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"high end" mastering plug in?
Old 12th April 2003
  #1
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Unknown soldier's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
"high end" mastering plug in?

Just wondering what you guys use for plug ins to boost levels/add EQ/expand stereo width. I've used the waves L1, and T racks24. Is there something at the next level? thanks.
Old 12th April 2003
  #2
Gear Maniac
 
Neve Sucks!'s Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I guess the TC Master X is the closest to "high-end" you will get inside your DAW.
Unfortunately IΒ΄d A/B the Master X and the 6000 MD3 today, and have to say that the plugin isnΒ΄t very highend....
The plugin sounded harsh and distorted compared to the MD3. You also get a couple of dbΒ΄s higher output on the MD3.

Wonder if the MD3 is included in the new M4000??

Old 12th April 2003
  #3
Jax
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
I wouldn't go near TC MasterX for mastering. It's based on the Finalizer, which is a step up from MasterX, but that ain't saying much. If you're looking for high end mastering plugs, you really have to step away from the usual DAW suspects. AudioCube uses VPI plug-ins which are miles ahead of the DAW majority. Still, if you're looking to do serious mastering, plug-ins don't really cut it compared to dedicated mastering platforms like Sonic Solutions or Sadie.

Real mastering is something almost unattainable in Pro Tools and the like, so unless your client is happy with the results you get, send it to mastering house and develop a creative line of communication with a good mastering enigneer. Then use that ME again and again in the future.
Old 12th April 2003
  #4
Gear Guru
 
thethrillfactor's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by Jax
I wouldn't go near TC MasterX for mastering. It's based on the Finalizer, which is a step up from MasterX, but that ain't saying much. If you're looking for high end mastering plugs, you really have to step away from the usual DAW suspects. AudioCube uses VPI plug-ins which are miles ahead of the DAW majority. Still, if you're looking to do serious mastering, plug-ins don't really cut it compared to dedicated mastering platforms like Sonic Solutions or Sadie.

Real mastering is something almost unattainable in Pro Tools and the like, so unless your client is happy with the results you get, send it to mastering house and develop a creative line of communication with a good mastering enigneer. Then use that ME again and again in the future.
The MasterX5 sounds better than the MasterX3.

For the Mac there is also SparkXL and WaveburnerPro.

The AudioCube is $20K and it uses Wavelab for its interface.

Sonic and Sadie is about half(not counting the computer).

Samplitude and Sequoia are also good for CD assembly.

I think the guy was looking for something more cost effective.
Old 12th April 2003
  #5
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Renie's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Thrill

Do you ever go onto master your mixes?

If you do, what's your process?

If not, why not??

thanks!
Old 12th April 2003
  #6
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Steve Smith's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
If I have got to master in the box for a client ( generally because of budget constraints, they do not want to master at all, and I figure a bit of a nip and a tuck here and there in PT is better than nothing, I generally end up with one or more of the following involved:

AC 2 ( the tape deck emulation)
Filterbank for a bit of high end boost
Waves L1 or L2 for some limiting, gnerally no mone than 3 - 5 DB.

No I do not think this even comes close to a proper mastering job, and yes i do hate going this way, but when it is the only choice it is better then nothing, if you are really careful.
Old 12th April 2003
  #7
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Unknown soldier's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
yeah, the good stuff is way too expensive. Right now I'm doing a bunch of rough demo mixes and just need to get a good quality level boost, so it's somewhat close to the standard CD levels. I think I'll stick with what I have. When I'm ready for a real mastering job I'll take good/fast/and not cheap.

So with dedicated solutions like sonic solutions and sadie, what do you get that's more than the standard PC plug ins? Just better quality? Is the software written better and more transparent?
Old 13th April 2003
  #8
Gear Guru
 
NathanEldred's Avatar
 
7 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
The highest end plugs for mastering are the Sonic Timeworks mastering limiter and mastering EQ. The TC stuff is not as good IMO, nor is the Waves. I'll probably be using the KSP-8 in the digital domain when real time transfer is allowed by the budget of the band for mastering (you'd be suprised). I've only tried it briefly for that purpose, but it sounded very very nice.
Old 13th April 2003
  #9
Gear Maniac
 
Heterodox's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Is it just me or are alot of the Audiocube plugins from the Steinburg Mastering Edition?

imho Sonic Timeworks looks alot better for the price vs the DSP and dedicated systems.

I would, however, love to know what the highest of high end studios use as a mastering chain (hardware AND software).
Old 13th April 2003
  #10
Gear Guru
 
thethrillfactor's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by Renie
Thrill

Do you ever go onto master your mixes?

