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IK Multimedia Lurssen Mastering Console

IK Multimedia Lurssen Mastering Console

4.4 4.4 out of 5, based on 3 Reviews

IK Multimedia teams up with the famous Lurssen Mastering Studio.


3rd April 2016

IK Multimedia Lurssen Mastering Console by Diogo C

IK Multimedia Lurssen Mastering Console

  • Product: Lurssen Mastering Console
  • Developer: IK Multimedia
  • Formats: VST, AU and AAX native plug-ins and standalone software for Mac and Windows. iPad app not covered in this review.
  • Price: $299 MSRP
  • Demo: 10 days fully functional - random noise after this period expires.
  • DRM: IK Authorization Manager Software (online/offline)
  • Website: IK Multimedia | Lurssen Mastering Console for Mac/PC and iPad


The scope:

IK Multimedia’s latest product Lurssen Mastering Console aims to bring to the software universe one very special analog signal chain from the acclaimed and Grammy Awards winning mastering house Lurssen Mastering (Los Angeles, USA), an enterprise which was done in collaboration with the studio’s engineers Gavin Lurssen and and Reuben Cohen which tries not only to emulate the gear but most importantly it brings some of their expertise on making a song sound as good it can ever be.

The Lurssen Mastering Console (LMC from now on) offers a one-stop solution for your mastering needs, offering a streamlined way of working which consists of loading a “style” which refers to a music genre and consists of a set of adjustments on the signal chain. Instead of deep and thorough control the LMC opts for a very simple yet restricted way of working. Mastering with the Lurssen is proposed to be something as basic as loading a style, adjust a few things and voilà, your song is mastered. Needless to say that this proposition caused some stir and some heated threads popped out in our community, but all mastering controversies, marketing and meaning of life debates put aside, if we take the LMC objectively and strip it of everything else then what we have is five bands (60, 120, 1k, 6k and 10k) of equalization, basic de-essing, broadband compression with limited controls and a brickwall limiter set to -0,1 dbfs at the very end. Nice VU meters that are calibrated for loud volume situations, a mono switch for compatibility checking purposes and a style-based preset system. Each of the styles brings a set of EQ and dynamic adjustments that are derived from all the experience accumulated over the years at the Lurssen Mastering studio, and they will try to accommodate a large number of situations. The styles included are “Americana”, “Hip Hop”, “EDM” and “Pop Rock”, which basically encompasses a good chunk of popular music and will loosely fit on many sub-genres. Users can also save their own presets, which is particularly useful since the included styles won’t always suit the source material that has to be mastered and it also opens up the possibility of saving a “blank” preset without anything dialed for when you want to make adjustments from the ground up.

LMC can work as a DAW plug-in and as a standalone application for Mac and Windows. Both the plug-in and standalone app offers the same quality of processing but the latter can import the most common audio file formats and render them as wav/aiff. The standalone app also features automation for the Input and Push controls with "Read", "Write" and "Touch" functions.

Some final observations before heading to the scores:

*The LMC’s signal chain can be intuitively figured out on the interface but in case you’ve missed that the order is Input - Equalizer - Push - (Tube Limiter depending on the preset) - De-Esser - VCA Compressor - Limiter. Mind the fact that all the dynamics are placed after the equalizer, so if you drive the input or push and/or get too heavy handed on the EQ boosts the louder signal will trigger the dynamics section. The compressor’s range is limited in a way that prevents really dramatic squashing, but it’s not enough to stop you from sucking some good dynamic range. Most important aspect in this regard is the de-esser, which can totally kill a top end so keep an eye on its threshold.

*The LMC adds a bit of noise which is not negligible and it increases as you dial more gain on the EQ bands and crank the input and push knobs further. This noise can’t be turned off and that is quite a bummer and it might present a problem depending on the source material. There’s the authenticity aspect in play when it comes to noise on emulations i.e. analog gear has noise and the LMC is supposed to recreate a particular analog signal chain, but this is an aspect I’m willing to part ways with and I scratch my head around every time I see software putting up noise without giving me the chance to turn it off.

