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Favorite Mastering Hardware for Coloring Mostly ITB Masters
Old 2 weeks ago
  #1
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occam's Avatar
 

Favorite Mastering Hardware for Coloring Mostly ITB Masters

I've been getting into mastering and I still do some of the work with plugins like Gulfoss and Soothe and Ozone plus a bunch of UAD stuff for eq and compression but I've also added a RND Masterbuss Processor for some analog compression/limiting plus saturation and M/S work and I have a Dangerous BAX eq hardware unit as well. I've been thinking that adding a $5-10,000 EQ or Unfairchild is probably not going to happen any time soon but maybe another hardware color unit would be my next purchase. So what do you like to use in impart a little analog color on your hybrid masters?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #2
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loji's Avatar
What's your DA/AD loop? ... that'll give you a fair bit of 'color' there depending how it's set-up.

in the 5-10k range you've got ample choices ...

Knif Soma is a great tone that works for a variety of styles.
Massive Passive
Avalon 2077

Overtly colored pieces are :

API
Great River
Chandler
.. anything vintage (NTP, Neumann, Siemens, etc..)
Old 2 weeks ago
  #3
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SmoothTone's Avatar
 

Verified Member
HendyAmps Michelangelo is a great option. And if you can run it in parallel it becomes a very flexible colour/saturation/density tool.

Gyraf G23-S has the 2 circuits in the one box and the tube side has a beautiful tape-like tone.

SPL PQ also has 2 modes which can be selected per band. This is very useful and VERY nice. Much more expensive though!

I'm quite enjoying Wavesfactory Spectre as a digital option. Great control, very precise, lots of options. Workflow is fantastic.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #4
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thermos's Avatar
Michelangelo. Lots of times I'd just pass audio through it flat and the clients would be stoked.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #5
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thermos's Avatar
Michelangelo. Lots of times I'd just pass audio through it flat and the clients would be stoked.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #6
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teebaum's Avatar
my "colorboxes" are

hendyamp michelangelo
api 5500 (with other opamps)
gyraf 23-s
tubetech hlt 2am
theremionic culture the kite
anamod ats-1

and "less colored" also the knif soma & pure mu

i love them all and use all of them quiet often, but never all together - so it's difficult zu tell you a favorit, they are so different.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #7
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Miles Flint's Avatar
 

from "colouring" to "cleaner": Michelangelo, Massive Passive, Curve Bender, Soma.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #8
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BOMI's Avatar
Based on the machines I own: Crane Song Ibis eq M, Manley vari-mu t-bars, Vertigo vsc -2 output gain, sometimes Elisya alpha in limiter mode for aggressive purposes. I would like the distortion of Thermionic and also the Vertigo VSM 2.

Last edited by BOMI; 2 weeks ago at 11:11 PM..
Old 2 weeks ago
  #9
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Shawn Hatfield's Avatar
Try looking at units like Black Box HG2, HendyAmps Michelangelo, and the Sonic Farm Creamliner series.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #10
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Slug1's Avatar
Had a number of color pieces over the years. Vari Mu has stood the test of time for me. But there are so many options and it can be very personal. Also, there is something to be said about how different things react together in a chain, so something may be great in one person’s chain, but not as good in another person’s chain. So it’s all about demoing and testing things out for yourself.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #11
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mnawara's Avatar
SSL Fusion.. Amazing color box
Old 1 week ago
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Miles Flint View Post
from "colouring" to "cleaner": Michelangelo, Massive Passive, Curve Bender, Soma.
Curve bender on the cleaner side??
Old 1 week ago
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Miles Flint View Post
from "colouring" to "cleaner": Michelangelo, Massive Passive, Curve Bender, Soma.
Curve bender on cleaner side?
Old 1 week ago
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fromthepuggle View Post
Curve bender on cleaner side?
No :-)
But the Soma.
Old 1 week ago
  #15
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Gotcha. Off topic for a sec.. Regarding Soma, which I hear is stunning, how does something like that compare sonically to something like a sontec mep-250ex? I had the Sontec for a bit, great eq, I get the impression that stuff like soma or masale eq take a lot of inspiration from sontec type stuff. But in terms of sound only, is there a great diff?
Old 1 week ago
  #16
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loji's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by fromthepuggle View Post
Gotcha. Off topic for a sec.. Regarding Soma, which I hear is stunning, how does something like that compare sonically to something like a sontec mep-250ex? I had the Sontec for a bit, great eq, I get the impression that stuff like soma or masale eq take a lot of inspiration from sontec type stuff. But in terms of sound only, is there a great diff?
I have both, an early Sontec 430b, and an early Soma.

Different beasts... work AMAZINGly well together.

I use the amorphus core input transformer of the Soma to balance the unbalance output of my Sontec. Great match, music feels very full and alive without even any adjustments

The Sontec can get much narrower Q, the Soma is wide only. (but not wider than Sontec) ... the sound of pushing the inductors is my favorite part of the Soma.

