The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
Mastering compressor
Old 20th December 2021
  #1
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
Mastering compressor

Hi all

I am a professional photographer, also doing video and sound recording mainly for music students, choirs, classical ensembles and jazz bands.
My recordings never get mastered by a pro mastering engineer , I mix my recordings and try to make them sound best, regarding the quality of the performance, the rooms ands all other circumstances, my abilities.
I read a lot about using a mastering compressor for the last touch for glue, warmth, etc.
I am curious, what you guys use in similar situations? Do you mix in the box including some mastering compressor plug ins, or do you use outboard gear for that last touch up.
I am often impressed by sound examples of hardware mastering compressors (specially tube gear like Thermionic Phoenix, Manley Vari mu, Knif Vari mu) in a pop/rock context.
For Jazz, i can imagine, that they would help as well. Could they also help as much in a classical music mix? Or could I get more or less the same result with a good plugin.
Can you recommend plugins or hardware for this task, which is still affordable.
Thanks in advance and happy holidays
Ronald
Old 20th December 2021
  #2
Gear Nut
 
Wavefront's Avatar
 
The plugin version of the Weiss DS1-MK3, from Softube, is excellent. Useful in a multitude of situations (including mastering) though it does not offer "warming" or the character an outboard unit might.
Old 20th December 2021
  #3
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
I've got some relatively expensive mastering limiter plugins, and I almost always use the Massey L2007, which is pretty cheap and very easy to use. As a bonus it has next to no latency (many mastering limiters have a ton). So I was able to use it on a live internet radio show I used to mix, with nobody in the show ever noticing the latency in over 4 years' worth of episodes.

Here's a link to a Soundcloud page of stuff from that show. The Massey is on all of it. All kinds of music.

https://soundcloud.com/user-478432915
Old 20th December 2021
  #4
Lives for gear
 
jnorman's Avatar
I use fabfilter pro-c - all the fabfilter plugins are very good.
Old 20th December 2021
  #5
Lives for gear
 
Earcatcher's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I keep a small herd of compressors, so I can always find one that fits my needs best, also in classical music mixes. Sometimes no compression is called for, but often a little of it can just lift the entire experience of listening to something that is more pleasing to the ear. Rough dynamic edges can be ironed out, which helps with the sense of musical control that you expect from professional players. What works in pop also works in classical/acoustic, although it should be applied with a lot more care in the latter category. One of the most affordable compressors with a lot of versatility for classical is the Elysia Xpressor. Of course a good Vari-Mu, such as the Knif, is even more polished and subtle sounding, but it's not cheap. In many of my mixes it ends up being used though, as well as the RND MBP. For certain problem cases I also have Drawmer 1973 (often highly appreciated by musicians when I use it; very affordable as well) and TK BC2-ME. Outboard compressors sound totally different than their ITB counterparts, and I prefer them.
Old 20th December 2021
  #6
Old 20th December 2021
  #7
Lives for gear
 
jnorman's Avatar
Earcatcher - inre your comment about hardware vs software compressors, could you possibly post a couple of short audio samples that demonstrate the difference you speak of? Thanks.
Old 20th December 2021
  #8
Lives for gear
 
I would use the Phoenix Mastering Plus on a classical recording - it's capable of very high resolution and detail - or it can be pushed into a Rock n Roll attitude.

If you want something clean and technically extremely able I highly recommend the Sonoris Mastering Compressor plugin.
Old 20th December 2021
  #9
Lives for gear
 
cheu78's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by RFrommann ➡️
Hi all

