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Do your own mastering?

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Equipment' started by anonymous, Oct 22, 2001.

  1. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    I have worked out a system of keeping mastered and un-masterd copies of my mixes.

    Confessions:

    For a few years I used a Finalizer on all mixes, totaly maxed out.

    I gave that up in favor of mastering in a DAW, I auditioned Waves plug ins directly against the Finalizer and Waves won (for EQ anyway) They were less harsh.

    Now I keep 24 bit masters untouched, and either drag those into a mastering Pro Tools session or do a 16 bit 'own mastered version'..

    What do you guys do..?
     
  2. PlugHead

    PlugHead Active Member

    FWIW,

    Some of our projects go out for Mastering - ones with a healthy budget, but the last 2 or 3 on one label have been done in-house: Massive Passive, Vari-Mu, and Focusrite outboard have all contributed to a half dozen or more releases this year. We've received masters back, then we said, "what happened to the bottom?", or "where's the excitement up top?" enough to warrant our projects being done here. (not mentioning any names - yet!)

    Jay
    PlugHead Productions
     
  3. atlasproaudio

    atlasproaudio Active Member

    Maybe it's me, but mastering an already good or great sounding project is not rocket science. We do 99% of our mastering in house, and each project gets better than the last (providing that we are not polishing a turd). I know what I want in a master from listening to many, many other albums and learning from them. What other options are there? What can a mastering engineer do for my projects specifically? Probably not a lot (I am speaking here of the guys under the $150/hr range...don't get me wrong, the guys with the golden ears and golden tools are to be feared and revered) once you have the experience to know what you want, how to get it, and have lots of objectivity. If you don't know how to get there though, then a mastering engineer will serve you well. Good Luck.
     
  4. RichDurkee

    RichDurkee Guest

    <<Probably not a lot once you have the experience to know what you want, how to get it, and have lots of objectivity.>>

    i.e. a mastering engineer? Out of necessity, I sometimes "master" things in house. But wherever possible, I send them out for just the above reasons.
    I've spent the past six years being a full time fader jockey, and feel like the sun is just dawning. And yes, like previously stated every project gets better. But the projects we work on are going into a very competitive market, and every ounce of professionalism counts.
    I've been sending our larger projects to NYC to master at a "name" facility this past year. We had grown a bit discouraged with local mastering and were feeling the same sort of "we can do this just as well" emotions. And in a lot of instances, yes, we could. Then we started getting projects back from NYC. Yes, there is a huge difference.
    As tracking and mixing engineers claiming that talented mastering engineers don't bring anything to the table that we couldn't do without some practice seems a bit shortsighted.
    The eq, the compression, yeah, maybe. But think about mixing, how hard you hit gear in the studio for just the right IM distortion so the harmonics stack just so so the vocal hits the comp just so so you can't lose it on an Aura(awful)tone. You know, the Jedi aspects of the job that you can't vocalize other than "watch, and listen" to assistants, that you had to learn through thousands of hours of assisting and watching and then hundreds of mixes to get it through your skull... The window of brilliance that every single piece of equipment is capable of...
    Does this mean engineers are incapable of doing both? Absolutely not. Rare and talented exceptions to every rule exist, I'm simply aware I'm not one of them. I track and mix, and then I hand it off to someone who has a level of professionalism I respect, and the ears to match.
    My longwinded .02

    -rich
     
  5. davemc

    davemc Guest

    I'm with you Jules.
    I rather the bands take CD work to an extranal mastering house. Although I will still give them to mixes.
    One unmastered.
    another mastered with way to many plugs, although I use then all just a little.
    Pass filter 28 and under off
    Dad Tape
    Fairchild, more color than sound
    MC2000 just hitting 3db's off at 3:1
    Two pultecs one adding low and a bit high
    another for some mid. probably now replaced with one Pultec for color and the new "Sony all dancing eq plugin"
    DUY Shape for expanding a bit
    channelstrip for fine tuning eq (sony will do now)
    DUY Max.
    POW dither.

    Thinking about it I will cut out a few with the Sony. Only had it 2 days pretty cool.

    A lot of bands just use my basic mastering version, as it is cheaper.
    Sometimes I will slam it a bit some times for jazz/blues stuff. both multi comps will go.

    Although I can tell the diff when I get back the properly mastered versions.
     
