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Mastering With AirWindows Plugins: Techniques/Tips Equalizer Plugins
Old 26th August 2018
  #1
Mastering With AirWindows Plugins: Techniques/Tips

This topic is dedicated to aiwindows plugins, but may also cover combinations of them being used along with other plugins.

We're covering techniques, ideas, ordering of plugins in your mastering chain (or on your master-buss in your mixes), tips, tricks, and "special sauces," so to speak.

I want to know what your "go to" tools are, how and when you use them, and where they are usually placed in your mastering chain. I want to know what other (non airwindows) plugins that you use in combination with them. I want to know what non-airwindows plugins have been either replaced by specific airwindows tools [or combinations there of]. And, I want to know what non-airwindows tools you would frequently do A/B tests to see which sounds best on particular songs. Additionally, which tools and settings have you found to be generally useful on which types of songs (genre types, dark or brilliant, sharp, dynamic and transient; or smooth and compressed, etc).

I am also particularly interested in unconventional use of plugins that may not have been intended for mastering (but in some cases, work in very specific ways... how and when they might work). Does your mastering rack ever include parallel processing of any type? Do you use tools like bluecat's MB-7 to apply broadband effects to specific bands? Lay it out, here... but try to focus specifically on airwindows tools, and combinations of them.

I'll post some things that I have tried, and I'll post some things that I may or may not stick to, as my "go to" methods that will be used in many cases.

I will lead with a useful link, which has some methods for mastering (or master busses):

http://beatdruid.com/index.php?title..._Sauce_Recipes

It seems that those ones are ones that the legendary Chris J. has approved of...

I will first say that I discovered airwindows about a month ago, and many of the tools are replacing other high quality options that I've used for some time.

An example:
NotJustAnotherDither has replaced Ozone 8's MBIT+ dither. This is the tool that led me to discover airwindows (googled "best dither vst plugin 2018, and magically... the 8th non-ad link was not the usual misinformation that google tends to spit out, as of the last 2 years or so).

As for excitement, this is really the area that I want to focus my studies on... over the next few months, with airwindows (and comparing the airwindows options to other tools that I've grown to love). What to apply, when to apply it, why, and how. These are my questions for excitement. I have some fairly decent ideas... but, my general lazy way of approaching this is to test out several of my favorite broadband exciters and then pick 1 to 3 of them that sound best by themselves or in combination... also to try different routings, such as tape before tube or visa-versa.

One exciter that I am SUPER EXCITED about is the spiral2 plugin. I'd say that it even sounds better, in many cases, than any analog exciter that I've heard signal poor out of, but I'll admit that I may be biased with this statement. It just sounds so dang... how to say it... PERFECT. Of course, as with any exciter, a little goes a long way... and its VERY EASY to do too much.

A method that I often find myself doing is this:
1) Push a limiter's settings until it sounds "bad" or "distorted in a bad way." ... (which, by the way, if you think it sounds distorted [in a bad way], it usually means that some freak like me feels that it sounds better than it ever has)!!

2) Bring it down gradually until it is no longer distorting.

3,A) Usually, continue to bring the effect amount and/or drive knobs down, gradually more and more, after it has passed the "no longer audibly distorting point"... then A/B it on/off... with gain matched if easily available, or sometimes manually gainmatched with airwindows purestgain plugin (or, rarely bitshiftgain + purestgain). Then, keep A/B'ing it and turning it down further, until I can either no longer hear the difference, or I can barely hear the difference. At this stage [call it the sexy stage], I'll try to find the spot where it clearly sounds "better" when it is on. With my own music, I'd quite often leave it here, turn the dry/wet down and consider it to be the magical setting (but my music is weird and I can push extremes and call a turd a rainbow if I want)... but for most other cases... I'll turn down the effect amount and/or drive knob a tad more, then turn down the dry/wet knob from 100% to 3-23% (usually below 11%, if another saturator is added)... and boom, thats usually the magic setting that works for most cases of mastering. Finally, I will A/B it some more and try to ensure that I either can't hear the difference, or that I can barely hear the difference. If it sounded good at a slightly higher setting, then that is a good indicator that when I can't notice the difference between the effect on or off... whatever it is adding is usually good.

I'll often do that with 0-3 more saturation plugins of different types and try to get away with as much as I possibly can, with a smaller % of wet signal being used, and without destroying stuff too much [this also depends on how much time I want to spend on it, and I find that it is very often the case that if I spend more than an hour trying exciters (or perhaps more than 30 minutes) then I hit a wall, to where I am only making things worse, the more I do. Always do more A/B tests with eyes closed, when other effects are active... adjust settings according to how it sounds.

It is worthy to note, that a lot of the time... when I find the setting that I think I will leave it at (where just above that setting, it sounded better to my ears, but at this setting I can't tell if its on or off), I will turn the effect back to 100% dry/wet, turn up the effect amount and/or drive knob a tad, and then listen closely to specific aspects of the sound. I ask myself if it adds a warm or dark character of harmonics, and if they sound bad in any specific areas of the frequency spectrum, or if it sounds overly compressed in any areas. If I can pinpoint where it sounds worse, at any stage... or even if I think it might sound worse on the highs...

3,A (part 2, also applies to 3,B) I then consider either not using that plugin and trying some others (always try others)... and I consider whether I would want to try out some sort of parallel processing chain [please refrain yourself from telling me that his is "wrong," "incorrect," or "stupid," as I have heard it all already! This processing type involves applying the effect to a specific frequency range... if parallel processing is considered, then I ask myself whether its worth trying at all... if I feel adventurous, I might try it... but I will keep in mind the fact that any parallel processing (that I know of) is going to result in some type of bleed through around crossover points... and the fact that summing two signals together is really NOT a process that is a normal mastering engineer would even consider doing. I try to save this for tracks that are either experimental/glitch/noise/ambient, or ones in which a client asked me to do a lot of coloring to. This brings me to a side note, which is that I want a plugin that acts like bluecat's mb-7 but has true 100% brickwall filters that prevent absolutely all bleed through (ask for a link if you want details about this idea).

3,B) Sometimes, I'll want it to add the distortion character... but just a little bit. So, instead of continuing to lower the pre-drive and effect amount, as in 3,A... I get it to where I can barely hear any distortion, and then turn it up just a tad. In this case, I'll turn down the dry/wet knob much further than I would normally in 3,A. This is probably something that I would want to be applied, more often than not, to only a specific frequency range (such as "where the kicks live," or "where the kick's first harmonics live," etc).

