Are You Listening? Ep. 6 | EQ in Mastering

Are You Listening? Ep. 6 | EQ in Mastering

Matthew Vere
Matthew Vere

Table of Contents

Why Use EQ?

EQ was invented for treating the high-frequency roll-off on phone lines, due to impedance, around 100 years ago.

EQ = Restoring Balance/Correction

Rather than thinking you have to make a mix sound great, perhaps it's just about revealing what's great about it.

Why Visualisations Matter

Visualisations are essential to verify what we think we're hearing. Our brains are fallible and can trick us, having some external validation against which we can check what we're hearing is a valuable tool to guide our decisions.

Preparing for Mastering

Make notes on what you're hearing, what you like and what you'd like to change when listening to a track before mastering. It's easy to lose track of the big picture when you're knee-deep into the weeds of making adjustments; the notes act as an agenda or touchstone to find your way back.

Choosing Filter Shapes for Additive EQ'ing

Jonathan will start with a general sense of tone and tone control:

Begin with bell and shelf filters with high Q's for broad EQ'ing. The reason for this is that we don't want to change the overall tone yet. Using narrow bands means we're affecting specific instruments or even notes within a mix, rather than the whole project.

A Baxandall filter favours the airband as opposed to the sharper effect of a standard high shelf.

Remove subsonic information below the lowest note of the track to bring some clarity into the low end.

Johnathan is not a fan of high pass filters, as they create a significant phase shift that will cause a loss of punch in a track.

Go for Shelving filters are when you can, rather than using high pass cuts.

Mastering Low End

A/B compare every change you make (gain matched).

How do you know when you've finished a track? If you can't do anything that improves the record, stop.

Making Subtracting EQ Decisions

Questions to guide your decision-making process: Once the tonal balance is about right, is anything popping out too much, anything too forward? Where can you remove energy or get it out of the way to hear the central elements?

EQ sweeping isn't logical; you're not going to like most of what you're boosting.

Alt/option-click for frequency solo in Ozone — This a better way of finding frequencies to remove.

When you're chasing energy you don't like; you tend to remove too much. When you find yourself removing something, try putting halfback. Rather than -4, try -2. You can revisit the decision later. This is a useful trick in helping to keep you away from creating imbalances.