  6. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    Wow prety similar to my chain... (but you have so many, you must go through twice or through 2-buses?? You need to give some of them up!!!!
    (heheheheheh)

    My (recent) self mastering chain:

    Cranesong Hedd on AES insert
    Sony "oxford" R3 plug in
    Bomb Factory Fairchild
    Waves C4 multiband compressor (reckon the McDSP is better?) I want to try Master X badly.
    Pow-R dither (Weiss plug in)

    :)
     
  7. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    I don't about the rest of you guys, but I am now finding that clients are allocating little to almost no budget for good mastering work. I get asked more and more to take a stab at it. For an additional fee of course. I often used the Vari-Mu and the Massive Passive and while I was getting great results, it often was not what the client or their producer was satisfied with. You know, the old it wasn't loud enough, it wasn't slamming you in the face, the VU meters moved to much. I started to rent and use the Finalizer and found that even though it is a powerful tool it still was harsh and not flexable enough for my tastes. I then got my hands on the TC DBmax, which is a upgraded Finalizer for broadcasters and this is what I was looking for. Much better sounding and way more flexable. The added benifit was that it includes all the filter settings for the various broadcast formats so you can get a pretty good clue on how your mix will sound on radio/tv/cable ect...
     
  8. davemc

    davemc Guest

    yeah two buses and a master bus for all this $*^t, in my master template.
    The Sony will hopefully knock it down some.
    Still getting a handle on the MC2000 to many options. The presets are not the best to start fiddling with. Tried C4 and masterX before the mcdsp. Did not like the sound of MasterX.
    C4 was ok cool interface, just did not do anything for me.
    Shape is another multi band thingy it is good too, very colored as well.

    I have toooo many plugins now.
    Way to many.
    I have a mix cube not enough horse power for all the plugins, I am being better not overloading the buses like I used to.

    Everyone else find when they use PT they start using a comp and eq on every track, then bus it out to another stereo track. Comp and eq that then out to a master which is comp/eq'd as well.
    Trying to be good, trying to keep template down to minimal.

    In my analog days I had 4 compressors
    Bass. Vox, backing vox, kick was about it
    At least I stick to 2 reverbs only most of the time.
     
  9. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    "The added benifit was that it includes all the filter settings for the various broadcast formats so you can get a pretty good clue on how your mix will sound on radio/tv/cable etc"

    DB Max eh... what do you get up to inside? 5 band compresion? any eq-ing? and that final output limiter? Dither? Do you set it to be .3 max output or some such?

    WHAT DO YOU GUYS CHOSE AS A FINAL OUT PUT LEVEL? (if self mastering) I use 0.3 db

    I want an Optimod, or something that realy simulates radio broadcast!!

    FM radio simulator box (or DAW plug in!!!)

    There was a 'speaker plug in' that was to be able to emulate NS10's say on Genelecs and vice versa.... can you belive it! But I've heard little about it recently...
     
  10. monty teebaum

    monty teebaum Member

    Originally posted by Julian Standen:
    I have worked out a system of keeping mastered and un-masterd copies of my mixes.

    Confessions:

    For a few years I used a Finalizer on all mixes, totaly maxed out.

    I gave that up in favor of mastering in a DAW, I auditioned Waves plug ins directly against the Finalizer and Waves won (for EQ anyway) They were less harsh.

    Now I keep 24 bit masters untouched, and either drag those into a mastering Pro Tools session or do a 16 bit 'own mastered version'..

    What do you guys do..?


    strange :confused:
    i read here a lot about highclass-mics, -preamps, different sound of different converters, but mastering is something to do just with a few middle-class-plugins... :confused:
     
  11. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    Jules, with the DBmax you can select how many bands you will use. (1-5) Compressor has adjustable slopes, Total of 4 insert blocks that you can insert into the chain. Inserts include, a real good AGC, Parametric eq, dynamic eq, 90deg mono, normalizer, brick wall limiter, soft clipper, production limiter or transmission limiter w/ selectable emphasis type, de-esser, spectral stereo enhancer, MS encode/decode, adjustable cal osc, user defined 0dbFS, surround and phase meters and .1db level adjustments. TPDF Dither on/of with 8-22 bit selectable, auto fade by time, knob or pedal.

    I have too have been using as my max settings.
     
  12. Jon Atack

    Jon Atack Member

    Here's my mastering chain. I have lately beaten the results of a national master house with it.

    PSX100-SE D/A
    GML 8200 eq
    Tubetech SMC2B 3 band valve compressor
    Manley Massive Passive eq
    Apogee PSX100-SE A/D
    Waves L2 box
    PSX100SE for UV22HR down to 16bits
    to
    PT, Masterlink and DAT.