I'll end up using ozone's exciter, in many cases where I want multiband processing... instead of building my own parallel processing rack within my DAW or within bluecat's patchwork & my choice of broadband processors to apply. One thing that is note-worthy, is that IF I use my own parallel chain to implement broadband plugins to specific bands, THEN I will still usually hit the "learn" button in ozone's exciter and take note of where it choses to separate the bands. Then, if I want to put "tube on the lows," then I'll make my own version of their band for just the lows (some times, I will adjust the crossover point and use some math so that its still going along with what ozone had suggested). It is also worthy to note that Ozone will suggest different crossover points at different sections of any given song [especially if the song changes in key or the harmonic chord structures vary from part to part]. In this case, I'll admit that I usually stay "lazy," (or perhaps I manage my time better) and I pick the part of the song that feels like the main part (or loudest "drop" area, whatever)... and use ozone's suggested crossover points for that section, for the entire track. SOMETIMES, I will take the extra step, and use different exciters at different stages of a song, and draw in automation to turn them on or off, when they're necessary. This step is a big pain in the butt, but it does provide a better result... most of the time. Side note: an engineer buddy of mine showed me how he would drag knobs & record automation of effects, most specifically EQ effects... when that was completely necessary. I usually do less with static EQ, now that I have extremely an efficient dynamic EQ tool (ozone)... and so this drawing in of EQ settings is much less necessary, nowadays. One thing that I'll say about Ozone's exciter is that... yea, its great.. but the "tape" isn't the best sounding tape, and the same goes for other settings... the specifics of their character are not as adjustable as many of these broadband plugins that we see (emulators of analog stuff, mostly in tape offerings, can get VERY complex but when dialed in just right... wow, what a difference 5 hours makes... or if you REALLY know your tool well, less than 30 minutes maybe). I had found a "sweet spot" that worked with Waves Abbey Roads, last year... for example. It pretty much always worked, and it added a flavor that was specific to my mastering work.

Oh.... and now that I've mentioned bluecat's patchwork... I should mention something that is more all about airwindows. In case you didn't know, patchwork works 100% perfectly with airwindows plugins, and the creators of bluecat's & airwindows worked closely together to ensure that this is 100% solid. The result? Thank you Chris, and name of bluecat's creator in which I do not know. In my case, the smoothness of the knobs that patchwork offers with airwindows plugins is far superior to the sliders that Ableton does. Also, the names of parameters are 100% accurate as far as matching what they are in Logic Pro X (and in Chris J's youtube airwindows videos). I noticed a few parameters and effects settings being called alternate names, within ableton's offerings. Also, bluecat's works in any DAW, and it hosts VST plugins inside of cubase, etc. I am unsure if it plays back or processes at oversample x4, such as an alternate tool called DDMF Metaplugin. I've also heard that DDMF is more CPU friendly. There are a few other alternatives to bluecat's patcwork (and/or MB-7). I'll list them, below:

audiovitamin contra
DDMF metaplugin *heard good things about this*
Chainer
Plogue Bidule *heard good things about this*

Another tool that might be useful for this type of processing power would be:
Silent Way by Expert Sleepers
(but I am unsure about this one)



OK... "gone off on tangent about excitement ends now."

Other here are some other note-worthy things I have tried out, with airwindows (and I have a LOT to learn about them, and need to do a LOT of fiddling around with them).

I've slapped console5buss on the beginning of my mastering chain (not something that is really intended, but sometimes can help). I've tried putting console5channel at the beginning and console5buss towards the end of my chain... and can't say whether that can work or not.

I've used desk, tubedesk, and transdesk, before or after different saturators... before or after EQ's [especially additive coloring EQ's].

I've slapped capacitor before tube emulators and/or spiral2 (not something that is intended, and can't say as to whether it ever works or not... but it seemed to work in one case, so far).

I've placed desk after tube types of saturators and before tape types.

I've tried using bitshiftgain and/or purestgain and/or purestdrive to either lower gain by 6 or 12 dB before going into a tube or tape type saturator (and raise it back by 6 or 12 after), making the effect more subtle. I've done the opposite and pushed it above clipping with bitshiftgain and/or purestgain and/or purestdrive, before saturators/exciters. Note: usually, subtle works best in mastering... but not always.

I've switched from kazrog kclip 3 (demo'd) to ADClip (mostly because my CPU struggles with kclip's oversampling). I can get away with audio playback at the "3" setting in kclip's oversampling, with no other effects active. When I render, at the "5" setting... ableton gets hung up for over 6 hours, when audio is rendered... something like "analyzing master," and "converting master." Even, if the bit depth/sample rate are the same as the project and same as audio card settings... I'll try out that NC-17 or whatever I want to get my feet dirty.

SubsOnly and SlewOnly have become go-to tools for monitoring things. I'll be definitely using them on parallel chains and mixing in with dry signals, when I get to focusing on mixing... or, perhaps during times when I try to get creative with mastering and do things "wrong," just to see what results are. Probably wouldn't be something that I'd actually do in a mastering chain that is serious... as their are better ways to beef up lows & highs, when it comes to a master buss.

Today, I realized that the Wider plugin is very likely to end up in almost all of my mastering chains.

Another thing I have started to play with is using bluecat's patchwork with MB-7's inside of it... and as many parallel chains on specific bands as possible, with effects that aren't meant for mastering, and their parameter settings pushed to beyond the point of "that sounds very bad," ... to the point of (to my ears) ... "that sounds friggin amazing." This sort of creative play, is something I want to spend a good amount of time on... to come up with some combo's that you'd think are jokes... but they actually work. Wish me luck... lol.


Ok... enough of my random ideas and practices. I want to hear from the pro's (and the "creative heads")!!
Old 26th August 2018
  #2
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I am not really interested in any of the colouration/saturation/compression AirWindows plugins, as I have all that covered with the analogue chain. It has always (so far) beat out plugins in A/B comparisons. That goes for all plugins, not just AW.

For clipping I was using Spiral for a month but then went back to StandardCLIP as it sounded much more neutral to me at the same amount of GR. I never use clipping for 'sound', only for a slight increase in average level, usually no more than 1.5dB on the highest peak, and I want it to be as transparent as possible. StandardCLIP at 96kHz, with Hard Clip, all the filter settings cranked to max, and 32x OS is pretty hard to beat for transparency.

The only one I find myself using every day is NJAD. It hasn't come off the feed to the analogue chain or the final client renders since it came out. Just seems to sound more natural/analogue than the other options I have tried over the years (Sonoris, TB and iZotope).

I've tried a lot of other AW plugins out over the last couple of years, but the main thing that stops me from using them in a mastering context, despite the fact they they sound great, is the very non-intuitive scales they use. E.g. I want to be able to set a HPF to a specific Hz, or adjust the Sum/Difference levels to a specific dB. When you only have a scale that goes from 0 to 100, or -100 to +100, it makes it impossible to set them to specific places. Of course you can just use your ears, and it's great that they encourage you to do this, but I like to know the specific figures as it helps me build up a "mental map" of what works on particular tracks, that I refer back to all the time, and is cross applicable to other plugins that use the proper gauges of parameters. This is why Hermepass hasn't replaced my HPF of choice, and Voxengo MSED hasn't been replaced by the various stereo plugins AW offers.

Another annoyance is the fact that RX won't load GUI-less plugins. I know it's not AW's fault, but I rely on RX a lot, and am unable to use AW plugs with it.

