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including already "mastered" tracks Equalizer Plugins
Old 4 weeks ago
  #1
including already "mastered" tracks

I have been asked to master an album (for CD) where several of the songs have already been “mastered” by the studio where the songs were recorded. These were done at the height of the loudness war. They are severely over compressed, especially for a singer/songwriter project like this is. The artist does not have access to the un-mastered versions.

I have been asked to make them fit in with the new songs. How would you approach the task?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #2
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Virtalahde's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Make the new tracks as good as possibe (at a level that suits them the best) and lower the level of the brickwalled tracks. You'll probably need some EQ for them - maybe even some decompression tricks, but it's always a hit or miss.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #3
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Yep. Focus on the new tracks and then make the crushed ones fit as best you can. Turn them down for starters then see where the eq is at.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #4
All of the above and then once the previous track are lowered you can try various thing to make them pop out a lil bit more :
- Run declip from RX, sometimes it does magic
- upward expansion using TDR Nova to see if it manages to grab some element out of the overbaked cake.
- Transient designer like the one into eventide elevate.

I hope you got 24 bits files because it can get ugly pretty fast with lower resolution one.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #5
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Justin P.'s Avatar
 

I'd had good luck with Stereo Tool to unclip and bring back some of the original dynamics and transients. It's sounds like snake oil but it's a great plugin originally designed for FM broadcast to "unmaster" mastered songs so the FM processing can produce a better result.

It can also work for cases like this where all you have to work with is a brick wall.

Stereo Tool

I love RX but de-clipping and bringing back dynamics and transients are two different things.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #6
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Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
 

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To the OP

All good suggestions. Are you going to be listed as the mastering engineer for the whole album or are they going to give "credit" to the studio where the other tracks were "butchered". If you are going to listed as the mastering engineer for the whole album it might be a good idea to not do that and insist that they give "credit" where credit is due or people are going to wonder how you can do a GREAT job on most of the tracks and not such a good job on others. A word to the wise.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #7
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Benoit D's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Justin P. View Post
I'd had good luck with Stereo Tool to unclip and bring back some of the original dynamics and transients. It's sounds like snake oil but it's a great plugin originally designed for FM broadcast to "unmaster" mastered songs so the FM processing can produce a better result.

It can also work for cases like this where all you have to work with is a brick wall.

Stereo Tool

I love RX but de-clipping and bringing back dynamics and transients are two different things.
+1 for Stereo Tool, it can make miracles, literally ! See also Perfect De-Clipper from the same developer.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #8
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Greg Reierson's Avatar
 

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Another +1 for Stereo Tool. Been using it for years. Hans is a gem!
Old 3 weeks ago
  #9
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DMG Expurgate saves me ass every few weeks for this kinda work.

I do a fair bit of vinyl side prepping from old crushed mid 00s CD masters, you get good at un mastering after a while
Old 3 weeks ago
  #10
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Benoit D's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe_caithness View Post
DMG Expurgate saves me ass every few weeks for this kinda work.

I do a fair bit of vinyl side prepping from old crushed mid 00s CD masters, you get good at un mastering after a while
Joe, could you please detail a bit what you do with Expurgate ? My reflex would be to grab Essence instead of Expurgate (never try it) for this kind of task. But I’m interested by your tips.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #11
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I second StereoTool. I used it for 3+ years as the broadcast processor for my internet radio station (the station has been recently decommissioned because I got bored of it). The declipper is quite something. It also has a processor called Natural Dynamics that restores dynamics through a parallel multi-band process that isolates transients and blends them back in with the original, although I found that particular processor highly program-dependent. Worked a treat on some songs, not so much on others, so I had it disabled.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Benoit D View Post
Joe, could you please detail a bit what you do with Expurgate ? My reflex would be to grab Essence instead of Expurgate (never try it) for this kind of task. But I’m interested by your tips.
You can essentially estimate the compression you're trying to decompress using the controls.

It involves kinda un doing your brains natural functions somewhat. I'm actually doing this right now, having a passive listen while web surfing to make sure it sounds right.

The range control is key here to make sure the gate doesn't go over the edge, that sounds very odd, but if you can make Expurgate essentially bounce up and down on the kicks and snares in an over compressed dance track you'll crack it.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #13
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macc's Avatar
 

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I quite like Oxford Envolution for de-sustaining. Tune the sustain focus eq right and you can pretty effectively de-distort/de-crush stuff.

Works well in many cases - I tend to prefer a true transient/sustain (ie rate of change) based approach than just level-based for this kind of thing.
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