Mastering Software?

Discussion in 'Tracking / Mixing / Editing' started by Eraserfish, Dec 11, 2013.

  1. Eraserfish

    Eraserfish Active Member

    I'm in the market for mastering software that is comprehensive and will allow me to take 24 bit stereo recordings from my DAW to final production level (red-book compliant) broadcast ready, final CD format (I am term dumb). I've read almost all the mastering posts on this forum and realize that everyone warns against me doing this and that I Must go to a professional mastering studio. Well until I make it big or stop traveling all over the world and get a chance to work with a local studio/mastering house, that's not going to happen. I realize that this is a wonderful profession and takes great equipment and a trained pair of ears to make great masters. So that being said, without trying to insult anyone's intelligence, I'm looking for some good software that will help me make acceptable masters. I know that sequoia is used in a lot of pro studio's and that audiokid is a fan of it. Honestly speaking that one is probably better for the pro engineers than my humble projects. I will not use this software as a plugin, but rather a standalone, working just a two track mixdown. Wavelab 8 has been reccomended to me by the guys at a popular online store. One studio I've worked with recomended switching gears entirely and getting the Samplitude suite, and using that as my mastering DAW and slaving reason 7 to it instead of using reason 7 and then going to a standalone mastering program (not a bad idea, but I'm used to my workflow). Ozone 5 by izotype has been recommended as well, but after researching that software I think it's power lies in it's ability to use it as a plug in. Soundforge 11 I see in the magazines but have no idea about work flow or ease of use. I used samplitude a few years ago, and I like the visual side of things, like being to look at the actual waveforms. My current DAW Reason has a spectrum anazlyzer now, so I take out the unused or unwanted frequencies visually through eq/HP/LP filters, which has added a lot of space in my recordings and allowed me to really think about what frequencies each track is taking in my final mix.

    I would greatly appreciate your opinions on what mastering software you guys use, especially the smaller studio's. Software takes time to learn, and training your ears to hear at a more precise level does as well. Everyone has to start somewhere, and I know this pursuit will take years to master (pun-intended), but I need software that will get my volume to industry standard, add a little punch, and allow me to produce finalized CD's. Your opinions are always appreciated!

    just search eraserfish on soundcloud if you want examples of my music
  2. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    In theory any DAW with precise vst plugins can be use to master.. All you need is an EQ, A compressor, a multiband compressor and a limiter.

    The most important tool is your ears, the room and monitoring system (and again your ears trained in that environement)

    As for software, some have good results with ozone and T-Racks.

    Keep in mind that a better mix calls for a simpler mastering job. A Perfectly mixed album may only call for volume matching the songs.
  3. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    The audio processing part of the process can be done with just about any decent audio processing software. Skill and good ears certainly help, but a proper room is pretty critical.

    The true heart of mastering is technical. In the case of CDs that means delivering a properly configured CD-R or set of files. I've successfully produced replication ready DDP2 files using Reaper and a third party plugin. I was also able to make the older style bin/cue files. It's a bit fiddly but affordable and it works.
  4. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    I still don't get -- well, I suppose they're still marketed as some "secret mastering weapon" but I know literally *zero* mastering engineers that use them with any regularity (contrarily, I know many that will ask for a remix if the maul-the-band is the only thing that can help).


    No doubt, it's 95% listening. That makes it 95% monitoring and proper room treatment. Everything else if by far, secondary. I'd rather have Reaper and whatever stock plugs that come with it along with a fine monitoring chain than have $50k worth of high-end analog gear and a set of GuitarShack monitors...
  5. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    instead of a 'mastering box set', you could just get a couple waves plugins, like say the linear phase eq, a pultec, and a compressor, and an L2, this will probably run you about the same price ozone/t racks, but you would also have 2 eq's and a compressor that you could use all over your mix. i have used these on projects that don't have budget for mastering, and they work.

    also, adobe audition 3.0, is 'abandonware' which means they'll give it to you free, w/ registration codes, and it includes plug-insthat were developed w/ Izotope, and they are pretty good. just another option if cash is low, and probably not much of a compromise in quality, if any at all. adobe plug-inshave always sounded very good to my ears.

    i've used t-racks 3 a dozen or so times, and i don't like it that much. Ozone had a more transparent, sound, which is what i'd get if i were going to buy a pre pakaged solution, which i most likely wouldn't. i don't know that they're any better than some of the newer individual plugins, for 'quick' mastering.
  6. Eraserfish