Sorry for all the gripes, I love Chris and AW and think what he is doing is amazing, I just question how suitable a lot of them are for professional mastering use, due to the non-standard readouts and lack of GUI. Hopefully when more become open source, someone far cleverer than me will put them into an AW mastering suite with GUIs etc. I could also just be very stuck in my ways...

Plugins I use daily in mastering:
mda Test Tone
TDR Slick EQ M
Sonoris Meter
AirWindows NJAD
Voxengo SPAN
Voxengo MSED
DMG Limitless
SIR Audio Tools StandardCLIP

Plugins I occasionally use in mastering:
Sknote DolA
DMG EQuilibrium
TDR DeEdger

Plus the hardware chain (deets on my web site).
Old 26th August 2018
  #3
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hermetech Mastering View Post

Plugins I use daily in mastering:
mda Test Tone
TDR Slick EQ M
Sonoris Meter
AirWindows NJAD
Voxengo SPAN
Voxengo MSED
DMG Limitless
SIR Audio Tools StandardCLIP

Plugins I occasionally use in mastering:
Sknote DolA
DMG EQuilibrium
TDR DeEdger

Plus the hardware chain (deets on my web site).
Interesting choice, on the DMG Limitless and EQuilibrium. I did use EQuilibrium for around 1 month, last year. I found Pro-Q 2 to be more user friendly, but I'm unsure about which one sounds better, or more clean. I never ventured towards Limitless. I studied limiters a little bit over a year ago. Through iZotope's tests for accuracy that involves true peaks. A lot of good ones scored over 87% or 95%, but only one other was 100% like Ozone's was (last year). That was Voxengo Elephant, surprisingly. I used to bust out the Elephant when I need something with low CPU, but now Ozone whipped out the IRC LL... and so I don't need to install Voxengo on the newly acquired (used) computer.

De-Edger sounds interesting. Haven't heard of Skynote.

iZoptope Insight is one that I use every day that I do mastering. Also, tonal balance. Insight replaced SPAN and the bluecat's/other visual que's, but I probably should practice using more than one of those tools. I have found Insight to be extremely accurate, all though a bit CPU intensive. Tonal Balance brings it to another level, implementing something that is much like short-term LUFS across the frequency spectrum. Ozone is still at the top of my list for many things, and about a year ago I was still pushing myself to only use their maximizer/exciter. When I lost my other computer, it forced me to rebuild on a slow computer... and so I gave Ozone a shot. I have to say, I should have started using it 3 or 4 years ago... but I was too stubborn.

Back to airwindows, I do have to say that I am very impressed with the types of HPF's and LPF's, as well as other filtering types of things... that are EQ or are along the lines of being EQ'ish. I've not really found a better sounding HPF than Waves H-EQ. Its very precise, and doesn't alter the audio above the point at which the curve starts (like linear phase EQ's do). Never had luck with Pro-Q 2, as far as HPF's (all though I do use it to shape sides, I do more steps of MONO'izing bass just to be sure). Before H-EQ became the go-to, Waves Linear Lowband EQ was the one. Can't comment on EQuilibrium. I may end up using airwindows things, for the purpose of dealing with the lows and highs. ToVinyl seems to do a great job. Gotta look into some of the others.
Old 26th August 2018
  #4
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Cool!!
Old 26th August 2018
  #5
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EQuilibrium is the best software EQ ever, IMO, but I just prefer the usability of Slick EQ M. Both sound great.

Used Elephant for years but not used it once since Limitless came out, except to check again occasionally. Limitless is always able to do the same amount of GR with more transparency.

DeEdger is great, check the demo. I don't use it often but sometimes nothing else will do.

I'm the only person I know using SKnote DolA in mastering. Secret weapon for muddy/mid heavy mixes.

Have had Insight since I upgraded to RX Advanced years ago, but TBH find it total overkill and never use it. Only use SPAN for lining up tones on the non-stepped hardware. Not a huge meter person (generally blank the screen when tweaking settings), although do love my hardware VUs!

Forgot to add DigitalFishPhones Spitfish to the "occasional" list. That and MSED can be a killer combo for De-Essing.
Old 26th August 2018
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hermetech Mastering View Post
despite the fact they they sound great, is the very non-intuitive scales they use. E.g. I want to be able to set a HPF to a specific Hz, or adjust the Sum/Difference levels to a specific dB. When you only have a scale that goes from 0 to 100, or -100 to +100, it makes it impossible to set them to specific places. Of course you can just use your ears, and it's great that they encourage you to do this, but I like to know the specific figures as it helps me build up a "mental map"
I agree with this. I've noticed the same thing. The only way to really learn them well is to keep using SINE Wave generators and looking at what happens at various settings... pain in the butt. It does offer a benefit, by being so vague. It forces you to listen, and stop using your eyes. This allows you to focus on the sound. I do, however, rely on my visual que's A LOT. But, its a habit that I would like to break. The ears can be retrained by this forcing of the ears to be the only tool, and then using things with visual que's to allow yourself to realize what you thought you were hearing and whether or not it was accurate. I'd say that 99% of best established sound engineers would probably be accurately knowing what they're hearing (when things are subtle and barely different)... about 50% of the time. There were tests done to show things along these lines.

A neat side-note: many airwindows plugins are open source, or are going to go open source when his Patreon hits specified goals. Therefore, we could build the same things within our standard GPU/CPU intensive, graphically beautiful windows... with parameters being more well drawn-out.

I do, however, wish that he would use Hz values instead of 0 to 1, in most cases.
Old 27th August 2018
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hermetech Mastering View Post
I'm the only person I know using SKnote DolA in mastering. Secret weapon for muddy/mid heavy mixes.
I wonder if you evaluated Audiothing’s Type A or the compander in u-he’s Satin?
Old 27th August 2018
  #8
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Nope, not tried either of those. I like the two knob simplicity, sound, and price of Dol A, and I like to work fast, so no intention of switching. It only gets used on less then a percent of what I do, it’s not a tool I use regularly, but like DeEdger sometimes it’s perfect.
Old 27th August 2018
  #9
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Originally Posted by Hermetech Mastering View Post
Nope, not tried either of those.
Thanks for your response Hermetech. Folks of course have quite varied reasons for using particular tools. In the intervening time, I remembered also that Overloud has a compander plug on offer. Best wishes!
Old 27th August 2018
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theMuzzl3 View Post
I've noticed the same thing. The only way to really learn them well is to keep using SINE Wave generators and looking at what happens at various settings... pain in the butt.
I have a feeling that this is NOT what Gregg meant

I am pretty sure he uses tones to match sides on the non stepped equipment that he uses (according to his own words "Only use SPAN for lining up tones on the non-stepped hardware")
Old 27th August 2018
  #11
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Yep. I already mentioned the open source thing too.