If you do, what's your process?

If not, why not??

thanks!
Hi Renie,

The answer is no way!!!

Sometimes I do the quick "pre-mastering"setup though for demo CD's.

I prefer the input an objectivity that another ME would bring to it(hey I respect other people's opinion just like sometimes people respect mine).heh

I do master other people's mixes on occasion at my partners mastering facility(I do the gigs he doesn't personally want to do).

The process is usually a combination of analog and some digital processing.
Old 13th April 2003
  #11
Gear Guru
 
NathanEldred's Avatar
 
7 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
I master all my own stuff. There is no way that I am going to deprive myself of the learning involved from direct experience by giving my work to another mastering person any longer. Before I mastered here, I used to take everything I did to the local "big" room mastering place (in Tampa that's $100/hr) and sat in on every session with three different mastering engineers for about 4-5 years. They had a Sonic Solutions system and a Finalizer, but even more importantly they all had different knowledge, skills and perspective. I learned a lot of what to do and what not to do. If I was doing something major label (which I'm not BTW and would love to, but don't have the faintest idea how to achieve that from a political standpoint...skills be damned, big engineer does not always mean big skills). I wouldn't care in that case, something that important can benefit greatly from a seperate objective ear, but for demos and independently released projects things are more than fine considering that I've got Crane Song and Millennia Media (and now the KSP-8 for the digital stuff after it's processed in the analog realm. I still think the Sonic Timeworks mastering limiter is the best on the market, makes the L2 sound like poo) in the rack. And it's really paid off because what I've learned by mastering (and don't let anybody fool you, mastering is all about comparing what you've done to other records that you subjectively think sound great) has also helped me become a better tracking and mix engineer. They are all very interrelated, and it's nice to know what is required for the bigger picture.
Old 13th April 2003
  #12
Gear Guru
 
thethrillfactor's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by NathanEldred
I master all my own stuff. There is no way that I am going to deprive myself of the learning involved from direct experience by giving my work to another mastering person any longer.
.
Wow Nathan...

More power to you.

I couldn't do it even when I have tried.

I've always felt just like someone hires me to mix their record for the objectivity,talent and experience I can bring, I will always do the same for the mastering engineer.

Now there are certain ME's I only work with and recommend(unless the client or label decides to go with their own).

By the way, do you track,mix and master on the same speakers?
Old 13th April 2003
  #13
Gear Guru
 
thethrillfactor's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by Heterodox
Is it just me or are alot of the Audiocube plugins from the Steinburg Mastering Edition?

imho Sonic Timeworks looks alot better for the price vs the DSP and dedicated systems.

I would, however, love to know what the highest of high end studios use as a mastering chain (hardware AND software).
The AudioCube plugs are their own. They just use the Wavelab interface.

As far as the chain, everyone is different.
Old 13th April 2003
  #14
Gear Maniac
 
Heterodox's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Well, the graphics and names presented on the Audiocube website are the exact same as those for the Steinbeurg ME...

"Loudness Maximizer"
"Spectrograph"
"Phasescope"

etc

"Spectralizer", "FreeFilter", and "Multicomp" all look relatively familar as well, from the ME line of plugs.

All of them have the exact same graphical layouts...

As far as the chain, everyone is different.

Umm...yes...so, HOW are they different? How about the top 10 mastering setups perhaps?

"Everyone is different" is the obvious, rhetorical answer I wasn't exactly looking for =p
Old 13th April 2003
  #15
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Renie's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by thethrillfactor
Hi Renie,

The answer is no way!!!

Sometimes I do the quick "pre-mastering"setup though for demo CD's.

I prefer the input an objectivity that another ME would bring to it(hey I respect other people's opinion just like sometimes people respect mine).heh

I do master other people's mixes on occasion at my partners mastering facility(I do the gigs he doesn't personally want to do).

The process is usually a combination of analog and some digital processing.
Do you focus on being a mixer because you enjoy it most or is it where you are most gifted? Or both!! What different skills are involved in being a great masterer (as opposed to mixer)?

Do you find your final mixes sound better after mastering or just louder?

also what Mac mastering software do you like best, at a push of course!


thanks for talking

Old 13th April 2003
  #16
Jax
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Heterodox
Well, the graphics and names presented on the Audiocube website are the exact same as those for the Steinbeurg ME...

"Loudness Maximizer"
"Spectrograph"
"Phasescope"

etc

"Spectralizer", "FreeFilter", and "Multicomp" all look relatively familar as well, from the ME line of plugs.

All of them have the exact same graphical layouts...


