You love a particular song. The melody is awesome, the drums are magnificent but there is one problem… The mastering sucks…
What do you do? Most people probably won’t even notice the flaws, but producers, mastering engineers, … will quickly notice imperfections in tracks. Nowadays this isn’t really a problem anymore because most tracks are mixed and mastered by professional people that really know what they are doing. Most of all those people have acces to incredibly expensive material.
Old songs however, such as One by Metallica or Johnny be Goode from Chuck Berry are not always mastered great. The reasons could be anything but all you know is ‘I want to make it better’.
Most of the times i like to start with splitting the track. I put it three times into my DAW and then put an eq on each one.
Track 1: 20 – 200 Hz
Track 2: 200 – 5000 Hz
Track 3: 5000 – 20000 Hz
It isn’t really necessary but it gives you a bit more control over what you’re doing.
A tip from me is to put all these tracks at -3 dB, when you are mastering the entire piece you will automatically make it louder.
As an example i’m going to take One by Metallica to explain this process further. The bass in this track is almost none existant, the guitars are over compressed and sound harsh and the drums don’t really sound natural and smooth.
First thing I did was putting a compressor on track 1 and 2. Not very hard compressors, just enough so the big harsh peaks in the tracks are a bit less obvious. The compressor in the bass frequency was just a tiny bit bigger because of the difference between the drums and the bass guitar.
The next thing I did was to boost the bass frequencies while inserting a cut around 120 Hz because this sounded like a harsh and just awfull sounding frequency when the bass was boosted. Then I put an iZotope Ozone 5 plugin over this track and added a little bit of tube warmth to the entire bass region, just a tiny bit, not very noticeable. Last thing I did was to put an equalizer in mid/side mode and cuttet the entire bass response at the sides, this is general knowledge.
In the middle frequencies I made a 4 dB cut around 1800 to 2300 Hz because here is were the harsh guitar parts are generally located. I took a bit more off the side than the middle because the middle contains more vocals and drums than the sides do. Otherwise i boosted the 400 Hz region to make it a bit more transparant. The only other thing i did was putting a tiny bit of reverb on the track.
The high end of the track I mostly let alone, i only reduced it by 0.4 dB. Not really noticeable but in the end it makes a tiny difference.
To finish the song I put an overall compressor on the track, but only a very slight one. -6dB tresshold, 1.7 to ratio, so nothing drastically.
Then I put another iZotope Ozone plugin over the track to add a general reverb and make a limiter. I also increased the dynamic range of the song and added a bit of warmt to the middle frequency.
To listen to the result, click here: http://www45.zippyshare.com/v/98336585/file.html