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Mastering hardware with unique design
Old 3 weeks ago
  #1
Gear Nut
 

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Mastering hardware with unique design

Hello,

Despite this wild time we live in, I am able to purchase a few items to expand my setup. I have a solid signal chain (Lynx Hilo into Hypex NC amp into Earthworks Sigma 6.2/Hsu subwoofer), and am only working with plugins at the moment. My core plug-ins are DMG EQuilibrium, TDR Kotelnikov, and Fabfilter L2, with iZotope RX and the Fabfilter suite for any pop up issues.

Rather than buy a standard piece of hardware to replace the core functions of my plugin chain, I was hoping to add hardware that provides something unique. I am not itching to just rush to an all-hardware setup, likely I’ll remain a hybrid ITB/OTB setup, so I want to avoid the common advice for first gear like buy a transparent parametric EQ or basic compressor. I quite like EQuilibrium and Kotelnikov, and the sound of digital mastering, and see them staying a core part of my stable for a long time (until they get updated that is ).

My main focuses with mastering is to provide transparency and high end detail, with good attention to stereo imaging. I also like working with mid/side for problem solving. I am not so interested in saturation/clipping or heavy tube color. All of my work so far has been with experimental electronic music, if that’s any help.

The two pieces of gear that have my full attention are the Gyraf G23-S and G24. They seem like two items that could fully augment my setup and give the tonal quality I like. If I get carried away I could probably buy the whole Gyraf lineup, I am trying hard to not get spendy and also add a G21 to the purchase, but I want to keep an open mind for other makers.

Are there any companies or specific units that I should also look at? I have a budget for two items, three if I could find a deal. The Hendyamps Michelangelo is also in the running, but seems far more rock n roll/saturation oriented than I would want (still in the running, though). The Bettermaker Limiter looks up my alley despite it not replacing my L2, but it’s functionality seems like something I buy down the road rather than a first purchase. While I can still buy hardware, Knif is definitely out of the running due to pricing, I don’t have enough ME credits to my name to splurge that much!

Thanks for any help, and thanks for the wonderful resources here. I have learned so much from this forum, it might be one of the nicest nooks on the net for audio talk, and I am happy to be a future contributor
Old 3 weeks ago
  #2
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Hippocratic Mastering's Avatar
Most of the really innovative/'different' stuff is happening in the digital domain, as it's so much cheaper to both try and implement new ideas there, but I from your list I own the G23-S, G21 and the Michelangelo and I would recommend all of them.

Out of them all I'd say the G21 is the most difficult to approximate with digital tools, but it's also the one I use the least. When I need it I'm very happy to have it, though.

The newer Michelangelo eith the LoZ option can be pretty damn transparent, depending on how you set it up, and if I could only have one of the piece you mentioned it would probably be that, but the G23-S is also great and is probably more 'unique'.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #3
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Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hippocratic Mastering View Post
Most of the really innovative/'different' stuff is happening in the digital domain, as it's so much cheaper to both try and implement new ideas there, but I from your list I own the G23-S, G21 and the Michelangelo and I would recommend all of them.

Out of them all I'd say the G21 is the most difficult to approximate with digital tools, but it's also the one I use the least. When I need it I'm very happy to have it, though.

The newer Michelangelo eith the LoZ option can be pretty damn transparent, depending on how you set it up, and if I could only have one of the piece you mentioned it would probably be that, but the G23-S is also great and is probably more 'unique'.
I read through the big Michelangelo thread a few months back and read all of the older posts, I didn’t realize the LoZ option was now standard and did so much for tone. I’ll track down some demos and try to see if it’s the right fit. And everyone says the G21 is a special needs tool which is why it’s not a priority, but the sheer design of it makes me want to buy it just out of appreciation.

Do you happen to have any recommendations for unique plugins? I know that if I wanted to make my head explode I could dive into DMG’s Multiplicity, I’ve held off on that one until I feel so confident with EQuilibrium+Kotelnikov that I can make a confident judgment call on when I need a multi band tool. There are also some fringe developers like Zynaptiq that seem to be making weird plugins but not sure if their sonics are suitable for mastering, they seem more suited for sound design.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #4
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Hippocratic Mastering's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by cmwolf View Post
Do you happen to have any recommendations for unique plugins? I know that if I wanted to make my head explode I could dive into DMG’s Multiplicity, I’ve held off on that one until I feel so confident with EQuilibrium+Kotelnikov that I can make a confident judgment call on when I need a multi band tool. There are also some fringe developers like Zynaptiq that seem to be making weird plugins but not sure if their sonics are suitable for mastering, they seem more suited for sound design.
Multiplicity is brilliant, and is the first multiband compressor I've actually used on a regualr basis - previously everything I tried tended to not quite be good enough to be worth using on a master. Essense from DMG is also great, as is the Unisum compressor from Tone Projects. The Weiss DS-1 plugin is also great, though obviously based on much older code.

I really like the concept of Soothe from Oeksound, though it's never quite worked for me when I've demo'd it on masters. I reckon it would be a great mixing tool, though, and I know a couple of mixers who use it heavily.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #5
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Hippocratic Mastering's Avatar
DeEdger from TDR is another really interesting concept.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #6
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SmoothTone's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Welcome cmwolf.

My first thoughts went to digital also. Multiplicity and Unisum specifically. Both swiss army knives for mastering.

My thoughts echo a lot of what's been said already. It's no secret that I love the G23 and with its dual topology it's both unique and versatile. Don't underestimate it's power as a workflow enhancer either. With those few knobs you can do so much to shape the tone of a mix and work quickly to balance the tone of an album.

I think the SPL PQ is also unique for its two flavours in one box and can sometimes be found for a good price used.

The G24 is also an obvious choice for uniqueness and like the G21, is a genuine design breakthrough in my opinion.

The Michelangelo is worth considering for the sheer range of colours it offers depending on how you drive it. Between the LoZ/HiZ, aggression, vintage and interactive tone shaping, it is a perfect counterpart to digital and it is just fun to use.

Another unique design that brings something to the table that can't quite be done with digital is the Hendyamps Pollock.

One piece I think deserves an honourable mention for being unique is the Maselec de-esser, either in the MDS-2 or combined with the limiter in the MPL-2. There's a lot of clever design going on under the hood to give you essentially a one knob analogue harshness reducer that still probably can't be matched in the digital domain.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #7
Here for the gear
 
nick b's Avatar
 

Before I set up my michaelango for parallel use I thought it was okay. I used it but thought it often was too colored. I have the 1/3rd gain non-stepped version.

Now I love it. With a blend control you can use it for tone-shaping saturation. While this does exist in the software world, I find it much easier here and the results more natural than the plugins I’ve tried.

I use the tk audio s-blender for routing but if you don’t have other hardware, setting up the MA in parallel should be possible via your DAW.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #8
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Trakworx's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by cmwolf View Post
... Rather than buy a standard piece of hardware to replace the core functions of my plugin chain, I was hoping to add hardware that provides something unique. ...
Yep, getting unique character is, in my book, the number one reason to go OTB. If you want super-clean then just stay ITB.


Quote:
Originally Posted by cmwolf View Post
... My main focuses with mastering is to provide transparency and high end detail, with good attention to stereo imaging. ...
After many years of experimenting with character pieces, if I had to pick just one it would be the Michelangelo. It's versatile. It can be transparent when you want and it can be very colorful when you want. It does high end detail just beautifully. The low end is uniquely great as well. It gets more use than any other piece around here...

So, another strong vote for the MA. 'Hope this helps!
Old 3 weeks ago
  #9
I wouldn't sneeze at a Rupert Neve Master Buss Processor. It has some pretty unique features all in one place and you can get a ton of mileage out of it. It's much more than just a compressor. In fact, I rarely compress with it, but everything I do passes through it. With a full complement of digital tools on either side, that could easily be your only piece of outboard.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #10
Gear Nut
 

Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by SmoothTone View Post
One piece I think deserves an honourable mention for being unique is the Maselec de-esser, either in the MDS-2 or combined with the limiter in the MPL-2. There's a lot of clever design going on under the hood to give you essentially a one knob analogue harshness reducer that still probably can't be matched in the digital domain.
Hi!

I was wondering if you could tell me more about the Maselec de-esser. I'm thinking this along with the two Gyraf picks might be the ideal third piece for me to start with.

For de-essing I have only been using the Fabfilter plugin, and due to working in 64-bit architecture I cannot use Spitfish sadly. I was thinking of getting the Weiss DS-1 plugin from Softube so I could have that as a compressor and limiter alternative to Kotelnikov and L2, especially if a client references late 80s/90s releases as a tonal inspiration. And it would come with another de-esser! But the Maselec seems like a great thing to add, especially for the one-knob simplicity.

Have you referenced it with other hardware de-essers? Any character traits to relate it to? I know Josh Bonati has spoken highly about the Maselec de-ess gear, but in the context of cutting vinyl.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #11
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SmoothTone's Avatar
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmwolf View Post
I was wondering if you could tell me more about the Maselec de-esser. I'm thinking this along with the two Gyraf picks might be the ideal third piece for me to start with.
maselec MPL-2 or MDS-2?

https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/pror...t19403589.html

These threads probably answer all your questions better than I can, along with the manual which is free to download.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #12
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Gyraf gear are great but there is an essential thing to know when using them : you have to be carefully how loud you drive it because it can go from punchy and detailed to pretty muddy and close (transient wise).
Also a big fan of G23 + MPL2 here, there is plenty of song where it's only those two plus one/two band on the Eksa.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SmoothTone View Post
maselec MPL-2 or MDS-2?

https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/pror...t19403589.html

These threads probably answer all your questions better than I can, along with the manual which is free to download.
Sold, MDS-2 it is! Although its much harder to find Gyraf gear used in the States, so I'll put the Maselec on the backburner and hold out for a used model and probably buy new for the Gyraf. Thanks again for the recommendation, these three seem like the ideal candidates for expanding my work
Old 3 weeks ago
  #14
Gear Nut
 

Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by Saxnscratch View Post
Gyraf gear are great but there is an essential thing to know when using them : you have to be carefully how loud you drive it because it can go from punchy and detailed to pretty muddy and close (transient wise).
Also a big fan of G23 + MPL2 here, there is plenty of song where it's only those two plus one/two band on the Eksa.
I will absolutely keep that in mind, thank you! I know that with new gear you go through several rounds of "am I using this right?" to "Yeah, this is how I should run levels" and a week or two later you realize you've been using it wrong from the start. I'll probably have a few experiences with muddy, smushed transients, hopefully before it prints to anything final.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #15
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scraggs's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by cmwolf View Post
due to working in 64-bit architecture I cannot use Spitfish sadly.
You can if you use jbridge or DDMF metaplugin.
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