I don't spend much time staring at any meters. If you have a calibrated monitoring system there's really no need, except for quick checks now and then.
Old 28th August 2018
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hermetech Mastering View Post
I've tried a lot of other AW plugins out over the last couple of years, but the main thing that stops me from using them in a mastering context, despite the fact they they sound great, is the very non-intuitive scales they use. E.g. I want to be able to set a HPF to a specific Hz, or adjust the Sum/Difference levels to a specific dB. When you only have a scale that goes from 0 to 100, or -100 to +100, it makes it impossible to set them to specific places. Of course you can just use your ears, and it's great that they encourage you to do this, but I like to know the specific figures as it helps me build up a "mental map" of what works on particular tracks, that I refer back to all the time, and is cross applicable to other plugins that use the proper gauges of parameters. This is why Hermepass hasn't replaced my HPF of choice, and Voxengo MSED hasn't been replaced by the various stereo plugins AW offers.
I agree about the parameter values being vague, or whatever. It would be nice for EQ's or anything with HP or LP to have things displayed in Hz values. ToVinyl does, so perhaps that is something he will entertain as he continues developing things. It does have an advantage to not have things so clearly labeled. It forces you to use your ears, and without visual que's you will be able to focus on the sound better. Its a great way to re-train you ears. You could also use things like SPAN and sine wave generators to figure out what settings are where, in the spectrum... but thats a lot of A/B'ing and stuff. IMO, its worth it, as well as to minimize CPU usage and to gain a higher quality of audio through the method of using less mathematical processes.

In response to your other posted info, I will consider checking out Limitless, as well as giving EQuilibrium another chance. Do you know if it is 100% accurate, as far as handling true peaks? IMHO, Ozone's maximizer (IRC IV, modern setting) is "hands down," the best limiter (at least, for multiband processing). KClip is probably the best clipper. I usually use 2-3 instancs of ozone's maximizer and kclip or adclip doing 1 db of GR after the 1st or 2nd maximizer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hermetech Mastering View Post
Yep. I already mentioned the open source thing too.

I don't spend much time staring at any meters. If you have a calibrated monitoring system there's really no need, except for quick checks now and then.
I mostly agree. I use sonarworks for my monitors, but my room isn't conditioned. I use a pro-Q 2 hack for my headphones. I do spend a lot of time looking at visual que's in Ozone, especially when I apply dynamic EQ cuts.

From all of your responses, it sounds like your mastering process is one to be adored and noted. IMHO, you should give some time towards giving airwindows things another chance. Perhaps, spend some time trying out things that you normally would not do at all, and get creative with it. This isn't suggesting that your current system isn't already very close to perfect. What you do works very well for you and it seems as though you manage your time very well, with your current system.

An example of crazy things that work, but if you thought about the technicalities of it, it really shouldn't work is:
Airwindows: Secret Sauce Recipes - BeatDruid

Quote:
Originally Posted by Apostolos Siopis View Post
I have a feeling that this is NOT what Gregg meant

I am pretty sure he uses tones to match sides on the non stepped equipment that he uses (according to his own words "Only use SPAN for lining up tones on the non-stepped hardware")
Yeah, I was talking about the same thing that he brought up in a few of his sentences... I just used bad wording perhaps, and I pointed out that if you wanted to see where most airwindows HPF's kicked in (in Hz values), you'd have to use SPAN and even then you would not be 100% sure. His ToVinyl does use Hz values, and I am guessing others that he puts out in the future will too.
Old 28th August 2018
  #13
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I do use my ears (I have a keyboard shortcut linked to a black screen so when I'm tweaking plugins I can't look), but I still want the proper figures. It's probably the OCD engineering student in me. Like I said, it helps to build a mental map that is universal and applicable to all other processors that use the proper figures.

I don't have time to be running every new plugin I try through PluginDoctor or SPAN to "see" what it does. I'm busy working. I slot a new plugin in the chain, and it either sounds better than what I already use, or it doesn't. All based on firm practice and experience. I do try out all the new AW plugs that come out, if they look like something that might be useful to me, e.g. I've recently demoed Single Ended Triode, Stereo FX, Spiral 2, Vari Mu and Channel6. But I will be using none of them. Doesn't mean they are not good or suitable for mastering, just that I prefer the hardware I am already using for sound and functionality. I am always swapping things in and out of the chain, trying new approaches etc. So the recommendation that I ought to spend more time giving the AW plugins a go is a baseless one. I want to be able to use them, and will continue to test them as they are released, and support Chris to the max, but so far the only one that has made it as a permanent fixture is NJAD. It might be a very different situation if I was working all ITB.

My system isn't nearly "perfect", I don't think any system is, but it is the one I've been using day in, day out, for the past decade with great results and many repeat clients. I am always looking to change things up or add new stuff if it will help me to achieve better results for them.

Limitless is the best Limiter I have ever used, but of course it's all subjective. The latest version has two different types of ISP control, if you are worried about that sort of thing. One of them doesn't let any ISPs through. I've come to worry less about ISPs over the last few years. There's no standard as to how to measure them, and even the ITU/EBU specification is quite lax in its meter implementation spec. Fabien from TDR has written a fair bit about it. So "100% accurate for true peaks" is a moving target in itself.

I had a look at KClip, but TBH much prefer StandardCLIP for my purposes. It's cheap, easy to use, looks good, and is very transparent sounding at the settings I usually use (hard clip, less than 1.5dB of clipping).

You keep saying things like "hands down the best" or "the best", but you really ought to quantify that with "in my experience", "I think" or "I feel", as it's all subjective at the end of the day, and you should obviously just use what works for you.

I found the "Manley Vari Mu" idea on the Beat Druid site frankly laughable. Call it a "great sounding tube style compressor" but don't try and claim it sounds, looks, or acts anything like a real Manley Vari Mu. Doesn't mean it doesn't sound great, just a poor choice of labelling.
Old 28th August 2018
  #14
Please ignore any questions or comments below, if you've already entertained them. I need to go back and read it all, again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hermetech Mastering View Post
I do use my ears (I have a keyboard shortcut linked to a black screen so when I'm tweaking plugins I can't look), but I still want the proper figures. It's probably the OCD engineering student in me. Like I said, it helps to build a mental map that is universal and applicable to all other processors that use the proper figures.
Oh, wow. Thats a great idea! Black screen -- genius.

I am guessing that while black screened, you are tweaking with hardware and/or MIDI controller knobs of some sort?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hermetech Mastering View Post
I've recently demoed Single Ended Triode, Stereo FX, Spiral 2, Vari Mu and Channel6. But I will be using none of them.
Literally: shocked. Curious: which saturators are most commonly in your chain? Would you think that isingle ended triode & spiral2 could be both applied? If so, which would you guess should usually be earlier in the chain? Similar question for channel6... before or after other saturation types, and before or after glue compression, subtractive linear EQ, or coloring/clean additive EQ (or additive filtering methods)?

What are your thoughts on Capacitor and ToVinyl? ToTape and FromTape? u-he Satin?

Do you ever split into a multiband rack of some sort with your DAW, and apply specific saturation to specific bands? Guessing the answer is no, based on my experience of not finding a method of splitting up bands with zero bleed through.

I think that it is important for me to note that you are using hardware, and that I am only using software. Thus, your suggestions may not always apply to my practices... well, until I can afford some decent hardware, that is.

*That being said, here is a valuable question for you:

Could you list 5 to 10 plugins that you WOULD use, if you did not have the hardware units that you do have? And, how/when would you use them? Where in the chain would they be? Where would you place airwindows Desk plugin, and where would you possibly place things like channel/purestdrive plugins in your chain?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hermetech Mastering View Post
My system isn't nearly "perfect", I don't think any system is, but it is the one I've been using day in, day out
Thanks for pointing this out. I do agree. I am glad that you try out AW stuff and that you support Chris. I'd be interested to hear about your mixing techniques and tools, but that is an entirely different subject. I'd be interested in listening to your personal music, as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hermetech Mastering View Post
Limitless is the best Limiter I have ever used, but of course it's all subjective. The latest version has two different types of ISP control, if you are worried about that sort of thing. One of them doesn't let any ISPs through. I've come to worry less about ISPs over the last few years. There's no standard as to how to measure them, and even the ITU/EBU specification is quite lax in its meter implementation spec. Fabien from TDR has written a fair bit about it. So "100% accurate for true peaks" is a moving target in itself.
Thanks for this bit of info. All though you state several facts; I'd think that you agree that its mostly a matter of opinion, and that it probably depends on what the mastered track is intended for (streaming platforms, CD, vinyl, club play, digital distribution, FM radio or TV broadcasting).

I'm interested to hear your opinion about LUFS. I recently came across a page that said that targeting, for example -13 LUFS for youtube is not necessarily the best practice. It went on to say that a better idea is to make sure that -9 LUFS (short term) should be the loudest value that a track goes, for any streaming platform. I've been still pushing the loudest spots to more like -8, or even -7 LUFS, for soundcloud/bandcamp masterings... and loudest peaks below -1 dBTP.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Hermetech Mastering View Post
I had a look at KClip, but TBH much prefer StandardCLIP for my purposes. It's cheap, easy to use, looks good, and is very transparent sounding at the settings I usually use (hard clip, less than 1.5dB of clipping).
Noted. I had not even heard of Sir Audio. Thank you. I will check it out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hermetech Mastering View Post
You keep saying things like "hands down the best" or "the best", but you really ought to quantify that with "in my experience", "I think" or "I feel", as it's all subjective at the end of the day, and you should obviously just use what works for you.
This is absolutely true, and thank you for pointing it out. I get excited and I don't always express myself in a way that doesn't make me sound like an idiot. I will try to be more careful. You point out things very clearly, without being offending like many other forums users that I have come across.

I once got blasted on reddit, over and over, in a topic that was about considerations of either upsampling/re-sampling before using maag eq4 or kush chlariphonic MKII, or not... and about using those tools to shelf boost silent bits up above 30 or 39 kHz, and where/when to use dither. Opinions in that topic varied, to an extreme amount; and all based on the same mathematical and scientific facts... I made posts that were supportive of both opinions, and got blasted from people who felt one way or another, on both sides!!! Each, calling me basically a noob who didn't understand the facts, based on one or two of my replies. HAH!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Hermetech Mastering View Post
I found the "Manley Vari Mu" idea on the Beat Druid site frankly laughable. Call it a "great sounding tube style compressor" but don't try and claim it sounds, looks, or acts anything like a real Manley Vari Mu. Doesn't mean it doesn't sound great, just a poor choice of labelling.
HAHAHAHA!!!! Well stated. I don't know enough about Manley Vari Mu to have a respectable opinion. It must sound somewhat like it, though; or Chris probably would not have allowed such choice of wording. Chris does periodically admit that his ears aren't perfect, and I think that those words may have been chosen by "Deff J @ gearslutz".

A side note, and I think you explained this earlier. But, do you generally drive into tube or triode saturators/compressors/EQ's, at around +1.5 dBTP (max), or would you consider driving into them at -6 or -12 dBTP for more subtle effects? Same question goes for tape saturation. I may have over looked spots where you brought up which tape machines you use, if any. I will go back and read again.

Also, could you explain your chain, in the details of ordering of sequence (and how the sequence most often varies)? Most specifically, which stages you send it back to the desk, and where you'd suggest the desk plugin if you were me (using just software).

For example, my recent chains have often been along the lines of: bitshiftgain/purestgain (if needed, to make sure max peaks are -6 to -3 dB) -> subtractive linear eq -> compression if needed & I usually try to avoid using compression (lately, its been Ozone Dynamics and a specific method that I use to tame bass.. usually no compression above 250 Hz) -> subtractive dynamic EQ -> desk/console5buss/console5channeldark/ *AND / OR* RAWbuss [or none of them if none sound better, and this is experimentation for me at this point] -> bitshiftgain/purestgain (either pushing louder for extreme effects or reducing for more subtle) -> purestdrive (maybe) -> Kazrog True Iron, 1-13% wet -> Spiral2, 1-17% wet -> [try other saturators and compare to the two above -- mentionables are Sonnox Oxford Inflator, Ozone 8 Exciter, and I need to explore softube more] -> Softube Saturation Knob, 1% effect (usually, this goes in every chain, compliments any other saturations, and very rarely is it destructive) -> desk (maybe) -> bitshiftgain/purestgain (brings max true peaks back down to -6 to -3 dB [or -12 to -6 if I want more subtle tape effects) -> a tape emulator or FromTape/ToTape (both if possible, or either one & which ever sounds best; other mentionables are u-he Satin and Slate Virtual Tape Machines... but I haven't learned them well enough to dial them in quickly) -> desk again, or maybe console5buss (optional, and have yet to figure out if this is a good or bad idea) -> ozone maximizer (slowest character or speed that I can get away with, about 0.25-1.5 dB of GR [usually 1 db gr]) -> 2nd maximizer (character near 4.44, 0.25 to 3.3 dB of GR) -> ADClip (0.25-1 dB of GR, can be placed here or before 2nd maximizer) -> 3rd maximizer (fastest character of 0.5 to 2.3, 0.25 to 3.3 dB of GR) -> NotJustAnotherDither or NotJustAnotherCD -> render WAV & add file information and/or metadata if applicable -> make DDP file format for CD if applicable. For vinyl, and many times for itunes, quite possibly there is no limiting or clipping applied. Everything above is optional & anything not needed is not used.

Back when I had WAVES plugins on a macbook pro, 3 plugins that I went to all of the time were Abbey Roads (tape emulation), H-EQ, and Maxxbass. I miss each of them, and I can't afford them presently. I only had them because a friend bought them & gave them to my computer. The H-EQ, "in my experience," defeats any other EQ for the purpose of HPF cuts.

I recognize your name from some where. Do you do youtube tutorials and/or live streaming of some sort? I'd love to tune in, if so. If you have forums/blogs with tutorials, I would be interested in those as well. Thank you so much for your kind, detailed, and precise replies. You've been extremely helpful and constructively critical. The fact that you're able to make such detailed replies shows that you manage your "work time" extremely well.

