Você está na página 1de 19

Step 3 - Enhance It - Mastering EQ Cheat Sheet

Mastering EQ Cheat Sheet


By Rob Williams

Step 3: Enhance It

ProSoundFormula.com UltimateMasteringFormula.com All Rights Reser ved

2012 Rob Williams

! 2012 Rob Williams - UltimateMasteringFormula.com, All Rights Reserved 2

Step 3 - Enhance It - Mastering EQ Cheat Sheet

Preface.
EQ is one of the most powerful tools we have to add those nal touches to our mix, that make it sound just right. During recording and mixing were simply EQing ONE instrument at a time, and if we dont get it exactly right, its not going to make or break the mix. But when it comes to mastering, were applying the EQ to the ENTIRE song, and so the stakes are MUCH higher. We need to make sure that we get it just right. And its very important that we DONT overdo it. The key difference between using EQ in mastering verses recording or mixing, is that we want to make our changes are VERY SUBLTE. If you nd your EQ curve looking like a silhouette of the Swiss Alps, something is wrong with your mix and its best that you go back and try changing the EQ on individual channels rst.

Using EQ In Mastering
Theres essentially two reasons we use EQ during mastering: 1. To FIX something in the mix. 2. To ENHANCE the mix. This guide focusses on ways you can ENHANCE your track using some of the most common EQs used in mastering.

! 2012 Rob Williams - UltimateMasteringFormula.com, All Rights Reserved 3

Step 3 - Enhance It - Mastering EQ Cheat Sheet

I put this book together to serve both as a helpful guide to those who are new to mastering and using EQ, as well as a quick overview and refresher for those with more experience. Now I just want to be clear here, this is JUST A GUIDE. Its a bunch of OPTIONS that you can try out on your tracks to hear what works and what doesnt obviously this is going to differ from track to track. Thats why I wanted to put it in a guide like this, instead of making a bunch of presets. Because you need to CUSTOMIZE your EQ for the specic track youre working on. So youll probably want to COMBINE some of the suggestions in here.

The Yin & Yang Of EQ


Understanding how to EQ your masters starts by understanding that there is NO RIGHT OR WRONG. Every change is RELATIVE. Brightness in excess becomes harsh and thin. Warmness in excess becomes dull and muddy. Too much of one thing throws out, or clouds over, the other. Its about nding the HARMONY and BALANCE. It also comes down to PERCEPTION. What sounds nice and bright to one person, may sound thin and brittle to another. What sounds full and fat to one, may sound muddy to another.

! 2012 Rob Williams - UltimateMasteringFormula.com, All Rights Reserved 4

Step 3 - Enhance It - Mastering EQ Cheat Sheet

So youve got to decide what you prefer, and what works best for the SONG. That said, although theres no wrong or right per se, there is a CERTAIN RANGE that we need to work within if we want our tracks to sound good on the MAJORITY of playback systems. When you think about it, its pretty obvious: The manufacturers that produce the playback systems, from car stereos to iPod earphones, create them to reproduce the frequency spectrum in a way that sounds most favorable. So it only makes sense that if we want our songs to sound the best possible, we need to work within that range. This is why its ALWAYS important to keep listening and comparing to your commercial reference tracks that youve chosen. Youll notice that Ive used an orange cross to point out the effect that overdoing a certain EQ can have.

Bandwidth / Variable Q
Bandwidth, also known as Q, refers to how broad or narrow the EQ lter is. Most EQs should give you the option to change this. Because were going for SUBTLE and TRANSPARENT adjustments during mastering, using a BROAD bandwidth generally works best. So although I havent given you a specic number (because values differ between manufacturers), just use a broad bandwidth as a rule of thumb. Typically the only time youll use a very narrow Q is when notching out a problem frequency.. but thats a topic for another book :)

! 2012 Rob Williams - UltimateMasteringFormula.com, All Rights Reserved 5

Step 3 - Enhance It - Mastering EQ Cheat Sheet

Deciphering My Descriptions
Throughout this guide Ive used some fancy and somewhat interesting terms to try and describe what the EQ is meant to achieve. Please, take these with a pinch of salt, theyre just rough descriptions :) Ive used a couple of different terms because different words mean slightly different things to different people. Also, I havent used inverted commas on all of them i.e. air, glisten, sheen -Because theres so many that it would start getting a little ridiculous. ...But Im sure youll be able to gure out what I mean.

