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Alesis MASTERLINK - new for me


I just got my Masterlink yesterday and have not had yet a chance to address it. I will be useing a TC Electronics 96K Finalizer in conjunction with the Masterlink.

I am useing Red Book only and am seeking the best CD masters I can produce myself. (I am looking at about 30 album projects right now!)

Can anyone supply any starting tips for a person that has been greatly stressed out with the harsh and ungraceful ways of the old Tascam DA-40?

I know that this is going to be Heaven and I am very excited indeed! :tu:

I was a little disapointed to realize that as far as sample rates are concerned, 16 bits is all you get to master if going to Red book standard huh?

How is 20 bit put to CD? All those Coltrane Cds that state new 20 bit mapping. Can this device do that? Can it be brought to CD?

Thanks in advance.

Peace & Dreams,

Mad John
Zythum Studios

"The present day Composer refuses to die !"
Edgar Varese - 1921



Blesscurse Tue, 03/26/2002 - 17:07

Julian - I understand that you mix to Masterlink. Could you tell us a little about your experience with that unit, and if you recommend it as a substitute for ye olde studio DAT machine, etc.?
Do you monitor mixes of its D/A? I know that you don't use the A/D.... Thanks.

sapplegate Tue, 03/26/2002 - 17:42

Hey John!

We too are using the Finalizer 96K as a front end to the Masterlink and it works well. If you want to do all your "pre-mastering" in the Finalizer, just set the output options for the digital out to 16-bit and use one of the dither algorithms. Set the Masterlink for 16-bit recording (44.1kHz sample rate I assume) and you're all set. The Masterlink won't have to do any additional DSP during the rendering.

We took the other approach. We use the converters in the 96K to feed the Masterlink 24-bits (at 44.1 until our prefered mastering guy, David Harris at Studio B in Charlotte , gets his Alsihad HD system) because we felt they were a little smoother at 44.1, and basically to prevent digital overs. We make CD24 mixes (AIFF files) for material that goes off to mastering. For in-house demo stuff, we still use the 96K as a front end, but we tend to use the DSP in the Masterlink, especially the limiter for that "loud" sound.

I don't know what size hard drive the Masterlink ships with now, but ours was a puny 4.3GB unit. Get a 20-30GB drive (5400 rpm is fine, but 7200 if you prefer) and stick that puppy in and you can store a LOT of mixes in there! Remember, just because you remove a song from a playlist, it isn't erased, the audio file is still on disk! Yes, you will void your warranty, so wait 90 days or whatever and then do it. You will basically have to remove every screw in the unit to get the hard drive out, but the mod is well worth the trouble.

Have fun with your new toy!

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anonymous Wed, 03/27/2002 - 05:17

I mix listening to the D/A of the Cranesong Hedd clocked to the house w/c (Apogee), I can A/B to a commercial CD on the masterlink (also clocked to the house w/c)

A = my mix via Hedd
B = CD via Masterlink outputs

I have and can re set it up so the A/B is done via the same A/D's as well, thanks for reminding me... I should see about doing that again...


Mad John Wed, 03/27/2002 - 06:53

Old House Scott,

Thank you for the helpful responce! Maybey you could tell me what the deal is with takeing your Hard Drive mix to 96K/20 bit and then haveing it converted to the regular Cd Red book format?

What I am not clear on is that most music is placed on CD right? Everything on Cds are brought to 16 bit/ 44.1k , I was under the impression that there was a "Mastering advantage" to bringing the sound source up on the drive. My thought was that something at a higher rate was being done to the treatment of the material in the Hard drive , where it then could be "translated" to 16 bit CD.

I know not any other reason for haveing the 96K and 20 bits , if we can not apply these atributes to our own sonics!

Does any one understand my delima?

Mad John
Zythum Studios

"The present day Composer refuses to die!" - Edgar Varese - 1921

mixfactory Wed, 03/27/2002 - 07:23

What I normally do is I record to the Masterlink at 88.2K or 96K(24 bits) through a Cranesong Hedd 192 clocked directly from the Hedd through AES. I deliver a CD24 format to the mastering engineers. They prefer it this way, if any processing will be incured after. If you are doing the pre mastering yourself, your best bet is to do the same, Finalizer at 96K to the Masterlink at 24bits. Then do the conversion in the Masterlink. I've dithered down in different ways and done many comparisons between different formats(Digidesign,CraneSong Hedd,finalizer,etc). What I learned is that I get the best results when I do the conversion within the unit itself, 96kor 88.2K 24bits to 16bits 44.1K(Masterlink). It keeps the integrity of the original mix much better this way, then dithereing it before hand. I think your question would be better on the mastering forum.

planet red Wed, 03/27/2002 - 08:00

If you're going to get your projects mastered it would be best to record to 24bit 96k on the masterlink. Then at the mastering house they can go out of their awesome converters into their analog outboard and back into some really nice converters to 16bit 44.1k.

Generally speaking, sample rate conversions dont sound very good, but if you're going to be going back out to analog in mastering I'd go for the highest sample rate possible, since they wont be converting it. But if you are going to do any type of SCR, I'd say do it at 88.2k since that ends up sounding better going to 44.1.

So how much did you pick your masterlink up for? I need some sort mixdown deck, and itll either be a masterlink or an older G4 running Peak with a cd burner.

Mad John Wed, 03/27/2002 - 08:17

Planet Red, hello!

I got mine for $1,000.

I am not planning to take any Masters from Zythum Studios outside to other Master Houses.

What I need to know is how to get the Analog tapes to The Masterlink as a final Master take in the best possible audio spectrrum.

Here is our set up:

1/2 inch TRS-8 1/4 inch Tascam 388 to Mackie 1604 (currently looking for a quilty 24 board, hate the Mackie beyond discription!!)
XLR line in to Universal 2-610 Tube Pre
Empirical Labs Distressors (2) OR
Manley MU Compressor
Massive Passive EQ
96K Finalizer

We are in the process of prepareing an 8 CD Box Set and it is imparitive that we have the Conversion matter understood.

Am I better off Mastering to CD 24? How do you get that to a Master CD?

Mad John
Zythum Studios

"The present day Composer refuses to die!" - Edgar Varese - 1921

20to20 Wed, 03/27/2002 - 19:20

Originally posted by John Thomas Milhorat:

What I need to know is how to get the Analog tapes to The Masterlink as a final Master take in the best possible audio spectrrum.

Hey JTM,

With your gear I'd recommend mixing thru the Mackie 1604...
Then, do your 'mastering' with the 2 Manleys and/or the Finalizer
(set appropriately for the desired bit depth & sample rate),
then out AES into the Masterlink...

I would record into the MLink at 24bit/44.1K...

You could (especially if you're considering the potential
of 're-using' these mixes on a future DVD project)
go 88.2K, but I would avoid 96K for
the reasons already mentioned above...

I would then use the ML to burn a CD24 version (as an archive)...
And then use the ML to burn a Redbook version for
CD duplication, etc...

It will take care of the Dithering (& SRC) automatically...
It really does a great job, and $1000.US is a deal!

Also, from what I've heard the 7200rpm HDs
run too hot for the fan-less MLink...
Considering it's only 2 tracks, 5400rpms is sufficient...

I recently swapped in a 30GB/5400rmp HD...
That's what I'd suggest if you're interested in upsizing...

Good luck,

20to20 Wed, 03/27/2002 - 19:26

Sony's Super Bit-Mapping and Apogee's UV22HR processes
are at least two ways to 'squeeze' 20bits
of sonic goodness onto a standard Redbook (16/44.1k) CD... :eek: