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software mastering advice/info/help!
Old 13th February 2006
  #1
Lives for gear
 
ersheff's Avatar
 

software mastering advice/info/help!

Hello. I'd like very much to take a step beyond merely applying a limiter to a 2 track mix and actually put some effort into MASTERING projects that I work on. I'm not totally sure where to start.
I use either Cubase LE or Logic Pro 7.1 depending on the project and record in either 24/44.1 (usually) or 24/96 (rarely). I have access to Waveburner (that came with the Logic bundle, not the OS 9 version), Peak LE 4, and the Waves mastering bundle in my school's Pro Tools studio.
WHERE TO START?!?!?
For instance, should I keep the original bit depth/sampling rate when I bounce my 2 track mix from the DAW or convert to 16/44.1 right away? Once I import it into the editing/mastering program, what should I start with? Slapping a simple limiter on a decently mixed punk album usually sounds OK, but I'm going to start doing some much more dynamic and varied music soon (i.e. marimba quartet, string bass and piano, etc.).
I'm of the opinion that the less you f*ck with a sound, the better it usually ends up in the end (assuming you had a good source for the sound) but I'd like to take the mastering aspect much more seriously. I know that this is something that could take years to learn and has much written about it, but any initial advice would be appreciated, including simply pointing me to a larger resource worth delving into.
Thanks so much!!!
EDIT: I forgot to mention that my dad has an Alesis Masterlink if that's worth using, but it's pretty rare that I visit my folks so that's really only an option for more serious projects. What would be the benefits of the Masterlink?
Old 13th February 2006
  #2
Audio Alchemist
 
Lagerfeldt's Avatar
You asked about software mastering, I will answer that. However, you will be hard pressed to get really good results without resorting to good hardware.

Always stay at the highest resolution for as long as possible, so record in 24bits/44.1kHz or higher if your computer power allows it (processing linear phase plug-ins at 96kHz can be a killer on slower computers).

You already have the Waves Masters Bundle, why not take advantage of them then.

You're still in need of a broadband compressor as there's "only" a multiband one in the WMB. Try Renaissance Compressor, Sonalksis SV-315 or if you can get something else for the ProTools rig such as the Sony Oxford stuff etc.

You could use a chain like this: Low band LP EQ - Broadband LP EQ - Multiband Compressor - Broadband Compressor - L2 - Dithering. Could be different, just an idea, except the limiter is always last. Sometimes you want some EQ after the compressor too.

If you're in Logic or WaveBurner take advantage of the very good POW-r#3 dither and turn off the horrible IDR dithering in the L2 (all off).

As you said, less can be more. But there's also a lot to be gained from spreading out the compression over several machines/plug-ins instead of one doing all the work.
Old 13th February 2006
  #3
Gear Maniac
 
qubi's Avatar
 

Hey mopppish, I thought I'd just chime in based on my recent experience.. Although there is no substitue for pro mastering, I've found that Waves and Isotope (ozone3) can get some pretty good results. If you're on a tight budget, I'd start with ozone, just be careful with it.. When you first slap it on its like : WOW! but after a while you realize it can hype things a little too much, so be conservative. I've recently added some nice analog gear to my setup (avalon 747 and Drawmer 1968) and when comparing a straight in-the-box mix to a mix running the through the outboard, the difference is obvious.. Good analog just tightens up the low end and ads a clarity that you cant get with plug ins.. but for mastering, I'd still run my mix through the waves and ozone, just with a lot less influence.... Moral of the story: if you're doing your own mastering, than maybe consider a good analog bit of gear to run the audio through, then one of the above mentioned software packages...

Oh, but then you have to start thinking about convertors, clock, cable...etc. .. But thats a different story!! hope that helps!.. good luck.

Qubi
Old 13th February 2006
  #4
Lives for gear
 
ersheff's Avatar
 

Thanks for the start, guys! I should add that I'm pretty much limited to using the stuff I already have or have access to because I can't sink any more money into this right now. AT ALL. The stuff I'll be mastering will be my own music or simple, budget projects for friends of mine here at UW, so I'm really just looking at how to get the best results out of what I have to work with. Once I feel like I'm getting the results I should out of Waveburner/Waves/Peak then I'll look at some upgrades.
Keep 'em coming!
Old 13th February 2006
  #5
Lives for gear
 
pingu's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lagerfeldt
You asked about software mastering, I will answer that. However, you will be hard pressed to get really good results without resorting to good hardware.

Always stay at the highest resolution for as long as possible, so record in 24bits/44.1kHz or higher if your computer power allows it (processing linear phase plug-ins at 96kHz can be a killer on slower computers).

You already have the Waves Masters Bundle, why not take advantage of them then.

You're still in need of a broadband compressor as there's "only" a multiband one in the WMB. Try Renaissance Compressor, Sonalksis SV-315 or if you can get something else for the ProTools rig such as the Sony Oxford stuff etc.

You could use a chain like this: Low band LP EQ - Broadband LP EQ - Multiband Compressor - Broadband Compressor - L2 - Dithering. Could be different, just an idea, except the limiter is always last. Sometimes you want some EQ after the compressor too.

If you're in Logic or WaveBurner take advantage of the very good POW-r#3 dither and turn off the horrible IDR dithering in the L2 (all off).

As you said, less can be more. But there's also a lot to be gained from spreading out the compression over several machines/plug-ins instead of one doing all the work.


This is actually very helpful advice.

Not many guys will tell straight out and give you a chain to work with.

Kudos
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