Learning Audio Mastering Through Presets

Part 3: Using an Equalizer

Tips & Tutorials  |  June 6, 2014

This is the third in a three part series of blog posts taking a look at some specific mastering techniques as demonstrated by some Ozone presets, and dissecting the settings being used.

Be sure to also read Part 1: Multiband Compression and Part 2: Mid/Side Processing.

This blog has been edited from its original format; some references have been changed to reflect Ozone 7.

Using an Equalizer

This is the same rock song used in Part 2, but with a different approach taken to the mastering process.

The challenge this time  is to try to make the mix a little more lively.

In order to achieve this, the “4-Band Master - Midrange Detail” preset has been loaded in Ozone.

This preset works because it uses an interesting approach to EQ’ing, combining surgical adjustments with more colorful, broad EQ changes. In one pass, the mix balance has been corrected and some interesting color choices have been made.

Listen to the audio example below with no processing, then compare it against the “4-Band Master - Midrange Detail” preset.

What can be learned about equalization techniques from this preset?

Cutting in certain frequency areas can actually make elements pop out of the mix. Here, a cut is made around 140Hz, which reduces the frequencies that the kick and bass drum can overload. The net result is that this simple cut causes the kick drum and bass to sound better separated, and the mix balance has better clarity.

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Very slight, broad cuts in the high mids can reduce the harsh edge of a song, as seen here with the small cut of -0.8dB centered around the 4kHz area.

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Gentle boosts in the mid range enhance ‘warmth’ and perceived loudness of a song, as seen here with the wide, but very subtle boost centered around 500Hz.

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PRO TIP: To quickly audition different EQ settings in Ozone without having to make the adjustments or loading up two EQs to bypass/unbypass, use the History tab to browse back and forth between different settings in realtime. This History tab keeps an unlimited record of the changes that happen, allowing a single click to switch between radically different EQ settings.

Different mastering engineers will choose different EQ adjustments. This healthy variety only goes to show that there is no right or wrong when EQ’ing, merely aesthetic choices. Of course, a veteran engineer who knows the tools is skilled at quickly honing the sound he/she/the client wants. Trial and error and a lot of A/B auditioning are the key to improving EQ skills.

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