Step 4: Less is more
Since the lion’s share of the work to add some coloration and depth to music has been done during mixing services, an engineer should work on the principle “Less is more”. It’s first of all subject to the amount of equalization – considerable frequency enhancing and attenuating will break the balance preliminary built in a music studio. When an music mastering services engineer enhances or attenuates certain frequency more than by 3–4 dB, he must clearly understand the goal of this action. Otherwise the mix will work out rough and with broken and sharp sound of the frequencies enhanced for the sake of a vague goal.
Is it really necessary to intervene in mix sounding so extremely? If the reply is “Yes”, there’s more likely an error in mixing, and you should solve the problem with the preceding step. If the sound of the track doesn’t satisfy you, it is always more appropriate to tinker at flaws than use extreme processing at the mixing services stage.
Turn your attention to the peculiarity – special mastering equalizers have a limited boosting and attenuating range for each frequency range. In fact, even the stock provided by a manufacturer is excessive as in practice the range equal to 2–3 dB is exactly what makes sense to use in music mastering. When an audio engineer works with these values coupled with small values of Q parameter (let’s recall that in this case the lower Q is, the wider processed frequency band is), he is capable of carefully building tone and balance of the track in sort of bold and soft strokes by slightly emphasizing the idea initially put in it at music mixing mastering with equalization.