What do use for Mastering?

VST, AU, etc. plug-in Virtual Effects discussion
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loungepanda
KVRist
457 posts since 27 Apr, 2013 from Denmark

Post Sun Nov 28, 2021 11:41 pm

I use a secret chain of PA plugins on my master that allow me to be truly competitive so that I may win the game.

noiseboyuk
KVRAF
3588 posts since 25 Jan, 2007

Post Mon Nov 29, 2021 12:50 am

DJ Warmonger wrote:
Thu Nov 25, 2021 8:17 am
Note that I only use master chain to boost the volume, and all the particular issues are fixed back at mix stage.
Interesting comment. I've become quite radical on this - I think the entire concept of mastering is slightly pointless in 2021. It only exists because of physical problems translating a mix onto vinyl - unless you are putting stuff onto vinyl, why on earth is it still a thing?

Of course there might be a thousand things wrong with your mix when you're "finished", but the notion that these can only be fixed in a separate process which applies fixes only to a single stereo file seems bizarre to me. In the majority of cases, it will be better to fix it in the mix itself.

I stumbled across a workflow I really like, because I found Cubase to be pretty clumsy to mix in even though I love composing in it. When I think the mix is broadly right, I export stems (sometimes individual channels too, it varies) complete with all effects in place into Pro Tools. Working now just with WAVs for everything (including effects) is quite the revelation, and I can adjust things with far greater control than I could in a traditional mastering process - I guess I think of it as a fine-mix rather than what is usually called mastering. It's also far easier to fix any NR issues (clicks, pops etc). iZotope's Tonal Balance 2 is handy as a visual reality check.

I then take that final mix and do a final level check and catch any errant transient peaks in Audition.

Course, using a human - an objective pro - on a stereo mix will still often be the best option. But even here I often think if they had access to stems they could do an even better job. If it's just down to me, this workflow works well.
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Ploki
KVRAF
5235 posts since 17 Dec, 2009

Post Mon Nov 29, 2021 2:43 am

loungepanda wrote:
Sun Nov 28, 2021 11:41 pm
I use a secret chain of PA plugins on my master that allow me to be truly competitive so that I may win the game.
i'm so tainted i can't tell if this is satire or not
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PieBerger
KVRian
1299 posts since 23 May, 2012 from London

Post Mon Nov 29, 2021 3:40 am

Ploki wrote:
Mon Nov 29, 2021 2:43 am
loungepanda wrote:
Sun Nov 28, 2021 11:41 pm
I use a secret chain of PA plugins on my master that allow me to be truly competitive so that I may win the game.
i'm so tainted i can't tell if this is satire or not
That's what makes it spicy.
Always Read the Manual!

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Bodhisan
KVRian
711 posts since 7 Aug, 2015 from H2O

Post Mon Nov 29, 2021 4:02 am

noiseboyuk wrote:
Mon Nov 29, 2021 12:50 am
DJ Warmonger wrote:
Thu Nov 25, 2021 8:17 am
Note that I only use master chain to boost the volume, and all the particular issues are fixed back at mix stage.
Interesting comment. I've become quite radical on this - I think the entire concept of mastering is slightly pointless in 2021. It only exists because of physical problems translating a mix onto vinyl - unless you are putting stuff onto vinyl, why on earth is it still a thing?

Of course there might be a thousand things wrong with your mix when you're "finished", but the notion that these can only be fixed in a separate process which applies fixes only to a single stereo file seems bizarre to me. In the majority of cases, it will be better to fix it in the mix itself.
Well put - and I very recently came to that realization, that I had been acting like the mix was from another "entity" that I couldn't touch, that cures could be implemented on the master channel only, as opposed to fixing what I had access to. There's no reason, that I can think of, that would require a home recording enthusiast to do anything on the master out but take care of the volume/peaks and maybe add some "glue." All e.q.ing can be (I won't say "should be") handled pre master.

To that end, my "glue" is a de-esser, Black Rooster's VPRE-73, and my volume control is BR's Edelweiss - I don't touch the e.q., but I really like the compressor and limiter, the latter of which barely flickers.

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andymcbain
KVRian
503 posts since 10 Jan, 2017

Post Mon Nov 29, 2021 7:00 am

noiseboyuk wrote:
Mon Nov 29, 2021 12:50 am
DJ Warmonger wrote:
Thu Nov 25, 2021 8:17 am
Note that I only use master chain to boost the volume, and all the particular issues are fixed back at mix stage.
Interesting comment. I've become quite radical on this - I think the entire concept of mastering is slightly pointless in 2021. It only exists because of physical problems translating a mix onto vinyl - unless you are putting stuff onto vinyl, why on earth is it still a thing?