I definitely do not manage my time extremely well, when it comes to my mastering work. But, I am self taught and have only started getting paying clients (and repeat ones) in the last 2 years. I've been seriously teaching myself for the last 3.5 years, and had been learning about it (less seriously, more for my own music) in the last 17 years. A couple of my buddies went to Full Sail University in 1999, and when they came back to Vegas in 2000... I started watching them work.
Old 28th August 2018
  #15
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Hermetech Mastering's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Thanks, didn't mean to come across as too grumpy or moaning etc.

Telling you exactly what my chain is and in what order won't really help you at all. Put your 10,000 hours of practice in and you'll have your own chain that works amazingly well for you.

The analogue chain is on my website, it contains 10 transformers and all the saturation I could shake a big stick at, and I'm am able to gain stage things for very subtle and transparent, or very fat and coloured, or anything in between. Again, every chain is different, telling you what I do with mine would be of no benefit, without you being in the same room as me.

Only multi-band thing I use is Limitless. Not a fan of multiband anything for the most part.

"Could you list 5 to 10 plugins that you WOULD use, if you did not have the hardware units that you do have?"

Not really, as I haven't needed to, and it would take me days to try them out, then I'd be thinking "Ah man, my hardware chain sounded so much better, I wish I didn't have to use all these inferior plugins". If I HAD to do everything ITB, I'd probably add a few more TDR and Klnaghelm plugs to the list, things I have already tested extensively. Possibly some AW with more testing.

I don't mix much these days, one track since 2011. Working on a 7" at the moment with a band in the UK though. Been on a bit of a heavy Psych Folk guitar vibe the last 3 or 4 years. I used to make Techno, Ambient and Berlin School synthy stuff.

LUFS is really for streaming services and broadcasters to worry about. When mastering just make it sound good. Client wants it louder? Make it sound good AND louder. Sometimes not as easy as it sounds.

Best pieces of advice I could give you (as it seems to be what you are looking for), are that:

1) There is no set anything in mastering. Every track or album is different. Every client/label/artist has different expectations. It's about being versatile.
2) Communication is 50% of a great mastering job that both me and the client can be proud of.
3) Put your 10,000 hours in to become expert. Experience trumps all else.
4) Mastering is about loads of tiny little tweaks that all add up to something greater than what you started with.
5) Experience, room, monitors, gear, in that order.
6) Do it for the love of music, not the money (of which there is a diminishing amount all over the creative industries).
7) It's not about single tracks or making things louder. Its about working with a client to maximise the emotional impact of their musical baby (about the only thing me and Lucey agree on). It's about balancing an album into a cohesive whole. It's as much about preparing physical masters, rendering disc images, liaising with duplicators and replicators and pressing plants and labels etc., as it is about "two buss processing", which in itself, is NOT mastering.

Never done a YT tutorial or live stream. People keep telling me I should. Blog posts are on my website (it's wonky at the mo, no images working, need to sort it out...), but there aren't many. Maybe I'll make some of the info in this thread into a new one.

Thank you for the kind words! I'm self taught too, started about a decade ago, went full time in 2011. There are a number of us like this on here.
Old 28th August 2018
  #16
Lives for gear
great post. agree with all of that. i'm self taught as well.

u-he satin was mentioned....i use that all the time (ok not literally ALL, but more often than not), after the analog chain and before the limiter. i have it set as flat and hifi as i can get it. i don't really use it for "tape" stuff at all, i hit it conservatively. i just think it has a really great boxtone. i know that's weird to say about a plugin, but....that's what i think. i like what it does. i drive the output into the soft clipper, i prefer the sound of that to any other clippers i've tried.
Old 28th August 2018
  #17
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SmoothTone's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hermetech Mastering View Post
1) There is no set anything in mastering. Every track or album is different. Every client/label/artist has different expectations. It's about being versatile.
2) Communication is 50% of a great mastering job that both me and the client can be proud of.
3) Put your 10,000 hours in to become expert. Experience trumps all else.
4) Mastering is about loads of tiny little tweaks that all add up to something greater than what you started with.
5) Experience, room, monitors, gear, in that order.
6) Do it for the love of music, not the money (of which there is a diminishing amount all over the creative industries).
7) It's not about single tracks or making things louder. Its about working with a client to maximise the emotional impact of their musical baby (about the only thing me and Lucey agree on). It's about balancing an album into a cohesive whole. It's as much about preparing physical masters, rendering disc images, liaising with duplicators and replicators and pressing plants and labels etc., as it is about "two buss processing", which in itself, is NOT mastering.
Great post Gregg!
Old 30th August 2018
  #18
Gear Guru
I would love to hear an Airwindows only mix vs a Slate ot other developer like SkNote that sovers a global plug in offering. Someone did a quick mix Airwindows/Slate on a thread I did years ago and the two mixes did sound different (organic/slick). It was eye opening for me because they both sounded good for different reasons and I feel developers have a sound they like and gravitate towards. I don't consider that a bad thing......
Old 31st August 2018
  #19
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I'm no mastering engineer - but when I use a chain on my master output using only Airwindows plugins, I have to say it always seems to have this natural quality, kind of hard to put my finger on but it's very nice.

Yesterday I did a quick bounce to show a friend of two tracks I'm working on - My chain was Buttercomp, ToTape5, NC-17 set to around 2db drive into ADClip7 which I'm getting more familiar with.

It sounded very natural and solid, just whisked it up quickly and used it on both tracks varying the degrees of each stage and was really happy. Oh yeah, I had NJADither as the very last thing before the output.

Since it came out I have had ClipOnly on as default at the end of my chain just as a safety clipper, only occasionally leaning into it, I am trying to get used to ADClip7 at the moment. If anyone has any tips on that I'd be appreciated. I haven't liked the sound of brickwall limiters on my music but I have been enjoying gently hitting a clipper, it's something I'm still experimenting with to improve upon.
@ardis why don't you do the mixes yourself? Lack of time or just want to hear it from someone else? So many variables with these things and different gain staging between them that I don't think it would show a lot other than that they are very different! Nice idea though and would be cool to hear.

I feel like when I mix with mostly Airwindows plugins, the mixes sound more natural, and I don't expend as much cpu which is great. I don't call my chain on the master buss a 'mastering' chain, I prefer the term 'finalising' as I think the term mastering gets tossed around rather lightly, it's a specific skill and not something I think I can do on my own music at this point. I can certainly 'finalise' it though to get it ready to send out.
Old 31st August 2018
  #20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hermetech Mastering View Post
1) There is no set anything in mastering. Every track or album is different. Every client/label/artist has different expectations. It's about being versatile.
2) Communication is 50% of a great mastering job that both me and the client can be proud of.
3) Put your 10,000 hours in to become expert. Experience trumps all else.
4) Mastering is about loads of tiny little tweaks that all add up to something greater than what you started with.
5) Experience, room, monitors, gear, in that order.
6) Do it for the love of music, not the money (of which there is a diminishing amount all over the creative industries).
7) It's not about single tracks or making things louder. Its about working with a client to maximise the emotional impact of their musical baby (about the only thing me and Lucey agree on). It's about balancing an album into a cohesive whole. It's as much about preparing physical masters, rendering disc images, liaising with duplicators and replicators and pressing plants and labels etc., as it is about "two buss processing", which in itself, is NOT mastering.
This is solid advice. I'd say that I have put at least 6,000 hours in, but at some point I had to completely rebuild with a new computer because my macbook pro was stolen. However, restarting from scratch has been very beneficial, in the long run. Not only did I have to re-dial in old saved presets, but I chose to try out things that I had not tried before (namely, Ozone has been a big ground breaking experience).

