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Mastering with Plugins Dynamics Plugins
Old 23rd January 2017
  #1
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Mastering with Plugins

Thoughts on Acoustica Audio Titanium ( or other Acqua) for Mastering compression.

Tried this last night and very impressed, always like to get others views though.
I pretty much master my own small budget jobs and do lean on the analog side very heavily mixing wise to tape.

In fact Pro Tools is really for more editing and anything I don't have covered analog wise.

Mastering is pretty much DMG Equalibrium in FIR/ Analog mode and flavour of the day Limiter. Sometimes I don't like any compression just because I can't find one I like.
Old 23rd January 2017
  #2
Have you tried TDR Kotelnikov?
Old 23rd January 2017
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Precision Studio View Post
Have you tried TDR Kotelnikov?
+1 I rarely use compression on the master these days, but when I do this is what I reach for. Incredibly transparent and versatile.
Old 23rd January 2017
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidwilson View Post
Thoughts on Acoustica Audio Titanium ( or other Acqua) for Mastering compression.

Tried this last night and very impressed, always like to get others views though.
I pretty much master my own small budget jobs and do lean on the analog side very heavily mixing wise to tape.

In fact Pro Tools is really for more editing and anything I don't have covered analog wise.

Mastering is pretty much DMG Equalibrium in FIR/ Analog mode and flavour of the day Limiter. Sometimes I don't like any compression just because I can't find one I like.
Kotelnikov´s great, of course and it makes a nice pair with the Aquamarine3.
The A3 is the most exciting mastering comp in the Aqua-range, imho.
Great for grooveshaping and adding colour with its different preamps.
It´s basically an SH mastering comp design (VCA+Opto) but with improved flexibility.
Old 23rd January 2017
  #5
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Thanks, I must admit I am a little causious in considering the Kotelnikov being a free plugin but probably should give it a go.
The Acqua range is very impressive and still relatively cheap though am happy to pay for quality .
Old 23rd January 2017
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by davidwilson View Post
Thanks, I must admit I am a little causious in considering the Kotelnikov being a free plugin but probably should give it a go.

Next time, we'll make sure to price it above the competition, and strike it through "just for a limited amount of time"

Last edited by FabienTDR; 24th January 2017 at 07:55 PM..
Old 23rd January 2017
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidwilson View Post
Thanks, I must admit I am a little causious in considering the Kotelnikov being a free plugin but probably should give it a go.
The Acqua range is very impressive and still relatively cheap though am happy to pay for quality .
Give me a call, I sell you mine for only 199 $. Paypal accepted.
Old 23rd January 2017
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidwilson View Post
Thanks, I must admit I am a little causious in considering the Kotelnikov being a free plugin but probably should give it a go.
The Acqua range is very impressive and still relatively cheap though am happy to pay for quality .
You might also be cautious of TDR's fantastic eq's too.
Old 24th January 2017
  #9
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Thanks Gorka

The Acquamarine 3 is pretty much what I am looking for, infact I have the UAD version but it's terrible so that may have put me off trying it.
I thought the Titanium would be hard to beat though.
Funny thing is that it kind of proves my theory on pricing to be correct ... Unfortunatly :(

Sorry Kotelnikov guys, I really tried, it is a good transparent plugin though.
Old 24th January 2017
  #10
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Why is this thread in the Mastering forum? Maybe Low End Theory? Mastering for Beginners?
Old 24th January 2017
  #11
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Originally Posted by robert82 View Post
Why is this thread in the Mastering forum? Maybe Low End Theory? Mastering for Beginners?
Plug-ins aren't low end. Most are more hi-tech, and have much better specs than vintage analog equipments from the past millenium. Ah ! they aren't expensive enough to be high end, just spend this money in acoustic treatment.
Old 24th January 2017
  #12
I'm with Laurend. You can spend a lotta dough on plugs... All tolled I suspect I've spent more on DAWs and plugs than I spent on hardware (of which I still have plenty). The fact that someone mentioned a free plug in doesn't make the whole thread low-end. Tools are tools.
Old 25th January 2017
  #13
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Titanium is very good. I tried it and liked it a lot. I have kotelnikov and I don't use it much. I like the drawmer s73. I had the 1973 and sold it to fund limitless. S73 does the same job for me and I like it more than titanium.
Old 25th January 2017
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by robert82 View Post
Why is this thread in the Mastering forum? Maybe Low End Theory? Mastering for Beginners?
Maybe you have missed something in the recent digital evolutions ^^
Old 25th January 2017
  #15
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The Acustica Audio stuff is great, for sure. Maybe the closest you can get to hi end analog. While I do not want to abadon to a small handfull of well chosen plug ins in daily work, the only reason for using things like AAs (or other analog simulations) stuff is just saving money. But the diff to a well made analog chain is to big in my ears to justify their use in professional mastering. Mastering music is not about doing unnecessary compromises, isnt it?
Saying this, I sometimes use them as a "special effect" for the boxtone sound where a certain piece of gear does not justify the expense to use the real thing.
Old 25th January 2017
  #16
What's missing in this conversation about low-end/beginners is acknowledgement (or awareness?) that there are many things you can do in plug-ins that are not possible (any more, or in some cases at all) in hardware. For instance, I'm not aware of any analog bias recovery and correction hardware, even though the tool's need is entirely a product of analog media. There is no hardware ReNOVAtors, even if you believe this to be "low end", it does things hardware cannot do. I find uHe's Satin dolby/dbx decoders far more useful than my rack mounted analog Dolby/DBX decoders, mostly because you can tweak and adjust what it's doing in ways you can't in the hardware (correcting specific defects that affect Dolby B or C decoding in spec configuration). etc.