Of course there might be a thousand things wrong with your mix when you're "finished", but the notion that these can only be fixed in a separate process which applies fixes only to a single stereo file seems bizarre to me. In the majority of cases, it will be better to fix it in the mix itself.
Depends on the context I think. In the traditional album or compilation album format, a mastering engineer is still the final pair of ears that brings the product together. Fixing mix issues with a fresh pair of ears in a good monitoring environment can be a part of that, but only when that's needed. It's more just a case of balancing the different tracks against each other so they sound more cohesive for the release. In the words of Heba Kadry - "sometimes I don't have to do shit". :)

If we're making electronic dance singles and doing everything ourselves, I agree that splitting the process into "mixing" and then "fixing the mix via a stereo file and making it louder" doesn't seem to make much sense :) It could just as easily be called "making a loud, release ready mix" ... "mastering" doesn't even need to come into it.

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foosnark
KVRAF
6030 posts since 9 Jan, 2003 from Saint Louis MO

Post Mon Nov 29, 2021 8:25 am

plexuss wrote:
Sun Nov 28, 2021 7:26 pm
"What do use for Mastering?"

My ears.
It's a bit awkward to turn knobs or move a mouse with your ears, but can be done with practice :D

PieBerger
KVRian
1299 posts since 23 May, 2012 from London

Post Mon Nov 29, 2021 8:28 am

foosnark wrote:
Mon Nov 29, 2021 8:25 am
plexuss wrote:
Sun Nov 28, 2021 7:26 pm
"What do use for Mastering?"

My ears.
It's a bit awkward to turn knobs or move a mouse with your ears, but can be done with practice :D
Brings new meaning to "use your ears bro" :lol:
Always Read the Manual!

himalaya
KVRAF
5500 posts since 23 Mar, 2006 from pendeLondonmonium

Post Mon Nov 29, 2021 9:39 am

plexuss wrote:
Sun Nov 28, 2021 7:26 pm
"What do use for Mastering?"

My ears.
Not for much longer. A new plugin is coming in 2022, 'Master Sniff'™, which will allow you to use your nose. It will allow you to sniff the bottom end to find problem areas that your ears can not pick up.
There is a special preset for that: Sniff That Bottom (I've been testing it. Don't ask).
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VSTi and hardware synth sound design
3D/5D sound design since 2012

himalaya
KVRAF
5500 posts since 23 Mar, 2006 from pendeLondonmonium

Post Mon Nov 29, 2021 9:43 am

When not testing Master Sniff™, I usually use a mixture of the following for mastering:

Cytomic The Glue
Voxengo Soniformer
Acustica Audio Dimond EQ
Acustica Audio Magenta EQ
Acustica Audio Azure EQ
FabFilter EQ (cuts only)
Acustica Audio SAND compressor
U-He Presswerk
Zynaptiq Intensity
Voxengo TEOTE
Brainworx bx_control v2
Voxengo Elephant

and UTILITIES:
- ADPTR Streamliner
- SPL Hawkeye
- Youlean Meter 2
- and Reaper's new JS Loudness Meter plugin (so clean, clear and usable! I prefer it to SPL Hawkeye)

lastly:
My car's stereo
http://www.electric-himalaya.com
VSTi and hardware synth sound design
3D/5D sound design since 2012

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cryophonik
KVRAF
7605 posts since 7 Sep, 2006 from Roseville, CA

Post Mon Nov 29, 2021 9:55 am

himalaya wrote:
Mon Nov 29, 2021 9:43 am
lastly:
My car's stereo
Yup, the best reference system ever 8)

maybeblue
KVRer
2 posts since 29 Nov, 2021

Post Mon Nov 29, 2021 9:56 am

I use ozone and voxengo elephant as a final limiter!

darkinners
KVRist
31 posts since 28 Aug, 2021

Post Tue Nov 30, 2021 5:03 am

Mastering engineer

NinjaToon
KVRist
59 posts since 28 Sep, 2021

Post Tue Nov 30, 2021 6:32 am

darkinners wrote:
Tue Nov 30, 2021 5:03 am
Mastering engineer
When I can't book Streaky I use snake oil guy.

Worth. :wink:

highkoo
KVRAF
4252 posts since 26 Jun, 2004

Post Tue Nov 30, 2021 6:40 am

Usually just this;
FF MB > EQ > Gulfoss > Limitless
If my mix sounds great, I will swap out MB for Presswerk..
The only thing really doing any work is Limitless.
I def agree that if there is too much work happening on the master channel, the mix just needs more work, and nothing in 'mastering' will really make it better without making something else worse.
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