From: Thomas Johansson
Hello, Mr Katz!
I’m wondering if maybe you could answer a question for me…
When you’re eqing an album, or doing any eq at all for that matter :).. How much in your opinion do you cut/boost a band on one song before making compromises?
I made a little demo cd master today for a friend, which consisted of two songs.. sounding a bit like Limp Bizkit but more industrial metal type. On one of the songs I had to cut about 0.9db at 208Hz to get the tone I was after. Then on the other song I had to cut 3.3db at the same freq. Is this to much eq in your opinion. I think it sounds ok, but should I have made a compromise and not eq the first song which might have resulted in maybe just a 2db cut in the other song. What would you have done?
There is no rule. If your loudspeakers are very accurate they will tell you if you are having a problem. Usually, because 2 track mastering is a compromise, one frequency affects another very easily, so if you are cutting as much as 3.3 dB at 208 Hz for some instrument or resonance you hear, you are likely severely affecting the balance or sound of other instruments. But again, there is no rule.
Is it “legal” for a master to sound slightly different from track to track or does it have to be exact?
Thomas. It totally depends on the music. I just did an album whose philosophy was such that every track had to sound different. I did another album a while back with the same philosophy. However, despite that, there was a unity in that the tracks worked with each other, despite their differences, and that was part of the skill of the mastering engineer.
I have further suggestions on this in my article Secrets of the Mastering Engineer.