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Protools (any good for mastering?)

Discussion in 'Pro Tools' started by J-MADD, Nov 15, 2004.

  1. J-MADD

    J-MADD Active Member

    Quick question.
    My band will be recording an album over the next 6 months or so. I will want to get the tracks mastered somewhere. One guy in the town close to where I live uses Protools to master. I was not under the impression that this was ussually used to master with. I am not sure whether or not its LE or HD. Have any of you guys heard of using Protools to just do mastering work?

  2. Ben Godin

    Ben Godin Active Member

    Its a bit hard to give you an honest answer without seeing this guy's list of gear. He may just run a DAW with some plugins and Pro Tools and claim a bs mastering service, or he may use Pro Tools and have lots of great outboard gear and then run it back into protools, you really don't know.
  3. J-MADD

    J-MADD Active Member

    Thanks Ben,
    I will have to check in on this place and see what kind of outboard gear (comps and stuff) he has in addition. I was just curious.

  4. joe lambert

    joe lambert Distinguished Member

    ProTools is normally used for tracking and mixing. When I hear it being used for mastering that sends up a red flag for me. The reason is that it usually means it's a Pro Tools rig with some plug in's. Not a dedicated mastering room with a variety of hi end gear, proper monitoring and listening environment. Not to mention an experienced mastering engineer.
    We have 2 Pro Tools units. We don't use them for mastering.
    If I were you I would ask what else has this person mastered. Get a sample of the work. Proximity to where you are should not be a deal breaker in finding the right mastering engineer.
    About 65% of the records mastered here in NYC are from out of state. I myself get records from all over the world. People send there records here because of the quality of work.
    I don't know this person so I can't comment on there work. But if I was in your shoes I would find out beforehand. Mastering is a very specific skill. Having a couple plugs does not make a mastering engineer anymore than having an instrument makes a great musician.
    If you have any questions let me know.
  5. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    I'm w/Joe, but with an addendum -

    A lot of this comes down to just how "serious" you are with this vs. how "serious" of a mastering job you want/need...

    I know a few guys with standard DAW-based setups in a GCES (Guitar Center Equipped Studio) that do decent work. If you're budget is crunched, this might not be a bad way to go. You might be able to get away with a $30-40 an hour rate with reasonable results.

    On the other hand, if you're looking for "major label" quality, you don't want a GCES, because you might already have one anyway - You need to go a step (or several) beyond that. GC doesn't have / stock / sell a monitor that I'd want or trust as an "A" set. Same with outboard (even though I understand that you can special order Manley products through GC). With few exceptions, most gear in a serious mastering room isn't available at the local music store.

    On the OTHER other hand, there are always the caveats - A great setup with an inexperienced engineer at the helm is probably worse that a mediocre setup with a seasoned engineer.

    The first thing you're going to want to establish is your budget. That's your bottom line. Get the best work you can afford, but keep the project in perspective - If you come out with a truly great sounding recording, it deserves a great mastering chain to keep it there. If the recording is "okay" in the end, a less-than-stellar setup might be a budget-friendly answer (although the better setup might be able to improve it more - See how confusing this is?).
  6. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    depends on how he uses it. If it's used to capture, then cool. If it's purely plugins then probably not.
  7. J-MADD

    J-MADD Active Member

    yeah, I looked into it more and the mastering is all done with protools plugins. Nope, I wont be using that place. I guess it just gets down to the fact that mastering is an enigma to me. When I think of whats used in a mastering studio, I imagine the cd from the studio going through external comps, EQ and limiters. But I really have no idea what really physically happens to the song in the mastering studio.

    Thanks all for the info.

  8. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    Another thing to watch out for that's relatively new are the "emulation" squads... I've seen a HUGE number of bedroom "mastering studio" guys who advertise a large collection of equipment including a Farichild 670 ($30,000 compressor), Teletronix LA2A's, Urei 1176's, Pultecs, etc.

    Of course, what they actually have is a set of UAD plugins.

    And hey, that's great. I've got a set too. But I make it fairly clear that I have *this* hardware and *these* plugs. A lot of these guys are trying to pull the wool over your eyes. I've even seen sites where they have photos of the actual hardware lifted from other sites - That's pretty low.

    In the internet age, it's hard to look out for that kind of deception... You've got to go with your gut, but don't be afraid to ask questions. Almost anyone who has a halfway decent setup will have "actual photos" of their "actual setup" somewhere, and will proudly discuss their gear at the drop of a hat. And even with that, you have to be careful - There was a guy in the U.K. that had photos of MY SETUP (which IMO, is pretty humble in the first place) on his site, claiming it was his setup. "Massive Mastering" logos on the computer screens and everything. Looking further over his site, he happened to have exactly the same gear list as I did also. :evil: Software, hardware, everything but the monitors - which of course, weren't the same monitors in the photo (of my room) on his site... Don't know why he stopped at lying about monitors... :roll:

    Sorry - I seem to have started going on a barely-related rant here... It's a bit more of an extreme than what this thread is dicussing. however, it's something to watch out for. I'm probably a little sensitive to it because I've found a half-dozen sites "borrowing" large sections of my website in the last several months. Dammit, I work hard on that site. They can eat me. I can only imagine what the "big guys" go through...

    Sorry - ranting again... :-?

    Kudos to the guy for telling you he used plugs in the first place!

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