    Eraserfish Active Member

    I appreciate the comments. Just as an update, I can't use plug-ins in Reason 7 so the Waves stuff which is great won't be an option for me, or any other plug-in, so I'm stuck with the idea of a pre-packaged solution. The sounds coming out of reason are very good and a person with a good ear for mixing and mastering would have most of what they needed in the box. I did check out reaper (thanks to bouldersound for the excellent video, you're a smart guy and I've seen you around youtube doing a few reviews and whatnot), and adobe audition. Software takes me longer to learn than it used to, so I want buy something great that will have updates down the road that I can learn once and get settled in a comfortable work flow. As far as the perfect room I pretty much have that; I live in a metal trailer in Kandahar with blankets covering the walls :). I mix the old fashion way by putting my cd in everything I can find and writing notes about what nuances don't shine and which ones are annoying. I have a pair of dt990's which get me in the ballpark, once you learn their weakness (they make your music sound better than it is) and their other weakness (too crispy on the highs). I know this project probably sounds impossible and ghetto to the Pros, but I'm going with the 95% ears theory. I've been making bad recordings for 26 years now, so I'm pretty much a bad recording pro! I've only truly cared about mixing and mastering for about a year now, and my ears have changed now that I'm so surgically critical at an individual track level. In five years I'm sure I'll look back and think "I could do better now", just like I do on all my old recordings. Hey we do it because we love it not cuz the money's good (except you lucky ones).

    I keep hearing good things about Ozone's dither (I think Wavelab uses it as well). How important is encoding my cd's with ISRC? Are there any other obvious mistakes to look out for or anything else I might be dumb about or forgetting, other than not using a mastering house ;-)
  7. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    my bad, i mis-read and thought you said 'reaper', you didn't. i love the sounds in reason! they sound great right from the start. If your just making cds to hand out than just burning .wav files on a decent cd-r is fine. if your gonna have it up on i tunes and amazon, or your registered w/ ASCAP, or BMI, then it's worth the money, i'd say, as long as you think you'll be able to sell enough downloads to at least cover the cost.

    it sounds kinda obvious, but you definitely want to check the copies quickly, if your gonna make them yourself. more than once i left the studio w/ a mix to check, got home, and it was all messed up. or gotten into the car popped it in and it didn't work.

    p.s i hate learning new software too, and audition isn't the most intuitive program all around, but for what your trying to do, it'd be just fine, and free. it's drag and drop the audio file, then just add the plug-insyou want. you could even setup a template w/ your typical mastering chain, and just tweak the settings. it also has cd burning capabilities too. reaper is good too, they both use vst plugins, i can't attest to how good they stock plug-insare, in reaper, but they're are plenty of free vst's out there, that are legit.
  8. callahan studios

    callahan studios Active Member

    From a professional audio engineers standpoint, make time to have a real mastering engineer do it. Don't be cheap. If you do it yourself it will sound cheap and not broadcast ready. In Nashville any decent demos are even taken to a professional mastering engineer. And those are just demos. It takes more than a few plug ins and a DAW to master a song/album and make it sound broadcast/radio ready. It's years of experience, a guy with great ears, and professional gear/rooms which will run you into hundreds of thousands of dollars if not millions. If you're a serious artist make the time and gather the funds. Unsigned independent artists are doing it every day

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  9. thatjeffguy

    thatjeffguy Active Member

    callahan... the OP stated that this was not an option for him. He also stated that it is a part of the craft that he would like to learn, so the advice is misdirected here.
    Personally I never mastered for my clients because that's not what I'm set up or experienced to do. But back in the old days of little money I recorded my own stuff and did what I (at the time) called 'mastering' on the final two-track. I think this is the case we have here.
  10. ondray

    ondray Active Member

    For mastering albums, actually compiling the album together, you can use DSP-Quattro which is relatively well priced and can do all the fading, trimming, arranging and batch processing you need, including Metadata and mp3 exporting. For actually processing your audio with external gear, it's not the best. But, it does a good job of using AU or VST plugins, over the entire album or individual tracks. good luck.
  11. Paschalis I.

    Paschalis I. Guest

    Perfect answer.

    Let me add for Mastering too :)
  12. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I was a recording/mix engineer for years, had some pretty nice gear in my studio, and yet I always advised my clients to seek out a true mastering engineer when the time came to finalize their projects.

    In short, I could have a powerhouse computer with the latest and greatest mastering progs and plugs, top notch standalone converters and clocks, a full rack of UA and Fairchild gear, a high dollar, hi voltage summing system, the best monitors money could by in a perfectly tuned room, and still not really be comfortable mastering - because I'm not an ME.

    (LOL but if someone wants to hook me up with that stuff I'm more than happy to try) ;)

    I do applaud the OP's desire to learn the craft, though. It's an essential part of the process, and there are far too many artists who ignore it, or even worse, the same number of people out there who simply buy a computer, install Pro Tools LE, add some EQ and then bash it to hell and back using a 30:1 ratio with Waves L2, and then consider the song to be "mastered".

    As long as you've got great ears, know what you are doing with the tools, respect the dynamic range (don't squash the audio flatter than a bug on a windshield), and don't end up graduating from the current school of "loud = great", then in a few years - after you've had time to learn your gear and hone your craft - let me know what your rates are. ;)

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