... what good are absolute notes? The whole "I hear a B note in the bass, that's equal so and so hertz" is really where it seems silly.

If anything, the keyboard is an interesting image for me, as a way to consider where roots meet numbers. But I'd never use it in a session. And my piano's low B, has a totally different overtone series to your piano, etc. Then a chord comes along ... nevermind a bar or two...
Old 11th November 2009
  #25
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What use can anyone have of a chart that shows that everything is basically overlapping everything else?

And what if the mix has an hard eq'd piccolo?


All I hear, from a mastering perspective, is:

1. Annoyance
2. Unnatural behaviour
3. Congestion

and finally

4. When things turns worse


These parameters seem to magically work translation-wise as well.


Best Regards
Patrik
Old 11th November 2009
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lucey View Post
The whole "I hear a B note in the bass, that's equal so and so hertz" is really where it seems silly.
Dont agree with this one Lucey . If you don't know how many hertz on the upright bass the B note is you might end up notching the G# and help it a little but kill that lovely bottom end of that fine jazz Trio recording ....
Old 11th November 2009
  #27
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Originally Posted by bass man View Post
If you don't know how many hertz on the upright bass the B note is you might end up notching the G# and help it a little but kill that lovely bottom end of that fine jazz Trio recording ....
Are you kidding? I guess I need to send refunds to my jazz trio clients right away!
Old 11th November 2009
  #28
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I didnt hear the masters , maybe you should i dont know ...
Old 11th November 2009
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bass man View Post
I didnt hear the masters , maybe you should i dont know ...
This is usually where I mention that our ears tell us how much bottom there is, not charts.

Or Treos, tuning forks, or FFT's for that matter.

How did things get to this point?


DC
Old 11th November 2009
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stepwise Sound View Post
Ha fancy seeing you here.
This is the first time officer, honest.

I had a good time. Good mixes and good music make for an enjoyable day.
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