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DIY Mastering Made Easy

Crafty Masters
Published November 2017
By Eddie Bazil

Crafty Masters

Getting the tonality of your mix right is one of the most challenging aspects of home mastering. Thankfully, ‘profiling EQ’ plug-ins can help.

There’s no substitute for an experienced mastering engineer, but many of us can’t always afford to employ one. Home mastering will never quite be the same, but in this article, I’ll explain a corrective EQ’ing tactic that should help you take your demo-mix quality up a notch very quickly. It’s fairly common in the EDM genres now, and I’ve also seen it used in modern commercial hip-hop (‘hip-pop’ as I like to call it). There’s no reason in theory why it shouldn’t help those working on other styles too.

Pink Practice

Conceptually, the thinking is similar to the ‘pink noise’ mix technique I described in SOS December 2014 (www.soundonsound.com/techniques/mixing-pink-noise-reference), as it involves using a pink-noise reference. But there are some important modifications. For starters, we’re changing the balance of a full stereo mix using EQ, rather than adjusting the mix balance using the individual channel gains/faders. Another (very appealing!) difference is that you won’t have to subject your ears to loud bursts of pink noise for very long. Instead, we’ll be using a ‘profiling EQ’ to capture a reference curve from the noise — in fact, you can mute your monitors while you do that bit if you want. We’re trying to finish the track here, rather than prep it for mixing, and that inevitably means there’s more required of your ears and your judgement. And note that we’re not simply matching your track to the pink noise profile; we’re just using that as a starting point to ensure a sensible balance. As well as the EQ’ing process itself, I’ll suggest a few other ways to sprinkle some subtle fairy-dust enhancement — without mangling your mix!

You’ll need a good EQ plug-in. It must be one that includes a frequency analyser, has the ability to capture and display reference curves, and can apply a ‘corrective’ EQ curve to match the spectral balance (the way the...

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Published November 2017