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Why using MP3s as a reference track can be misleading

The idea of a reference track is to make sure that you keep your ears tuned to what makes a good mix.  When you’re mixing, it’s easy to lose your perspective – by referencing other material, you keep your ears fresh and stop them from becoming attuned to a mix that’s getting more wayward with each EQ tweak.  To make sure you get good results, though, your references need to be free from flaws themselves, but if you’re using MP3s as your reference source, that might not be that case.  To illustrate what I mean, in this video I use Voxengo Curve EQ to compare the frequency characteristics of an MP3 and WAV of the same song, to see what difference the MP3 encoding has made to the original recording on CD.

 

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EQ Matching with Voxengo Curve EQ

Arguably, EQ is the most powerful tool at your disposal when it comes to mixing, but there are times when you just can’t quite match what you’re hearing to what you want to hear. The Curve EQ plugin from Voxengo has the ability to compare your mix with a reference track and then to generate the EQ curve required to match them up.  Whilst you could do this with an individual sound in your mix, it’s probably more useful when you’re mastering a set of songs.  In this video, I look at how to match the EQ between reference material from Deep Purple, Taylor Swift and Toto against a mix of my own, using Curve EQ.