*When used as a plugin the LMC also adds some latency (481 samples @ 48k on PT12) and the CPU hit isn’t that high for a plugin on this category and it has to be said that IK has improved upon this on the latest update and hopefully more will follow. Turning the HD engine off saves a bit but not much and the sound difference is subtle so that will depend on each ears. On my aging i7-3770 LMC took less than 5% of my resources with the HD engine enabled and it’s not a plugin to be tossed around on many channels, so I’m totally OK with its system resource consumption. When used as standalone app the system load is totally fine as it's probably running on its own or with few apps around, so basically any system built in the last years will handle it fine.

*American and Pop-Rock styles will place a tube limiter in the chain, each with its own taste but both will only kick in at higher input levels so crank the input and the EQ (which are placed before it) if you want to hear it working.

Sound quality: Simply put, the LMC sounds quite amazing. The EQ bands are great sounding and are the star of the show to the eyes of this reviewer and despite its obvious limitations like the lack of bandwidth/Q adjustment they do a very good job on nearly any song given that they are broad enough to suit most occasions. The compressor is good for that ubiquitous two decibels of compression for “glue”, the de-esser is definitely useful when a track requires high-frequency softening and everybody needs a limiter and this particular one can go pretty loud. Overall the LMC is a spectacular processor, really good at boosting and enhancing things. It’s definitely not a surgical tool, it’s a broadband stroke and a really effective “make it better” stage on a mixing bus or mastering chain. Yes, I said mixbus - it’s really good there so don’t take the “mastering” label too strictly and make sure to try this plugin on your mixbus duties.

Ease of use: Largely based on its preset system, this plugin puts the user on a different situation where settings are pre-dialed according to certain styles and then adjustments can be made. The presets are definitely good starting points and will loosely cover a good range of musical styles, even though they’re leaned towards more modern and more often than not louder and busier. For example, there’s no “Jazz” or “Classical” preset so if I wanted something lighter I’d have to go to “Americana” and dial from there. My workaround was to dial a neutral preset, store it and load it as soon as the console is inserted. Minor nuisance and to my eyes it won’t take the top score away, but I can see some users being upset about this and it also puts newcomers in a corner if they’re working with styles that aren’t covered. Preset conundrum aside, it’s really easy to dial something good sounding on the LMC, even though the limitations will eventually present a roadblock or two on the way to something that’s even greater sounding.

Features: I’d say that the LMC as a plugin does well in terms of features, but as a standalone app unfortunately it falls a bit short and I missed some crucial functions I’d expect on a mastering solution and found it insufficient to get work done on its own - but I’m absolutely fine using it as plugin on my DAW or preferred mastering solution. I can’t really envision myself mastering without a more sophisticated limiter, a good set of filters and nice fade in/out options and that’s just to stick my bare minimum. I also missed some functionality such as loudness-compensated bypass, more metering options, MIDI control and also the capability to export to popular formats like mp3 and AAC. The automation system is also quite limited since and everything you can automate is located pre-dynamics, so raising the Input and Push on a certain part of a song can eventually lead to more compression which you might not exactly want. In that regard I’d take away some points from its score since the standalone app is kind of disappointing but on the other hand the LMC plugin offers a really good set of features that truly deserves a top score.

Bang for buck: I’m not entirely sure what is the target audience for this product, so I’ll confess that I found evaluating its bang for buck aspect something extremely difficult to do since this a criteria that needs to be put in perspective and will wildly vary according to each one’s individual situation. I’ve considered two very basic scenarios, one where a newcomer looks at this product and the other is through my eyes as a more experienced user. So if I take the newcomer point of view, someone who needs to get their songs done with quality so they can release it out to the world then I think this is on the pricey side of things. This guy has already bought his audio interface, monitors, a computer and a DAW to stick to the bare minimum, so a $299 purchase on a piece software to play a specific role is definitely expensive regardless of how crucial that role is. If I take the point of view of a seasoned Gearslut, then it’s also a bit expensive given how many options are out there in terms of how many EQs, compressors and limiters are out there and how many are already in one’s plugin folders. The bottomline is that I found the bang to be awesome but on the other I feel like the bucks required are a bit too high, even though the ratio is definitely good enough to consider the LMC a worthy investment regardless of where you’re coming from.

