The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
 All  This Thread  Reviews  Gear Database  Gear for sale     Latest  Trending
Is a mastering chain done one at a time?
Old 20th March 2019
  #1
Gear Maniac
 

Is a mastering chain done one at a time?

Or could the mastering chain be done all at the same time; EQ, compressor and limiter all set then the entire song(s) is passed through the mastering chain?

Or does one usually have to EQ first, then after, compress, then after limit?

My ITB mastering chain is the tc electronic finalizer 96k.
Old 20th March 2019
  #2
Deleted b738100
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by slutbox View Post
Or could the mastering chain be done all at the same time; EQ, compressor and limiter all set then the entire song(s) is passed through the mastering chain?

Or does one usually have to EQ first, then after, compress, then after limit?

My ITB mastering chain is the tc electronic finalizer 96k.
This is a fantastic Topic for the mastering for beginners subforum!

Old 20th March 2019
  #3
Good topic.

The typical "it depends" answer is going to come up here.
Listen to the track. If the track needs "x", then add "x". There's no set way to approach a song or album.

That being said, many ME's will have a standard starting place from which to build upon.

Concerning the order of processing, it all depends too. The sequence of EQ, COMP, EQ, LIMIT may be fairly common, but other orders are not uncommon. Processing does interact with other processing, so order can/does matter. Experiment and have fun.

Listen. Enjoy the process!
Old 22nd March 2019
  #4
Lives for gear
The Finalizer is not a chain. It is a device (if you have the hardware) or a software plug, if it’s available as a plug. Within the device they might have different elements, which they might describe as a a chain.
If you are working ITB, you can do one process at a time if you choose, but most mastering engineers (that Ive seen) don’t work that way. In hardware mastering, the engineer usually has a number of devices that can be individually switched in or out of a chain. Even with a device the engineer almost always uses, there is an AB moment to see if the device sounds good on the particular song.
Doing one device at a time with real devices is not done, in part because it requires multiple DA and AD conversions. With ITB that isn’t an issue.
Old 22nd March 2019
  #5
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by slutbox View Post
Or could the mastering chain be done all at the same time; EQ, compressor and limiter all set then the entire song(s) is passed through the mastering chain?

Or does one usually have to EQ first, then after, compress, then after limit?

My ITB mastering chain is the tc electronic finalizer 96k.

In my mind, you're always going to want to do your mastering chain and processing all at the same time whether working ITB or not. I'm sure someone will point out other reasons, but for me, two big ones would be difficulty in being able to A/B from your starting point (adjusting as needed) and gain staging through the various processes along the way. Can it be done? Sure, I guess, but it seems like you'd be making things unnecessarily difficult and time consuming.
Old 22nd March 2019
  #6
Gear Maniac
 

Great answers. I figured setting up the right eq, compressor, limiter to the right setting to pass the whole album through would probably be more efficient especially when the tracking and mixing were all done the same way.

Especially if ITB. But if one has their mastering gears individually, say a Klark Teknik eq, a golden age project compressor/limiter, is it better to do the mastering chain one at a time or could both gear be linked with each other?

I'm also curious if a speaker compressor/limiter works the same as a mastering compressor/limiter? Are any of these products used for mastering:

Klark Teknik DN504 quad compressor/limiter

OR

Drawmer dual channel compressor DL241
Old 22nd March 2019
  #7
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by slutbox View Post
But if one has their mastering gears individually, say a Klark Teknik eq, a golden age project compressor/limiter, is it better to do the mastering chain one at a time or could both gear be linked with each other?
In a mastering context, I have a hybrid setup... some ITB and some external hardware. I usually do some cleanup (corrective EQ, multiband compression, etc) ITB first, send to my external gear (LTL Silver Bullet and Tegeler Creme) via the 'Pipeline' plugin in Studio One, then back ITB for any final processing and limiting. I'm doing that all at once. For me, the biggest reason is to A/B all changes as I'm going to distinctly know if I'm helping or hurting the track. I use a combination of MeterPlugs Perception (A/B for my whole chain) and ADPTR AUDIO MetricAB (A/B against reference tracks).

I personally couldn't do some parts of the work, export/save, then do other parts separately. It just wouldn't work for me... I have to hear everything put together in context at the same time to make critical judgements as to the overall process. Maybe other people can? Again, that seems like making things overly difficult on yourself, but that's just my opinion.

Hope that helps!
Old 23rd March 2019
  #8
Gear Maniac
 

Yeah I have the hardware version.

Wouldn't devices switched in and out of a chain then mean one is really sort of processing one at a time (or two at a time with compressor/limiter)?

