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Pro tools master fader
Old 9th October 2005
  #1
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Pro tools master fader

I mastered a record from stems a couple months ago.. The setup was a stereo track of drums, mono bass, stereo guitars and stereo vocals all in pro tools with faders set to zero, bussed to a master fader going out into the mastering setup.

I commented on how the mastering chain was making the recording sounding 'wider' and he laughed and said watch this.... He deleted the master fader (which was on zero) and the mix widened considerably more.

So this made me start asking tons of questions and he told me how if we seperated the stereo tracks to two mono tracks it would make just as big as a difference (we were using stereo eq plugs on the stereo tracks so we couldnt)..

So whats up with this? Maybe this is a known fact that everyone knows but I was totally unaware about all this..

Ive started mixing without a master fader and not bussing things into stereo aux's when I dont totally have to.. and im definetly getting more open bigger sounding mixes..

Anyone else noticed this?
Old 9th October 2005
  #2
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max cooper's Avatar
 

I work with LE, so maybe this is totally O/T, but I understand that the Aux tracks in LE operate at 32-bit float and don't get dithered to 24-bit. I wonder if there's something similar happening. I'll definitely check it out.
Old 9th October 2005
  #3
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largeunit's Avatar
 

What version of PT are you referring to
Old 10th October 2005
  #4
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max cooper's Avatar
 

OK, I've just been switching back and forth (with/without master fader) and I do hear a spatial difference. I'm listening to an LP track that 's recorded into Pro Tools LE and is playing back through a Rosetta 800. I've got two tracks on the session; one stereo audio (for the music) and one stereo master fader. The quickest way to switch is to start with the master fader output set to (for example) ADAT 1-2 (to the Rosetta) then switch to Analog 1-2, which effectively takes the master fader out of the mix.

To me it sounds like the outer edges of the stereo field extend farther. Interesting. I'll bet that summing a bunch of tracks makes more difference. My ears are pretty burnt right now; I've been bouncing to disk a bunch of stuff, and PTLE only does it in real time, so I've had a chance to listen to everything for six hours. dontcha hate it when the session's going by and you try to grab a fader, but then you remember then during a bounce to disk, you can't change anything?

I'll listen some more tomorrow when I'm doing the dither test. This is definitely interesting. Something is different. Is it possible that you can ask the ME what he knows about what's happening?
Old 10th October 2005
  #5
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shack jonz's Avatar
 

[QUOTE=planet red]
.... He deleted the master fader (which was on zero) and the mix widened considerably more.

I thought I was the only one who noticed this. I feel a bit more sane now.
Old 10th October 2005
  #6
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In a good room with nice monitors the difference is pretty big. In my studio its a bit more subtle, but still a difference.

Between not using a master fader and only using busses for FX I feel like I'm a bit closer to summing OTB.. Wider and a less congested with more space in the middle for kicks and snares..
Old 10th October 2005
  #7
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largeunit's Avatar
 

No such issue on Protools HD.
Old 10th October 2005
  #8
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shack jonz's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by largeunit
No such issue on Protools HD.
I have a PT HD2 Accel system and noticed it.
Old 10th October 2005
  #9
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Im also on HD2 accel.
Old 10th October 2005
  #10
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XHipHop's Avatar
What is the science/reasoning behind this?
Old 10th October 2005
  #11
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Curve Dominant's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by XHipHop
What is the science/reasoning behind this?
XHH,

Basically, you get this when you have a mix where the track volumes are too high.

Select group "All" and pull all those faders down about 5dB.

Then reset the master fader to 0dB. Notice how the mix "opens back up." This is a dynamic range issue.

Of course, it helps immensely if you don't track too hot when recording. These are all dynamic range issues.

The demonstration that Planet Red's mastering guy gave him was sort of a trick. It doesn't point out an inherent flaw in the PT mixbus so much as a flaw in the way one should utilize it IE: cramming lots of hot signal audio tracks into it...of course the mix will sound smaller if you do that! So don't do it.

Track at levels conservatively, so they breathe. Then send them to the mixbus in a manner whick lets the mix breathe. All these "problems" will go away once you implement an over-all production approach which honors dynamic range: Tracking levels > gain-staging > plugin gain-staging > aux send levels > sends to mixbus > mixbus levels.

OR...

You could just take the contrarian route and say, "Oh, the PT mixbus is f-cked up," but then you've eliminated that tool from the kit when it can come in so handy for all sorts of things, like mixbus compression, EQ, dither, etc...and you don't necessarily want to leave ALL those decisions to the mastering engineer.

At some point you have to say "I'm an engineer" and that means knowing the kit, and engineering your implementation of that kit so it does what you need it to do, in its entirety.

YMMV.
Old 10th October 2005
  #12
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norman_nomad's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by planet red
I mastered a record from stems a couple months ago.. The setup was a stereo track of drums, mono bass, stereo guitars and stereo vocals all in pro tools with faders set to zero, bussed to a master fader going out into the mastering setup.

I commented on how the mastering chain was making the recording sounding 'wider' and he laughed and said watch this.... He deleted the master fader (which was on zero) and the mix widened considerably more.

