When it’s time to start with mastering we’re always in the middle of an inner struggle: avoid pushing immediately everything as loud as possible. This is something we know, we really do, but we hardly remember when it’s time to move knobs.
The truth is that, as I told you in a previous post on this blog, mastering is not just making things sound louder. Mastering is a fine art, and must be handled with care using ears.
Believe it or not, sometimes it’s just a matter of adding a bit of air to the mix before starting anything. Just a little bit of something in the highs can change everything downstream. That’s why it’s useful to have in your plugins a transparent shelving EQ. There are lots of free ones out there, or you can just use stock ones in your DAW, anyway you’re looking for transparency here, adding something without changing the nature of the track. We could say that the whole mastering process should be transparent but this is another story 😉
BaxterEQ is a powerful one, you can use it in stereo mode or in M/S mode, it has a very clean interface and you can experiment a lot with it. Used on the master bus before any other plugin, can give you the right starting point for everything, very good plugin.
The PTEq-1a is a software emulation of a famous vintage equalizer, a really good one! Ignite Amps have managed how to accurately emulate this masterpiece of hardware with this plugin, even extending its capabilities. Trust me, this jewel can do wonderful things on your master bus. It’s just a matter of trying it. Download it and use it, I think you’re going to add it to your favourites.
I could also include Cockos’ ReaFir to this list, it comes included with Reaper but you can also have it for free with ReaPlugs. It can be used as a transparent EQ, but it’s a little bit more complicated than the above ones, so I think I’ll talk about it in the future maybe with a dedicated post. Meanwhile, let me know what kind of results you achieved using these plugins in your mastering chain.