I am a professional photographer, also doing video and sound recording mainly for music students, choirs, classical ensembles and jazz bands.
My recordings never get mastered by a pro mastering engineer , I mix my recordings and try to make them sound best, regarding the quality of the performance, the rooms ands all other circumstances, my abilities.
I read a lot about using a mastering compressor for the last touch for glue, warmth, etc.
I am curious, what you guys use in similar situations? Do you mix in the box including some mastering compressor plug ins, or do you use outboard gear for that last touch up.
I am often impressed by sound examples of hardware mastering compressors (specially tube gear like Thermionic Phoenix, Manley Vari mu, Knif Vari mu) in a pop/rock context.
For Jazz, i can imagine, that they would help as well. Could they also help as much in a classical music mix? Or could I get more or less the same result with a good plugin.
Can you recommend plugins or hardware for this task, which is still affordable.
Thanks in advance and happy holidays
Ronald
Of course as you know in your own field of expertise, there no lucky 1 item to make the perfect shot..
there’s a bunch of factors that plays a role, devices both hw or digital, skills and know-how involved to have a “finished” product.
It is not only the lens, the camera body, the lights, but it’s a mix (pun intended) of everything.

Sure a great mic into a wonderful preamp and good converters helps, the room acoustics, the outboard hw are also a point, but without the know-how, it’s still not automatic to get the results you want.

That said there are pieces that makes a good difference in the perceived quality of the final product (like the lenses and the lights used in your field)..

If you record the event:
don’t skip on high quality mics.. these do a good difference, and the other place where money makes a great (or the biggest) difference is the acoustics of the room.
Then comes preamps and the rest.. today with a decent room, some high quality mics and a decent interface you could reach pretty great results.

If you’re mixing, again, the room acoustics have a huge impact, like your monitors (you take all the decisions and you should be able to hear the issues) and the monitoring converters.. then a couple of good selected plugs.. some of them are not even so expensive and some are even free..

If you use a nice Gyraf G22 Vari Mu or a Crane Song STC-8 is with a nice eq after them (like a CAG hde 250 or a Massive Passive) you’ll probably add that last percentage of glue/polish/finesse to the program.. and if the mix is pretty good this will help to bring it to next step.

But it’s how you prepare your mix, that will make it shine through these pieces imho..
You can use some nice plugs nowadays to carve your mix and control it, the hw at the end (on groups and/or the master) will do a difference..
I usually notice a different weight/size or a palpable feeling.. difficult to describe..

But if the mix is meh, is not that will become amazing thanks to a hw compressor alone.

I hope this helps,



Cheu
Old 20th December 2021
  #10
Gear Maniac
 
crescentmoon's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
I used to use mastering plugins... still very good but recently switched to hardware and have not looked back... I use the Rupert Neve Portico II master bus mixer and the Louder than Liftoff Silver Bullet. My mixes now sound a great deal better... this is the glue I needed. With prices going up I would look into getting them at Reverb used.
Old 21st December 2021
  #11
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
Thanks for all your insights. Very much appreciated. Not quite sure, what I wanted to hear more: that I can get great results with a good plugin, or wether only hardware gives this little bit of extra magic. My feelings says the latter, but I will dive into the suggested plug ins first.
@ cheu
Being a photographer for more than 30 years I kniw exactly, what you mean. Well said. And I always tried to
Invest in good equipment. When I recently bought s snow petrel fir my Coles Ribbon mics I started realising, that I love what tubes can do. Thats were I began to think about hardware mastering compressors. @ Earcatcher
Thanks also for your detailed experience. What a pity, that the knif is not available any more. Lucky you😊
Old 21st December 2021
  #12
Gear Maniac
 
elpillo's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I'm a big fan hardware, specially for mastering duties. As a matter of fact, that's most of what I do, mastering, I've tried many times to master only with plug-ins but every time I compare the ITB version to the hardware one, I always choose the latter. One thing to consider when getting into hardware stuff is that you'll probably want to get a really good ADDA converter.
As far as hardware boxes go, I suggest you look into something with a distinctive character or "color", otherwise you might as well stay ITB. You can't go wrong with Pendulum Audio OCL-2 if you can find one in the used market (I had one and sold it to fund other gear but I wish I hadn't); I use a Knif PureMu and love it but those are discontinued now. If you can get your hands on his Vari Mu, go for it! Although not a compressor, the HendyAmps Michelangelo will give you lots options for "color" as well. Best of luck!
Old 21st December 2021 | Show parent
  #13
Lives for gear
 
Earcatcher's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by jnorman ➡️
Earcatcher - inre your comment about hardware vs software compressors, could you possibly post a couple of short audio samples that demonstrate the difference you speak of? Thanks.
Since hardware compressors are also part of an analogue mixing chain I don't have many samples without the inclusion of the effects of the rest of the chain. Of course I have tested the effect of ITB vs OTB compression stripped down to the minimum chain at one point in time, but unfortunately I can't share the test files at hand. For me they presented a convincing case of "mechanical" (ITB) vs "organic" (analog) sounding.

