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Do you boost ultra high frequencies or cut?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #1
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Do you boost ultra high frequencies or cut?

So, I know every song is different, but lets just say you've received the perfect mix- everything sounds even and nothing you'd ask the mix engineer or music producer to go back and change...

I've seen some mastering engineers boost at 20khz or even 40khz. General consensus is that humans can't hear past 20khz but I've found that when I do boost the ultra high frequencies there's a LOT of life that wakes up in the track and gives it the professional sounding energy I hear in my favorite songs.

I've also seen many mastering engineers cut the ultra high frequencies to make extra headroom for the limiter later.

I'm currently in the boosting camp- I love that high energy as long as it's not piecing or harsh.

What do you all do?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #2
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I'm in the cut camp. As far as digitally sampled audio goes, it's better have something versus nothing, because of the lack of typical analog noisefloor. The highs can be re-established when played back. Why do it this way? Because sampling rate has a huge impact of fidelity IMO, and having a clean high SR cut is better than having to compete with any noise and/or distortion present. High SR is key because trying to boost near the nyquist frequency is fraught with issues in magnitude and phase. Listening to a stream is like listening to half the music, lossy compression sucks, yadda yadda.
Old 4 weeks ago
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Whatever you decide to do, cutting ultrasonic frequencies will not have a meaningful impact on headroom, or allow for more limiting.
Old 4 weeks ago
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Than I wouldn't do any equing. Just match the target level and congratulate the mixing engineer

Quote:
Originally Posted by ScottBrio ➡️
So, I know every song is different, but lets just say you've received the perfect mix- everything sounds even and nothing you'd ask the mix engineer or music producer to go back and change...
But to elaborate a little bit more, imo the "perfect" mix doesn't exists. It can't exists, as we all hear things differently, so there's always "something" to be done.
Sometimes you don't need to do much because as you say the mix is almost there, but in my 15 years of practice I have never had a mix that couldn't benefit from a little something.
I never add or cut the top end "generically". If you do this it's because the song needs it. Otherwise don't touch it.
Old 4 weeks ago
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I don't have a preference either way - whatever the track needs.

Of course there's something satisfying about opening up the top end with a nice EQ, but I find it equally satisfying to roll things off when that's the move that helps things click into place.


BTW, boosting above 20kHz is more about the nice gentle curve that extends down into the audible range, not so much about the effect at the center frequency of the filter.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ScottBrio ➡️
So, I know every song is different, but lets just say you've received the perfect mix- everything sounds even and nothing you'd ask the mix engineer or music producer to go back and change...

I've seen some mastering engineers boost at 20khz or even 40khz. General consensus is that humans can't hear past 20khz but I've found that when I do boost the ultra high frequencies there's a LOT of life that wakes up in the track and gives it the professional sounding energy I hear in my favorite songs.

I've also seen many mastering engineers cut the ultra high frequencies to make extra headroom for the limiter later.

I'm currently in the boosting camp- I love that high energy as long as it's not piecing or harsh.

What do you all do?
20k is the theoretical high limit for the hearing of a just born child, however, most humans hearing tops out well below that - by the time you’re in your 30s, you’re topping out at around 14 - 17k. In your 60s, it’ll be around 10- 12k. If you’re like most musicians, those ranges will be even lower thanks to too many years of loud music.

What you’re probably experiencing, and why you like the sound of a 20k boost, is much of the octave (or more) below that being brought up (by the hf shelf) along with your target frequency - high frequency shelfs are pretty generous in width. (Edit: what smooth tone says)

There isn’t much energy above 10k, so I often listen carefully to what I can hear and if there isn’t much else up there, I cut.
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #7
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why startle the bats for no reason?
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hippocratic Mastering ➡️
Whatever you decide to do, cutting ultrasonic frequencies will not have a meaningful impact on headroom, or allow for more limiting.
Ah yeah, I was referring more to subsonic frequencies in regards to increased headroom, not ultrasonic. Should have specified.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SmoothTone ➡️
I don't have a preference either way - whatever the track needs.

