minimal setup for mastering?
Old 21st September 2003
  #1
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minimal setup for mastering?

In last months I had growing nr of discussions about mastering. Like in unisono, everyone looks pretty fed up with the only "big" mastering house here in the Czech Rep. Usual complaints: too squashed, scooped midrange, harsh... We are quite pointless where to have our future work mastered, so there is growing will to build a new mastering studio. It is not like tomorrow, but in 2 years or so. The problem is money as usual, we have tiny income compared to USA or UK ;-(. On the other hand we don't want to do it with Behringer gear tutt . Minimal, but top quality setup looks like the way.

Thanks for your ideas, this is the easy part... the hardest part (getting the expirience) is on us. I'm not writing down the budget, because I have no idea and this is the starting point...

Matous
Old 21st September 2003
  #2
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forget to say ...we do mostly electronic, dance, hip-hop.
Old 21st September 2003
  #3
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The biggest issue is that you HAVE to be able to hear accurately. That means at least a semi-good sounding room, a decent DAC, and speakers that don't lie to you. And you have to KNOW that room/speaker combination intimately.

Beyond that, a workstation would probably be in order...
Old 21st September 2003
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Get some analog gear.......it sounds better then plugins/digital............'course, as you stated, it's really down to which monkey is twisting the knobs........
Old 21st September 2003
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The Room is the first thing, that's for sure.

What about speakers. As I read here some time ago, people felt unsafe with ADAM S3As... being to coarse in the highs. As I heard them, they feel good to me. Is it bad idea to have them for mastering? Or B&W is the must? ;-)

Analog gear: I thought about Massive Passive, (not essentialy Manley) Vari-MU and perhaps GML eq for chirurgy? What Mutiband compressor (if any)? Is that enough for start?

Converters. Would do the Benchmark ADC1&DAC1 do the job?

What about console for routing? I don't expect to do it with mackie mixer ;-). This is the most unexplored area for us. Don't know any simple&elegant solution.


thanks
Old 21st September 2003
  #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by jazzius II
'course, as you stated, it's really down to which monkey is twisting the knobs........
Incredibly true. I can't seem to stress this enough to folks...

I have a friend who does low-budget 'mastering'... He uses a masterlink, Digi 001 with a couple of plugs, and a Behringer Ultracurve (for visual feedback, only). Monitors on a cheap pair of headphones he's had for twenty years, or so.
And he does fantastic work. I mean seriously good stuff. But he's been recording for 25 years, and has incredible ears. I've heard work that he did in his bedroom 20 years ago (on a rackmount cassette 4-track) that sounds 'like a record'...

Gear helps, but the bottom line is, its just tools. They don't do the job, but they can certainly assist in it. IMHO, the two most important tools are located on either side of your head, standard issue. And if those aren't up to the task, all the gear in the world won't get the job done. OTOH, if they ARE up to the task, amazing things can be done with minimal, even 'inferior' tools.

When my friend started with his 'mastering' we all pretty much laughed our asses off at the concept... When we heard the work he was doing we stopped laughing.

YMMV.
Old 21st September 2003
  #7
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Speakers...that's personal...you gotta try them in your room.....the analog stuff you listed is great gear.........for surgery, i prefer plugs.....something like the waves Q eq plugs..or of course Weiss if you can afford it........for me, analog is for doing the sexy stuff, not surgery......multiband?.....not normally necassary but the finalizer or waves c4/linmb would do it..........routing console?.....not needed in a basic setup........will you be doing surround?
Old 21st September 2003
  #8
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...workstation? looks like samplitude...

Metering seems to be important too ;-). I'm totaly green at this. The best metering I have is in the Wavelab ;-).

jazzius> looked at your website. Looks like you've chose the Cranesong way. What was the reason picking IBIS instead of for ex. Masssivo? STC-8 looks interesting... Would you do mastering with IBIS & STC & Plugins?
Old 21st September 2003
  #9
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Should have my massivo arriving in the next few days ......at the moment, i'm doing a combination of both......but the plugs normally only come in when something needs to be fixed.....in the future i want to do everything analogue.....multiband, MS stuff, parallel compression, distortion, de-essing etc......but for this i'll need more gear (console/mixer, crossovers, MS matrix, another STC!)....it never ends
Old 21st September 2003
  #10
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surround? will make the place for it (if the room design allows), but that's too expensive at the moment. We'd better build good stereo than mediocre surround.


My first thought for surgery EQ was UAD1 Cambridge, I don't like waves Q, sounds bad. Software part seems easy to me, because trying software is much easier than HW.


