New Master EQ every 4 bars?

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RobC
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Joined: 10 Mar 2018

Post 01 Aug 2019

What's your opinion about setting a new Master EQ every 4 bars (that's about how often my music changes), instead of just 1 or 2 (usually based on, and referencing busy song sections)?

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guitfnky
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Post 01 Aug 2019

caveat: I play rock genres, mostly, so no high production “modern” styles...

that said, I feel like, if you need to change your master section at any point in the middle of a song, there might be larger EQ or compression issues that need addressing (probably at the track level). in my view, the master settings should be ‘set and forget’ (once your song is totally done, obviously).

then again, there are no rules, so if you’re happy with the results, that’s ultimately all that matters.

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MannequinRaces
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Post 01 Aug 2019

That sounds like a pain in the ass. EQ the mix instead. Never heard of anybody doing this. Do people do this? I’m genuinely interested because it seems like a bad idea, lol.

RobC
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Joined: 10 Mar 2018

Post 01 Aug 2019

guitfnky wrote:
01 Aug 2019
caveat: I play rock genres, mostly, so no high production “modern” styles...

that said, I feel like, if you need to change your master section at any point in the middle of a song, there might be larger EQ or compression issues that need addressing (probably at the track level). in my view, the master settings should be ‘set and forget’ (once your song is totally done, obviously).

then again, there are no rules, so if you’re happy with the results, that’s ultimately all that matters.
My post is sort of is an experimental thought, cause I mostly didn't like the idea of making a master EQ, as it affected every mix channel. May sound good at the busiest part of the music, but odd at quieter, solo, etc. sections.

RobC
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Post 01 Aug 2019

MannequinRaces wrote:
01 Aug 2019
That sounds like a pain in the ass. EQ the mix instead. Never heard of anybody doing this. Do people do this? I’m genuinely interested because it seems like a bad idea, lol.
It could either be bad, or good. I'll be back in a bit ~ I have a few more thoughts...

TritoneAddiction
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Post 01 Aug 2019

Haven't tried this idea with EQ, but I do automate the master bus compression settings between different parts. That makes more sense to me.

RobC
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Post 01 Aug 2019

MannequinRaces wrote:
01 Aug 2019
That sounds like a pain in the ass. EQ the mix instead. Never heard of anybody doing this. Do people do this? I’m genuinely interested because it seems like a bad idea, lol.
So, here's how things work:

I prepare my ears with reference songs, for the audio engineering session. That way I know the limits, like what's too much, and what's too little.

Then I take my tracks, mostly all synthesized material, and equalize them individually. So in theory, we could say, that the tracks individually, are fine. And thus, normally, engineers could rightfully ask, why do I need any more equalization?

What kind of bugs me is, when for example bass and kick play at the same time, it can become too much. If we equalize a single master section like that for the whole song, so it will be optimal, then when they play individually, they will be too weak. But this is just one example. When different sounds play together, things can get too much anywhere on the frequency spectrum.
Again, I understand, that that's pretty much how it's 'natural', but it's something I never really liked in music.

Thinking about it, it might indeed be way too much work. I might try for an experiment on a short something to see how it is.

RobC
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Joined: 10 Mar 2018

Post 01 Aug 2019

TritoneAddiction wrote:
01 Aug 2019
Haven't tried this idea with EQ, but I do automate the master bus compression settings between different parts. That makes more sense to me.
I was thinking about multi-band compression, but... I kind of want to avoid that, since I prefer less compression, and a rather static EQ. Well, it would stay the same for only 4 bars of course, but that's something else. : ) It wouldn't have the same results, I think.

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MannequinRaces
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Post 01 Aug 2019

RobC wrote:
01 Aug 2019
MannequinRaces wrote:
01 Aug 2019
That sounds like a pain in the ass. EQ the mix instead. Never heard of anybody doing this. Do people do this? I’m genuinely interested because it seems like a bad idea, lol.
So, here's how things work:

I prepare my ears with reference songs, for the audio engineering session. That way I know the limits, like what's too much, and what's too little.

Then I take my tracks, mostly all synthesized material, and equalize them individually. So in theory, we could say, that the tracks individually, are fine. And thus, normally, engineers could rightfully ask, why do I need any more equalization?

What kind of bugs me is, when for example bass and kick play at the same time, it can become too much. If we equalize a single master section like that for the whole song, so it will be optimal, then when they play individually, they will be too weak. But this is just one example. When different sounds play together, things can get too much anywhere on the frequency spectrum.
Again, I understand, that that's pretty much how it's 'natural', but it's something I never really liked in music.