Click below for full-resolution screenshots.

Attached Thumbnails
IK Multimedia Lurssen Mastering Console-screen-shot-2016-04-03-11.07.11-am.png   IK Multimedia Lurssen Mastering Console-screen-shot-2016-04-03-11.23.25-am.jpg   IK Multimedia Lurssen Mastering Console-screen-shot-2016-04-03-11.23.56-am.jpg  

  • 6
9th June 2020

IK Multimedia Lurssen Mastering Console by Sound-Guy

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.75
IK Multimedia Lurssen Mastering Console

IK Multimedia Lurssen Mastering Console

Master Like a Master?
IK Multimedia introduced the Lurssen Mastering Console four years ago and it received four and a half stars here on Gearslutz (see above). Over the past four years IKM have added some functionality and dropped the price – since Bang for Buck was rated four stars originally, I wondered if it might garner a bigger bang now.

.


IK Multimedia Lurssen Mastering Console-lurssen-plugin-1.jpg

What is It?
Lurssen Mastering Console (LMC) is a “celebrity” plug-in that offers a streamlined method for mastering tracks and is still basically as described above in the 2016 review, but now has Catalina compatibility and additional styles for “Classical”, “Hard Rock-Metal” and “Jazz” (in addition to the previously listed “Americana”, “Hip Hop”, “EDM” and “Pop Rock”). While the previous review noted “The LMC adds a bit of noise which is not negligible . . . and can’t be turned off”, I found the latest version has no measurable noise right down to -180 dBFS, which is as low as I can measure and is about 80 dB quieter than anyone could hear even if 0 dBFS were set to 120 dBA. Seems IKM listened to that observation. If you want noise there are plenty of console emulations and other plugins to add it.

In addition LMC now has a mono mode that is automatically detected on a DAW with true mono tracks. When an instance of LMC loaded on a mono track it becomes a mono processor with a single VU meter. The mono mode reduces CPU load per instance slightly and enables processing surround sound if you do such a thing. There is also a multi-mono mode that can be used with some DAWs that have multi-channel tracks (which I did not test).

As indicated in the last review, the number of processors in the signal chain and the type of limiter change depending on the musical style selected. The style selection also changes the threshold level of the de-esser, the threshold and make-up gain of the compressor, and the settings of a tube EQ and of a solid state EQ.

IK Multimedia Lurssen Mastering Console-lurssen-proc-chain.jpg
LMC plug-in window with processing chain view showing the tube and solid state EQs, tube limiter #1, the de-esser,
and final compressor. Note that Lurssen intentionally place EQ before compression for their sound shaping process
.

While the actual settings of either EQ are not shown, the five knobs in the lower area allow modifying peaking and dipping of five fixed bands of the tube EQ. The solid state EQ settings are determined by the chosen style and not user adjustable. When selecting a “base” style (jazz, hip-hop, EDM, etc.) with the Push control at zero, the five relative EQ knobs always set to +8, +10, +10, +10, +8 for 60 Hz, 120 Hz, 3 kHz, 6 kHz and 10 kHz respectively. This seemed strange to me, but there is a method behind this. First, the settings are not calibrated in dB – they are relative controls and the -10 to +10 range provides a fine adjustment of approximately +/-1.5 dB. Larger changes create dis-proportionally larger gains or reductions with the full range (settings of -34 to +34) creating approximately +/-12 dB of EQ range. There are also interactions between the bands that are not intuitive. And there is more – when you select a sub-style (like warm or bright) the big knobs come up differently, with warm boosting 120 Hz and 3 kHz from 10 to 12, and bright boosting 3 kHz and 6 kHz to 12. These boosts are small, about half a dB.

This demonstrates something about mastering that, if you are new at this, may surprise you. Typically EQ changes from less than a dB to a few dB are all a mastering engineer needs to clear up parts of a mix. And though making music “loud” may have been a goal for mastering during the Loudness War years (which hopefully are over) most mastering engineers use modest levels of compression, more to “glue” a mix than make it loud.