The soma is a different league than 250 sontecs ... it's an equal and lovely foil to the 430/432 series

Soma is smoother than a massalec, less flexible in regards to tight bandwidths. very different sound

The Soma is a parallel filter topology like the Sontec, but that's about where it sends ... the Sontec is transistors, and solid state that tries to sound like tubes, the Soma is inductors, and tubes that tries to sound like solid-state.

the result is both are very clean, very alive, compliments to each other nicely
Old 1 week ago
  #17
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Slug1's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by fromthepuggle View Post
Gotcha. Off topic for a sec.. Regarding Soma, which I hear is stunning, how does something like that compare sonically to something like a sontec mep-250ex? I had the Sontec for a bit, great eq, I get the impression that stuff like soma or masale eq take a lot of inspiration from sontec type stuff. But in terms of sound only, is there a great diff?
Loji is WAY more advanced then me and his knowledge and opinions far outweigh mine. I’m SMA amateur and relative novice. I have had both Soma and Sontec 250EX. I sold the Soma and still have the Sontec. Ok ok ok.... no it doesn’t mean the lowly stepchild 250 is better then Soma and no one would ever say that. But I like the transparency of the 250. What goes in the front is essentially what goes out the back. The Soma is a very very clean and neutral EQ, but there is a smoothness to it that over time, made me use it less and less. It is no doubt an alpha EQ. The best of the best of the best, with honors. 250 isn’t in the same league. But I just like the 250 because of it’s transparent nature. When I decide buy another alpha EQ, it will probably be Buzz or Sontec, or maybe Eksa.
Old 1 week ago
  #18
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aleatoric's Avatar
On the subtler side but I'm a big fan of the color imparted when engaging the switchable output transformer / Class-A output stage of my Foote Control System P3S ME compressor. Also, running a hotter signal than normal into my Sontec MEP-250EX imparts a nice (and again, rather subtle) flavor that's often desirable.
Old 1 week ago
  #19
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Slug1's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by aleatoric View Post
Also, running a hotter signal than normal into my Sontec MEP-250EX imparts a nice (and again, rather subtle) flavor that's often desirable.
Hmmmm??? Tell me more!!! How hot is “hotter signal than normal”?? I’m usually going into mine with peaks in the +18db to +20 db (0VU=+4db). I think 250EX has published headroom around 25db. Are you hitting it hotter then that???
Old 1 week ago
  #20
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aleatoric's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slug1 View Post
Hmmmm??? Tell me more!!! How hot is “hotter signal than normal”??
Instead of lowering/raising a mix levels volume so it's peaking at around -6dBFS (typical), I'll run it out of the DAW at more like -3dBFS. Again, subtle. Just experiment, every 250EX is different.
Old 1 week ago
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aleatoric View Post
Instead of lowering/raising a mix levels volume so it's peaking at around -6dBFS (typical), I'll run it out of the DAW at more like -3dBFS. Again, subtle. Just experiment, every 250EX is different.
Yep. Makes perfect sense. My system is calibrated at -18dbfs = +4db = 0VU. So 0dbfs = +22db. So +18db is around -4dbfs, so you and I are probably in the same general range hitting the 250. Even if you’re calibrated at -20dbfs = 0VU (0dbfs=+24 db), we should still be in a similar ballpark. I like the way it sounds in that range as well!!
Old 1 week ago
  #22
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teebaum's Avatar
i have built myself a system where i can simply change the level of my chain without changing the volume.
this has led me to drive it very often with less level, not more.
Old 1 week ago
  #23
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Bichop's Avatar
Nothing better than a couple of Pulse pultecs
A couple of Coil preamp would also be interesting, or Neuman's PEV eq, Telefunken w395a
I also like the Silver Bullet a lot
Old 1 week ago
  #24
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aleatoric's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slug1 View Post
Yep. Makes perfect sense. My system is calibrated at -18dbfs = +4db = 0VU. So 0dbfs = +22db. So +18db is around -4dbfs, so you and I are probably in the same general range hitting the 250. Even if you’re calibrated at -20dbfs = 0VU (0dbfs=+24 db), we should still be in a similar ballpark. I like the way it sounds in that range as well!!
I'm calibrated to 19dbfs = +4db = 0VU. So yeah, similar.

I do know that some 250EX's have significantly less headroom and clip easily. Mine does not, I got lucky there.
Old 1 week ago
  #25
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Neither does mine. It can take some heat. My Pultec clones have lower headroom ~20db, so I’m usually below that most of the time. But I love the Neve first not just because I like it’s imprint on the signal early, but also because of the marvelous analog output meter, which lets me know how hard I’m hitting the next piece in the chain, which is usually the a sontec.

Ok, back on topic. Sorry for highjacking the thread.
Old 5 days ago
  #26
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occam's Avatar
 

I'm really curious about the Whitestone P331...I keep hearing subtle in reviews and that's great I'm wondering how much color it can give when pushed. The price is a bit prohibitive for something I'm highly uncertain of and of limited versatility.
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