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Mastering while mixing - compressors? Dynamics Processors (HW)
Old 1st March 2009
  #1
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Mastering while mixing - compressors?

OK - I have a plan that I'd like to try.

Currently I mix down from two sync'd 16 track workstations (32 total tracks) through a single spdif cable to computer for mastering.

I've never heard a mastering tool as a plugin that competes with outboard gear so I want to try and "master" as hardware inserts on the path between workstations and computer. I still might tweak on the computer, certainly including tops, tails, fades etc but Id really like to achieve decent level and eq BEFORE it gets to the computer.

If I client can afford better mastering with a seperate set of ears in a different room then great but given that most can't, I was hoping to set up the best possible chain of hardware for this mastering. (Again since the workstations are automated - and already "summed" to the spdif out - then mastering this way seems somewhat similar to mastering - at least in a minimal way)

So budget is 5K to 10K - right now the Hammer is an almost certain purchase given the good price, reputation, and the reveiws I've read about sweetening upper mids and highs and maintaining good stereo image - it would also be a nice tool used lightly in tracking ac gtrs and drum overheads etc

I should mention I record a variety of styles - but focus on acoustic, softer music from jazz to classical to folk to pop rock. Also, though I love a nice open sound, I also love a well "glued" master such as Parachutes - the first album by Coldplay or Continuum by John Meyer.

The pres I own and could use in mastering are 2022, Pacifica, LaChapell 992EG, and soon SMP-2.

Thanks for reading my long question.
Old 1st March 2009
  #2
Gear Addict
 

I forgot to mention I'd be using Crane Song HEDD for DA/AD

So hoping for thoughts on compressors / limiters (maybe both) etc to use with Hammer EQ, pres to use (preferrably amoung my good selection) - thanks

p.s. - I already own a 2044 - never tried it on the mix bus but on GS people seem to think it can be easily outperformed by other options.
Old 1st March 2009
  #3
Gear Addict
 

Ha, the man who sent back the MM27s back to the stables
what monitors do you use now btw?

I would think you could use an Elysia Mpressor, suitable for tranparent (but not completely colourless) mixing & mastering, very versatile unit!
Old 1st March 2009
  #4
Gear Maniac
 
Osse_87's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by pianokeys View Post
OK - I have a plan that I'd like to try.

Currently I mix down from two sync'd 16 track workstations (32 total tracks) through a single spdif cable to computer for mastering.

I've never heard a mastering tool as a plugin that competes with outboard gear so I want to try and "master" as hardware inserts on the path between workstations and computer. I still might tweak on the computer, certainly including tops, tails, fades etc but Id really like to achieve decent level and eq BEFORE it gets to the computer.

If I client can afford better mastering with a seperate set of ears in a different room then great but given that most can't, I was hoping to set up the best possible chain of hardware for this mastering. (Again since the workstations are automated - and already "summed" to the spdif out - then mastering this way seems somewhat similar to mastering - at least in a minimal way)

So budget is 5K to 10K - right now the Hammer is an almost certain purchase given the good price, reputation, and the reveiws I've read about sweetening upper mids and highs and maintaining good stereo image - it would also be a nice tool used lightly in tracking ac gtrs and drum overheads etc

I should mention I record a variety of styles - but focus on acoustic, softer music from jazz to classical to folk to pop rock. Also, though I love a nice open sound, I also love a well "glued" master such as Parachutes - the first album by Coldplay or Continuum by John Meyer.

The pres I own and could use in mastering are 2022, Pacifica, LaChapell 992EG, and soon SMP-2.

Thanks for reading my long question.
Interesting, I like to use the same kind of workflow, as I like to control both the mix and the master step during the process of a recording/release, in the same project, as I think that they are very involved in each other in a lot of ways.