In my experience, communication is the biggest thing in successful mastering; and it depends on not just the mastering engineer, but the client as well. So, I agree on that, except I'd be of the opinion that it is more than 50%.

If you had ever expanded your business and hired a secondary engineer to assist you, I would be interested... but I am sure that there are many engineers that would be more qualified. I may come off as a lot less qualified than I actually am, in a lot of my posts... mostly due to my ADHD and forgetful mind, but I am working on that as well (nootropics).

On your last note (#7), I agree with that as well. Albums as a whole need to be one big statement, and how each songs fits into the puzzle is very important (in order to make the final picture of the whole album be maximized towards being the best version of what it was intended to be, within time constraints).

One of my main repeat customers really opened my eyes to that idea, as mastering his first album reminded me of what Dark Side Of The Moon had meant to me... as far as "one big statement that is built of many smaller statements." The one that I am working on now is going to be on vinyl, and so I am expanding my abilities to meet that medium... which is another big growing point of my ability to be versatile. The whole idea of side A and side B is a big thing that goes into the thought process of all of that; and in the case of the album that I am working on now, side A is his older stuff and side B is from his newly built studio... and so the flavoring being different on each side is both on the mixing end and the mastering end, and how the mastering of each side compliments the character of each side.

I initially started doing mastering for my friends, for free -- so I agree about the not doing it for money thing that you mentioned. The goal of getting paid for my work is a reality, as of 2 years ago... but I do put in way more hours on each track than I would if I was considering the dollars per hour (gotta eat). But, that can easily turn around as I do have a method that works and takes a realistic amount of time (so that I get paid at least minimum wage). The amount of time that I spend picking others' brains is the most valuable to me, so again, thank you.
Old 31st August 2018
  #21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eklo View Post

Since it came out I have had ClipOnly on as default at the end of my chain just as a safety clipper, only occasionally leaning into it, I am trying to get used to ADClip7 at the moment. If anyone has any tips on that I'd be appreciated. I haven't liked the sound of brickwall limiters on my music but I have been enjoying gently hitting a clipper, it's something I'm still experimenting with to improve upon.
Based on what Chris's youtube video shows and my limited amount of experience with it, here are my suggestions for ADClip (this is what I would do, but this is specifically more so for material that has a lot of bass that drives the entire sound; and so I'd suggest altering this method based on what type of material you're driving into it):

1) Go to clip only mode (the right side of the mode slider, displays as "clips" in Ableton and a few other DAW's).
2) Raise the boost up until you hear some clear amount of nasty sound going on, and then lower it a bit but keep it to where you still hear nasty-ness.
3) Lower the soften to zero and the enhance to 1.)
4) Raise the soften to 0.5 and lower it until its closer to 0.3, but the clips that you hear sound better than before.
5) Lower the enhance from 1 to 0.5 and meet some where in the middle until it sounds better.
6) Lower soften a bit more and keep adjusting this and enhance until the clips that you hear have an even amount of bass kick and snare sound that is audibly present.
7) Lower the boost and then adjust the enhance and soften again until you get to a spot where the clips sound best to your ears.
8) Switch to Gain Match mode (reads as atten on ableton).
9) Turn it off, and back on again; and on this mode you can hear what it is doing while it is gain matched.
10) Adjust sliders again, in gain match and clip only mode... until it sounds good in gain match mode.
11) Switch to ADClip Normal mode (reads as Normal in ableton) and then make a final adjustment to the boost if needed. Repeat earlier steps if needed.

*The idea with clip only active is to be able to hear the bass and the highs on amounts that are fairly even and that sound best to your ears when in clip only mode and when you switch back to ADClip Normal mode.

I've personally noticed that the boost is best when it is set to +1 to +2, on material that is already maximized to the point of often hitting the -0.1 dBTP area during louder segments... but sometimes higher, depending on a song.

Additionally, I would suggest slapping on voxengo elephant after the clipper, with the threshold set to 0 or just under 0... so that true peaks are handled just in case your signal is going over 0 dBTP after ADClip. This is just a suggestion, and its really based on what I would do to keep my own signals in check (and my own personal choice to not clip over 0 dBTP, but that is more useful for streaming platforms and is less important in live playback settings -- there is a lot behind my choice to stay below 0 dBTP in live settings as well, but I'll stop at that statement); because my signals are driven mostly by analog modules that can easily go passed a fine point and become suddenly smashing the speakers beyond what they'd be able to handle... it can be dangerous. But, I assume that you have your signal's loudness peaks under good control, based on what you said.

If your dynamics vary a lot, then I would suggest a limiter before a clipper. I'd suggest Voxengo Elephant for that, as it is very CPU friendly. A method that I would use for my own live signal from analog gear would be a limiter with -1 to -9 db threshold, into clipper with +1-2 db clipping, into final true peak limiter with zero db threshold. In this practice, I try to keep the signal from the analog stuff (coming in) at around -6 dBTP if the first limiter is set to -7 dBTP... so if I keep my signal where it should be, its limiting by a db, then clipping by a db, then is handled by a last true peak limiter to keep it in check. The first limiter is also keeping true peaks in check. That way, I am safe with the quiet stuff that I push into it (as low as or even lower than -18 dBTP values), and those quiet things are loud enough to be able to be heard while I jam with others... but if I accidentally start to cause some extremely loud signal to be coming into my input, then our ears (and the speakers) are safe.

All of this is based on my audio, though; and so it may or may not be useful for you. My Jomox M-Resonator Filter can blow some speakers really fast, but the setting that is a hair to the left or right on one of the knobs is the sweet spot... so this is my "don't blow the club up" settings!

A lot of engineers suggest clippers to be placed after limiters (if at all); but I tend to use 2 ozone maximizers, then ADClip or KClip 3 (with 1-2 db of clipping), and then another true peak maximizer at the end. This ensures that the more quiet kicks and snares are still pushed into the clipper. Sometimes, I place the clipper before maximizers or after the first one, so that it clips less often.
Old 31st August 2018
  #22
Lives for gear
 

I didn't so much mean in terms of the functionality of the plugin, I already use the clips mode then ease into it and adjust to taste. I meant more along the lines of what you find works musically hitting it, if cartain things work hitting it harder or softer, if adjusting balances before going into it in anyway helps how it reacts, that kind of thing... thanks for your reply either way tho.

