Mastering consoles/attenuators/etc

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by Jon Best, Apr 7, 2003.

  1. Jon Best

    Jon Best Active Member

    So, what is everyone using for routing and listening? Stepped attenuators? Mastering consoles?

    What would be the 'dream' mastering desk? What would you want, and use every day? Inserts? Parallel processing paths? VU's?

    Just polling everyone, mostly with regards to workflow and what affects it.
  2. joe lambert

    joe lambert Distinguished Member


    What I have and use everday is listed on our website, There are also a few pictures. Most top mastering rooms have custom consoles built with there specific needs in mind. It's a very personal choice as far as EQ's, compressors, converters. I have choices for all 3 because each piece has it's own sound. And finding the right one for the perticular song is what can make a big difference. Then new stuff comes out and you start to acumulate gear and the never ending search for the perfect box continues.
  3. Don Grossinger

    Don Grossinger Distinguished past mastering moderator Active Member

    Ya'know, I almost think it doesn't matter after a few minimum requirements are met.

    The gear must meet a basic level of quality. It must be very quiet & not induce additional distortion onto the program (unless that's desired). It must be comfortable for the ME to work with. Signal routing & metering must be accurate & dependable. Monitors & room acoustics must be revealing & full range. You must know how your work sounds in the real world after you leave your room. The EQs & compressors must be versatile enough to get the engineer to where he(she) wants to go sonically.

    After that (you get the idea), a good ME can work in any professional room (after getting accustomed to the room & monitors). I have worked in a number of rooms over the span of a 20 year mastering career in which I did not have choice of equipment. I think I did fine work in each. It's easy to get hung up on boxes, but whether the EQ is Massenberg, Sontec, Avalon, Weiss, Millennia Media, or Z-Systems doesn't really matter.

    What is important is to have a really good idea of how the program you're working on is "supposed" to sound based on your taste & your client's wishes. Then you must have the ability to get it there. How it gets done is of no importance. I really think I could work out of any professionally outfitted mastering setup & turn out good work.

    It's the person and not the gear.
  4. lowdbrent

    lowdbrent Guest

    Mr. Lambert, great website. Very polished.
  5. Jon Best

    Jon Best Active Member

    I agree with you. I'm putting together my own hamburgerized panel with attenuation and speaker switching right now, and I'm looking forward to building a decent mastering console/router in the next year, if I don't screw it up in the early stages. I'd like to start mapping it out now, and I'm just looking for that thing I've forgotten to take into consideration.

    It'll probably be passive unbalanced, by the way, with an active output stage, possibly with Fred Forssell's JFET992. I've got a lot to learn before I get there, though.

  6. Don Grossinger

    Don Grossinger Distinguished past mastering moderator Active Member

    Keep all components insanely quiet. Use stepped attenuators, compressors & EQ's so every move is exactly repeatable. You might look for used Neumann Mastering Console pieces at vintage equipment places or repair shops that deal in older gear. Get both peak reading AND standard VU meters. And provide LOTS of headroom so nothing is overstressed in processing.

    You probably know more about design than I do. I just turn knobs, but there are experts in design that should be willing to consult with you, even within Recording .ORG.

    Good luck & keep us posted on your progress.
  7. kent

    kent Guest


    I've been looking into this myself lately. It's hard to find any info on this. Manley has a bit but doesn't go into detail. I was looking at the Forssell or John Hardy opamps after finding my buddies at the Tech Talk forum haven't come up with any layouts for discreet opamps that work with the exception of the Neve BA283 - great for mic pre's but not for transparency.

  8. Jon Best

    Jon Best Active Member

    That's just the thing. I probably don't. But that hasn't stopped me yet, and either I pick up stuff fairly fast, or i've been lucky so far.

    Thanks for the thoughts!

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