I'm right now using SSL mixbuss compressor, thinking about getting a pair of Prism audio overkillers for last limiters before hitting A/D again. No eq, when I'm recording i'm not satisfied with source sound until I almost don't need any eqing which can eliminate a lot of eq needed, but for mixing other faulty projects I imagine a EQ would be a great device, OTOH I think ITB handles EQ better than dynamics compared to OTB so right now i'm using ITB eq's.

I imagine hammer - ssl mixbus - api2500 - prism overkillers - A/D would be a rather cool chain, but don't take my word for it as I've only used one of the devices.

Good luck to you!
Old 1st March 2009
  #5
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Thanks Androne and Osse - yes it was me who returned the MM27s - and I don't regret it at all (though I'm sure they are amazing for some people in the right room - I think mine at 15 x 12 x 7 was too small)

I am also REALLY keen on being inspired by my monitors - though translation remains important - nothing matters more to me as a songwriter / producer than inspiration....but let's not go down that path again - haha

Osse suggested I believe two compressors - I've often wondered if this would be helpful as I think it might - would it go soft comp then hard more limiting or vise versa - or just pick one for tone - does one "gane stage" like this for better results - I've often wondered

Thanks

*Obviously the budget would prefer one great versatile comp for acoustic instruments and soem glueing but I remain open to using two and would love to learn mroe about the benefits.
Old 1st March 2009
  #6
Gear Maniac
 
Osse_87's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by pianokeys View Post
Thanks Androne and Osse - yes it was me who returned the MM27s - and I don't regret it at all (though I'm sure they are amazing for some people in the right room - I think mine at 15 x 12 x 7 was too small)

I am also REALLY keen on being inspired by my monitors - though translation remains important - nothing matters more to me as a songwriter / producer than inspiration....but let's not go down that path again - haha

Osse suggested I believe two compressors - I've often wondered if this would be helpful as I think it might - would it go soft comp then hard more limiting or vise versa - or just pick one for tone - does one "gane stage" like this for better results - I've often wondered

Thanks

*Obviously the budget would prefer one great versatile comp for acoustic instruments and soem glueing but I remain open to using two and would love to learn mroe about the benefits.
Cut 1.5-2 db with each compressor and 2 db with the limiter in the end, and it will be characteristic glue and volume that's often both desireable and loud enought

in some of my projects some of my tracks is going throught 6-7 different compressors/limiters before reaching final fader, and it sounds CD.

The key is to set the parameters right, which offcourse is obvious but it's need to be emphazised as it's very important. it can be catastrophe if you don't know how to set it and think it will treat the audio good.

Offcourse it differs from genres, jazz is one thing, death metal is another.

Whatever sounds good
Old 1st March 2009
  #7
Gear Addict
 

So... what monitors are you using now, pk ?
Old 2nd March 2009
  #8
Gear Addict
 

ssadly I never did get to upgrade - I was SO close to picking up a pair of KH o300s - but felt they were just a little too quiet for some clients who need a touch more juice (would have loved to mix on them though - a different soft kind of treble that seems dead at first - until you go back to other Monitors which you then realize are hyped and somewhat fatiguing in the highs) - I used to use PMC TB1 / Bryston combo with happiness as far as reverb tails go but not enough punch, especially in the low end - so I'm stuck working with the "lowly" Mackie HR824s - although I will say for whatever reason in my room (and visiting engineers have commented on this as well) - they sound very nice.

Just really compressed - so everything almost always sounds good through them - inspiring as a writer - YES, easy to translate on - NO

Also the position my chair is in seems to suck out frequencies below 80hz - or at least much of them - I have to often roll back 4 feet or off to one side to check bass levels- especially acoustic bass which I love but is a royal pain in my a** to mix!
Old 2nd March 2009
  #9
Gear Addict
 

Osse - so you mean use both compressors and a digital limiter at the end?

For years I've been using Vintage Warmer for mastering - sometimes it actually adds a nice glue type effect - but often when compared to mixes at equal levels the distortion is not so nice.

