Using Neutron’s EQ
Once you’ve identified some potential masking in these frequency areas, you can use Neutron’s powerful EQ to make some adjustments. If you are in the kick instance of Neutron, you can manipulate the EQ curves for both the bass and the kick drum from a single window. Make a little cut in the bass around this area just below 100 Hz, and then a complimentary boost in the kick drum. You could take this a step further by clicking “Inverse Link.” This means that a cut in one EQ will have a complimentary boost in the companion EQ. It makes these gestures independent of Q, filter type, and other adjustments, so you can create a more narrow Q for a certain cut while keeping a broad Q for the boost.
What makes the Neutron EQ even more powerful is that all 12 EQ bands can be set to static mode or dynamic mode. In the case of the kick drum example, where boosting was done at some of the low-end, set that node of the EQ as dynamic. This way the boost only occurs when the kick drum is being hit, so you don’t boost any extra mud or rumble accidentally. All of the nodes within the dynamic EQ can be sidechained as well, either internally within the dynamic EQ—where one frequency is set to key another—or through keyed by another track through your DAWs sidechain routing.
For example, if you found the guitars were masking the lead vocals, but only in a certain frequency area, you could add Neutron to the guitar bus as well as the lead vocal. Then using the sidechain routing inside of the host, you can set an EQ node to be sidechained from the lead vocal. Now whenever the lead vocal is present, it will bring down just that frequency area and make space for itself, while the guitars get to stay big and full during other sections.
It’s important to note that not all masking is necessarily bad. You might think of masking as a close cousin of blend, so use the masking meter just to help you solve EQ problems, and only when you’ve already gotten a nice balance put together on your mix.