Of course there's something satisfying about opening up the top end with a nice EQ, but I find it equally satisfying to roll things off when that's the move that helps things click into place.

BTW, boosting above 20kHz is more about the nice gentle curve that extends down into the audible range, not so much about the effect at the center frequency of the filter.
Every track is indeed different, however I do experience that most tracks I master benefit from an ultrasonic boost to some degree. The energy that's unlocked is substantial, even if just a bit. I've been using Lifitkus (awesome plugin) but Clarifonic does the same thing.

Many analog-modeled plugins these days seem to roll off high end a bit- Soundtoys especially. This is a good thing as it really does make digital recordings sound more analog, but at the end a nice +20k boost livens things up for me
Old 3 weeks ago
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ScottBrio ➡️
What do you all do?
Well..... It Depends

which is the answer to most questions on GS.

BUT... if the mix i receive isn’t too bright,

i’ll often add 1dB of 25k on a wide bell on my Sontec 432.

it just has that nice airy silky quality to it.

just last week though, i had a single come in, that was waaay too bright, required DS’ing with the Weiss, at both 8k and the high shelf, master softener setting tweaked.

so i didn’t add any Top End on the Sontec, which felt really Weird

cheers, jt
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerry Tubb ➡️
Well..... It Depends

which is the answer to most questions on GS.

BUT... if the mix i receive isn’t too bright,

i’ll often add 1dB of 25k on a wide bell on my Sontec 432.

it just has that nice airy silky quality to it.

just last week though, i had a single come in, that was waaay too bright, required DS’ing with the Weiss, at both 8k and the high shelf, master softener setting tweaked.

so i didn’t add any Top End on the Sontec, which felt really Weird

cheers, jt
It feels weird to me not brightening mixes too lol

This is what I was wondering. I'm getting the feeling that general consensus is that people aren't cutting the ultrasonic frequencies like they do subsonics. That was the main point of my question.

Thanks for the feedback. I'm hoping to have some hardware to do this on too soon!
Old 3 weeks ago
  #11
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Between SRC, lossy encoding and D to A conversion, the ultrasonics are certainly filtered by the time they reach the listener's ears.

Before that, it's only as needed for the best presentation of the audio for the intended medium. Never by default. Same for subs.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ScottBrio ➡️
I'm getting the feeling that general consensus is that people aren't cutting the ultrasonic frequencies like they do subsonics.

What if I told you...


that we don't cut the subsonics either...
Old 3 weeks ago
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ScottBrio ➡️
What do you all do?
Me personally, it all depends on the mix as most here say. But, from time to time I get the 'make-it-loud' producer, and that's when I do both HP/LP to gain an extra 1/2, maybe 1 dB of RMS.

Mind you that when you filter frequencies with steep settings {48dB/Oct} you are bound to increase peak amplitudes which you would then address with any peak limiter.

You see, you may have to sacrifice how some systems respond subsonically {as well as the top end} in order to achieve greater loudness.

So, these filters alongside a limiter like the Limitless could achieve you more loudness with just a little bit less of damage.

That said, it still is going to depend on whether a mix can be pushed to loudness or not {material dependent}.

Hope this helps.

YMMV & FWIW,
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #14
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'interesting' approach...

...but imo using eq for levels is actually the wrong tool as much as the other way round!

also, i never felt the desire or need to gain (yet) another dB after i've exceeded what i think is reasonable by using gain, normalizing or limiting, neither in mastering nor in live mixing! *

and no, i don't overdrive/clip converters but maybe this is just an old habit which stems from the anthropocene...




* p.s. speaking of live mixing: does any of you guys who's into edm (i'm not!) have even a very vague idea of what modern speakers systems as used in live sound and some of the better clubs are capable of and how they get aligned?! (i do!)

Last edited by deedeeyeah; 3 weeks ago at 12:59 AM.. Reason: edited for clarification and p.s. added
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trakworx ➡️
What if I told you...

that we don't cut the subsonics either...
Yes well, I suppose it depends on the genre as well. I've found great clarity by using mid/side EQ cutting the subsonics below 15hz in the mid and 20-25hz in the sides. I find with dance music's use of synthesizers, drum machines, Sausage Fatteners, etc that there's a LOT down there that muddies things up. Cutting the subsonics gives me additional clarity, punch, and headroom.

