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Mastering - does use of signal crush maximizers make mastering compression - redunda
Old 29th August 2005
  #1
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🎧 15 years
Mastering - does use of signal crush maximizers make mastering compression - redunda

With all the L2's in use - or digital limiters...

Does compression flavor really get a chance in mastering?

Reason for asking.. a while back I noticed, when I had a 'crusher' plug in at the end of my mix chain VERY OFTEN switching the harware / fancy stereo compression I had in line BEFORE it, out - made almost NO DIFFERENCE to the sound....

If its gonna be crushed to death.....why bother?

(I have since give up trying to master at the same time as mixing)

Anyhow - I throw this question out there...

Mastering - does use of signal crush maximizers make mastering compression - (or even MIX compression) redundant?
Old 29th August 2005
  #2
Craneslut
 
Brad Blackwood's Avatar
 
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🎧 15 years
IME, yes, it still matters, for two reasons:
1] typically, the tone of the compressor and it's action are still audible unless you are completely killing the track via limiting, and
2] it's rare that processing preceding the limiter doesn't have an effect on the limiter's action. I've rarely found that just strapping a limiter across the mix sounded more like the un-limited mix than a little processing to account for/reduce the side-effects of the limiting.
Old 29th August 2005 | Show parent
  #3
tsd
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🎧 15 years
another point to consider...

using a 2 bus comp can help with the mixing process, as your hearing a closer version to the finished product (post mastering squash!) i find it usefull when setting reverbs and delays, cause they can come up quite a bit in mastering. Also if ya have big loud up the front drums, its nice to hear how the 2 bus works with them

so it may be worth using mix bus compression just to help with the mix process, rather than just for the sound if that makes sense
Old 29th August 2005 | Show parent
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad Blackwood
IME, yes, it still matters, for two reasons:
1] typically, the tone of the compressor and it's action are still audible unless you are completely killing the track via limiting, and
2] it's rare that processing preceding the limiter doesn't have an effect on the limiter's action. I've rarely found that just strapping a limiter across the mix sounded more like the un-limited mix than a little processing to account for/reduce the side-effects of the limiting.

100% agreed!
Old 29th August 2005 | Show parent
  #5
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🎧 15 years
Compression and limiting, though both dynamics processing, are distinctly different. Using one does not negate the other. Even at today's unfortunate levels with, ahem, generous amounts of clipping... I mean limiting, you can still hear the difference between compresssed and non-compressed. Sometimes the compressor really adds something, both in its tone and color, and in the way it affects dynamics, and sometimes it really saps the life out, regardless of the limiter coming after it.
Old 29th August 2005 | Show parent
  #6
urumita
 
7rojo7's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I do a lot of bypassing the cruncher
I have 2 monitor levels set up to hear the diff
I even track with it over the buss and then bypass it to continue
i don't rely on it but I don't ignore it either
In the end I'm almost always supplying the finished production mastr to my clients, so I must use it at the end
I'm using a combo of MC4, Impact and the Sony Inflator to get the snake to coil. There's usually an MDW or oxford eq after Impact so I can trim the curve factor in the inflator in a more delicate manner, it's complicated. It's usually an ongoing process of mixing without untill a certain point and then putting it on, then taking it off again to make adjustments, then putting it on and adjusting this on the adjustments I'd just made. If I can do this while I'm alone the results are much better, If I have the client on my back I put it on and away we go.
The great thing about DAW mixing is that you can have different environments happenning at the same time and swithcable.
Old 29th August 2005 | Show parent
  #7
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max cooper's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
So, for you mastering guys, does it make it harder if I 'print' my effects to a stereo track wholesale? Would you prefer that the 'verbs were printed separately, or would you prefer that there were a reverb bus that can be adjusted according to the mastering process?

In my mind, it's sometimes hard to draw a real identifiable line between mixing and mastering where things like reverbs and delays are concerned.

I noticed that before I discovered the 'tweakhead' setting in PT, my reverb tails weren't surviving the conversion from 24 to 16 bits.
Old 29th August 2005 | Show parent
  #8
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StephenMarsh's Avatar
 
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🎧 15 years
comments and some tangental, mildly related thoughts

I generally don't mess with effects in the mastering environment for numerous reasons - chief among then being

1) I don't deal with dialing in reverbs all that much and I assume leave that to those that do (ie: Mixers)
2) Mastering rooms are tuned differently and time-based effects react differently in that environment, making it a less than ideal place to judge such a thing - opinions on how much reverb you like vary greatly and the mastering room can sometimes throw people into adding too little or too much.

Getting back to the initial question raised - IMHO - it's not quite as simple a question as "is it redundant or not". So many factors come into play with compression in mastering. In general - I don't mind if a good engineer with good ears uses a little buss compression to pick up a mix - a lot of guys have gotten used to mixing into a buss comp and the last thing I want to do is take a mixer our of their comfort zone. That said - there are a lot of folks out there that take this a little (or a lot) too far with regularity. I get comments like "I hit the L2 a little on the buss, I hope that's OK - it's only like 5 or 6 dB!!!" - Now - On a guitar track - 5 or 6 dB on an L2 may sound great - but on a mix - that's a TON of buss compression for a mixdown and certainly not what I would classify as "A Little". So there's both side to that scenario. If I'm speaking with a client that I think may be crushing to the point that I won't be able to master their project properly - I just ask for two mixes - print me one with and one without whatever may be on the buss.

As a bright note - I myself have seen a very drastic reversal on this issue in the last year or two - I think people are getting a better handle on just how far to push things in the mix world. Given the "indie" nature of a lot of projects these days and the "indie" recording and mixing environments that go along with that - getting your mixes into a room where you can make valid judgements (Where IS the bottom end on this song, how far out front IS the vocal sitting?) has become even more important than in the past.

