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SparkySpark
KVRian
 
1236 posts since 30 Aug, 2004, from Skövde, Sweden

Postby SparkySpark; Thu Jun 14, 2018 3:25 pm Mastering EQ and balancing

Though having composed music for years, I've never learnt the mastering process. I'm now looking for an easy (rather than expert) way to get a good enough balance between the lows and highs of my mix, so it's not too dull, boomy, or harsh.

Since I only do this for a hobby and almost never complete a song :) , I'm primarily looking for a freeware VST EQ or something else (for Win 10, 64 bit) that could indicate if the song is balanced or not, and also lets me fix it, of course.

I know there was just an application released for this, were all bars should be green if a song is well balanced, but shouldn't I just be able to look at the curve on an EQ? :?:

Though there are many tips on mastering EQ online, I'm kind of lost here (they're all like "cut 2 dB here and add 1 dB there"), so recommendations would be highly welcome!

Thanks!
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BertKoor
KVRAF
 
10561 posts since 8 Mar, 2005, from Utrecht, Holland

Postby BertKoor; Thu Jun 14, 2018 11:20 pm Re: Mastering EQ and balancing

SparkySpark wrote:shouldn't I just be able to look at the curve on an EQ?
If you'r going to look at anything (which is kind of a no-go, you'd mainly have to rely on your ears and use your eyes for confirmation) you'd better look at a spectrograph, and not at the EQ settings themselves.

The EQ settings show you what you intend to change, while a spectrograph shows you the outcome.
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SparkySpark
KVRian
 
1236 posts since 30 Aug, 2004, from Skövde, Sweden

Postby SparkySpark; Fri Jun 15, 2018 6:21 am Re: Mastering EQ and balancing

BertKoor wrote:If you'r going to look at anything (which is kind of a no-go, you'd mainly have to rely on your ears and use your eyes for confirmation) you'd better look at a spectrograph, and not at the EQ settings themselves.

The EQ settings show you what you intend to change, while a spectrograph shows you the outcome.


Hi, thanks for your reply. Yes, I do understand as much :) but does this mean that there is really no one-size-fits-all (pop music) when it comes to the resulting (spectrograph) curve? I know that some mix their mixes using pink noise for example.

Well, then I'll just keep doing what we have always done - trusting my ears and monitoring on several systems (haedphones, studio monitors, car speakers, and so on).
Making music is a nine-to-five job:
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cron
KVRAF
 
3028 posts since 27 Dec, 2002, from North East England

Postby cron; Fri Jun 15, 2018 7:01 am Re: Mastering EQ and balancing

I really can't agree enough with the stuff above about not using your eyes to make decisions. Visual representations of sound or sound processing quite simply don't describe what you can hear in any meaningful fashion. They only hint at it with the very broadest of strokes. You wouldn't listen to a sonification of the Mona Lisa to determine what you can see.
stillshaded
KVRian
 
667 posts since 18 Apr, 2011

Postby stillshaded; Fri Jun 15, 2018 7:15 am Re: Mastering EQ and balancing

Yea yea yea.. mix with your ears obviously, but having some good metering can really help speed things up when you aren’t in the greatest listening environment.

Try getting voxengo span and using the “stereo mastering” preset. Load up a couple of pro tracks that sound similar to what you’re after. Volume match them and compare them to your track. The overall curve of the eq should be a little higher in the bass region and slightly descend as it goes towards the highs. Look for bumps along the way, this might indicate a place where there are some frequencies building up. If you can, try to fix that in the mix. Otherwise some very careful eq’ing can help.

Some times I’ll do some boosting with eq to try and make the problems areas worse so I could pinpoint the exact problem. Also I’ll usually end up having to boost the highs just cause everything is so bright nowadays. Often follow that with some light hi freq compression in a multi band unit with the other frequencies turned off. But you didn’t really ask for mastering tips ;) oops
SparkySpark
KVRian
 
1236 posts since 30 Aug, 2004, from Skövde, Sweden

Postby SparkySpark; Fri Jun 15, 2018 7:39 am Re: Mastering EQ and balancing

Hi, thanks both, really enlightening.

One reason why I ask is that my mixing environment is not good and I also have tinnitus and am 40+ so I don't really trust my ears anymore. On the other hand, I bet that hearing problems goes for the majority of the audience too. :wink:

I agree a lot of today's music is very bright, a bit like in the '50s.

I'll look at Voxengo span too, thanks for the suggestion.
Making music is a nine-to-five job:
From 9 PM to 5 AM.
Go MuLab!
SparkySpark
KVRian
 
1236 posts since 30 Aug, 2004, from Skövde, Sweden

Postby SparkySpark; Fri Jun 15, 2018 8:42 am Re: Mastering EQ and balancing

Hi again,

Now I have looked more at analyzers. I realized that I already have Melda's free MAnalyzer. It has a number of cool features (typical for Melda) and one of them is the ability to bring up a comparison curve.