Thinking about it, it might indeed be way too much work. I might try for an experiment on a short something to see how it is.
Thanks for explaining! Sounds like an interesting concept. Try and out and see if it works for you. Would this be something you only do on a song by song basis or would you do this when mastering an entire album as well?

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selig
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Post 02 Aug 2019

Mastering IS about applying a setting across all channels. It's historically been more important when mastering albums to create a continuous flow/feel from one song to the next. It's similar to color grading in the film industry.

Mastering a single is less important today (but still valid) since it's often easier to just open the file and fix the mix.
But still, if the whole song sounds too dark to you, but otherwise OK, then why not just brighten up the entire mix?

On a personal note, I rarely EQ in mastering.

If you're changing things every 4 bars, that would be a "mix" thing IMO, not a mastering thing. Automating levels to accommodate changes is very common. Sometimes your master compressor can actually do this for you, when setup correctly. But beware of "turd polishing" - if you're fixing the mix in mastering, I would prefer to fix the mix in the MIX!

Don't even consider mastering until your mix is as great as it can be, and don't overlook your arrangement as the cause of many mix problems in my experience.

Finally, getting each individual track to sound "fine" on their own isn't mixing. Mixing is when you get all the tracks to sound fine TOGETHER, and that's the tricky part.
Selig Audio, LLC

RobC
Posts: 1079
Joined: 10 Mar 2018

Post 02 Aug 2019

MannequinRaces wrote:
01 Aug 2019
Thanks for explaining! Sounds like an interesting concept. Try and out and see if it works for you. Would this be something you only do on a song by song basis or would you do this when mastering an entire album as well?
This is something that could work for either individual songs, or albums, cause it would more or less have a consistent, balanced sound all the way, but I really need to think a lot about it (I already did lol, but still need).

RobC
Posts: 1079
Joined: 10 Mar 2018

Post 02 Aug 2019

selig wrote:
02 Aug 2019
Mastering IS about applying a setting across all channels. It's historically been more important when mastering albums to create a continuous flow/feel from one song to the next. It's similar to color grading in the film industry.

Mastering a single is less important today (but still valid) since it's often easier to just open the file and fix the mix.
But still, if the whole song sounds too dark to you, but otherwise OK, then why not just brighten up the entire mix?

On a personal note, I rarely EQ in mastering.

If you're changing things every 4 bars, that would be a "mix" thing IMO, not a mastering thing. Automating levels to accommodate changes is very common. Sometimes your master compressor can actually do this for you, when setup correctly. But beware of "turd polishing" - if you're fixing the mix in mastering, I would prefer to fix the mix in the MIX!

Don't even consider mastering until your mix is as great as it can be, and don't overlook your arrangement as the cause of many mix problems in my experience.

Finally, getting each individual track to sound "fine" on their own isn't mixing. Mixing is when you get all the tracks to sound fine TOGETHER, and that's the tricky part.
When I first read about how an album is kind of glued together engineering-wise, I was a bit surprised, cause to be honest, I like a bit of randomness, and surprising differences.

I kind of try to go for a 'standard/average' at this point, which considers the natural/acoustic masters, which tries to avoid that the sound gets a too obvious stamp of my hearing. I try to avoid to mix, or equalize anything to 'my' taste. Clearly that's where references help. Since people's hearings differ so much, I want to experiment with setting mix channel volumes to a reference sound's loudness (can be anything, really), and then instead of fine tuning the channel fader, I would take common jumps, like increasing/decreasing a channel's volume by 25%, or 50%. Similarly I experiment with panning sometimes, thinking the average person is more likely to localize 8 directions, so I jumped 45 degrees for each turn.

There was a thread where we talked about mixing a kick and a bass hitting at the same time. The best solution seemed raising the volume when something sounded weak, an letting the mix work naturally otherwise, without offsetting things with regroove much, or applying momentary EQing, inverting phase, etc.

Still, once everything works together, there still can be parts where some frequencies' loudness on the spectrum just become too much. I can't say a single song where something doesn't poke out here and there. It can be tolerated ~ and maybe there's no solution to it anyway. I was still curious, like 'what if'.

But yeah, if there's a great sounding bass in the first 4 bars, then in the next one the kick comes in, and the two get Equalized to the references, then I fear the result will be just an inversion of the original issue I didn't enjoy. Aka, instead of the bass and kick getting too bassy, they simply will get too flat. Which is definitely bad.

However, while I sort of see the answer now, in case of a song where there's no mix-access available, some more frequent EQ changes might still be useful, cause 1 setting doesn't necessarily work for every section of a song.

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