TRUTH ABOUT MASTERING EQ | Eq Tips for Mixing and Mastering



Welcome back. It's me Streaky. Today, I'm going to tell you the truth about EQ for mastering, what you do and what you don't do. There's going to make you do much better mastering. If you're new here, I do three videos a week, which are tutorials on mixing and mastering. So if you want to know about that from someone who's been working in the industry for 25 years, make sure that you hit the subscribe button and the bell so you get notified every time upload. Let's get tucked into the video. So EQing in mastering. There are loads of different things you need to think about, and I'm going to go through all those now. So you know exactly what the truth is, to what you have to do when you EQ. And things you need to think about when you're mastering.

So I've got this FabFilter Pro-Q 2, it's just the standard one. We're not going to get into dynamic EQ or any other fancy MS EQing. We're just going for left and right channels standard EQ. The same as you would if you had a hardware EQ, these things all work the same. I've got a track here from LuKa Treska-Joi. Thanks for sending that in. If you want to send your demo tracks in, please send them to and I'll feature them on channel. Just make sure there's no copyright on them. So let's have a quick listen to this where it's flats. (Music playing).

I'm going to show you some general stuff that you do most of the time. Now you'll hear a lot about doing low cuts. Now, the reason why sometimes you do low cuts. I tend to do them on nearly everything is because really, if you're doing any compression, any type of processing after this EQ, you’re going to start dragging up any noise that's happening at the bottom. You really want to start thinking about cutting the low and you don't want to cut too much. I don't tend to go a lot over 20Hz these days when you're cutting vinyl used to go to about 40Hz. But we're not cutting vinyl at the moment. So about 20 at the slope. So that it's about 1824, depending on the sound. You need to listen to what you're doing to make that judgment. But usually, I put a cut in there.

What it does, it just tends to make the low end a lot tighter, and it tends to make the compressors that I say work better. So that's a really something that you do most of the time. You'll find most mastering engineers put a low cut in on the mix. And also if you're a mix engineer sending something to a mastering engineer, sometimes it's a good idea just to leave the low end. If you were doing too many cuts in the low end, it's good to leave it. Then it leaves the mastering engineer. He's got probably some better equipment or better speakers, so he can hear exactly what he's doing. And then obviously can manipulate the low end exactly how he wants. So if you are a little bit worried before you're sending something off, then it's good to leave the uncut and let the mastering engineer cut it. So if we just listen to how that is, let's just put this, I like this in linear phase high. Linear phase, just because I want it to be a little bit more detailed. I want a little we’re in mastering. So I want it to not be too blurred. Sometimes it sounds a little bit blurred, not as sharp. So linear phase.

If you think that's taken a little bit too much off, sometimes you can do a little notch up like this and this replicates what vinyl does a little bit. So notching that up around 20Hz is really low down, but it just adds a really nice thump to the low-end, because you're put in that cut in, you're making up for it here. So let's just listen to how that sounds. (Music playing). So you can hear just the bass suddenly gets a little bit more presence. (Music playing).

Another thing that I like to do is I don't like to subtract EQ. I prefer to add EQ. You'll notice I'm not actually adding a lot here. If we bring this down so that it's a three. With mastering, you really want to be adding no more than say 2dB. 1-2dB max. It's all about very small little changes in mastering so that you can see that they all add up. But you're quite a high level at mastering as in volume. So every little tiny bit you add is going to really make quite a big difference. Whereas when you're mixing or when you're recording those kinds of big differences, don't make as much as a change to the whole sound. We're dealing with the stereo track here, remember? So there's a lot of stuff going on. So you don't really want to be pushing too much level. But going back to what I was saying, I do like to add rather than take away.

The reason why you add and you don't take away is because as you can see here, we have a natural curve happening. Say I added around 250, which I might do. I'm only adding half a dB, but what I'm doing as you can see, because I've added that little bit at the bottom. This bit here is actually taking away if you like, because I'm making curves. So it's highlighting this, it's highlighting this. And say, you've got some top happening. Let's just change that so that it's a high shelf. Say we've got that happening. And just make that wider. You can do that by holding the command key down on here. So you can see I've got some natural curves going here. This is going to really open the tops. But what's happening is instead of just bringing this level up, I'm now actually getting some nice little takeaways here. But they're happening in a way where I'm adding rather than taking away.

As soon as you start taking away, then you start taking away too much. There's so much happening in this frequency range. I'd rather not take it away. I'd rather just add around it. And also one of the main reasons why I add is because gain structure for gain staging to get things loud as you're going through each part bit of equipment. Because every time you add this, you're then adding, say a bit of gain makeup on a compressor. You're adding something else, something else. As that gain structured and develops, then you're going to get louder and louder master without having to just slam it through a limiter. So that's really a main secret of why you add rather than subtract. But you do also get these natural curves. Otherwise, you're not getting any gain out of this.

If I wasn't adding any gain and I was just taking away here. It’s giving me a curve, but it's gonna make the sound less rather than more. And I want more because I don't wanna have to add that more later on. So, you can do some little takeaways, but really generally, I’m liking to add, not take away now. Something else that I’d to say, these are some settings that I do quite a lot. But these are the kind of general rules around how you use EQ for mastering. Some nice ones that you can do quite a lot. Now, having this in the top end, if you've got this in a dynamic EQ, it works really nicely just to add some high end, but what you tend to do quite a lot is just add about half a dB, but add it really high up because that way you can get 30k Hz. But if you're only adding 1dB, but as you can see it starting around 5, so that's lifting all the top end of the vocals. It lifting all the top end of the track. But it's only half a dB, but it does make a hell of a difference. Let me just show you how that sounds. (Music playing).

So you can hear, it's not making it too bright. It's not making it too edgy. But still adding a really nice bit of air across the rest of the track. So generally, that's something that mastering engineers do a lot. They'll add half a dB or a dB. Super high up 30k depending on the EQ. They're all gonna sound different. So I know the EQ, so I know this setting actually sounds pretty good. (Music playing).

Let me now show you another trick that mastering engineers do a lot of the time, is they will pull out a little bit at around 1.7, 1.5 to 1.7. And they'll just pull out and then they'll play around with it. Just to see how it sounding, what this does gives you a really nice perceived loudness. So instead of having to slam it through, if you've got a mix that's tight and you want it to slam it through a limiter, you can actually get a bit of perceived level from adding, just say, half a dB, not too much. Because this is where our ear picks up. Most of the frequencies very easily like on phones and stuff like that. So, but just by adding a touch in the midst right there, not too wide, but not too tight, it actually gives you a really good sound. So let's just listen to that too. (Music playing).

Again, it's really subtle. But it's a massive change, especially after this. If you add some EQ compression, things like that. Now, following on from this, if you want to know about subtractive EQ where I'll show you. The only reason why I use subtractive EQ rather than using additive EQ all the time.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published