Mastering EQ

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by Ben Godin, Jun 25, 2004.

  1. Ben Godin

    Ben Godin Active Member

    Jun 5, 2004
    Charlotte, NC, USA
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    As a mastering engineer, on average, how many adjustments do you make in your EQ, for example do you mostly work with high ends, or have the EQ notched at every frequency, and if so, what (shape) of this look like.

    Here is another more direct question... Most of the time that I master work, the incoming work comes in poorly mixed, and i have to make huge improvements in the EQ, but recently, someone brought in a work that was done in a pro studio, and the eq job was near perfect on each individual track in the sequence, and the final product sounded great! So what should i do in the EQ? Should i add some brigtness to the mix with high end, or what, better safer than sorry... right? And the other problem is that if i do nothing more than n-reduce and compress and set up a limiter and use the L2 to bring it up, the client might feel discouraged and say that i didn't do enough an might not want to pay, and considering that this is my largest gig so far, i don't want to pass up this chance.

    Thank you in advance to anyone who responds.
  2. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    Sep 12, 2002
    NYC New York
    Home Page:
    your job is to do what is needed. No more, No less. If it needs nothing then your job is to do nothing. The last thing you want is for them to say what happened???

    As far as eq, it's your duty to know what a mix needs to accomplish the goal of the client. Then you'll know what to do. If you don't know what the clients needs are, then your not doing your job. Ask questions is my point.
  3. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Distinguished Member

    Dec 12, 2001
    Oberlin, OH
    Home Page:
    Part of being a "mastering engineer" is knowing when NOT to do anything. A majority of your job is to listen to what is presented to you and decide what has to be done to make it sound better, if the answer is nothing then you do nothing.

    I too get a lot of material in that needs some "sonic surgery" but I also get a lot of material in that is well done and only needs some small tweaks to make it sound great. The trick is knowing when to leave the material alone.

    If you are afraid you are not going to get paid because you did nothing to the mixes presented to you then you have to tell the client that you are charging them only for your listening time which is, if you are good, worth the price to them to have someone pass judgment on a project and pronounce it well done. It is like when you go to a specialist for a medical problem and he looks over the test results, does some probing and pronounces you in good condition. He did not really do anything to you but he is using his expertise to pronounce you OK. Don't forget this time the recording engineer and the mix engineer and the artist did a good job of communicating and everything came out right but this particular set of circumstances may not happen again and so you may have to use all your skills to make the material sound good the next time. You want the client to rely on your ears and experience and you want them to feel like they can use you as a resource for the next project and the project after that, in other words you want a long term client. You want to be part of the creative team.

  4. joe lambert

    joe lambert Distinguished Member

    Oct 17, 2001
    321 West 44th Street Suite 1001
    Home Page:
    I listen and react to what I hear. It sounds simple but it's the only thing I can say I always do.
    Add EQ, cut EQ, high end, low end... I don't know what's needed until I hear it and think about it as a song. What do I need to do to make it sound the way I think it can.
    Some people call me and ask me if I'm going to add low end to there songs before I even hear them!
    It reminds me that many people do not fully understand (or appreciate) the art of mastering. And that's OK. There are many things I don't understand and I leave them to people who do.

    75 percent of the music I work on need a good amount of work. In my opinion they sound much better when I'm done mastering.
    The rest sound great to begin with. That's not to say the job is always a lot easier. Because you still want to get everything out of each song. Subtle adjustments in EQ or level can make it perfect or make it worse. Good producers and engineers want it perfect so sometimes it's even more work to decide what's "perfect" It takes time to really concentrate on a mix and listen to how the little changes affect the whole song.

    In the end when the record is sounding wonderful and the client is very happy, they don't think about we only did a few things. There happy knowing the things that were done accomplished what was needed.
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