Comments about the coloration of analog compressors may not be valid for classical though, because we are looking for the original colors of the instruments as much as possible. This is what we have invested a lot of money in when buying our microphones and preamps. This, unfortunately, means that a large investment is needed if you want to maintain this lack of coloration in your analog mastering chain and very careful use of the machines is compulsary, as even expensive boxes can start to color a lot at higher levels of make-up gain.
Old 21st December 2021
  #14
Old 21st December 2021 | Show parent
  #15
Lives for gear
 
cheu78's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by RFrommann ➡️
Thanks for all your insights. Very much appreciated. Not quite sure, what I wanted to hear more: that I can get great results with a good plugin, or wether only hardware gives this little bit of extra magic. My feelings says the latter, but I will dive into the suggested plug ins first.
@ cheu
Being a photographer for more than 30 years I kniw exactly, what you mean. Well said. And I always tried to
Invest in good equipment. When I recently bought s snow petrel fir my Coles Ribbon mics I started realising, that I love what tubes can do. Thats were I began to think about hardware mastering compressors. @ Earcatcher
Thanks also for your detailed experience. What a pity, that the knif is not available any more. Lucky you
I’ve heard that the snow petrel opens up the top of the coles in a beautiful way..
i really like the coles on some sources, they can be too dark on others.. so I see where this preamp might be a match for the coles.
I’ve usually use the Avedis MA5 (and its 28k button) with the coles.. also a really nice combo imho.

The Gyraf Vari Mu is a great piece and will enhance your mix/master, it is also very nice on delicate stuff.
Manley is too slow and chewy for these styles (at least for my taste).
Knif are unobtanium unfortunately.. maybe you can scout one used..

Crane Song stc-8 is solid state, but works really great on a lot of things.. I like it a lot.
Pendulum stuff is also really good, if you can find one used.
Maybe also something from TubeTech, these are also quite classy sounding.

With a Massive Passive or a CAG HDE-250 after the comp, that will open up a mix in a beautiful, clean yet very musical, way.. you’re set.

Of course these will not make a bad mix into a good one, but they certainly help and give something that plugs don’t do (yet) imho.

It’s difficult to describe, but it’s a size, depth and a sort of “effortless” beauty that plugs don’t do imho.
(Some plugs are really great and can do other things very well or better, when you need problem solving or surgical stuff, but there’s the last drop of quality they can’t touch yet).



Cheu
Old 21st December 2021 | Show parent
  #16
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
[QUOTE=cheu78;15773874] it’s a size, depth and a sort of “effortless” beauty that plugs don’t do imho.

That's it, what I am after.
I have an SSL Buscompressor Clone from Audioscape here, which is kind of nice already, but I can imagine, that there is more to gain regarding, depth, width and warmth etc.
There is a used Phoenix Mastering Comp advertised here, maybe I try to check it out. No idea, whether it fits the bill.

The snow petrel really is a very nice preamp for the Coles, but I like it also for my Gefell 950 and other condenser mics.
Old 21st December 2021 | Show parent
  #17
Lives for gear
 
RightOnRome's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
[QUOTE=RFrommann;15774046]
Quote:
Originally Posted by cheu78 ➡️
it’s a size, depth and a sort of “effortless” beauty that plugs don’t do imho.

That's it, what I am after.
I have an SSL Buscompressor Clone from Audioscape here, which is kind of nice already, but I can imagine, that there is more to gain regarding, depth, width and warmth etc.
There is a used Phoenix Mastering Comp advertised here, maybe I try to check it out. No idea, whether it fits the bill.