    Then again, there are no true mastering gurus here in France like back home in the States.
    For mastering, Metropolis in London is currently in favor with quite a few French majors.

    Jon
     
  13. Irene

    Irene Guest

    I've heard Bill Padley mention the Focusrite
    Mixmaster, -expander/gate, 3 band manual compressor, EQ, stereo width, limiter, phase correlation meter and optional 24 bit 96 kHz converters. He said that it, surprisingly, rocks. And that it made his mix sound like a record!
    I'm intrigued because he is such a radio savvy
    producer. Has anyone else tried it?

    Irene
     
  14. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    "strange I read here a lot about highclass-mics, -preamps, different sound of different converters, but mastering is something to do just with a few middle-class-plugins..." - dan suter

    Well hang on Dan! See Jon Attacks mastering chain above! its's got some high class analog gear as well as some great digital gear in it. This is about self mastering, I dont think any of us here would turn down the chance for a mastering legend to master our stuff - budget permitting....!

    Irene I dont know that Focusrite unit, anyone else? Bill IS a radio guru you are correct in that!

    :)
     
  15. Irene

    Irene Guest

    BTW Jules, as you've got a toe in the Sony camp, is there any prospect of them coming up with a dedicated mastering TDM plug-in?
     
  16. buickwilson

    buickwilson Guest

    If I need to master for a budget job or demo work:

    AD8000SE A/D
    Sometimes into DW Fearn VT-2 (with line pad)
    Massive Passive
    Tube Tech CLA2B
    AD8000SE D/A

    L2
    UV22 plugin


    I generally avoid plugins on the master bus other then the L2 and UV22 (haven't spent much time yet to find which Dither is best for me -> UV22 in the AD8000 or plugin UV22, or POW-R, L2)..

    I have the Sony plugs, love them for channels, but haven't spent any time with them on the master bus (cuz I love the Massive Passive and a tiny bit of CLA2B on the bus)... I should spend some time to see what the Sony's can do the bus....
     
  17. monty teebaum

    monty teebaum Member

    Originally posted by Jon Atack:

    Then again, there are no true mastering gurus here in France like back home in the States
    Jon


    what's about translab in paris? i have some clients who's talking about alex goffer like a masteringod.

    btw: really nice masteringchannel :)
     
  18. monty teebaum

    monty teebaum Member

    Originally posted by Renie:
    I've heard Bill Padley mention the Focusrite
    Mixmaster, -expander/gate, 3 band manual compressor, EQ, stereo width, limiter, phase correlation meter and optional 24 bit 96 kHz converters. He said that it, surprisingly, rocks. And that it made his mix sound like a record!
    I'm intrigued because he is such a radio savvy
    producer. Has anyone else tried it?

    Irene


    i tried it. sorry, i think its a piece of $*^t :eek:
    i don't find a way to get something out of this piece who's better than what i send into it.
     
  19. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    Re Sony "any prospect of them coming up with a dedicated mastering TDM plug-in?"

    If you go to the Sony site (above somewhere) and download the manual you will read that one of the 4 offered EQ options IS a mastering specific EQ.

    On that tip, I just recedved the GML option as a late late late beta tester, I am loading it up tomorrow, you know where I will report first! Stay tuned, I am promised the Compressor as beta in a matter of weeks.. PT needed something like this BADLY!

    :)
     
  20. monty teebaum

    monty teebaum Member

    Originally posted by Julian Standen:
    "strange I read here a lot about highclass-mics, -preamps, different sound of different converters, but mastering is something to do just with a few middle-class-plugins..." - dan suter

    Well hang on Dan! See Jon Attacks mastering chain above! its's got some high class analog gear as well as some great digital gear in it. This is about self mastering, I dont think any of us here would turn down the chance for a mastering legend to master our stuff - budget permitting....!

    Irene I dont know that Focusrite unit, anyone else? Bill IS a radio guru you are correct in that!

    :)


    i think, the most important thing for mastering is not the gear, but
    - 2 fresh ears who don't know about the storys happen while recording & mixing
    - a other monitoring / room-situation. each room have acoustical problems, a lot of time a secound lsistening situation helps to find problems in a mix
    - a masteringengineer listen & work with a lot of differnt stuff all the time, so he catch the problems of a production much faster, 'cause he can compare with a lot other productions & know how the sound before & after mastering.

    i don't like to master productions, it also record and/or mix, but for comercials i do it also.
     

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