Typically, good mastering skills are derived from experience more than anything else. A true mastering engineer can spend years honing their craft. Luckily for us, technology has made it possible to achieve decent mastering results right from our DAW – all that’s necessary is a little know-how and plenty of practice.
First things first… Get your mix as tight as possible. Spectrum analyzers provide crucial feedback about the nature of your mix. If your analyzer looks like a snapshot of the Himalayas (extreme peaks and valleys), then chances are your mix needs some work before proceeding further.
Logic Pro has a nice Multimeter that will aid you in this assessment.
Here’s the audio example we’re going to master:
It stems from PlatinumLoops’ Drum and Bass Loops V1. If you haven’t checked that out already, you’ll definitely want to! It’s crammed full of awesomeness!
Step 1 - Add a Linear Phase EQ and then a Multimeter to your mastering chain.
If there are any small problems in your mix, a linear phase EQ can help you tighten them up and the Multimeter will give you visual feedback into these problems and corrections. Be sure to put your Multimeter into the last slot of your mastering chain, so you can use it monitor any adjustments you make throughout the process.
If it sounds like your bass is too loud then you might want to reduce some of the lower end by a couple of dB’s. If your mix is lacking presence, then you might want to boost some of the mid-highs, etc. These should only be subtle changes. You shouldn’t have to do any major equalizing if your mix is tight from the get go.
One trick to getting a bit more loudness out of your track is to subtract a couple of dB’s in the 200-300 Hz range – just as you see in the image above.
Rolling off frequencies in the 30-40 Hz range will clean up any low end rumbling. Boosting around 2 KHz will give your track more presence and any boost over 8KHz will add more shimmer and sparkle. Adjust as necessary.
Step 2 - Add a Multipressor to your mastering chain.
Logic’s Multipressor is a 4-band compressor that’s ideal for mastering. It gives you more control over the frequencies you would like to compress by splitting the frequency spectrum into multiple bandwidths that can be tailored to suit your specific needs.
Logic has a few presets that are good starting points, but again, this processor should only be used in moderate amounts. Often times we don’t use it at all.
For the most transparent results, try starting with the Final Rock Compressor or Final Pop Compressor settings – then you can make some subtle adjustments. If your bottom end (sub bass) is swallowing your mix, then you may want to set band 1 to 70 Hz, then lower your Threshold and increase your Ratio. Compressing those frequencies will put them in more of a pocket in relation to the rest of your mix.
The Multipressor can also make your mix sound more cohesive (think of it as glue).