I usually try to track/mix my songs all the same way so that when mastering comes, it works for all songs and not have to be so complicated making adjustments per song while mastering (the process of tweaking I think should be done in the mixing stages).

I think with the Finalizer 96K, A/B'ing is possible ITB, but if I were to get individual mastering gear, must I use a standalone A/B box like the Whirlwind Selector A/B box or something similar?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bushman View Post
The Finalizer is not a chain. It is a device (if you have the hardware) or a software plug, if it’s available as a plug. Within the device they might have different elements, which they might describe as a a chain.
If you are working ITB, you can do one process at a time if you choose, but most mastering engineers (that Ive seen) don’t work that way. In hardware mastering, the engineer usually has a number of devices that can be individually switched in or out of a chain. Even with a device the engineer almost always uses, there is an AB moment to see if the device sounds good on the particular song.
Doing one device at a time with real devices is not done, in part because it requires multiple DA and AD conversions. With ITB that isn’t an issue.
Old 23rd March 2019
  #9
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by slutbox View Post
Yeah I have the hardware version.

Wouldn't devices switched in and out of a chain then mean one is really sort of processing one at a time (or two at a time with compressor/limiter)?

I usually try to track/mix my songs all the same way so that when mastering comes, it works for all songs and not have to be so complicated making adjustments per song while mastering (the process of tweaking I think should be done in the mixing stages).

I think with the Finalizer 96K, A/B'ing is possible ITB, but if I were to get individual mastering gear, must I use a standalone A/B box like the Whirlwind Selector A/B box or something similar?
This is the “mastering for beginners” subforum. It is probably not helpful in this forum to recommend the somewhat expensive Dangerous Liaison switcher, but it is the small studio version of something most fully pro mastering studios use to do AB comparisons and swap equipment order and selection without patching and repatching multiple times. I’m not familiar ith the Whirlwind box.
If your hardware boxes all have “bypass” switches, you can hook them up in a logical order and bypass them selectively. One problem with that is that inexpensive gear seldom has a relay bypass, and “bypass” still goes through some cicuitry in those devices. That circuitry can add a bit of a sound or some noise that may be audible.
Setting up the same mastering chain and settings for every song in a project is a very lame version of mastering. In my years of vinyl mastering I only remember a few projects that had the same settings on every song. One of those was completely untouched by request of the producer, so it really wasn’t mastered at all. The other was an album where I tried a whole bunch of this and that, but in ABing the results, I thought I was just making it a little different, but I wasn’t certain the I was making it better, so I left it alone.
There were a number of albums where the whole album needed the same treatment, usually because it was all mixed in the same room and needed, for example, a little taken down at the same frequency on the bottom and a little added at the same place on the top.
Some albums are made up of very different mixes, sometimes done in different studios by different engineers. Each song needs a different treatment.
Old 25th March 2019
  #10
Gear Maniac
 

But isn't a whole album usually mastered with same setting for its entirety like with a compilation album so that the flow of each song that were recorded different years apart all sound like each song were recorded in the same room at the same time?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bushman View Post
This is the “mastering for beginners” subforum. It is probably not helpful in this forum to recommend the somewhat expensive Dangerous Liaison switcher, but it is the small studio version of something most fully pro mastering studios use to do AB comparisons and swap equipment order and selection without patching and repatching multiple times. I’m not familiar ith the Whirlwind box.
If your hardware boxes all have “bypass” switches, you can hook them up in a logical order and bypass them selectively. One problem with that is that inexpensive gear seldom has a relay bypass, and “bypass” still goes through some cicuitry in those devices. That circuitry can add a bit of a sound or some noise that may be audible.
Setting up the same mastering chain and settings for every song in a project is a very lame version of mastering. In my years of vinyl mastering I only remember a few projects that had the same settings on every song. One of those was completely untouched by request of the producer, so it really wasn’t mastered at all. The other was an album where I tried a whole bunch of this and that, but in ABing the results, I thought I was just making it a little different, but I wasn’t certain the I was making it better, so I left it alone.
There were a number of albums where the whole album needed the same treatment, usually because it was all mixed in the same room and needed, for example, a little taken down at the same frequency on the bottom and a little added at the same place on the top.
Some albums are made up of very different mixes, sometimes done in different studios by different engineers. Each song needs a different treatment.
Old 26th March 2019
  #11
Lives for gear
No. When the original mixes sound too different from each other, mastering everything with the same settings doesn’t make them flow together, it would mostly preserve the differences. It takes different settings on various songs to make the songs flow together without songs sticking out because they are different in level or have different EQ profiles. Sometimes there is one title that sounds exceptionally good, so that becomes the target you try to “bend” the other songs toward.
A lot of overall compression can make the songs seem to be closer to the same level, but that isn’t a very sophisticated use of compression.
Old 29th March 2019
  #12
Gear Maniac
 