My bottom line - why would you crush the mix with a cracked L2 plugin on a pro tools - when you can run it through 80 grand worth of fat analog outboard with super clean integration, a tuned environment and an experienced mastering engineer? As has been stated, you can get the same level either way - but it's the nature of the sound comprising that level that really counts. Anyone on the list who has a record they really love - but can't STAND to crank up for fear their ears will fall off from the harsh, biting tone should identify with the above statement. Another thing to consider is mastering EQ - much of the EQing that I do in mastering has nothing to do with the songs themselves - it's to make up for the curves the compressors I use impart based on how they're set etc. Unless a mix is really out there - I find I need very little EQ on most masters, the bottom end being the glaring exception - every project, and I mean EVERY PROJECT - major label or not, that comes in anymore has bottom end issues to some degree - smaller mix rooms, more bass issues, it makes sense.

I'll make one note about the L2 here that I don't think many people think about since it was mentioned. The L2 is a "Maximizer", not a compressor and it is an END STAGE PROCESS when used with ARC engaged. It uses psycho-acoustic (masking in this case) principals to minimize maximization artifacts. The minimization of artifacts is based on the balance of frequencies and their corresponding level in the mix. If you start to tweeze the mix out by adding compression, EQ, reverb - anything really - you will upset that balance and those artifacts will come right to the surface. the amount to which they become noticable is related to 1) how hard you hit the L2 and 2) how much you try to change it afterward. In general - if you hit it lightly (and I mean lightly) - you can do whatever you want with little or no degradation - if you hit it hard in the mix room and then master you're much more likely to get a nice, thin, crispy (bad crispy, not good crispy) harsh, narrow, shallow lifeless master. There are always sonic exceptions - but this holds true for me most of the time.

Ok - I'll quiet up now and put the soapbox away. I look forward to hearing others thoughts on the issue.

Thanks--Steph
Old 29th August 2005 | Show parent
  #9
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🎧 15 years
how much is too much compression with the L1 or L2? I usually go 3db max. doesnt seem to mess with the sound at that level.
Old 29th August 2005 | Show parent
  #10
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When I master, my goal is to get things loud, but not distorted. I refuse to go there, and I express that to the customer ahead of time. There are a million guys who will crush it. Loud (in the modern sense of the word) can be done without distortion, I think the biggest reason things are distorting is because some ME's are primarily doing their thing with the L2...it's giving the good ME's a bad name. I use a combination of Trakkers and a TG-1 (in that order) and it really makes things sound louder without all the clipping nonsense. They bring up much of the subtleties to the front in a musical way. In so many ways it's about the average level. I still use the digital brickwall limiter, but I'm just finding I have to hit it a lot less aggressively BECAUSE of the above (the gear and the know how). The Beatles were LOUD, that's what I think, and I'm standing by it.
Old 30th August 2005 | Show parent
  #11
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Kenny Gioia's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I think we are talking about 2 different things.

If we are talking about 2 buss compression or even multiband compression, I think more mastering can and should be still used.

If we're talking about L2 or L3 it's a different story IMHO.

I never use these destroyers if a Mastering engineer is going to get it.
Old 30th August 2005 | Show parent
  #12
jdg
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i use flavor compressors when i master and modify large scale transients aka "macro" dynamics.

still useful there, unless i get a mix that has been L2'd which i ask for a clean mix :D
Old 30th August 2005 | Show parent
  #13
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by goldphinga
how much is too much compression with the L1 or L2? I usually go 3db max. doesnt seem to mess with the sound at that level.
Remember the difference between compression and limiting. L1 and L2 are limiters.

How much limiting with L1/L2 is too much? If you are mixing and are going to be sending it to mastering, then any at all is too much. Compression is a different story. Feel free to compress the mix bus if it helps. Limiting for level is thing you want to avoid in mixing. If you are in a project studio environment, it's never going to see mastering, and you need to get the level up for the CD, then some L2 may be indicated. The obvious answer is that every case is different and you use as much as you need as long as it sounds good. To try to get a little more hands on: as little as possible is the best answer, but you are on the right track in that most material starts to suffer from obtrusive artifacts after 3dB.

Sometimes you have no choice but to go beyond 3, but a good mastering engineer will use a combination EQ, compression, and possibly more than one limiter to spread out the work and optimise the chain to get more level with less audible distortion. Achieving lots of level without obvious distortion and other harmful side-effects is not as simple as turning up the L2.
Old 30th August 2005 | Show parent
  #14
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RoundBadge's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Produceher

I never use these destroyers if a Mastering engineer is going to get it.
Absolute Ditto
..occasionally I'll use it for a quick reference .
I'll mix into a hardware comp or 2 for flavor ,impact,punch ..etc
I find from my end, these limiting plugs usually take more away than they give.
Hell ....ANY plugs on the 2 buss for that matter.
so I stopped using them a long time ago,and i'm much happier for it.
I'd rather let my ME handle the levels on his end.
Old 30th August 2005 | Show parent
  #15
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RoundBadge's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by jayfrigo
a good mastering engineer will use a combination EQ, compression, and possibly more than one limiter to spread out the work and optimise the chain to get more level with less audible distortion. Achieving lots of level without obvious distortion and other harmful side-effects is not as simple as turning up the L2.

Jay...I couldn't have voiced it any better! thumbsup
Old 30th August 2005 | Show parent
  #16
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🎧 15 years
[QUOTE=jayfrigo]Remember the difference between compression and limiting. L1 and L2 are limiters.

How much limiting with L1/L2 is too much? If you are mixing and are going to be sending it to mastering, then any at all is too much. Compression is a different story. Feel free to compress the mix bus if it helps. Limiting for level is thing you want to avoid in mixing.

Can we carve them is stone or make a sticky here on GS. heh
Pleaze!
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