Techniques: How do you engage your chain?

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by Scott Griffin, Jan 4, 2004.

  1. I've been thinking a lot about this lately. When I sit down to a project, after listening to it a few times to get a feel for where it wants to go, typically I work in a rather backwards fashion - I'll strap my final limiter down before I start doing anything else, simply because I know that limiter will completely change the entire sound of anything else I do. Then I'll work backwards from there, altering the EQ, adding multicomp, etc.

    Anyone else out there work like this? If not, how do you approach?
  2. Ammitsboel

    Ammitsboel Member

    My approach is listening first and get a good insight of what the material needs or don't need.
    Then I start with eq/comp if needet and then the limiter last just to take the peaks of my signal.
    I'll try not to use the limiter as a compressor and change the spectrum and depth of the material unless the customer whant's it.

    Best Regards
  3. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    I always listen first to get the feel of what is coming in the door. Maybe listen a minute to each song that is going to be mastered to get the overall effect. We also take some time to listen to any representative CDs that the client has brought along to see what they are after. Then I talk with the client to see what his or her goal is with the music and how we can help him or her achieve that goal.

    I guess the way I work is to EQ first then add compression or limiting and then change the EQ to suit the effect that the client is after. Any other effects such as widening are also added and listened to with the compression on.

    Some times I have to do some sonic surgery first to get rid of hum, clicks or hiss or maybe some distortion and that is always done before we start mastering.

    Every piece is different and the ways to approach it are varied. If I have worked with the client before and it is similar material I can go back to my logs and see where we ended up the last time we did the mastering as a possible starting place for this session.

    Hope this helps
  4. Oh, man, Thomas. I'm right with you on the "sonic surgery" - seems as though 60-70% of the people that walk through my door need it. What's especially difficult is when they go and use gates to try and cure the problem themselves - then you don't even have a consistency to it - you have to try and carve it out of each spot where a given instrument (usually the vocals here) comes in.

    I suppose that's the downside of trying to work to a low-budget audience.
  5. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    It depends on what needs to be done on how I approach it. The problem starting with the limiter is any changes you make are going to change your limiting. also you are using your limiter as a compressor like stated above. I like to roll the ball downhill myself and not have to do to much back and forth. not that it's wrong, but I think you limit your options by limiting first
  6. OK, I can respect that. My experience has been that, typically, applying the final limiter to an already tweaked chain usually forces me to go back and make adjustments to the previous positions. Bear in mind, I leave that limiter at the end of the chain, and add other treatments in between the source and the final limiter.

    Sure, I'd wholeheartedly agree that putting a limiter on the front end of the chain completely restricts your options on further treatment.
  7. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    It can also restrict your options when it's at the end too. most times you can get more from your limiter if you correct certain things before it hits it.
  8. Hmmm.

    I'll have to experiment a bit with a more completely linear chain approach.

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