I haven't looked closely at the Steinberg product, but if it is what I think it is, it uses a native 32-bit/96khz (perhaps higher SR by now) floating architecture, whereas the Cube is 64-bit/192khz. I believe the VPI's were written by the same person, but the Audiocube website has omitted his name since the last time I checked it out and I've forgotten it. Anyhoo, he's supposedly some kind of coding genius. Thrill might know who I'm talking about.


As far as the chain, everyone is different.

"Umm...yes...so, HOW are they different? How about the top 10 mastering setups perhaps?"

As you might have guessed, there is no top 10 ME's list. You'd have to make a list of your favorites and ask them yourself. There are websites where you can do just that. Here's the best one I know of:

The Mastering Webboard

Sign up. It's extremely worth the time of anyone who wants to dig into what mastering is.
Old 13th April 2003
  #17
Gear Guru
 
thethrillfactor's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by Heterodox

"Everyone is different" is the obvious, rhetorical answer I wasn't exactly looking for =p
Hey Heterodox,

Like they say here at Tiffany's or the Four Seasons..."if you have to ask, then you couldn't afford it anyway.heh
Old 14th April 2003
  #18
Gear Guru
 
thethrillfactor's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by Renie
Do you focus on being a mixer because you enjoy it most or is it where you are most gifted? Or both!! What different skills are involved in being a great masterer (as opposed to mixer)?

Do you find your final mixes sound better after mastering or just louder?

also what Mac mastering software do you like best, at a push of course!


thanks for talking

Renie,

I think I will always consider myself a producer/arranger/composer first.

I just happen to have talents in different areas where i can accomplish the task at hand.

One of them is mixing. I think its because as a producer/arranger I can see the music picture as a whole and I can zero in and tweak the parts that make up the whole.

I use the same approach when mixing. Focusing on the big picture, what it is and what it can be.

I think if i devoted my whole life to it, i could be an excellent ME. I've been told by (2) different ME's that I respect that I have the talent for it(B. Katz and T. Coyne). My problem is:

1)I lose that big picture mentality sometimes when mastering. In turn it wears me out much faster. Man its funny, i can listen to the same drum part over and over for hours when mixing, but stick me with a stereo track for and hour and a half and I lose it. I know its because the amount of minute sonic details you have to hear when mastering is very taxing. At least when mixing I can go to extremes and know that I'll just be using a nth degree for that track. Mastering you don't have that luxury. Its minute things added to even more minute things to get an effect. Even more delicate than when mixing.

2)I hear songs from clients sometimes that if I were allowed to mix them, I know they wouldn't be so difficult when mastering. This one kills me all the time because I can hear the flaws of an inexperience mixer trying to compensate. That's when I start making comments, like "who did this"?"do you like the way it turned out"?what do you think about the vocal sound? is this the chorus?you know it doesn't really go anywhere?heh

Lets just say it pisses people off sometimes.

Hey i can't hold back the truth. But then of course they want you to correct all of these flaws, instead of just mixing it over

3)Most important...passion!!! The best ME's are the guys that are passionate about what they do. Not the technical stuff, but the guys that really love music. All kinds of music!!! Again the big picture. I jut don't have that passion right now in my life. Maybe in 20 years when i am old and gray and have been burned by enough A&R's and managers.

Right now Renie the Mac stuff is slim pickings.

I agree with Nathan, the PC has a plethora of stuff that the Mac can't touch.

I do love Radical Spectrafoo. I don't think its on the PC(I maybe wrong on this one).

I am waiting to see what Emagic WaveburnerPro will do in OSX. Its actually not bad for this purpose and it has potential(Apple's money).
Old 14th April 2003
  #19
Gear Maniac
 
Heterodox's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Hey Heterodox,

Like they say here at Tiffany's or the Four Seasons..."if you have to ask, then you couldn't afford it anyway.


Eh...I stand to gain a substantial amount of money in the near future and will be applying it solely to the highest-of-the-highest gear purchases - that would be the reason I'm even a gearslut anyhow. If I was only interested in staying in the consumer market I wouldn't waste my time drooling over everything here everyday. I have my entire setup picked out (with plenty of room for expansion and replacement by products not in production yet) minus the mastering section .Mastering is the one thing I have the least experience in - but most importantly have a lack of knowledge pertaining to the tools needed at the high-end level. I'm confident in my ability, I'd just would like to know what the "best" are using.

fuuck
Old 14th April 2003
  #20
Founder
 
Jules's Avatar
One answer is - "the best" are using mastering engineers!