We're just now getting to the point where plugins are not merely sonically equalling or exceeding analog tools (e.g. my Sontec is not in regular use these days), but are finally approaching them ergonomically. Screens like Slate's Raven are the most familiar example. I use an application called Duet to extend my Mac desktop onto an iPad, which allows me to tweak knobs with multi-touch. A big limitation of DAWs for me has always been that you can only point-click one control at a time, serially. With touchscreen controls, we're restoring roof for manual dexterity, and more free-form tweaking (peek over at the Scott Hull thread -- Scott explains the problem better than I can, when he talks about working with plugs).

As the tools approach equity in functionality, new doors have begun to open. I think the entire Algorithmix and FabFilter lines push such limits, sonically speaking, so it's not just interface and ui/ux, but it's that too. Slate's Revival, Bomber, their Custom Series EQ (which I actually don't like much sonically), and to a lesser degree FG-X all have weird asymmetrical parameters... when you cut or boost or turn knobs they do different things entirely, with changes not limited to the knobs labelling. They make some bold assumptions -- I like to call this shift "objective-oriented" parameters -- they're named to describe the functionality and sound, engaging many complex, non-linear and inter-related processes under a single, simple flag. Dynamic spectrum mapping of Paul Frindle's DSM II is more conventionally labelled than the Slate stuff, but no less complexity is masked by it's controls... it does things other devices with the same or similar controls cannot.

There's some crossover here too. For instance, hardware L2 is no less complex than DSM II plug (or the L2 software version). Elysia has some boxes that fit this definition... maybe even the entire UAD line (in which case Metric Halo +DSP becomes a crossover too!).
Old 25th January 2017
  #17
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When mastering I use some variation of the SSL buss compressor in the usual "tickle the meter" setting to get more cohesion in the stereo image. I may also use a capture from the Thermionic The Pheonix on Acustica Nebula to smooth out gain and provide a bit of dynamic saturation which helps to fill out the sound.
Old 26th January 2017
  #18
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Thanks everyone some great input.

Like I say i am very biased towards analog but feel when it comes to mastering I get very good results using good digital. Often that maxes out the CPU haha, but to insinuate it's low end a little silly now days i think.
Old 26th January 2017
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Davis View Post
As the tools approach equity in functionality, new doors have begun to open.
Especially when it comes to advanced techniques you can get from the likes of Celemony, oek-sound, TDR, Zynaptiq, Soundradix, etc.

But still, good vintage inspired emulating tools like the Aquas can also add a nice flavour to an otherwise analog setup, as JP also mentioned.

2 plugins I dearly love in that range are the 2 K&H emulations Emerald (UE1000) and the Lindell TE 100 (UE 100).

I ´ve only used a real UE-1000 once (amazing) and will give my right kidney for a fully functioning pair of UE-100s .

I must admit, in these cases it´s a methadon kind of thing for me ...
Old 26th January 2017
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Self mastering is not mastering...
Old 26th January 2017
  #21
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Originally Posted by Analogue Mastering View Post
Self mastering is not mastering...
Always a nice topic to discuss but in this case the op asked a detailed question.

That´s why I felt obliged to answer without my usual moralizing undertone.