Note that LMC includes Styles and Presets. Styles are basic starting templates and cannot be changed or re-saved, but using Presets you can save any modified Style and recall it later with all your settings. LMC comes as both a standalone program (with a play mode, automation control of its two main controls, and file export capability), and as a plug-in with all the usual formats for Mac and PC. There is also an iPhone/iPad version I did not test.

Two Knobs to Rule Them All
The two big knobs at the left and right are key controls. The left knob is Input Drive and affects any limiter and compressor in the processor chain – the higher the setting, the more “crushed” the signal will be. This knob is calibrated in dB, and I found with most sources I had to use from about -6 dB to 0 dB in order not to bring on too much audible compression, especially with jazz, pop rock and classical genres. Trash metal may benefit from cranking this up, but restraint is a good idea. The VU meters are very useful in this regard when switched to the ‘Process’ mode – I found the best results were with the VU needles just hitting the +3 dB VU mark at the loudest passages. This is controlled by both the input signal itself and the Input Drive control setting.

The other big knob is labeled Push, and it pushes (up or down) the EQ frequency bands from their default levels, all bands at once, in an interactive manner. As I indicated, mastering consists of making small adjustments to EQ, and increasing Push by 20% causes each EQ band setting to increase by about 20% – a band normally at 10 will increase to 12, which as I noted earlier is about half a dB increase. The Push knob has a “cute” feature, a piece of masking tape with line on it that you can adjust to show the Push level you used for a project – this is saved along with all the control settings in any preset.

IK Multimedia Lurssen Mastering Console-lurssen-waveform.jpg
Standalone LMC with waveform view – file buttons at the upper left enable loading and saving songs.

Tubey or Not Tubey?
LMC uses some tube emulations in its processor chain, an EQ and one of two tube limiters, and sure enough, the harmonic distortion it yields looks/sounds very analog. I found THD to run from about 0.1% to 0.5% depending on the music style setting and drive levels – that is unless you push the Input Drive too high and all heck breaks loose. In the well behaved range I found a reasonable mixture of even and odd harmonics that varied in a complex way over both frequency and level. If you push the Input Drive too high you get both non-integer harmonics and sub-frequencies (aliasing) which most people rarely like to hear.

The compressor used in LMC’s processor chain applies only a few dB of gain reduction and the resulting output signals still have a reasonable dynamic range if the source material isn’t already badly crushed. In my tests a Drive setting near 0 dB produced an output level about 6 dB higher that the source signal and the dynamic range was reduced by 4 to 6 dB. Reducing the Input Drive level will both reduce the output level and increase the dynamic range. And you can also adjust the threshold of the De-Esser, and threshold and make-up gain of the Solid State Compressor, although with a limited range of control. Note that while a de-esser may seem a strange processor to use at the mastering stage, it’s really there to control any annoying high frequencies, such as cymbals, snare rattle, etc. Many people would use a multiband compressor for this duty, but Lurssen’s philosophy is to use the best aspects of each piece of gear in the signal chain, and the signal chain at the real Lurssen Mastering in California is actually all analog. LMC does an excellent job emulating these analog devices.

One sadly missing feature is loudness compensation between the processed and unprocessed sound. As you most likely know, louder always sounds better, and LMC will generally boost loudness by a few dB. I notice the demos of LMC on IKM’s site still use uncompensated levels between their unprocessed and processed examples – with several dB of boost for the processed examples which doesn’t accurately demonstrate what the processing is doing! I’d have thought everyone knew about loudness bias by now! Used in a DAW environment you can easily patch the unprocessed sound through an extra bus to provide loudness matching, but in the standalone version you are stuck with loudness bias.

Tech Data
I tested Lurssen Mastering Console using my PC Audio Labs Rok Box with Intel Core i7-4770K CPU @ 3.5 GHz, 16 MB RAM running 64 bit Windows 7. RAM requirements for LMC are quite low by today’s standards: about 80 MB when operating (the dll module itself is about 40 MB). CPU use was higher than a common plug-in at about 4% CPU resource (with 419 samples of latency), but LMC is not processing just a single effect – it uses about the same CPU power as other complex processors I have. And for mastering duties, at least in stereo, you need only one instance.