I also have to be realisitic about my skills, I do have good ears, and I have been mixing for 10 years - but my experience at 2-bus hardware is ZERO - so I'm hoping for a realistic learning curve -and I tend to prefer spending more time on tuning instruements, mic choices and placement even preamps - over mixing - my favourite mix is virtually DONE when you play back all the tracks you've recorded - maybe a little verb and level balancing - a hair of compression and even less EQ only to help give each instruement some "space" - then DONE
Old 2nd March 2009
  #10
Gear Addict
 

bump for info on compressor(s) for 2-bus with Hammer EQ and HEDD converters

hoping for recommendations given my particular needs (not they they are necessarily unusual)

thanks also for info thus far
Old 2nd March 2009
  #11
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Marineville's Avatar
 

I mix as I go so that at the end of a session I simply have to run off the master. I have an API5500 and Focusrite RED3 across my bus at all times so I always know pretty much where I am. This workflow is very important to me as a composer as I am always working to very tight deadlines - I find it very inspiring to have everything sounding like a finished record as I compose.

Anything to get the job done!
Old 3rd March 2009
  #12
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marineville View Post
I mix as I go so that at the end of a session I simply have to run off the master. I have an API5500 and Focusrite RED3 across my bus at all times so I always know pretty much where I am. This workflow is very important to me as a composer as I am always working to very tight deadlines - I find it very inspiring to have everything sounding like a finished record as I compose.

Anything to get the job done!

Man - I relate 150% - I guess since I'm in a position of choosing gear at this point (in order to hopefully "forget" about it as I work reatively) - would you recommend those two exact comps or would you, if given a chance, go back and try another.

Also, if you don't mind briefly explain how you are yusing the 2 comps - one softer comp - the other harder limiting - do you choose one or othe other?

Many thanks
Old 3rd March 2009
  #13
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Marineville's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by pianokeys View Post
would you recommend those two exact comps or would you, if given a chance, go back and try another.
Hi there!

The API5500 is an eq unit and the RED3 is a compressor so I only have the one comp! They two units compliment one another very well.

My RED3 has lived permanently on my mix bus since I bought it twelve years ago. Totally recommend it, very subtle, and at a very low setting it just does 'something' to the mix.

For me the RED3 is completely indispensable.

Old 3rd March 2009
  #14
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Marineville's Avatar
 

... and it matches my avatar!
Old 3rd March 2009
  #15
Gear Addict
 

Of course - 5500 is EQ -I was thinking of the 2500 - I actually just bought the Hammer instead of the 5500 which was choice number 2 -and a very close second - here in Toronto it is very hard to hear to compare - although a RED 3 wouldn't be too hard to hear.

I guess I imagined (though I don't know why) that it would sound similar to the Avalon 2044 Opto I already have - maybe I'll get lucky and the 2044 will work great for me on 2-bus - though others have said not for them - maybe in my applications it will be just perfect.

Anyway thanks for the input - and I really relate to your approach - it makes TOTAL sense to me to be so inspired - regardless of technical reasons someone may have to disagree.

I think for the most part most engineers these days started as musicians - most are even still primarily musicians who bought some gear and know how to use it to varying degrees - it is just nice to hear of someone still using gear for purely musical reasons - thumbs up
Old 3rd March 2009
  #16
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dhiltonlittle's Avatar
 

i use a hedd 192 on the two buss all of the time with any number of comps or none and a crane song ibis. right now, my 2 channel comps are crane song stc8, api 2500, smart c2, shadow hills MC, and i have a aurora gtc2 on the way (what's the word tony ). they are all great and totally different. if i were just getting into things and had to pick one it would be the 2500.
Old 3rd March 2009
  #17
Gear Addict
 

would you recommend the 2500 for acoustic music? thanks
Old 3rd March 2009
  #18
Gear Nut
 