The snow petrel really is a very nice preamp for the Coles, but I like it also for my Gefell 950 and other condenser mics.
seriously.. demo the unisum before you drop a ton of cash on Hardware , its crazy good
Old 21st December 2021 | Show parent
  #18
Lives for gear
 
cheu78's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
[QUOTE=RFrommann;15774046]
Quote:
Originally Posted by cheu78 ➡️
it’s a size, depth and a sort of “effortless” beauty that plugs don’t do imho.

That's it, what I am after.
I have an SSL Buscompressor Clone from Audioscape here, which is kind of nice already, but I can imagine, that there is more to gain regarding, depth, width and warmth etc.
There is a used Phoenix Mastering Comp advertised here, maybe I try to check it out. No idea, whether it fits the bill.

The snow petrel really is a very nice preamp for the Coles, but I like it also for my Gefell 950 and other condenser mics.
The phoenix is a nice sounding piece, but a big pita regarding the LR calibration (and how reliable it is in this regard).. I’m not sure I’d go there..
At least in the units I’ve had my hands on (and their owners).



Cheu
Old 21st December 2021 | Show parent
  #19
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
[QUOTE=RightOnRome;15774141]
Quote:
Originally Posted by RFrommann ➡️

seriously.. demo the unisum before you drop a ton of cash on Hardware , its crazy good
I already downloaded Unisum and played a little bit with it. I liked what i heard, but can imagine, that good hardware is even more convicing.
Old 22nd December 2021
  #20
Lives for gear
 
kludgeaudio's Avatar
 
I just did a live broadcast that went through an RNC. It's not super-thick, it's not super-mellow, it is possible to make it misbehave if you have enough low frequency content, but it's a remarkably clean way to bring levels up. And yes, it's dirt cheap. Depending on your application you may wish to follow it with a limiter, but it's certainly a thing everyone should have in their kit.
--scott
Old 22nd December 2021
  #21
Lives for gear
 
It really depends a lot on how much dynamics you want in your recordings. In classical typically little compression is used, if any at all.

In some jazz styles you might want to have quite big loudness jumps. Once you introduce a compressor on your mix buss and in mastering you may be working against an important stylistic element in your music.

The Pop/Rock you mention is characterised by a lack of dynamics. Everything is heavily compressed and that is essential to the stylistics of these genres.

One genres glue is another genres mud.

For Jazz a cleaner comp is generally the go-to. Try Elysia XPressor: clean and versatile and can go quite heavy is asked for. Very "hifi" sound with ample and deep detail.

If you want to go crazy give the Chandler Germanium a ride. Available as a plug-in and that's nice to demo it's effect. Amazing sounds, but lots of color and character. You wan't to be careful with that one.
Old 22nd December 2021
  #22
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
Does anybody use the IGS tubecore? Lots of positive praise here on gearspace
Old 22nd December 2021 | Show parent
  #23
Lives for gear
 
Earcatcher's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by RFrommann ➡️
Does anybody use the IGS tubecore? Lots of positive praise here on gearspace
It's the one I would have bought when I didn't have the Knif.
Old 23rd December 2021 | Show parent
  #24
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by kludgeaudio ➡️
I just did a live broadcast that went through an RNC. It's not super-thick, it's not super-mellow, it is possible to make it misbehave if you have enough low frequency content, but it's a remarkably clean way to bring levels up. And yes, it's dirt cheap. Depending on your application you may wish to follow it with a limiter, but it's certainly a thing everyone should have in their kit.
--scott
Is the RNC a true stereo unit, in terms of its 2 channels being independent of each other, or is there linking of the channels via the shared parameter controls (so you'd need 2 units to give you the independence) ?
Old 23rd December 2021 | Show parent
  #25
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 ➡️
... a true stereo unit, in terms of its 2 channels being independent of each other...
I thought that in a "true stereo" compressor, they aren't independent. That their gain reduction is done in tandem. Am I mistaken?
Old 23rd December 2021 | Show parent
  #26
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn ➡️
I thought that in a "true stereo" compressor, they aren't independent. That their gain reduction is done in tandem. Am I mistaken?
Ideally (probably even typically) yes....you'd want the gain reduction applied equally and identically across both sides of a true stereo recording....otherwise you'd get volume jumps in each, playing havoc with the stereo imaging, if each compressor side acted independent of the other. So you want the control parameters and resulting gain reduction to apply equally to both channels.
Old 23rd December 2021 | Show parent
  #27
Lives for gear
 