LMC is 64 bit only, with standalone, AAX, VST2, VST3, AU versions and supports ASIO and Core Audio formats. There is also a separate lower cost version available for iPhone/iPad.

Note there is a Digital Delivery Mastering feature that provides audio files that meet Apple’s “Mastered for iTunes” specifications. I did not check this feature out, but it sounds useful.

Conclusions
At four years old Lurssen Mastering Console still can perform some good tricks with excellent audio quality and minimal effort. For those who have successfully accomplished their own mastering using a combination of compressors, limiters and EQ, such as with a program such as T-RackS 5, LMC may seem too limiting. I see LMC as a good deal for singer-songwriters who have minimal equipment and are not DAW savvy, and for many “home” audio projects it may be all you need to polish your tracks to broadcast/streaming quality The standalone version could bring a simple home recording (or coffee shop recording) up to a sonic level that would compete well on internet music platforms. And even for more accomplished recording/mix engineers LMC can be useful for a quick mastering “estimate”, and even used during mixing on an alternate output bus.

Pros
Limited user controls make adjustments easy and “by ear”, rather than by reading dB and frequency values.

Clean functional GUI with a good set of styles and a nice preset manager.

Standalone version includes built-in automation control of Input Drive and Push controls, and the ability to export finished audio in WAV and AIFF formats at 16, 24 or 32 bit resolution at the project sample rate. There is also a Digital Delivery Mastering feature that provides you with mastered audio files that comply with Apple’s “Mastered for iTunes” specifications.

Plug-in version enables automating all the controls.

Multi-Mono mode of plug-in version enables use on regular mono tracks and multi-channel tracks or buses inside a compatible DAW.

Design is based on the experience of a very successful, award winning mastering facility

Excellent audio quality with fine “analog” sound, i.e. “good” distortion.

Good value for money at the current price and IKM often have sales and other promotions. You may also use “jam points” you have accumulated to cover up to 30% of LMC’s price. Always good to check your IKM account to see what’s up!

Cons
Limited user controls that create interacting adjustments of EQ and dynamics that may not be your cup of tea.

Limited range of control compared to using your own chain of EQ, compressors and limiters.

No loudness matching control – nominal input levels and settings will boost the output about 6 dB between the “In” and “Bypass” modes which will cause extreme loudness bias. There is no fix for this using the standalone version, though in a DAW you can set up a separate bypass path to compensate.

The configurations available are based on the arrangements used by one (very successful) mastering company – there are many other successful arrangements of limiters, compressors, EQ, and other gear that LMC cannot provide (for example, see T-Racks 5 at https://www.ikmultimedia.com/products/tr5/).

Output formats of standalone are only WAV and AIFF – still no MP3 or AAC formats – but using the plug-in you can create any format available in your DAW.

https://www.ikmultimedia.com/products/lurssen/

Attached Thumbnails
IK Multimedia Lurssen Mastering Console-lurssen-plugin-1.jpg   IK Multimedia Lurssen Mastering Console-lurssen-proc-chain.jpg   IK Multimedia Lurssen Mastering Console-lurssen-waveform.jpg  
  • 1
24th June 2020

IK Multimedia Lurssen Mastering Console by snogroove

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 3 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 4 out of 5
  • Overall: 4
IK Multimedia Lurssen Mastering Console

I got this on sale for something like 65 dollars, I'm not expert at mastering at all but this gives a finished sound with enough flexibility for someone with very limited knowledge. just makes things sound richer without being slammed.

However, since Catalina upgrade and Logic 10.5.1 it was crashing repeatedly, not just the plugin but crashing Logic. I wrote them and they are responsive, but for now all they can recommend is switching to the non- GUI. plugin configuration, in which I can't change parameters like EQ + and -.

I'm not sure what Logic or Catalina upgrade it started crashing at, maybe it's my particular computer config, but right now for me it's of very limited use. I have been able to get it working sometimes where I can make a quick bass cut in the GUI then switch back to non-gun
mode to listen without crashing, but this is obviously not a long term solution.

They are polite and helpful which goes a long way, programming is difficult and I hope they can fix this easy-to-use and pleasing plugin soon.

This is the crash log for the plugin on my machine:

https://ibb.co/8sWC6C6

 
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