In this case, the curve for pop is on top, and my own is below (moving).
MAnalyzer200k.png


In this next img, I have selected to show 1/3 octaves instead (hence the vertical bars). I know that these should be almost flat, but dip a bit to the right (hi freqs) in pop. That is precisely what's going on here. My own music is heavily on the bass side, as it's just an bass-y intro.

Also note that I have decided to show the octaves on top of this. I could also have chosen to show eg typcial drums sounds' ranges (very clever).
MAnalyzer_third_octave.PNG


This final image is how MAnalyzer looks per default (no comparison, and not as much averaged as I used above). In addition, I have chosen to show more controls - input volume and also a stereo width analyzer.
MAnalyzer_default200.png


To me, this looks really like an excellent solution - I can't believe this is freeware! :o
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Making music is a nine-to-five job:
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Go MuLab!
Samplecraze
KVRist
 
293 posts since 9 Aug, 2004

Postby Samplecraze; Tue Jun 19, 2018 2:44 am Re: Mastering EQ and balancing

Sparky, have a look at my latest book entitled MixBus Strategies, reviewed here : https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/mi ... -producers

The book has chapter after chapter concentrating on the mixbus structure and how best to perform DIY mastering.
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alexpander
KVRist
 
55 posts since 8 May, 2018

Postby alexpander; Tue Jun 19, 2018 4:40 am Re: Mastering EQ and balancing

Unfortunately it isn't free. But this is quite exactly what you are looking for and it works really amazing:
https://www.soundtheory.com/home
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CKvbjvzkxtM
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thecontrolcentre
KVRAF
 
22877 posts since 27 Jul, 2005, from the wilds of wanny

Postby thecontrolcentre; Tue Jun 19, 2018 5:35 am Re: Mastering EQ and balancing

If you like Melda's plugins, this is worth a look ...
https://www.meldaproduction.com/MAutoDynamicEq
SparkySpark
KVRian
 
1236 posts since 30 Aug, 2004, from Skövde, Sweden

Postby SparkySpark; Tue Jun 19, 2018 3:26 pm Re: Mastering EQ and balancing

Thanks both!

The Gullfoss thing seems seriously cool, but it is quite expensive for a hobby musician (a light edition would be advisable, perhaps).

I hope there will be more units like these in the future, and I think that is where we are heading - having tools working more intelligently with separating audio tracks, removing harshness, changing the overall tone of the master mix, and so on.

I also downloaded TDR Nova (what a gem!) and use that for defining my sound (such as HP filtering), and then MAnalyzer to confirm. That feels like a good combo.
Making music is a nine-to-five job:
From 9 PM to 5 AM.
Go MuLab!
Samplecraze
KVRist
 
293 posts since 9 Aug, 2004

Postby Samplecraze; Thu Jun 21, 2018 2:03 am Re: Mastering EQ and balancing

Sparky, have a read of this article I wrote for Sound On Sound magazine entitled DIY Mastering:
https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques ... -made-easy

Hopefully it will help.
SparkySpark
KVRian
 
1236 posts since 30 Aug, 2004, from Skövde, Sweden

Postby SparkySpark; Sun Jun 24, 2018 8:54 am Re: Mastering EQ and balancing

Samplecraze wrote:Sparky, have a read of this article I wrote for Sound On Sound magazine entitled DIY Mastering:
https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques ... -made-easy

Hopefully it will help.

Wow, great article!

Thanks a lot. I particularly enjoyed this: "The beauty of it is that you’re free to tweak each stage in light of the others, making ever finer adjustments."
Great advice! :clap:
Making music is a nine-to-five job:
From 9 PM to 5 AM.
Go MuLab!
No_Use
KVRAF
 
2307 posts since 13 Mar, 2004

Postby No_Use; Sun Jun 24, 2018 9:15 am Re: Mastering EQ and balancing

You could do the same comparison procedure with MAnalyzer also in the mixing process already. Which generally speaking I find a better approach as you have more control over the single elements (or as is said, fix it in the mix, not the master ;))
SparkySpark
KVRian
 
1236 posts since 30 Aug, 2004, from Skövde, Sweden

Postby SparkySpark; Sun Jun 24, 2018 9:56 am Re: Mastering EQ and balancing

No_Use wrote:You could do the same comparison procedure with MAnalyzer also in the mixing process already. Which generally speaking I find a better approach as you have more control over the single elements (or as is said, fix it in the mix, not the master ;))

Yes, thanks, I did realize that too and do exactly so now. :)
Making music is a nine-to-five job:
From 9 PM to 5 AM.
Go MuLab!
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