Focus On The Whole


Always keep in mind that in mastering were focussed on the ENTIRE mix, NOT individual instruments. Youre always looking to benet the WHOLE, not some specic part. So for example, you may nd that a High Shelving Filter boost brings out the vocals really nicely, but at the same time now makes the cymbals sound harsh. In this case, it may not be benetting the overall song, and so it would be better to leave it out. Of course, when you nd something like this that works, if possible, go back to the MIX phase and change the EQ over there. In this example, you may go back to the mix and slightly darken the cymbals or add a bit more top end to your vocals.

! 2012 Rob Williams - UltimateMasteringFormula.com, All Rights Reserved 6

Step 3 - Enhance It - Mastering EQ Cheat Sheet

How do I know Which One To Use?


This will come with TRIAL and ERROR. I heard a great quote not so long ago: Success comes from good judgement. Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement! In other words, when you try something and it doesnt quite work, you LEARN SOMETHING. And each time you learn, you get better. So if youre new to this, just TRY some of these out and listen to whether they make your track sound better or not. Youll know whether youve gone too far when you compare to your reference tracks.

As always, if you have questions or comments for me, you can email me at rob@prosoundformula.com Enjoy! Rob Williams

* NOTE: These EQ curves may LOOK drastic, but if you look closely at the dB scale on the right of the EQ, youll notice that it very ZOOMED IN. The very top and bottom are only 3dB. So just be aware of this with whatever EQ youre using.

! 2012 Rob Williams - UltimateMasteringFormula.com, All Rights Reserved 7

Step 3 - Enhance It - Mastering EQ Cheat Sheet

{ Sub-bass . Power . Fat . Feel Thump }

Frequency: 50Hz 65Hz Filter Type: LSF (Low Shelving Filter), Broad Q Gain: + 1dB to + 3dB

This will increase sub-bass, power, fatness of a mix on bigger playback systems / systems with a subwoofer (i.e. Wont be heard on smaller systems) This is the FEELING part of the bass Too much can cause your limiter to distort

! 2012 Rob Williams - UltimateMasteringFormula.com, All Rights Reserved 8

Step 3 - Enhance It - Mastering EQ Cheat Sheet

{ Bass . Sub-bass . Fat . Power . Thump }

Frequency: 120Hz 150Hz Filter Type: LSF (Low Shelving Filter), Broad Q Gain: + 1dB to + 3dB

!
!

This will increase low end on virtually all playback systems Will add power, warmth, thickness, fatness, thump Too much can start to sound dull, muddy, or boomy Too much low end can make it difcult to get a louder mastered level without distorting the limiter

! 2012 Rob Williams - UltimateMasteringFormula.com, All Rights Reserved 9

Step 3 - Enhance It - Mastering EQ Cheat Sheet

{ Sub-bass . Kick . Feel . Sub-Thump }

Frequency: 50Hz 70Hz Filter Type: Bell Curve, Medium Q Gain: + 1dB to + 3dB

! !
!

A Bell Curve lter at around 50Hz 70Hz will bring out the SUBTHUMP You FEEL this instead of hear it This is mainly used to target just a bass drum that is lacking lowend power Overdoing it can make it difcult to reach a commercial level as it will start to distort the limiter

! 2012 Rob Williams - UltimateMasteringFormula.com, All Rights Reserved 10

Step 3 - Enhance It - Mastering EQ Cheat Sheet

{ Brighter . Clearer . Less Muddy . Thinner }

Frequency: 450Hz Filter Type: LSF (Low Shelving Filter), Broad Q Gain: 1dB to 2dB

!
!

A broad shelf is good for SHAPING a mix, in this case, making it brighter, clearer, less bassy, less muddy Can achieve a similar result to, but sound more natural than, ADDING top end Reducing too much bass can start to sound thin, weak and cold

! 2012 Rob Williams - UltimateMasteringFormula.com, All Rights Reserved 11

Step 3 - Enhance It - Mastering EQ Cheat Sheet

{ Clearer . Less Muddy & Boxy . Tighter }

Frequency: 250Hz Filter Type: Bell Curve, Broad Q Gain: 0.5dB to 3dB

! !
!