I see. So no album is mastered with same setting for each song?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bushman View Post
No. When the original mixes sound too different from each other, mastering everything with the same settings doesn’t make them flow together, it would mostly preserve the differences. It takes different settings on various songs to make the songs flow together without songs sticking out because they are different in level or have different EQ profiles. Sometimes there is one title that sounds exceptionally good, so that becomes the target you try to “bend” the other songs toward.
A lot of overall compression can make the songs seem to be closer to the same level, but that isn’t a very sophisticated use of compression.
Old 29th March 2019
  #13
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by slutbox View Post
I see. So no album is mastered with same setting for each song?
If you re-read my two posts that you replied to, you could see that I’ve mastered a few albums with the same settings for all the songs.
So I didn’t say “No albums are ever mastered with the same settings on every song.”
I said, no, it isn’t a usual result in serious mastering facilities.
In most of the low cost, fixed-fee robot mastering services that spring up and disappear with the seasons, yeah, one size fits all.
Old 30th March 2019
  #14
Gear Maniac
 

Could one ever tell though if each song was mastered individually or the whole album entirely using the same settings?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bushman View Post
If you re-read my two posts that you replied to, you could see that I’ve mastered a few albums with the same settings for all the songs.
So I didn’t say “No albums are ever mastered with the same settings on every song.”
I said, no, it isn’t a usual result in serious mastering facilities.
In most of the low cost, fixed-fee robot mastering services that spring up and disappear with the seasons, yeah, one size fits all.
Old 30th March 2019
  #15
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by slutbox View Post
Could one ever tell though if each song was mastered individually or the whole album entirely using the same settings?
The answer is most times no.
You can’t actually hear the mastering on the finished product unless you can compare it to the source material. What might sound like awful mastering may just be awful source material.
Old 14th April 2019
  #16
Quote:
I figured setting up the right eq, compressor, limiter to the right setting to pass the whole album through would probably be more efficient especially when the tracking and mixing were all done the same way.
I do not agree!

This is why:
One example, The attack and threshold settings on a compressor are set according to a songs tempo and Transients Peaks. But your songs do NOT have the same exact temp and transient peaks. So you cant use the same settings.

Another example is that even if all 10 songs peak at the same dB level, the RMS level will always differ, so your makeup gain for your comp and/or limiter will differ between each song.

another example. Some songs/mixes sound better with the EQ after the comp and some sound better before it. Even if all recorded using the same instruments. Each song will still have its own feel to it.
Old 21st June 2019
  #17
Gear Addict
 
E-Irizarry's Avatar
ITB-OTB DAAD mastering chain

You should start off with ITB mixing with SOTA plugins like X-Noise &/or Brusfri, Soothe, Gullfoss, Ozone 7/8, and A.O.M Invisible Limiter G2.

Now your information (it reproduces sound but it's still in 0's and 1's) sounds good ITB, but due to being in the digital domain it won't translate well to analog systems OTB.

So for the OTB part of the mastering chain technique and workflow, you need a DAC converter to reproduce the digital information as audible signal of 0's and 1's in D->A portion of the workflow for the USB A->D audio interface A change the analog emulations of the electric current in AC, frequency, voltage, wattage, ohmage (impedance), and amperage back into 0's and 1's again (i.e. flushing to a computer music format such as MP3, OGG, FLAC, so-on and so-forth) via outboard gear as old gearsluts used to call it b-k-a nowadays "hardware". Amperage and voltage are not the same. Source: https://sciencestruck.com/amperage-v...age-difference

So get a good digital software program that plays in large asynchronous buffers - default settings will render the jitter box effect and that is obviously very inaudible and totally unacceptable. Whilst on reproduction i.e. playback, have it record via the other sound card of the USB audo interface in realtime via the A->D converter that has Midas or class D crystaline preamps that render pristine clean analog signals back into the digital domain.

That's the best way. Remember this: back in the 90s, illegal African immigrants used to sell mixtapes and what's the fastest way to copy a CD or tape, use the rapid tape reel copiers. 8 times out of 10, it would sound like pure gahbage as my man Gorilla NEMs be sayin'.


Last edited by E-Irizarry; 21st June 2019 at 08:40 PM.. Reason: I forgot to add "ohmage" (or impedance)
Topic:
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz 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…
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Forum Jump
Forum Jump