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Balancing frequencies

From: Audio Mastering Techniques

Video: Balancing frequencies

EQing is usually the place that gets engineers who master their own mixes into trouble. There's a tendency to overcompensate with the EQ, adding huge amounts, usually on the bottom end that breaks frequency balance completely. Luckily, there are some rules can be followed to avoid this. The first rule is listen to CDs that you like first before you touch an EQ parameter. Remember, no MP3s, the more CDs you listen to, the better. You need a reference point to compare to, or you will surely overcompensate.

Balancing frequencies

EQing is usually the place that gets engineers who master their own mixes into trouble. There's a tendency to overcompensate with the EQ, adding huge amounts, usually on the bottom end that breaks frequency balance completely. Luckily, there are some rules can be followed to avoid this. The first rule is listen to CDs that you like first before you touch an EQ parameter. Remember, no MP3s, the more CDs you listen to, the better. You need a reference point to compare to, or you will surely overcompensate.

Try importing several mastered songs into your mastering session that you can constantly compare to. The second rule is a little EQ goes a long way. If you feel that you need to add more than 2 or 3 db, you're better off to mix the song again. Or in recording you might use large amounts of EQ at a certain frequency. Mastering is almost always in very small increments usually in tenths of a db, to 2 or 3 at the very most in rare cases. What you'll see is a lot of small shots of EQ along audio frequency band but in very small amounts.

For example, you might see something like -1 at 30 Hz, 0.5 at 60 Hz, 0.2 at a 120, -0.5 at 800, -0.7 at 2500, 0.6 of 8K. Notice that there's a little happening a lot of different places. If you have to add a lot of EQ, it's time to go back and remix. That's what the Pros do. It is not uncommon at all for a pro mastering engineer to call up a mixer and tell him where he is off and suggest that he do it again. Rule number 3 is equally important.

Keep comparing the EQ'd version with your original version. The idea of mastering is to make the song or program sound better with EQ not worse. Don't fall into the trap where you think it sounds better just because it sounds louder. The only way to understand what you are listening to is to have levels pretty much the same between the EQ'd and the pre EQ'd track. That's why an app like T-racks is so great for mastering. It has an AB function that allows you to compensate for the increased levels so that you can really tell if you're making it sound better or not. (music playing) Keep comparing the song you are currently working on to all the other songs in the project that you've previously worked on. The idea is to get them the sound all same.

It's pretty common for mixes to sound different from song to song even if they're done by the same mixer with the same gear, but it's your job to make listener think that the songs were all done on the same day in the same way. They've got the sound as close as possible to each other as you can get them or at least reasonably close as to not stand out. (music playing) Remember, even if you can't get the songs that sound just like your best sounding CD, your mastering job will still be considered pro if you can get all the songs that sound as same in tone and volume.

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Audio Mastering Techniques

56 video lessons · 10540 viewers

Bobby Owsinski
Author

 
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  1. 1m 39s
    1. Welcome
      1m 39s
  2. 7m 7s
    1. Introducing mastering
      1m 22s
    2. The history of audio mastering
      3m 30s
    3. Mastering professionally versus doing it yourself
      2m 15s
  3. 10m 10s
    1. Mixing with mastering in mind
      6m 41s
    2. Mastering session documentation
      53s
    3. Printing alternative mixes
      2m 36s
  4. 6m 21s
    1. Evaluating your listening environment
      1m 33s
    2. Beginning with the basic listening technique
      3m 19s
    3. Deciding between monitors and headphones
      1m 29s
  5. 18m 13s
    1. Overview of mastering tools
      22s
    2. Exploring the dynamic ranges of different music genres
      2m 40s
    3. Understanding compression
      3m 20s
    4. Understanding limiting
      1m 25s
    5. Understanding equalization (EQ)
      1m 44s
    6. Using a de-esser
      1m 14s
    7. Metering while mastering
      3m 57s
    8. Exploring the mastering signal path
      1m 11s
    9. Listening in your digital audio workstation (DAW) using the A/B method
      2m 20s
  6. 33m 10s
    1. Making a loud master
      3m 7s
    2. Compression tips and tricks
      2m 4s
    3. Achieving competitive level
      2m 2s
    4. Understanding the pitfalls of hypercompression
      2m 10s
    5. Balancing frequencies
      3m 20s
    6. Reducing sibilance with a de-esser
      2m 2s
    7. Inserting fades
      1m 37s
    8. Eliminating noise and distortion
      43s
    9. Using multiband limiting
      4m 23s
    10. Adjusting the stereo image
      3m 24s
    11. Bringing out specific elements in a mix
      8m 18s
  7. 8m 17s
    1. Using dither
      1m 40s
    2. Using the appropriate workstation
      1m 27s
    3. Adjusting the spreads
      1m 28s
    4. Using International Standard Recording Codes (ISRC)
      1m 14s
    5. Using Universal Product Codes (UPC)
      1m 10s
    6. Creating CD-text discs
      33s
    7. Delivering or receiving a DDP master
      45s
  8. 12m 44s
    1. Encoding using the MP3 format
      3m 43s
    2. Understanding MP3 metadata
      1m 44s
    3. Creating a great-sounding MP3
      2m 46s
    4. Generating a FLAC file
      1m 18s
    5. Submitting music to online stores and services
      48s
    6. Submitting music to online song databases
      2m 25s
  9. 17m 23s
    1. Understanding AAC, the iTunes file format
      2m 28s
    2. Mastering for iTunes tips and tricks
      1m 36s
    3. The Mastered for iTunes format
      1m 29s
    4. The Mastered for iTunes tool package
      54s
    5. Using the iTunes Plus tools: iTunes Droplet
      1m 51s
    6. Using the Mastered for iTunes Audio To WAVE Droplet
      49s
    7. Using the Mastered for iTunes AURoundTripAAC Audio Unit tool
      6m 48s
    8. Using The Mastered for iTunes tools Test Pressing Feature
      1m 28s
  10. 3m 30s
    1. Mastering for high resolution
      1m 36s
    2. Mastering for television
      1m 54s
  11. 1m 19s
    1. Delivering the master to the replicator
      28s
    2. Archiving the project
      51s
  12. 50s
    1. Next steps
      50s

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