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Entry #4

The principles of self-mastering an Electronic track: EQ'ing

2008-07-17 19:38:42 by Flash-MX

*note: This is meant for linear/visual EQ layouts, not slider ones, there may be some limits when using slider EQ on simpler programs.

I've got some tips that might be useful:
(note: im no professional, so if anybody else comes on here and gives you conflicting advice, try both out and see which one works/sounds better for you!)

For techno/trance/electronic music, for the most part you want the drum track and bass track stronger than all the other instruments, with the lead being the second strongest and finally the "counter-lead" (pads, gated synths, effects) being the least strongest. You can change it around though considering the song or the part of the song (for example: if you want to have an instrument solo, you bring down the bass and drums a little bit so the lead can cut through the rest of them pretty nicely; sorta like a lead trumpet in a jazz band, when its his/her turn to play, they will play a little louder)

To do this with electric music (acoustic has a different process, and I don't really have any experience with it at all)

First set all the mixer volumes to default, you will start to hear that some instruments (like the drums and bass) will naturally come out a little stronger.

Then, take the EQ on all of them and bring out the mid and lower frequencies on the bass, this will give you that bit of a club sound (just adjust them until you can clearly hear the bass, but it isn't distorting, or its the only thing you can hear). Then, on the drums, bring out the mid-low range for the kick, and bring out the upper-middle range for the snare, and finally just a LITTLE bit for the hi-hat (often people bring the hi-hat out and it sounds like crap, especially since it keeps going on and on, and its such a high freq too, its like a mosquito).

Next, on the lead, there should be one with a clear melody or in another case, the instrument that has the primary purpose throughout the whole song, and bring the higher frequencies out-- this will balance the mix and allow it to cut through the bass withought overpowering it. Generally the pads/strings, anything sustained doesn't really need much EQ work, but I could be wrong.

Finally, on the mixer, change the volumes according to what you want it to sound like, more bass less lead? or the other way around? Its all really up to you. Just make sure that at 80-90% of your speaker's volume, you can't hear any distortion. If you do, bring down the volumes or the gain on some of the EQs.

Balance-wise, this should be pretty much the basics on almost any techno track, again I could be wrong, but IMO sounds the best.

For any extra crunch on the bass and drums especially, get a compressor on that sucker and mess around with it until you can hear a crystal clear snap on every snare hit. I usually accomplish this using Reason's MClass Compressor, and I will bring the ratio to around 2:1, the threshold to about 80% and the output gain to 60%, but it could be different on FL Studio, so just mess around with it.

This is as much as I personally know, use, so feel free to add your own personal touches to the process!

Hope this helps, peace!

Later, I will be writing on compression, reverb, limiting, delay, etc.
For now, this should help beginners and intermediate users alike master their own tracks.

Again, if anybody else can offer some different tips, advice or altogether process, I will be happy to edit it in.


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2008-07-22 23:42:27

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2008-07-25 14:14:55



2008-08-04 15:12:08

Verrry Nice Tut :) Its a great guide for anyone who wants to master :P

I figured it out by myself, just by messing around with the buttons and knobs until I knew which one was which. Follow this guide, Don't do what I did xD


2008-08-12 23:29:31

This is a nice thing for beginners, but nobody should be using these as set-in-stone rules. Mixes vary from track to track and from concept to concept - I've seen some songs in which the kick and bass are out in front for a clubbier sound, and most of the other sounds are behind, though still present. Many other tracks I've seen don't have an out-in-front kick or a loud, booming bass, but instead focus on the moving melodies and sweeping pads. Etc., etc. :P

You talk about EQing like you can endlessly boost without any clipping or distortion at all - if you've ever EQed, you should know obviously it's not the case. And in any case, most boosts shouldn't be more than a few dB. Then there's the kick and bass and making sure they don't hurt each other, as well as the other sounds interacting with the mix. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts - make sure everything sounds good in the mix, not individually. ;)

Just my thoughts.

Flash-MX responds:

Thanks for the comment!

If you read a little closer though, you'll notice I do often mention to be careful with distortion/clipping issues when boosting and cutting certain EQ freqs. I also mention often that these tips are strictly for beginners, and I don't include deeper details about dithering, limiting, filters, etc., and I agree, these definetly should NOT be used as set rules all the time, like you stated, it varies with the track.

Thanks again for the comment,


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