KingBugsy's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by pianokeys View Post
would you recommend the 2500 for acoustic music? thanks
Yes ... 2500 does give you a lot of control and is very flexable in that sense. Also ... it sounds great!
Old 3rd March 2009
  #19
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dhiltonlittle's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by pianokeys View Post
would you recommend the 2500 for acoustic music? thanks
i would recommend it for anything! it is seriously one of the most versatile comps i've used. and at the price it's damn hard to beat.
Old 5th March 2009
  #20
Gear Addict
 

I just bought a good ssl clone for a good price used from a fellow gs - if in any way possible i will compare it to 2500 and Red 3 - I just neede to find locval users or sellers - or maybe post something here and let one of you fine folks help show the magic of the gear you love!
Old 7th March 2009
  #21
Lives for gear
Glad I'm not alone here, and I'd also have to say that as a mix bus comp. with my Trident Series 80 the Red 3 is the best thing since sliced bread.

I have tried the Smart C1 and C2, and also the API 2500 and they couldn't come close to the Red 3 for my application. I tried all of the recommended settings here on GS for the API 2500, and no matter what i did it sounded dull and lifeless compared to the Red 3.

I set the thresh. at 0, ratio at 1:5:1, attack slow, and release fast to medium fast (depending on the track).

I have found that at just 1-2 db of GR and a little makeup gain, this thing just makes the whole mix sound polished and professional. It adds some kind of magical "sheen" to the whole sound, as well as gluing everything together nicely. Even total novices like my girlfriend could hear that something changed for the worse when I would disengage it without telling her. She'd say something like: "what happened, the song sounds kinda dull now and your voice is not as magical sounding, you're messing it up so stop turning those knobs before you ruin a good thing". Little did she know that all I was doing was testing her ear to see if she could tell that the Red 3 disengaged.

Oh yeah, and by the way I mix "into it" from the very start; so I guess that's why the mix will sound pretty different when it's disengaged.

I'm just curious: what are your settings ?

Now I understand why CLA uses one on his mix bus. This is a very mid forward comp., so that is why I consider it the best for the mix bus. The mids are the all important range in most of today's music!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Marineville View Post
Hi there!

The API5500 is an eq unit and the RED3 is a compressor so I only have the one comp! They two units compliment one another very well.

My RED3 has lived permanently on my mix bus since I bought it twelve years ago. Totally recommend it, very subtle, and at a very low setting it just does 'something' to the mix.

For me the RED3 is completely indispensable.

Old 9th April 2009
  #22
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dhiltonlittle View Post
i have a aurora gtc2 on the way (what's the word tony ).
Let me know what you think of the Aurora. I have one (Australia), the only one as far as I am aware here thus far. I love the sound of it. And the customer service? My god, I cannot describe how unbelievably generous and pleasant they have been - and across the globe, mind you. Over and above stuff...but that's a whole other (long) story. Geoff in my book is not only an obvious gun with these products of his, but a gentleman of the highest order and obviously knows what a customer is. And this is just from impression alone. Anyway, these units are not nearly mentioned here as much as it should be. I use it almost all the time even if the dynamics aren't in the picture...very nice sound. Do a lot of composing strings etc (amongst other things) and I always run them through this baby.

Math is simple: Geoff + Aurora = awesome. Anyone would think I'm on the take with this praise...but I do feel the need to pay respect to a very respectful operaton.
Old 9th April 2009
  #23
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lucey's Avatar
As an aside here ... processing on the 2 mix is 2 mix processing, it's not mastering. Mastering is not processing, processing is a part of what mastering is. Now if you can afford 5-10k for stereo hardware to help your mixes that's great. But your clients can't afford $1000 for mastering? Makes no sense to me. A mixing client, as in a paying customer, can't afford to 'not' have it mastered by a good engineer. Solutions are closer than you think.
Old 9th April 2009
  #24
Gear Head
 

anyone have experience using a neve 2254 over the mix bus?