kludgeaudio's Avatar
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 ➡️
Is the RNC a true stereo unit, in terms of its 2 channels being independent of each other, or is there linking of the channels via the shared parameter controls (so you'd need 2 units to give you the independence) ?
It is a true stereo unit, in that the channels are completely linked at all times and always follow one another. There is actually only one control path for both channels. This means solid centering of the stereo image; you can't accidentally set one threshold differently than the other because there is really only one detector with one threshold.

You would need two units if you were processing two independent mono signals. The RNC is really designed for use on the 2-buss.
--scott
Old 23rd December 2021 | Show parent
  #28
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by kludgeaudio ➡️
It is a true stereo unit, in that the channels are completely linked at all times and always follow one another. There is actually only one control path for both channels. This means solid centering of the stereo image; you can't accidentally set one threshold differently than the other because there is really only one detector with one threshold.

You would need two units if you were processing two independent mono signals. The RNC is really designed for use on the 2-buss.
--scott
Got it, thanks Scott ...that's ideal for my intended usage ! So someone wanting to use it as a pair of independent compressors might be disappointed, as there's no link/unlink function to assign the controls to each of the 2 circuits separately. At the low purchase price, however, they still be getting a bargain...even if needing to buy 2 units.
Old 24th December 2021 | Show parent
  #29
Here for the gear
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Earcatcher ➡️
I keep a small herd of compressors, so I can always find one that fits my needs best, also in classical music mixes. Sometimes no compression is called for, but often a little of it can just lift the entire experience of listening to something that is more pleasing to the ear. Rough dynamic edges can be ironed out, which helps with the sense of musical control that you expect from professional players. What works in pop also works in classical/acoustic, although it should be applied with a lot more care in the latter category. One of the most affordable compressors with a lot of versatility for classical is the Elysia Xpressor. Of course a good Vari-Mu, such as the Knif, is even more polished and subtle sounding, but it's not cheap. In many of my mixes it ends up being used though, as well as the RND MBP. For certain problem cases I also have Drawmer 1973 (often highly appreciated by musicians when I use it; very affordable as well) and TK BC2-ME. Outboard compressors sound totally different than their ITB counterparts, and I prefer them.
For Vari-Mu, how would you rate the Vacucox U23(m) or Gyraf G22 in the context of classical recording?

Thanks.

-mobileavatar
Old 24th December 2021
  #30
Lives for gear
 
gyraf's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
..for classical, I would tend to say neither: The artifacts of the vari-mu principle very rarely agrees with the sound ideal of (most) classical recordings.

You need much more delicate processing here than in most other genres.

And further, remember that dynamics in most classical is a ultra-deliberate function of whoever does the conducting, so any further dynamics control is actually distorting the artistic expression to some degree.

Very few compressors are able to work with, not against, this ideal - and simply none of the vari-mu type imo.

If I feel I really need some sort of dynamics control on classic, I'd look in the "neutral" direction of GML, Maselec, late-NTP - or perhaps my own G24 (shameless plug, I know, but I know for a fact it's been used extensively on more than a handful of classical piano albums - and THOSE guys are taking their dynamics seriously!)

/Jakob E.

Last edited by gyraf; 24th December 2021 at 12:27 PM.. Reason: plug
📝 Reply

Similar Threads

Thread / Thread Starter Replies / Views Last Post
replies: 74 views: 14315
Avatar for #19
#19 12th December 2021
replies: 136 views: 24863
Avatar for rtech
rtech 12th June 2021
replies: 93 views: 25415
Avatar for coso
coso 17th April 2021
replies: 1939 views: 411079
Avatar for drBill
drBill 2 weeks ago
Topic:
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearspace Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…

Forum Jump
Forum Jump