Can increase clarity in a mix Similar effect to increasing the presence range, but sounds more natural and transparent Can tighten the low end by reducing muddiness and boxiness Cutting too much can reduce bass clarity on smaller systems Overdone can make a track sound thin and harsh

! 2012 Rob Williams - UltimateMasteringFormula.com, All Rights Reserved 12

Step 3 - Enhance It - Mastering EQ Cheat Sheet

{ Bass Clarity . Thicker . Fatter . Punch }

Frequency: 150Hz 300Hz Filter Type: Bell Curve, Broad Q Gain: + 1dB to + 3dB

!
! !

Adding this low-mid range can make a mix thicker, fatter, punchier, warmer, rounder This will increase the range where you HEAR the bass Make bass stand out more on smaller systems Too much can start to sound muddy and boxy

! 2012 Rob Williams - UltimateMasteringFormula.com, All Rights Reserved 13

Step 3 - Enhance It - Mastering EQ Cheat Sheet

{ Less Hard . Depth . Bigger }

Frequency: 900Hz 2kHz Filter Type: Bell Curve, Broad Q Gain: 0.5dB to 2dB

!
! !

Can reduce the hardness of a track, make it sound mellower Can add depth and distance, can sound bigger Can sound more expensive by reducing tinniness Too much can start to sound unclear and over-scooped Often scooping the mids can sound good on your monitors, but keep in mind that many music players these days have audio enhancers (often called 3D sound / stereo enhancer etc.) that do this automatically, so you dont want to overdo it

! 2012 Rob Williams - UltimateMasteringFormula.com, All Rights Reserved 14

Step 3 - Enhance It - Mastering EQ Cheat Sheet

{ Edgier . Aggressive . Clarity . Presence }

Frequency: 2kHz 6kHz Filter Type: Bell Curve, Broad Q Gain: + 1dB to + 2dB

! ! !

Can add clarity, edginess, presence, crispness, more aggressive sounding Will make a track sound closer Will make vocals clearer and more intelligible Too much can sound harsh and brash Use this with caution as this range can be very TIRING to the ears

! 2012 Rob Williams - UltimateMasteringFormula.com, All Rights Reserved 15

Step 3 - Enhance It - Mastering EQ Cheat Sheet

{ Warmer . Mellower . Less Aggressive }

Frequency: 4kHz 6kHz Filter Type: Bell Curve, Broad Q Gain: 0.5dB to 2dB

! !

Cutting the presence range will darken the mix and add depth Will make the mix warmer, mellower, less aggressive, less harsh Reducing too much can start to sound distant and unclear Overdone can reduce vocal intelligibility

! 2012 Rob Williams - UltimateMasteringFormula.com, All Rights Reserved 16

Step 3 - Enhance It - Mastering EQ Cheat Sheet

{ Presence . Brighter . Open . Clearer }

Frequency: 2kHz 5kHz Filter Type: HSF (High Shelving Filter), Broad Q Gain: + 0.5dB to + 2dB

! !
!

This will add more presence, denition, and brighten the mix overall Make vocals clearer and more intelligible Can give a track a more open sound Can bring out harshness if overdone Can bring out sibilance on vocals

! 2012 Rob Williams - UltimateMasteringFormula.com, All Rights Reserved 17

Step 3 - Enhance It - Mastering EQ Cheat Sheet

{ Air . Glisten . Sheen . Shimmer }

Frequency: 14kHz Filter Type: HSF (High Shelving Filter), Broad Q Gain: + 1dB to + 2dB

! ! !

Will add sparkle, shimmer, sheen, glisten, air Bring out the details Can give a track a more expensive, polished sound Conversely, too MUCH can start to sound brittle and cheap If this is the case, CUTTING this range slightly will smooth out and darken the mix

! 2012 Rob Williams - UltimateMasteringFormula.com, All Rights Reserved 18

Step 3 - Enhance It - Mastering EQ Cheat Sheet

This is part of:

The Ultimate Mastering formula


ultimatemasteringformula.com

Mastering EQ Cheat Sheet


By Rob Williams
ProSoundFormula.com UltimateMasteringFormula.com All Rights Reser ved
2012 Rob Williams

Step 3: Enhance It

! 2012 Rob Williams - UltimateMasteringFormula.com, All Rights Reserved 19