So this made me start asking tons of questions and he told me how if we seperated the stereo tracks to two mono tracks it would make just as big as a difference (we were using stereo eq plugs on the stereo tracks so we couldnt)..

So whats up with this? Maybe this is a known fact that everyone knows but I was totally unaware about all this..

Ive started mixing without a master fader and not bussing things into stereo aux's when I dont totally have to.. and im definetly getting more open bigger sounding mixes..

Anyone else noticed this?
It's my understanding that "deleting" the master fader in PT, ONLY removes the fader graphic from the session. You're whole mix is still running through the default master section of the PT summing buss. Adding a "Master fader" to a session just allows you to adjust the gain.

Quote:
Originally Posted by max cooper
OK, I've just been switching back and forth (with/without master fader) and I do hear a spatial difference. I'm listening to an LP track that 's recorded into Pro Tools LE and is playing back through a Rosetta 800. I've got two tracks on the session; one stereo audio (for the music) and one stereo master fader. The quickest way to switch is to start with the master fader output set to (for example) ADAT 1-2 (to the Rosetta) then switch to Analog 1-2, which effectively takes the master fader out of the mix.
So are you monitoring both sources through the rosetta? Are you switching the outputs from ADAT 1-2 to Analog 1-2 on the Master fader, or are you just deleting the master fader and listening to the stereo audio track which is being sent to analog 1-2?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Curve Dominant
The demonstration that Planet Red's mastering guy gave him was sort of a trick. It doesn't point out an inherent flaw in the PT mixbus so much as a flaw in the way one should utilize it IE: cramming lots of hot signal audio tracks into it...of course the mix will sound smaller if you do that! So don't do it.
You can send as many hot signals to the mixbus as you wish as long as none of your tracks, auxes, or master busses are clipping. Turning down ALL of the audio tracks vs. turning down JUST the master buss in PT renders no sonic differences. You can do a simple sum test to verify.

Now, if you incoporate plug-ins, the situation changes. In these cases you're relient on the programing acuity of the software engineers.
Old 10th October 2005
  #13
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Ruudman's Avatar
 

Quote:
It's my understanding that "deleting" the master fader in PT, ONLY removes the fader graphic from the session. Your whole mix is still running through the default master section of the PT summing buss. Adding a "Master fader" to a session just allows you to adjust the gain.
My thoughts exactely. That's what Digi says.


ruudman
Old 10th October 2005
  #14
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djui5's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Curve Dominant
XHH,

Basically, you get this when you have a mix where the track volumes are too high.

Select group "All" and pull all those faders down about 5dB.

Then reset the master fader to 0dB. Notice how the mix "opens back up." This is a dynamic range issue.

Eric! I'm proud of you. Great answer


Quote:
It's my understanding that "deleting" the master fader in PT, ONLY removes the fader graphic from the session. You're whole mix is still running through the default master section of the PT summing buss. Adding a "Master fader" to a session just allows you to adjust the gain.

Yep, and Eric posted the cure to the problem stated in this thread.

Pro-Tools isn't an analog console people. You gotta stop treating it as one. You can't push it hard and make things better. Computers need breathing room to operate properly. It's always been that way, not just with audio. Let's just take it easy on the ole gal and let the mastering guys make up the volume ok?
Old 10th October 2005
  #15
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No this doesnt involve any type of clipping. Anything going into the mix bus when the mixbus fader is up sounds less wide. I was shocked by it, and we did a blind test and I could guess the one without it every time.

Alan Douches at westwestside showed it to me, and he's very knowledgable on PT stuff..

Theres no reason not to try it. Try setting your mixbus fader to 0db and then delete it and see if you tell a difference..
Old 10th October 2005
  #16
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djui5's Avatar
 

Try turning all your faders down 6db (leave the master at 0) and tell me if you still hear it. It's not a clipping issue.
Old 10th October 2005
  #17
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absrec's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by planet red
So whats up with this? Maybe this is a known fact that everyone knows but I was totally unaware about all this..

Ive started mixing without a master fader and not bussing things into stereo aux's when I dont totally have to.. and im definetly getting more open bigger sounding mixes..
Try two mono master faders if you need to use them. Or 2 mono auxs for that matter. It works. Do ask me why.
Old 10th October 2005
  #18
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Don S's Avatar
 

This is why switched to Pyramix! In regards to PTLE, my levels were not even close to 0. Why is turning the faders (only 4) down 6 db going to fix this problem? Are we hearing the difference between 32 bit float and 24 bit fixed? Can this be bypassed by summing out the ADAT port?
Old 10th October 2005
  #19
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max cooper's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by norman_nomad



So are you monitoring both sources through the rosetta? Are you switching the outputs from ADAT 1-2 to Analog 1-2 on the Master fader, or are you just deleting the master fader and listening to the stereo audio track which is being sent to analog 1-2?