I would imagine for other genres it might not be necessary at all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Edward_Vinatea ➡️
Me personally, it all depends on the mix as most here say. But, from time to time I get the 'make-it-loud' producer, and that's when I do both HP/LP to gain an extra 1/2, maybe 1 dB of RMS.

Mind you that when you filter frequencies with steep settings {48dB/Oct} you are bound to increase peak amplitudes which you would then address with any peak limiter.


You see, you may have to sacrifice how some systems respond subsonically {as well as the top end} in order to achieve greater loudness.

So, these filters alongside a limiter like the Limitless could achieve you more loudness with just a little bit less of damage.

That said, it still is going to depend on whether a mix can be pushed to loudness or not {material dependent}.

Hope this helps.

YMMV & FWIW,
Yes this is what I was referring to. Each song is different, as is each mastering engineer and genre. I do find however that cutting subsonics and boosting ultrasonics helps with clarity and energy in my masters, generally speaking.

I do tend to not use steep curve settings though for mastering as they often sound too drastic. 18db/Oct is usually perfect.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #16
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Cut, cut, cut!
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What precisely within a human's hearing range is being affected by boosting or cutting the ultrasonics? How does this practice improve the sonic range? That is, via what collateral enhancement? I'm assuming the answer is: Not Applicable.

I'm assuming we are instead talking about a more abstract sense of improvement - triggered by these otherwise transparent ultrasonics - and generally not accessible to your clients or their fans. . .particularly not accessible via popular distribution channels, playback devices and environments?

Or do you indeed see it impacting your clients and their audiences?


Just another musician in the dirty stream,

Ray H.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #17
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I don't do a lot of EDM but I have done some, and I have extensive experience with Hip Hop. I never understood the notion that filtering out the subs allows for more loudness. I've never experienced that. As long as the subs aren't too loud and overpowering the mix, there's no problem leaving them in. It's the same as any other frequency area - as long as the balance is right you're in good shape. It seems like using HPFs all the time is one of those internet-forum-driven techniques...
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ScottBrio ➡️
I do tend to not use steep curve settings though for mastering as they often sound too drastic. 18db/Oct is usually perfect.
@48dB/Oct you would be increasing the true peak values some more, but there would be no significant increase in RMS.

I know that sounds confusing but a simple test using white noise tone would prove that point.

That being said, you may not want to use steep filters in mastering as much as for mixing.

Other than using various mid range elements in a song arrangement, HP/LP filtering is a sure way of prepping a mix to a maximum loudness effect.

The main condition to applying filters is having a proper monitoring system, though. Without one, you could be cutting much needed sub bass/bass frequencies or air from the top.

In answering to some of the concerns some users had regarding this method in this thread, the only reason you would want to trade these frequencies is for that little extra bit of loudness without making too much sonic damage to the entire mix. That's all.

No different than the clipping method or adding harmonic distortion.

In some cases the result of the use of all of these techniques is what some users hear only to post on this forum a question regarding how some songs achieved so much loudness.

Again, IMHO, YMMV and FWIW,

EDIT: Just so we are clear, the use of HP/LP filtering does not increase RMS. You need the peak limiter/compressor for that.

Last edited by Edward_Vinatea; 3 weeks ago at 02:05 AM.. Reason: edited for clarity
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RayHeath ➡️
Cut, cut, cut!
- Miss Birdie | Teresa Wright, The Rainmaker. 1997
What precisely within a human's hearing range is being affected by boosting or cutting the ultrasonics? How does this practice improve the sonic range? That is, via what collateral enhancement? I'm assuming the answer is: Not Applicable.

I'm assuming we are instead talking about a more abstract sense of improvement - triggered by these otherwise transparent ultrasonics - and generally not accessible to your clients or their fans. . .particularly not accessible via popular distribution channels, playback devices and environments?