"that expirience thing is pretty tough to get ;-), everyone can come with extensive list of equipment. And this is the reason why we just don't rent the "mastering place". We don't know it (good enough to make any decision) and renting it in order to learn there seems like a bad idea... better spend money on equipment and learn and learn and learn."
Old 21st September 2003
  #11
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i use the waves Q 'cause you can pick out one frequency with it (q=100)......handy for lowering completely out of wack bass notes........i wouldn't use it for adding hot sex to a track......the cambridge only goes to a Q of 16 iirc.
Old 21st September 2003
  #12
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M/S seems to be very interesting... have it on the list under "to explore ;-)"

How many DAs you have for spliting (parallel processing)? Or 2 channels are just enough?
Old 21st September 2003
  #13
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thats right... I wouldn't ever consider of using Q~100 on bass ;-), thanks for a tip. This is an example of the EXP.

Sometimes even 100 isn't enough for some ringing, but this is really extremely bad stuff.
Old 21st September 2003
  #14
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I should be making an MS matrix in the next few weeks......i'll be able to patch it anywhere in my chain like other outboard........at the moment i don't do analog parallel.....i don't have the DA or the mixer (well, i got a wackie but let's not go there) to do it..........soon, soon
Old 21st September 2003
  #15
Quote:
Originally posted by matucha
The Room is the first thing, that's for sure.

What about speakers. As I read here some time ago, people felt unsafe with ADAM S3As... being to coarse in the highs. As I heard them, they feel good to me. Is it bad idea to have them for mastering? Or B&W is the must? ;-)

Analog gear: I thought about Massive Passive, (not essentialy Manley) Vari-MU and perhaps GML eq for chirurgy? What Mutiband compressor (if any)? Is that enough for start?

Converters. Would do the Benchmark ADC1&DAC1 do the job?

What about console for routing? I don't expect to do it with mackie mixer ;-). This is the most unexplored area for us. Don't know any simple&elegant solution.


thanks
I would suggest something else instead of the MP(unless you buy the mastering version).

I think the Vari-Mu and a Sontec is better idea(2 different colors that work well together).

Use the Waves mastering bundle for the digital stuff.
Old 21st September 2003
  #16
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If your in the Czech Rep, I dont think you need to be thinking ultra high end everthing, no-one will respect your gear list.

That stuff is for guys who send stuff off to sell a few million copies. No disrespect, but if the guys around you are using crap, then a Vari-mu, C2 (just to edge out peaks) and a more clinical eq (soft/hardware?). i would recommend the Massivo but it's really only good for something mixed well to begin with, it's more of a colour maker.

I just picked up a Massive, Vari and C2 a few weeks back, man this shit rocks. I know loud isn't in vogue but shit you can beat waves L2 any day with this setup, it's loud and clear. And it means I can look like I'm doing something rather than playing with the mouse.
Old 21st September 2003
  #17
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something else than massivo? what? IBIS?....

Sontec? don't know anything about it, is it an EQ? have to check it out... thanks.

Waves Masters. At the first moment I was quite encharted, but more I tried it, less I liked it... not bad, but the eq is not sexy (or anything around) and it is not precise at all (very coarse frequency choice). L2 is ok, LinMB is ok, but I like C4 more...
... but it is usefull for something, no argument ;-)
Old 22nd September 2003
  #18
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cape> well, it's not about the list, it is about we want our music to sound as good as possible, and we see what "the guys" around the world are using and how good (or bad) it sounds and how good or bad our things sounds. Don't have to have everything 100% the most expensive - therefore "minimal mastering setup".

It is funny, because this is mostly for "us". As you know from certain level, most of the consumers don't recognize the difference (their exp, ears, speakers, room... name it). But we know. The list may be irrelevant, but why not good mastering engineers use behringer when it isn't important ;-).

No one thinks mastering can save the mix, we are no fools... however it is good check, becouse some people think this way ( know nothing about mixing and think good sound is created by mastering... sorry, we are at gearslutz.com, don't expect this kind of people here).

C2? What company?


thanks alot
Matous (form the chicken republic ;-)

"just drunk some bier, so my post can be a bit dizzy ;-), we have dirty cheap bier here at least ;-)))))"
Old 22nd September 2003
  #19
Quote:
Originally posted by matucha
something else than massivo? what? IBIS?....

Sontec? don't know anything about it, is it an EQ? have to check it out... thanks.

Waves Masters. At the first moment I was quite encharted, but more I tried it, less I liked it... not bad, but the eq is not sexy (or anything around) and it is not precise at all (very coarse frequency choice). L2 is ok, LinMB is ok, but I like C4 more...
... but it is usefull for something, no argument ;-)
With the MP its real easy to throw off the phase between channels(there is no way to match each side unless its calibrated which I've noticed is very dificult to do) and I've done this a couple of times.