Old 14th April 2003
  #21
Gear Maniac
 
Heterodox's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Using one is hardly a way to become one.
Old 14th April 2003
  #22
Gear Addict
 
mdbeh's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by Heterodox
Using one is hardly a way to become one.
Actually, it is. A mastering session in a well-tuned room with an experienced ME can teach you a ton.

A lot of times DIY-oriented people want to do every step by themselves, but I think, if anything, getting real mastering becomes even more important when you're dealing with typical DIY conditions--limited monitoring, so-so control rooms, etc.

The point isn't so much the gear (thought it helps), but the listening environment and the perspective of someone with a lot of experience.
Old 14th April 2003
  #23
Gear Maniac
 
Heterodox's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Actually, it is. A mastering session in a well-tuned room with an experienced ME can teach you a ton.

A lot of times DIY-oriented people want to do every step by themselves, but I think, if anything, getting real mastering becomes even more important when you're dealing with typical DIY conditions--limited monitoring, so-so control rooms, etc.

The point isn't so much the gear (thought it helps), but the listening environment and the perspective of someone with a lot of experience.


Ah, but nobody said "visiting a mastering engineer and watching/questioning his/her/its every move" ... just USING one - which was percieved by myself as a small poke of fun (As in "you are only going to get truly professional results from an ME"). While this is obvious, as are the learning benefits of a sit in, neither are really the point - I'm only questioning the gear =p I don't really have a list of well respected MEs in the area (Austin, TX), nor do I have any material and/or money for them. Perhaps someday I'll intern with an ME...but I haven't heard of any award winners around here. (please spare flames if there are 100 of the best MEs living right in Austin, I'm simply not aware!)

I'll have more than adequate funds to allocate to rooms, monitors, etc - so my learning and application environment should be miles above typical DIY and merely inches/feet below "Professional." - if not on par.

Yes, experience is a completely different ballgame, but I'm more or less interested in whats on their tool belt right now. Is that a screwdriver or an Audiocube?? Hmm...
You get the point.
Old 14th April 2003
  #24
Craneslut
 
Brad Blackwood's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by Heterodox
Yes, experience is a completely different ballgame,

I'd go so far as to say the experience, not the gear, is the reason you hire a mastering engineer.

Quote:
but I'm more or less interested in whats on their tool belt right now. Is that a screwdriver or an Audiocube?? Hmm...
You get the point.
Understood, see below. But keep in mind that what you're asking for is akin to saying that you wish to become a mechanic and asking which tools you need to buy. The knowledge and experience far outweigh the gear...

A common list of mastering equipment:
01 Accurate monitoring environment that you know well
02 Accurate monitors and amplification
03 Playback - arguably the most important aspect of a mastering engineer's equipment (if you can't extract all the data from the master, whether it be analog or dig, nothing else matters). Analog playback via Studer or Ampex.
04 EQ's by Sontec, Crane Song (hehe), Manley, Prism, Avalon, Weiss, Z-sys are all common.
05 Compression by Crane Song, Manley, Prism, Weiss.
06 Converters by Prism, Lavry, Euphonix (PM), Crane Song, Weiss, Mytek.
07 Fresh perspective from not having heard and grown accustomed to the quirks of a recording as the artist, engineer, mixer, and producer have...

Does that help?
Old 14th April 2003
  #25
Gear Guru
 
thethrillfactor's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by Heterodox
Hey Heterodox,

Like they say here at Tiffany's or the Four Seasons..."if you have to ask, then you couldn't afford it anyway.


Eh...I stand to gain a substantial amount of money in the near future and will be applying it solely to the highest-of-the-highest gear purchases - that would be the reason I'm even a gearslut anyhow. If I was only interested in staying in the consumer market I wouldn't waste my time drooling over everything here everyday. I have my entire setup picked out (with plenty of room for expansion and replacement by products not in production yet) minus the mastering section .Mastering is the one thing I have the least experience in - but most importantly have a lack of knowledge pertaining to the tools needed at the high-end level. I'm confident in my ability, I'd just would like to know what the "best" are using.

fuuck
Heterodox,

I was just busting your chops.

I think Brad's list kinda sums it up.

The right speakers alone will break the bank sometimes. Last year alone my partner and i must have listened to over 100 speaker models, trying to decide on the best combination of speakers for his mastering setup. A lot of them either looked good on paper, sounded good in the Audiophile stores, or were highly recommended by other ME's. We bought them all and set them up to see how they interacted with the room.

Some of the speakers were $20K and up.

And you know what, to this day he is still searching and listening to speakers. This is on thing ME's do all the time, they try to search out things that will make their job easier. Right now we are on the amplifier kick, trying different amplifiers to see how they interact with the speakers.

