Mastering with iZotope Ozone 5: EQ (Part 7)
[song being mastered]
Using an EQ at the mastering stage can be tricky. It might be tempting if you think there are any spectral problems or spectral issues that you should use an EQ here to try and fix those problems. However it’s my opinion that if you have these issues, and you can, go back to the mixing stage and try and fix them on the individual instruments. Therefor what I’m suggesting is that the mastering stage, rather than trying to fix problems, we should be trying to enhance the mix before the limiter in the signal chain. You’re gonna do this by doing very gradual and subtle spectral shaping. Let me get into the plugin and show you some tricks that you can use.
Let’s turn on the module. Before I get into any spectral shaping, what I like to do is go into the snapshots tab and capture a snapshot that’s gonna tell me the longterm spectral average of the frequency content in my mix. This is a helpful guide and reference when trying to figure out how to balance a frequency spectrum. I’ll start the capture here and press play.
[song being captured by Ozone 5 snapshot]
Let’s look at the snapshot. In my opinion it’s not a very well balanced mix across the frequency spectrum. I’ve got a lot of low frequency energy and then when I get into the midrange it falls off a little bit. And then the high frequency, it falls off even more.
One thing you need to realize when thinking about mastering a mix and trying to make your mix sound and be perceived being very loud, you have to understand how the human ear hears. The human ear is very sensitive to frequencies around 1k up to 3k. It’s not very sensitive to frequencies that are down around 50 Hz. So what you don’t want to do it put a lot of low frequency energy in your mix. You’d rather maybe concentrate or bring up a little more of the energy in the upper mids where the ear is gonna be very sensitive to those frequencies. What I’m gonna try and do is bring down a bit of the low end. Bring up a bit of these upper-mids and hopefully that will balance out the frequency spectrum a bit better. First thing I’ll do is add a bell shape filter. Bring this down, maybe around the 2kHz range.
I don’t want to do very dramatic spectral shaping, so I’m only gonna go up here by about 1 dB. I like to keep a very wide Q here because I don’t want it to be too sharp of a filter, so I’ll broaden this out a little bit. Next thing I wanna do is bring down a bit more of the low end. I’ll go in here, use another bell. Looks like maybe what I’ll try and do is bring this down so it’s centered right around 80 Hz. Sounds great. I’m gonna bring it down by 1 dB. Looks like I can maybe widen out this Q. That’s at far as it’s gonna go. So far what I’ve done is just tried to balance the mix. I’ve brought up the upper-mids, brought down the lows, and this is what it sounds like.
[full mix after iZotope Ozone 5 EQ]
Another thing I’ll suggest, especially if you’re worried about bringing down too much low end and having the bottom end of your mix fall out. Is one trick I like to do that kind of tricks the mind into thinking that there’s more low end is to actually pull out a little bit of the low mids. What that does, relatively speaking, is the low-mids are gonna be a little bit quieter compared to the low end, so that it doesn’t sound as much like the low end is missing.
I’ll bring in another bell-shaped filter here. Bring it up maybe around 400 Hz. This one I’m gonna use a sharper Q, bring it in tighter. Go down another 1 dB. Alright. Just scoop out a little bit of those low-mids. Get it up closer to 400.
[song with low-mid EQ cut]
That’s all there really is to it. Very gradual subtle spectral shaping to balance out the frequency spectrum and enhance my mix such that it’s gonna be perceived as being loud. Stay tuned for the next video where I’ll discuss a couple small tricks that you can use with automation to put the last few touches on a mix before it hits the limiter.