I will continue to use ADClip7 and experiment, however I like the simplicity of ClipOnly and liked what that did leaning into it so may just return to that.
Old 31st August 2018
  #23
Gear Guru
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eklo View Post
I'm no mastering engineer - but when I use a chain on my master output using only Airwindows plugins, I have to say it always seems to have this natural quality, kind of hard to put my finger on but it's very nice.

Yesterday I did a quick bounce to show a friend of two tracks I'm working on - My chain was Buttercomp, ToTape5, NC-17 set to around 2db drive into ADClip7 which I'm getting more familiar with.

It sounded very natural and solid, just whisked it up quickly and used it on both tracks varying the degrees of each stage and was really happy. Oh yeah, I had NJADither as the very last thing before the output.

Since it came out I have had ClipOnly on as default at the end of my chain just as a safety clipper, only occasionally leaning into it, I am trying to get used to ADClip7 at the moment. If anyone has any tips on that I'd be appreciated. I haven't liked the sound of brickwall limiters on my music but I have been enjoying gently hitting a clipper, it's something I'm still experimenting with to improve upon.
@ardis why don't you do the mixes yourself? Lack of time or just want to hear it from someone else? So many variables with these things and different gain staging between them that I don't think it would show a lot other than that they are very different! Nice idea though and would be cool to hear.

I feel like when I mix with mostly Airwindows plugins, the mixes sound more natural, and I don't expend as much cpu which is great. I don't call my chain on the master buss a 'mastering' chain, I prefer the term 'finalising' as I think the term mastering gets tossed around rather lightly, it's a specific skill and not something I think I can do on my own music at this point. I can certainly 'finalise' it though to get it ready to send out.
I actually did a thread Airwindows vs the World and PB+J did a mix Slate/Airwindows. FYI I actually send my stuff out for mix/master. I have a guy that will reconstruct my vibe mixes with great gear in a treated environment. Saves me a ton of time and sanity. I'm a singer/songwriter and can move on once I've gotten to where I can play a mix without cringing, safe in the knowlege that it will sound like a record on everything.

EDIT: Here is the link to find the two mixes: Airwindows vs the World

Last edited by ardis; 31st August 2018 at 03:21 PM.. Reason: Add link
Old 31st August 2018
  #24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eklo View Post
I didn't so much mean in terms of the functionality of the plugin, I already use the clips mode then ease into it and adjust to taste. I meant more along the lines of what you find works musically hitting it, if cartain things work hitting it harder or softer, if adjusting balances before going into it in anyway helps how it reacts, that kind of thing... thanks for your reply either way tho.

I will continue to use ADClip7 and experiment, however I like the simplicity of ClipOnly and liked what that did leaning into it so may just return to that.
Ahh, gotchya. Those are some good questions. You could experiment with ducking out specific bands, inverting the ducked signal vs. clean to get the difference, and then putting ADClip on the ducked signal & mix the difference audio back into it. To me, with limited experience, it seems to sound nice near the main body of the bass kick and the snare areas. Could probly duck the low subs, duck the low mids from 350-900ish Hz, and duck the highs above 9 kHz. That might do some serious magic, or it might sound totally like garbage. In my limited experience, it seems to sound great on stuff that isn't super high in tonal quality (not sure if thats the right wording, basically anything that has chords or notes), and it seems to sound great on the stuff that is percussive. So, I'd suggest trying to find spots that are the body of the harmony/tonal instruments, and duck those... then isolate as much of just the kick & drum as you can without it being super drastic... maybe -3 or -6 dB cuts with bell or band shaped curves. You'd probably want to keep it on gain matched mode so that mixing back the inverted clean areas at appropriate levels can be easier. Just my further two cents. I like your idea and line of questioning though. I am unsure if dark/warm stuff sounds better or worse, through it.

Side note: I've been thinking about OneCornerClip.
Old 31st August 2018
  #25
Quote:
Originally Posted by ardis View Post
EDIT: Here is the link to find the two mixes: Airwindows vs the World
TY.
Old 13th September 2018
  #26
I'd like some examples of how airwindows channel, console, and desk plugins could be used on a mastering chain. Where to place them, and why/when to use them.

I tried putting channel at the beginning and a console at the end, and it worked for a song. I am going to try channel6 after all eq/saturation/clippers that saturate, directly before console5 or purestconsole, before the last clippers/limiters. I might try both methods, simultaneously (channel at beginning, channel after coloring/eq, console after 2nd channel, another console before final single-band limiter.

I have also tried placing desk after coloring eq's, and after saturators. Seems to help, but is very subtle.

I've also been placing bitshiftgain before and after saturators (either to lower or raise gain going in). I'll try out purestdrive.

I'm thinking unbox after all other saturators, into desk, then channel, then console... might do something extra that isn't supposed to be done; but am completely unsure of that, or why I'd even try it.

I've also experimented a bit with other console emulators (from other plugins companies), by means of placing channel before and console after them.

I also tried using capacitor before saturators, but concluded that the quirk in it and the less-subtle LP/HP isn't worth it for mastering chains.

I know that these plugins are built for mixing, and are not intended for a mastering chain for a single stereo audio file. These methods are highly experimental.
Old 28th September 2018
  #27
Surprised this topic hasn't gotten more attention from people who use airwindows stuff with mastering work.

Has anybody else been trying out spiral2 ad Unbox in there mastering chains?
Old 28th September 2018
  #28
Lives for gear
 
SmoothTone's Avatar
 

I respect Chris and have followed his work with interest for over a decade. I kinda wish that he would just focus on a handful of his best algorithms and take them "all the way" to ironed-out, beta tested, functionally GUI'd plugins. My experience has been that some of his algorithms sound really good with a little bit of weirdness on the fringe that makes them unusable for mastering.

Acceleration is the only one that has found any use in my chain. I would happily pay a decent sum for this if the sound was ironed out and some increased tunability was included. I just think Airwindows could be so much more...
Old 28th September 2018
  #29
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Hermetech Mastering's Avatar
 

Verified Member
What @SmoothTone said.

I don't think you are getting much feedback cos I don't think many people use his plugs for mastering, and I don't think most of them are intended to be used that way.

Just a few little tweaks like real audio values, as opposed to weird numbers between 0 and 1, would make a HUGE difference in usability for me. Not really sure why he can't just implement linear-to-db(x) = log(x) * 20 to convert all the 0-1 values into dB, for example. Knowing Chris, there probably is a good reason...
Old 28th September 2018
  #30
I feel the same way than Smoothtone and Hermetech.
Having "random" values is good for creativity but during mastering you need to react to your sensation and be efficient at it.
Trying things around while listening carefully could be a waste of "aware/eficient" time.
Even if there is a lot of trying, to me it comes to a second time when I'm close to what I feel right for the song.

Also sometimes you can be building a "processor" using different plugins and needing tosearch for value could again be hurtfull for freshness perspective.
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