I love it on vocals(its my favorite EQ for this).

The Sontec EQ(430) is a favorite among mastering engineers(for good reason). It has a clear sound and you can pound on the EQ without it getting scratchy. Also I love the "air" you can get out of it. The GML is a different animal(unless its the mastering one), it has more of a "diamond"sound that works better for individual tracks than a mix(my opinion).

The Waves stuff wasn't designed to be sexy, just practical.

I like the phase EQ because it has almost no sound. The L2 you have to be careful about(even more for the C4).

If you choose the Vari-Mu go with the mastering version(its way more practical than the regular one).
Old 22nd September 2003
  #20
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MP> sounds weird to me ;-(

Waves linearEQ> good to do "drastic" things sounds like nothing happend... not bad really

L2> sometimes 1dB can make it sound bad... I thought this is a joke, but it happen to me with some kick/bass thing and now I understand... and this is why searching in the analog...

everytime I got through manley catalogues I was curious "what the heck are the mastering versions about?", more precise? What is more practical about it?


still green
Matous
Old 22nd September 2003
  #21
Quote:
Originally posted by matucha
MP> sounds weird to me ;-(

Waves linearEQ> good to do "drastic" things sounds like nothing happend... not bad really

L2> sometimes 1dB can make it sound bad... I thought this is a joke, but it happen to me with some kick/bass thing and now I understand... and this is why searching in the analog...

everytime I got through manley catalogues I was curious "what the heck are the mastering versions about?", more precise? What is more practical about it?


still green
Matous
The MP is a great EQ don't get me wrong(I think it will be a classic one day), its just its not the easiest unit to use in stereo. The mastering version helps(its also double the price).

The mastering versions give you detented pots so its easier to repeat and recall certain settings. Its easier to match the stereo channels this way.

Yeah agreed on the L2(i try not use no more than -.5db). The secret is to have multiple channels of comp/limiting(analog) doing a little, so when you add them up(and it hits the L2) you won't have to squeeze it as much(and you just use it as a limiter).
Old 22nd September 2003
  #22
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Can you still buy a sontec?........i also heard it's impossible to get a busted one fixed.......Thrill', hav you tried a Masalec EQ?.....
Old 22nd September 2003
  #23
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Bigger amount of light compression is better than one heavy... mostly. Got there too ;-).

So having normal MP for mastering can work, but it will take a lot of work to set both channels the same? or it is impossible to do it right? Sounds like a bad thing. Mastering version is damn expensive. Sontec looks like no way, so what? It's getting complicated
Old 22nd September 2003
  #24
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A lot of people are using the MP for mastering and almost none of them have the mastering mod.
Old 22nd September 2003
  #25
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There's lots of options:

Manley
GML
Masalec
Mil-media
Avalon
Ear
Fairman
Cranesong
Old 22nd September 2003
  #26
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>> A lot of people are using the MP for mastering and almost none of them have the mastering mod. <<

That was my inital view ;-). I expect the difference should be very very subtle.

Fairman looks wild, the pricetag too ;-(. Need to go through the rest of your list...

How does the IBIS sound? I'd expect it to sound very clean. Seen the frequency table, does it make sound more musical? Whatever that means
Old 22nd September 2003
  #27
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To be honest, i haven't heard all the stuff on the list.......we do have a GML eq here and the Ibis kicks its butt........all i know is, with the Ibis (and STC), i'm now able to get the sound of the big mastering houses....which i couldn't do before.........the high's are incrediblly sweet.........it also has a distortion feature which is unique.......i'm waiting for the MP to arrive....if i don't like it i can send it back (which i hope won't happen)....will report on it when it arrives.....

I've also heard the Mil-media is very good, and that's the cheapest of all of 'em (3000 euro?).......
Old 22nd September 2003
  #28
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FWIW, Eveanna has developed a method of using detented knobs or some such to allow channel matching without using switches. I believe the premium is only about $500. As I have stated before, it's a good EQ, but probably shouldn't be your only EQ - too colored.

Ibis is great. My new fav.

Sontec is amazing, but hard to come by and harder to get serviced. They are still (supposedly) being built new, but good luck getting in touch with Burgess.

GML sounds like breaking glass to me.

No fan of Avalon, either.

I want to get a Prism myself. Good, clean design.
Old 22nd September 2003
  #29
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Hey bRAD, DO YOU HAVE A ROUGH PRICE ON THE mASALEC/pRISM.......(OOPS)....they don't seem very keen on selling 'em (not answering emails)
Old 22nd September 2003
  #30
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Last I checked, retail on the Prism was about $4500 USD.
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