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Mastering - starting out with plugins? Dynamics Plugins
Old 10th October 2017
  #1
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Mastering - starting out with plugins?

Hi everyone!

I think this is my first post on the GS mastering forum, so please be gentle

Some time ago my boss asked me to do the mastering work for few of the albums he had recorded and mixed. So I did and it went well, he was very pleased with the results. I have done only handful of mastering gigs earlier (I mostly mix and occasionally track), so I by no means consider myself as an expert. But I have good ears and I work in beautiful sounding rooms, so I feel quite confident as the masters I have done turned out good. Also the years tracking and mixing (and making my own music) really helps here! After these successful endeavours my boss and few of the clients (some of which I have huge respect for) encouraged me to do some more and start offering my services on the mastering field as well.

Now, I've always been fairly considerate making my moves (or not making them) and due to many factors it hasn't been easy for me to jump in on new stuff.. - But this time I see the chance being handed to me on a plate. I trust myself, the main room is awesome, and I get these kind words from some of the biggest pros in my country.

So, it will be all ITB for a while, but if it flies there'll be some hw investments too. But I'd like focus on the near future and possibilities.

I guess I'm looking for words on what to look out for while working ITB.. I'm a huge lover of hardware and hybrid, but last few years I've also happily enjoyed working all ITB too (mixing, that is). Pluginwise, I've seen there are myriads of good plugins to make stuff "loud", but I'm more interested of the texture and space aspects, and of course transparency too!

So I'd be happy to discuss the different sides of ITB/OTB regarding this. Oh, also I have my eye on the Ivory 3, I have also tried it out myself, and I liked it very much, but I'd like to hear opinions from professionals too if possible!


Last edited by ZenMaster; 10th October 2017 at 10:43 AM.. Reason: few typos..
Old 10th October 2017
  #2
There are a handful of praised developers who gets mentioned regularly in this forum. The ones I use personally are for instance DMG's Equilibrium and Limitless, FabFilters ProQ 2 and ProL (although I've replaced ProL with Limitless now), and if necessary I also use their Pro-DS and Pro-MB. Occasionally Slate's VBC and Custom EQ's gets used.
Other plugins I can vouch for in my arsenal is for instance Sonnox Inflator.

Some plugins I intend to try out are TDR's Kotelnikov and Kush's Novatron.

Hope this helps as a starting point.

EDIT: realised that you were more curious about "texture and space" rather than comp's etc. Perhaps you should also look into bx_control v2 for some sound image manipulation
Old 10th October 2017
  #3
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Justin P.'s Avatar
 

I have a hybrid setup but if I had to go all "in the box", it wouldn't be a deal-breaker. In fact, some projects do stay 100% digital here.

I think some essential plugins for all in the box work are:

Vertigo VSM-3 (native from Plugin Alliance or UAD)
FabFilter Pro-Q 2 and Pro-MB
DMG Limitless
Sonnox Inflator
Ampex ATR-102 (UAD)
Brainworx Digital EQ V3
Dangerous BAX EQ (native from Plugin Alliance or UAD)

Then a few options for de-essing in mastering:

Sonnox SurpEsser
DMG Essence
Ozone Dynamics (mid/side mode is great for de-essing)

Also, regardless of being hybrid/ITB, I think RX6 (or at least some comprehensive spectral editor) is essential for today's mastering work. Especially as things are rushed and people are working at home, the amount of clicks, pop, noise, mouth clicks, etc. seems to be getting worse (or maybe I just hear them more now) and I would not want to work without RX6.
Old 10th October 2017
  #4
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You should carefully choose all your tools by ear, either its a ITB setup or hardware chain. His is something that may costs years of experiences (and will never really end).
The Acoustica Audio stuff is quite cool sounding if you are after the tone of good quality analog gear. But even then: a great mastering chain is much more then keeping some audio processors in a rack. And this is where all plug in chains really fails, even the AA stuff. Cool as additional options nevertheless.

If you already have experiences with mastering, just use the tools you already like/own and try to develop your taste/vision/skills. Your tools will follow naturally then over time. No hurry.

Personally I would say if you are really aiming at organic textures with natural depth and effortless and musical transparency theres no way around an additional and well selected analog chain (but nothing to gain here with cheap or easy stuff, so expenses in time and money may become huge).
Old 14th October 2017
  #5
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Thread Starter
Thanks for replies! I'll be busy with family stuff for the next few days so I'll get back more in depth later.
Old 14th October 2017
  #6
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Nothing wrong with plugins.

If I can't make a fantastic sounding master with,

DMG Equilibrium

TC Brickwall Limiter

Sonoris Mastering Compressor


.... I go back to the mix stage!
Old 14th October 2017
  #7
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Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

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The most important investment is monitoring.
Old 15th October 2017
  #8
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Jerry Tubb's Avatar
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
The most important investment is monitoring.
Quoted for truth!

also don't forget the 10,000 hour rule.

jt
Old 19th October 2017
  #9
i do cleanings which need precision and also some "clean" compression in the box
and try to come as close as possible to an "ideal" situation,
where i can say: it sounds pretty cool now...

then I switch to outboards (when needed, and when not classical...) to give the signal
more depth, width, bigness and make it more "organic" sounding.

i find using plugins as a substitution for hw useless (for my personal needs and taste).
It (almost) never satisfies me really!
Old 19th October 2017
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
The most important investment is monitoring.
I'd actually put acoustics before that.. but they both go together so yeah, highly agree.
Old 19th October 2017
  #11
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Acoustics is pretty easy if no isolation is involved.
Old 19th October 2017
  #12
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the unik's Avatar
That's my advice too same as Bob here : Monitors and treated room first.

Also a good advice would be to choose the best plugins you like (nothing wrong with plugins depending HOW you use them though, like everything else) and set them up like an "In the box Mastering console". That might not fit every mind, but I think to stick with the same processors and learn how to deal different mix/situation with the same tools is very important in the learning curve of Mastering audio.
Old 19th October 2017
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
Acoustics is pretty easy if no isolation is involved.
I think you're taking the other acoustic effects of isolation for granted, such as structural resonance behaving like a "multi-band Helmholtz" bass trap (or several Helmholtz traps to be technically correct, since by definition they are tuned to a single frequency with bandwidth as a variable). Without rigid, high-mass surfaces, reflections and even the spectrum of room modes become colored in often very unpleasant ways.

I think you would agree that structural isolation is absolutely fundamental to room acoustics.
Old 19th October 2017
  #14
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I would recommend the Nomad Factory BlueTubes bundle, Overloud Breverb, Sonnox Elite Bundle, SoundToys Decapitator, Flux Syrah and/or Cakewalk Sonar Boost11 Limiter, Sonalksis Dynamic Equalizer, WaveArts PowerSuite 5, Voxengo Span (freeware), SSL Duende Native channel strip, Lexicon PCM Bundle, Brainworx mastering bundle, etc etc. There's a lot out there, but these are the highest quality I've tried for mastering to 44.1kHz 16-bit. There are a few "duds" in some of the bundles but overall most are world-class.

It's too bad Izotope Ozone version 3 and version 5 are no longer available, those were great. I was very disappointed with version 7. Processor hog, a huge step backward in interface "ergonomics", aesthetics and functionality.
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