But somebody had to jump in, I fully understand .
Old 26th January 2017
  #22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Davis View Post
We're just now getting to the point where plugins are not merely sonically equalling or exceeding analog tools (e.g. my Sontec is not in regular use these days), but are finally approaching them ergonomically. Screens like Slate's Raven are the most familiar example. I use an application called Duet to extend my Mac desktop onto an iPad, which allows me to tweak knobs with multi-touch. A big limitation of DAWs for me has always been that you can only point-click one control at a time, serially. With touchscreen controls, we're restoring roof for manual dexterity, and more free-form tweaking (peek over at the Scott Hull thread -- Scott explains the problem better than I can, when he talks about working with plugs).
I lean heavily on plugins when mixing and for certain applications in Mastering. For overall tone shaping though, I still have found that on a sonic level, in my opinion, the right (user defined) analog tools deliver the goods in that familiar way that those who know and are used to "that sound" and reaction.

Personally speaking I wouldn't suggest that plugins are close to or equal to analog, like anything they're just another tool in the shed, but not the same. And certainly not one better than the other.

But if one is looking for the real thing, then there is no substitute. It's akin to Ice Cream or Rice Dream. 99% of the emulations that I've done either A/B comparisons or simply know the gear intimately, although on a certain level seductive to have, they're simply not the real deal.

But as many have pointed out, certain digital tools excel in ways that analog could never hold up to. I'm not really arguing for or against anything per say, it's more a thing of plugins do not replace analog gear for those who lean heavily on needing the genuine article, whether for tone or ergonomics, it's a personal thing. And yet one can't expect an analog eq to be a plugin. They both have their strengths and weaknesses.
Old 26th January 2017
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidwilson View Post
Thanks, I must admit I am a little causious in considering the Kotelnikov being a free plugin but probably should give it a go.
The Acqua range is very impressive and still relatively cheap though am happy to pay for quality .
I wish I had found Kotelnikov before spending a **** ton on various compressors. Bought the GE edition simply because Fabien deserves income for such a powerful product. Worth it for level matching alone however, and I'm only just starting to play with the other advanced stuff.
Old 26th January 2017
  #24
Where analog has always excelled for me has been ergonomics and efficiency, maybe consistency too. Certainly stability (well, aside from tube gear). Old UA high and low pass cutting filters from the vinyl era are really sweet, handy and often cheap too... they are simpler/faster to set up than Slate Air/Earth (21st century versions of the same kinda thing), from scratch. For complex stuff, plugins have a lot of functional/feature benefits, but for day to day work the limitations of great analog gear (e.g. fixed eq frequencies, vs continuously variable ones) save a lot of time AND add quality by baking in 50-100 years of real world experience with workflow. That's not unobtainium in the plug in world, but works against designers in the market (e.g. TDR Slick EQ M's pre-defined Q values, which may be perfect, but seem weird in a continuously variable Q market... inevitably reviewers and noobs will gripe about what may be a time-saving feature). Look at Waves L3: A lot of unnecessary controls for something that sounds less-good than it's forebear L2 (I used a hardware L2 for a short time as my catch converters for my analog chain, L3 seemed like a sonic downgrade and time waster). Until recently, being able to grab 2 big, fat knobs and turn at same time while eq'ing was a reason to go analog... you can turn however many you can touch. Until this year, that kept me in the analog world. Now I can do the same with fingertips, if the plugin gui is displayed on a multi-touch surface... so that gaps narrowing too. Duet + iPad multi-touch are making me look a lot harder at other things.

Quote:
Originally Posted by engmix View Post
But if one is looking for the real thing, then there is no substitute. It's akin to Ice Cream or Rice Dream. 99% of the emulations that I've done either A/B comparisons or simply know the gear intimately, although on a certain level seductive to have, they're simply not the real deal.
I dunno... while there's wide variation of emulations, and I'd agree with you in most cases (T-Racks being a favorite whipping boy of mine wrt fidelity to original hardware, but Waves has some stinkers too), the gap has been closed dramatically with new methods. This is no longer the "Q-Clone" static convolution tattoo era... UAD, Metric Halo, and Slate models are pretty impressive performers vs original targets. I'm sure there are others, but those are the ones that I've tried and used. Many current non-linear, dynamic modeling approaches perform sonically within the range of normal variation between units manufactured, imo/ymmv. No one wants to hear this less than me, a guy with an original Sontec/ITI Mastering EQ, but the fact is I use it less and less (lately taking it back out of the patch after firing it up as often as I leave it in!). There's a flip side: I'd never be able to afford, or maybe even find, a "real" Pultec, but I use Pultec-alike plugins all the time because I can. It's interesting to see how far the concept's been developed since the idea appeared in the middle of the 20th century -- a lot of plugins use the concept as a launching point to do something else entirely. I don't feel the need to add one of the wonderful new Pultecs, clones and other passive designs because what I have sounds great. All I know is I'm glad to have it around.