Quote:
Originally Posted by lucey View Post
As an aside here ... processing on the 2 mix is 2 mix processing, it's not mastering. Mastering is not processing, processing is a part of what mastering is. Now if you can afford 5-10k for stereo hardware to help your mixes that's great. But your clients can't afford $1000 for mastering? Makes no sense to me. A mixing client, as in a paying customer, can't afford to 'not' have it mastered by a good engineer. Solutions are closer than you think.
...says the mastering engineer
Old 9th April 2009
  #25
tekis
Guest
Hmmm...

Wow, I hardly ever get involved with these discussions. I almost always (19 out 0f 20) compress the mix buss. Sometimes I eq it as well. I don't refer to this as "mastering." I go to a mastering engineer for that. Mastering engineers are great because they give you a second opinion and listen to your work in a different room with different speakers. I rarely, if ever, tell them what to do. I wouldn't go to the dentist and tell him which teeth to pull...Although, I'm a fan of the sound of hardware processing, I've heard some good results with plugins and such. I just really hate their interfaces...If it's not going to be a record (ie a demo) then don't get it mastered. IT'S A DEMO. (My mastering engineer said this!) By the way, "pianokeys", I sold those ATC's to a mastering engineer. They were probably too big for your room. The Barefoots are a much hyped speaker here at GS. Truth is, there are many great speakers out there for less $$. Finding one that suits you is the trick. If you think you've got to wait 10 weeks and pony up $7k, then you probably think that, "this mic pre does't accumulate mid-range build-up with multiple overdubs..." Oh and yes, I have used 2254e's on the mix buss with good effect.

Last edited by tekis; 9th April 2009 at 07:13 AM.. Reason: 2254
Old 10th April 2009
  #26
Gear Nut
 

same here... Mastering needs to go to a ME.

That said, I do mix with a comp on the mix bus for some very mild compression. Only for some glue and smooth things out. Not for loudness and brick wall limiting.

Been using a a GML8900 for a few years, but I'm demo'ing a SSL G to see what that's about, and maybe next a 2500.
Old 10th April 2009
  #27
Gear Addict
 

Tekis - thanks for the update - I agree regarding room size for the ATCs

I know one day I'll find the right monitors they just aren't here yet.

Regarding mix compression the TB1 looks interesting...
Old 10th April 2009
  #28
Quote:
Originally Posted by pianokeys View Post
I am also REALLY keen on being inspired by my monitors - though translation remains important - nothing matters more to me as a songwriter / producer than inspiration....but let's not go down that path again - haha
I know you probably don't want to hear it from an ME, but
this is the key to everything right here. Monitors..Full range
On a budget the KH o300s are very good, all though not full range, very accurate and best bang for the buck. Then maybe pick up a sub or two later.

The second is the room acoustics... The reason is, if you can't hear it, you can't fix it no matter what eq and comp your using. Monitor/Translation is key #1

You already have decent conversion, so...

As far as compressors go, there are a lot out there. Tubes are good.

Good tube compressors for mastering:

Requisite L2M.
Manley Vari-mu
Thermionic cullture phoenix
Pendulum OCL2
Tube-Tech CL2a
Gyraf X

and I agree with Brian in that the goal of mastering besides getting a song to stand on it's own is to tie all the songs together on an album with continuity and translation. Good Luck.
Old 10th April 2009
  #29
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wildpark's Avatar
 

tomo lisa also aka the weapon
Old 10th April 2009
  #30
Quote:
Originally Posted by lucey View Post
As an aside here ... processing on the 2 mix is 2 mix processing, it's not mastering. Mastering is not processing, processing is a part of what mastering is. Now if you can afford 5-10k for stereo hardware to help your mixes that's great. But your clients can't afford $1000 for mastering? Makes no sense to me. A mixing client, as in a paying customer, can't afford to 'not' have it mastered by a good engineer. Solutions are closer than you think.
+1

self mastering is like self dentistry
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