EQ on the master bus while mixing

Hey Mike hope you’re having a great day! I’m a big fan of your masters and I’m wondering what you think about mix engineers using EQ on their master bus? Lately in my mixes I’ve been doing eq changes on my master bus near the end of my mix. I’ll do most of my mix without putting anything besides a limiter [just to listen] on the master bus. Then, when I’m satisfied with all my mixing decisions, I’ve been doing EQ on the master bus to shape how my mix sounds. Sometimes I don’t feel that just an individual element lacks mid range, sometimes I want the whole song to have more midrange, or I want the whole song to have more air, and honestly, I really think it’s fun messing around with eq on the master bus, there’s so much I can do to shape my mix there! I’ve been wondering lately though, if these are decisions I should be leaving to my mastering engineer and if I could potentially be messing something up for them by doing this. On one end I feel if I can get my mix to a place I like with master bus EQ then why not? Kind of like with master bus compression. On the other hand, I’m wondering if I’m really limiting what a mastering engineer can do by making master bus eq changes, especially since they have a proper listening environment and they may be able to make more informed EQ changes than I would. What’s your preference as a professional mastering engineer?

Hey Hunter!

I’ll start by saying that a great mix makes a great master. Mastering can really help elevate a mix, but the more detailed and laborious part of the work is done at the mix stage.

I always assume that a mix I get to master has be approved by the artist, producer, and mix engineer and that it is as close to sounding finished as they can make it. If limiting/compressing/EQ on the mix bus provides a color or texture that helps the mix, by all means, do that. I receive mixes with limiting and EQ, just limiting, and nothing at all on the mix bus. I tend to start with the unprocessed mix, but use the others to get an idea of where the client hears the finished master. Having options is always a good plan, so maybe printing one with your mix bus processing, and one without would be helpful.