And then there's "objective oriented" tools that don't emulate any analog device, but instead offer analogish features to offer the same qualities we like, in a more controllable way. Waves L2 was one of the first good examples of this. The Threshold control is doing a whole lot more than just changing a limiter's threshold, it's more of a loudness knob (later on Waves would make EXACTLY that)... I'm looking forward to demoing TDR SlickEQ M, and it's "inductor" switch, which of course isn't a transformer, but an algorithm that dynamically distorts the waveform in a similar way. But I digress -- my point is there are some things that are plug-in only (certain kinds of de-noising, ), but ever fewer and fewer in the other direction.

A some previously impossible things have happened lately. For instance today it's not unusual for a copy to be closer to a source than the original recording, by subtraction alone. I'm not saying "better" or talking about euphonics, I'm referring to fidelity. Wow and flutter can be removed. Noise can be subtracted, gaps in waveform can be restored (As an equation: "something" informed by surrounding signal > click or pop > "nothing" or "noise-only" of a drop out : fidelity).

All of which is to say I think we've reached rough parity, sonically. There remain functional and ergonomic benefits in different directions, but those are narrowing or some mere commercial quirks. Going forward, the battle for plugins will be to continue improving the ergonomics while maintaining hard-won quality (Ludwig's Dictum: Digital -- never turn your back on it!). I no longer choose either domain for quality or sonic reasons (in my circumstances, I don't have to).

as always imo/ymmv

Last edited by Dave Davis; 27th January 2017 at 05:57 PM..
Old 27th January 2017
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidwilson View Post
Thanks, I must admit I am a little causious in considering the Kotelnikov being a free plugin but probably should give it a go.
The Acqua range is very impressive and still relatively cheap though am happy to pay for quality .
I've said it before, but TDR's "Nova" dynamic eq is one of my most used plugins of the last year. I really should upgrade to the paid version - I don't NEED to, but it should be a paid plugin as is!
Old 27th January 2017
  #26
Quote:
Originally Posted by psycho_monkey View Post
I've said it before, but TDR's "Nova" dynamic eq is one of my most used plugins of the last year. I really should upgrade to the paid version - I don't NEED to, but it should be a paid plugin as is!
+1 for the tip. I've just been playing with it and have found it really powerful. I've got a couple other dynamic eq's but in the plugin world this one's special. It definitely does "clean and clinical" dynamic eq better than Ozone, and is a lot easier to set up than doing as Waves suggests (use C4 or LinMB as "dynamic eq" multi band compressors). As for the free thing, it's a good policy: I'll almost certainly buy it eventually for the minor differences (no sonic compromises, just more set up flexibility).

I like the whole parallel topology. I'm demoing Slick EQ M too, but honestly it's got a much tougher row to hoe, as I have an embarrassing array of options already, and nowhere near enough projects to use them all. Ditto compressors (though the smart, elegant, good-sounding experience with Nova has lead me to try Kotelnikov too, I'm still barely up to speed with Pressworks and DSM2 on that front, so it will take awhile to get there).

Great stuff Fabian! I concur with the crowd: your stuff's worth more than you're charging! Great value, better sound. I've been doing lots of testing as mentioned above, so this is top of mind at the moment.
Old 27th January 2017
  #27
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Originally Posted by psycho_monkey View Post
I've said it before, but TDR's "Nova" dynamic eq is one of my most used plugins of the last year. I really should upgrade to the paid version - I don't NEED to, but it should be a paid plugin as is!
* Downloads Nova *

Might have to grab Slick EQ Mastering Edition too. Looks fantastic.
Old 27th January 2017
  #28
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Originally Posted by Analogue Mastering View Post
Self mastering is not mastering...
Yeah. Sure. :-( Just like self-sex is not sex?
Old 28th January 2017
  #29
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Originally Posted by whiteaxxxe View Post
Yeah. Sure. :-( Just like self-sex is not sex?
Same room
Same monitoring
Same artist bias
You will get no other results than when just finishing the mix.

Last edited by Analogue Mastering; 28th January 2017 at 07:42 AM..
Old 28th January 2017
  #30
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Originally Posted by Analogue Mastering View Post
Same room
Same monitoring
Same artist bias
You will get no other results than when just finishing the mix.
Generally true but it depends on the person and the experience - as always.

When I write and/or mix a song, I use a different mindset.
With the knowledge of 10 years as an ME, of course but with a very different attitude.
It´s more about intuition than control, i´d say.

When I do the masters of those songs -certainly not on the same day, a week later if possible- I work on it as if it was done by someone else.
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