Or do you indeed see it impacting your clients and their audiences?


Just another musician in the dirty stream,

Ray H.
I know it's technically "above a human's range of hearing", but... download Liftikus (free). Set the 'high boost' to 20khz and pump it up a few db. I can definitely hear the added energy on the top end.

Maybe I'm just hearing the start of the Q curve in the lower frequencies you might say? Set it to 40khz with the same db boost. I can still hear an energy boost.

This can be replicated with most EQ's but Liftikus sounds extra good for some reason.

So who knows? But one thing I do know is that I love the effect it has and so do my clients

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trakworx ➡️
I don't do a lot of EDM but I have done some, and I have extensive experience with Hip Hop. I never understood the notion that filtering out the subs allows for more loudness. I've never experienced that. As long as the subs aren't too loud and overpowering the mix, there's no problem leaving them in. It's the same as any other frequency area - as long as the balance is right you're in good shape. It seems like using HPFs all the time is one of those internet-forum-driven techniques...
I think the theory is more around the fact that they're simply not needed. 15hz and below can definitely be there and it's doing unknown things because we can't hear it with our ears and most sound systems don't even go that low. Those are the longest sound waves in the frequency spectrum so they're almost certainly taking up some sort of sonic space.

If they're not audible, why not just cut them out? Even trap 808's don't need it. The only time I could think you'd want to leave them in is if you were making a frequency spectrum test CD lol

Recreate my clarity preset in your favorite EQ with mid/side. Slap it on your master and tell me you don't hear extra definition in the kick and the song overall:

Old 3 weeks ago
  #20
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Old 3 weeks ago
  #21
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It's at this point that Bob O usually comes in and says something like, "I've learnt that I need to listen as much for what is lost as what is gained to be sure that what I'm doing is really helping."

See Bob, somebody's listening.
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ScottBrio ➡️
I know it's technically "above a human's range of hearing", but... download Liftikus (free). Set the 'high boost' to 20khz and pump it up a few db. I can definitely hear the added energy on the top end.

Maybe I'm just hearing the start of the Q curve in the lower frequencies you might say? Set it to 40khz with the same db boost. I can still hear an energy boost.

This can be replicated with most EQ's but Liftikus sounds extra good for some reason.

So who knows? But one thing I do know is that I love the effect it has and so do my clients



I think the theory is more around the fact that they're simply not needed. 15hz and below can definitely be there and it's doing unknown things because we can't hear it with our ears and most sound systems don't even go that low. Those are the longest sound waves in the frequency spectrum so they're almost certainly taking up some sort of sonic space.

If they're not audible, why not just cut them out? Even trap 808's don't need it. The only time I could think you'd want to leave them in is if you were making a frequency spectrum test CD lol

Recreate my clarity preset in your favorite EQ with mid/side. Slap it on your master and tell me you don't hear extra definition in the kick and the song overall:

This may not work all the time as filters will apparently/inherently mess with transients.
Old 3 weeks ago
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It's not about whether you need 15hz infomation or not, the problem is that a lot of the time filtering out that infomation causes audible, and undesirable, artefacts in the audible spectrum. You might not hear these artefacts depending on your monitoring situation, but they are there.
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ScottBrio ➡️
I know it's technically "above a human's range of hearing", but... download Liftikus (free). Set the 'high boost' to 20khz and pump it up a few db. I can definitely hear the added energy on the top end.

Maybe I'm just hearing the start of the Q curve in the lower frequencies you might say? Set it to 40khz with the same db boost. I can still hear an energy boost.
The attached image is Luftikus with a 2dB boost at 40kHz.

You can see the curve extending way down into the audible range (there's +0.4dB at 2kHz). I also noticed that as I boosted the high band the whole spectrum increased in gain a little - which is always going to sound more exciting. Of course, there's also the little boosts at the centre frequency of the other bands despite them being set flat.

