really depends on the song...(disclaimer-I am NOT a highly qualified mastering engineer...but this system works for my clinet base...)
Sometimes I use Acuma's stuff in the d8b, especially for 'hi energy' music...sometimes I use Ozone (really pretty cool if used sparingly), while other times layer on effects from Samplitude (multi-band compression, 4 point EQ, master limiter)
Generally mix to a -6dB level, to give the mastering process some room to work.
I use a lot of the Waves and UA stuff for mastering, but one plug that I used for a while and have stopped using is the BBE Sonic Maximizer plug. It can sound great at first until you realize that it is sucking all the mids out of your mix...anyone have any experience with this thing? It is pretty popular. If I use it now, it is on individual tracks and used with some very subtle settings rather than over the entire 2tr.
Pultec, 1176, L2, UAD EQs unless I need a multiband, Realverb-always looking for better verbs it seems and I'm thinking about going with a Lexicon box. I like the Native concept so I'm hoping the new UAD Dreamverb sounds good. I've heard a lot of good things about the Powercore verb although I've never heard it. I don't have a set way of doing things I just go for whatever's needed and will do the job. I don't use plugs for the fun of it. I use them only as a last resort to improve a mix. I like to A/B mixes by blind comparisons (just close your eyes and switch the effect on and off a random number of times so that you really don't know if it's kicked in or not and compare). I started doing this after working with a blind engineer and watching him work. He would go through the presets of a processor listening intently. The readout might say something like "Huge Marshall Stack" and he would be thinking hmm... that must be the solid state Noname practice amp cause it sounds like Ass. He would be right everytime. Also I think I can hear better with my eyes closed as it's easier to visualise the soundstage and imaging.
hey, after 3 years of constant use have to say I am fed up with Master X from TC works. It is really great with Pop/sequenced/dance music but it sucks with samba/bossa nova/classial stuff.
It is too metalic, but for the price, I can say that it is quite handy.
I shall be moving to C4 or to Waves Mastering bundle.
p.s: I almost won a famous prize in Brazil with my junior mastering utilizing a Q10 and TC MASTERX in 2000, so... study the stuff as deeper as one can..