Its a never ending story.grudge
Old 14th April 2003
  #26
Lives for gear
 
Unknown soldier's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I'm considering changing my mixdown medium to masterlink, from sound forge 5. I like my mixes on the ramsa da7, but when I listen to a burned CD (after dithering from the DA7 and applying some level boost plug in) I feel like I'm losing some resolution or clarity.
Don't know if the number crunching in the software is hurting me or what. Would the masterlink sound better, considering if I use the DSP in that box?

I'm sure there's some operator error - just trying to get the best possible foolproof sound I can, in spite of any F#%K ups I'm doingheh
Old 14th April 2003
  #27
Gear Guru
 
thethrillfactor's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by Brad Blackwood
EQ's by Sontec, Crane Song (hehe),
Hey Brad,

Any feedback yet on the Cranesong IBIS EQ?
Old 14th April 2003
  #28
Craneslut
 
Brad Blackwood's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by thethrillfactor
Hey Brad,

Any feedback yet on the Cranesong IBIS EQ?
It rocks.

Even as Dave worked on the design, I didn't think it would surpass the Sontec for general EQ use. I figured it would be more like a MP, where you use it when needed, but generally utilize the 'workhorse'. I'm actually surprised to say that Ibis has become the 'workhorse' - it's a good bit more neutral than the Sontec and adds the ability to really fatten up tracks via the color knob. Dave's idea of making the color knob assignable to individual freq bands or full band was pure genius - now I can add sheen up top without softening the punchy bottom end.

I'm still learning the box as the color generation is program dependant, so gain staging is more critical with this EQ than most others.

But anyway, it's amazing, it really is. Way better than what I originally dreamt up three yeas ago when I approached Dave about it...
Old 14th April 2003
  #29
Gear Maniac
 
Heterodox's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Ahhh, getting somewhere!
Thanks Brad / Thrill.

You have to understand that I'm, of course, MONSTROUSLY interested in the experience side of things - but the quickest thing to pick up on right now is the tools needed. I have made it a point that I'd like to view everything working in a real application before making any purchases - so that I fully understand the dynamics of everything involved. Obviously that would require a sit in or some alternate learning environment and currently that's not on the schedule =\

Brad, I'm a little more interested in the "flow" of things. Given a well made mix, common sense would say you run (a digital track)
Out from your box to the lovely DAs
Through the EQ to fix/enhance what needs it
Through the comp for smoothing/leveling/limiting
And then finally DA back into the box (or to a recording device?) Speaking of which, how are your masters burned (on what?)

I suppose I'm intrigued to know how perfect balances are maintained between an entire cd's tracks without any recall options (outboard gear). Pure skill?

I want a picture in my head of what an ME would have to do in a "best case scenario" (GREAT mix, few changes), and a worst case (well, within reason...not de-essers and de-clickers being used to restore entire tracks).

As you can see alot of this stuff IS questions that'd get answered from a sit in...its all interrelated.

Perhaps I'm getting way off topic - oh wait, I am.
Old 14th April 2003
  #30
Craneslut
 
Brad Blackwood's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by Heterodox
Brad, I'm a little more interested in the "flow" of things. Given a well made mix, common sense would say you run (a digital track)
Out from your box to the lovely DAs
Through the EQ to fix/enhance what needs it
Through the comp for smoothing/leveling/limiting
And then finally DA back into the box (or to a recording device?) Speaking of which, how are your masters burned (on what?)
That would pretty much be a 'normal' session. Realize that experience is what dictates whether or not any of the above chain is needed. I probably add compression to about 25% of the stuff that comes in right now - most won't benefit from even more compression.

I have used Sadie for many years now, but have recently started using Wavelab and like it very much.

All parts are cut on a Plextor drive using Taiyo yuden silver blanks (both CDa masters and DDP image files).

Quote:
I suppose I'm intrigued to know how perfect balances are maintained between an entire cd's tracks without any recall options (outboard gear). Pure skill?
Experience. Tweaking a single for release is one thing - you really have to know how it will respond in many listening environments. But making an album flow from track to track without trying to make them 'sound the same' only comes from experience...

Quote:
I want a picture in my head of what an ME would have to do in a "best case scenario" (GREAT mix, few changes), and a worst case (well, within reason...not de-essers and de-clickers being used to restore entire tracks).
Best case scenario, I listen to it a time or two and transfer it flat as I can tell it will translate well.

Worst case scenario (as outlined in your question) I listen and hit the problem areas first and then tweak until I am satisfied it will sound as good as possible regardless of playback environment.
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