So there's no magic going on. The effect you hear is perfectly measurable.
Attached Thumbnails
Do you boost ultra high frequencies or cut?-luftikus-2db-40khz.png  
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hippocratic Mastering ➡️
It's not about whether you need 15hz infomation or not, the problem is that a lot of the time filtering out that infomation causes audible, and undesirable, artefacts in the audible spectrum. You might not hear these artefacts depending on your monitoring situation, but they are there.
Mind you, I am not in favor of filtering anything just for the sake of filtering or gain room for more loudness.

But excess sub bass information is a real problem because many people can't monitor below 30Hz.

But I am curious now, would you be so kind as to show an audible example of these audible artifacts {i.e. a before/after 15Hz hi-passed track or even an entire mix}?

Other than to apply HP to mixes without headroom, I don't see how one could hear any adverse results...

Thanks!
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Edward_Vinatea ➡️
Mind you, I am not in favor of filtering anything just for the sake of filtering or gain room for more loudness.

But excess sub bass information is a real problem because many people can't monitor below 30Hz.

But I am curious now, would you be so kind as to show an audible example of these audible artifacts {i.e. a before/after 15Hz hi-passed track or even an entire mix}?

Other than to apply HP to mixes without headroom, I don't see how one could hear any adverse results...

Thanks!
I don't have any examples to hand but I can certainly hear the phase change and the loss of 'weight' in certain mixes.

I agree that controlling subsonic frequencies is important but in my experience most mixes come in with almost every instrument hi-passed at a much higher frequency than 15hz anyway - the internet has seen to that.
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hippocratic Mastering ➡️
I don't have any examples to hand but I can certainly hear the phase change and the loss of 'weight' in certain mixes. [. . .]
START OFF TOPIC

I would have thought a sufficiently sampled digital audio signal could mathematically have a high-pass [or notch] filter applied with zero phase impact on passed frequencies - aside from a bit of necessary rounding here or there? That is, so long as the associated algorithm is designed to do so?

Isn't there a plugin available to accomplish this? One that does not shift the phase of frequencies in anything other than a completely non-negligible way?

Is the application here strictly associated physical/analog hardware, and plugins that model them - which do explicitly impact phase by design?

If not, is 'phase' the correct term? Or is it just a term used in the industry to mean: it just doesn't sound as thick and rich as it used to?


Thanks - I've got math on the brain,

Ray H.

END OFF-TOPIC
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RayHeath ➡️
START OFF TOPIC

I would have thought a sufficiently sampled digital audio signal could mathematically have a high-pass [or notch] filter applied with zero phase impact on passed frequencies - aside from a bit of necessary rounding here or there? That is, so long as the associated algorithm is designed to do so?

Isn't there a plugin available to accomplish this? One that does not shift the phase of frequencies in anything other than a completely non-negligible way?

Is the application here strictly associated physical/analog hardware, and plugins that model them - which do explicitly impact phase by design?

If not, is 'phase' the correct term? Or is it just a term used in the industry to mean: it just doesn't sound as thick and rich as it used to?


Thanks - I've got math on the brain,

Ray H.

END OFF-TOPIC
You can accomplish this with linear phase EQ but then you have the potential problem of preringing.

I'm not expect on this stuff, to be honest, but over time I've used high pass filters less and less. That isn't to say I never use them; I do occasionally.
Old 3 weeks ago
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"If they're not audible, why not just cut them out?"

Because there's no free lunch. HPFs come at a cost. They affect the phase response up into the audible spectrum. On some tracks it might sound fine but on others it can have unwanted side effects. Defaulting to using HPFs, or any EQ setting for every track is unwise. I'll use a HPF in some cases but often a shelf or a bell will do what's needed and sound better. The more years I spend at this the less filters I use.
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Edward_Vinatea ➡️
But excess sub bass information is a real problem because many people can't monitor below 30Hz.
Why is that a problem? It's there for those who can.

Many people can't monitor below 50Hz but do we filter there?

Lots of headphones, high end stereos and PA systems go well below 20Hz. For everyone else the subs will be inaudible but they won't hurt anything unless they're too loud - out of balance.

Subs can be controlled without amputating them. IME.
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