Just to clarify, the audio track output is set to "ADAT 1-2" so when I switch the Master Fader output from "ADAT 1-2" to "Analog 1-2", the audio track goes right through to the Rosetta without going to the Master Fader. Maybe this is easier to say with a screen shot:
Attached Thumbnails
Pro tools master fader-picture-2.png  
Old 10th October 2005
  #20
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Ruudman's Avatar
 

Why the different fader levels?

Have I missed something?

(exept my ex-girlfriend sometimes...)


ruudman
Old 10th October 2005
  #21
I´ll try this w/ my humble set up today and post back my results....
Old 10th October 2005
  #22
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max cooper's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruudman
Why the different fader levels?

Have I missed something?

(exept my ex-girlfriend sometimes...)


ruudman
I was checking the bit about not hitting the master fader as hard...
Old 10th October 2005
  #23
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Jenre's Avatar
 

If you're switching between analog 1-2 and ADAT 1-2 then surely you could contribute the extra stereo width to the digital outs rather than no master fader?

And I also understood that the master fader is just a visual representation of what it already there? It just lets you view the channel, add inserts etc and change the gain?
Old 10th October 2005
  #24
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RKrizman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jenre
If you're switching between analog 1-2 and ADAT 1-2 then surely you could contribute the extra stereo width to the digital outs rather than no master fader?
You mean after all this we're comparing a digital output to an analog output?

A master fader on Protools isn't something you run anything "through". It's just a means of applying changes to the overall mix. The fact that it's just "there" doesn't change anything. There's no extra math being done, and no additional headroom issues. (don't know why that even came up in the discussion)

-R
Old 10th October 2005
  #25
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max cooper's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jenre
If you're switching between analog 1-2 and ADAT 1-2 then surely you could contribute the extra stereo width to the digital outs rather than no master fader?


And I also understood that the master fader is just a visual representation of what it already there? It just lets you view the channel, add inserts etc and change the gain?
You guys are still misunderstanding me. When I switch the master fader to "Analog 1-2", the audio track output is still set to "ADAT 1-2"

How would anything be coming out of the analog outputs if the track output is routed to "ADAT 1-2" and there are no active sends?

So what happens is that the master fader is now routed to the analog outputs on the Digi002, but there is nothing connected to the analog 1-2 output on the 002, but there's also nothing connected to the input of the master fader.

Remember, the audio track ouput is still routed to "ADAT 1-2".

Switching to "Analog 1-2" on the master fader has the same effect as switching it to S/PDIF... NONE! It's just a way of taking it out of the equation by sending it somewhere it's not going to do anything.

What I'm ultimately hearing is:

1) Audio track output to "ADAT 1-2" + Master fader output to "ADAT 1-2"; the audio track routed thru the master fader routed to the Rosetta 800.

2) Audio track oupout to "ADAT 1-2" + Master fader output to "Analog 1-2"; now I'm hearing the session as if there were NO master fader.

Does that make sense? "Analog 1-2" is the same as NO OUTPUT!


C'mon, it's just a matrix of inputs and outputs.
Old 10th October 2005
  #26
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RKrizman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by max cooper
You guys are still misunderstanding me. When I switch the master fader to "Analog 1-2", the audio track output is still set to "ADAT 1-2"
You're right, it shouldn't make any difference. But for the sake of Occam's razor, why not just delete the master fader track?

I can't help but think there's something else causing what you're hearing. I've been doing this for years and have never heard any problems with the Master fader, whether it be on my S3A's or at mastering studios using multiple PT stems.

Anyhow, you know you could bounce a track both ways and put up some comparison files. It would be interesting to actually heard this.

-R
Old 10th October 2005
  #27
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Zooey's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by max cooper
How would anything be coming out of the analog outputs if the track output is routed to "ADAT 1-2" and there are no active sends?
My guess is that ADAT 1-2 is mirrored to the analog outputs in the hardware setup menu (though I don't understand what this has to do with having a master fader or not).

EDIT: ok, now I get it. You're switching to outputs that you're not using in lieu of just deleting the master fader. I don't know what that proves, but I'm sure it proves something.
Old 10th October 2005
  #28
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XHipHop's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by RKrizman
You're right, it shouldn't make any difference. But for the sake of Occam's razor, why not just delete the master fader track?

I can't help but think there's something else causing what you're hearing. I've been doing this for years and have never heard any problems with the Master fader, whether it be on my S3A's or at mastering studios using multiple PT stems.

Anyhow, you know you could bounce a track both ways and put up some comparison files. It would be interesting to actually heard this.

-R
There we go! Let's hear some bounces. I'm really intrigued.
Old 10th October 2005
  #29
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RKrizman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by XHipHop
There we go! Let's hear some bounces. I'm really intrigued.
Issues like these have popped up all the time but none have ever withstood the light of public scrutiny.

-R
Old 10th October 2005
  #30
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XHipHop's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by RKrizman
Issues like these have popped up all the time but none have ever withstood the light of public scrutiny.

-R
I'm aware...i remember when mixerman (i think that's who it was) claimed he had nothing below 50hz on an HD system and the DUC went nuts.

Still, there are a few people on this thread that are hearing a difference so it's worth investigating.
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