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Final Mastering through Dual Zeon Processor PC

I need your feed back on an issue I am not very familiar with. I own a Computer Graphics Company (been around for over 12 years) and not a Novice, and do a lot of Recording of my Gospel Music at a friend of mines studio. He has one of the most powerful studios I have ever been in with two Yamaha 16 track Didigal Boards and a Rack full of enhansment and Editing tools. Rhodes Mics, Tube Amps for warmth, etc. However he just purchased a Dual Zeon Processor PC with 2 gigs of DDR Ram and ever power module available (he got a deal he said he couldn't refuse price wise). He now has asked me to help hI'm find the right software for final mastering. From industry professionals I talked to in Nashville I keep hearing Pro Tools are the answer but after doing research I find there are multiple versions, and a lot of contriversary as to which version is best. I keep hearing SAMPLITUDE v8.3 and Sonar Power Studio 660 are the way to go. The quality he is getting from the studio is incredable already...his mastering is awesome but he feels he can even refine it more with this new PC and the right kind of software. Could I get some feedback on what you think he needs?


RemyRAD Thu, 06/15/2006 - 10:41
I think he needs a psychiatrist? He doesn't need any stinkin' ProTools! Folks like George Massenburg, Roger Nichols and others like Universal Audio offer a multitude of cool sounding plug-ins. Another piece of software he should investigate is the PSP Master Comp, not to mention some of the products by IK multimedia of Italy.

One thing to keep in mind is that to run anything under ProTools, you must have ProTools hardware.

I have always been a fan of ProTools as I have plenty of screwdrivers, pliers, soldering irons, saws, hammers, drills etc.
Ms. Remy Ann David

Pro Audio Guest Thu, 06/15/2006 - 17:58
Software for mastering, huh? Well if he has an excellent hardware limiter, mulibandcompressor, exciter, master EQ, etc. that's obviously the way to go.

If you're looking for software their are a couple of nice plug ins to look into:

- waves plug ins for mastering (C4 multibandcompressor, L3 maximizer, Linear Phase EQ and more, check their website, good for almost everything)

- T-racks by IK multimedia (used extensively by electronic music producers)

- Sony Oxford plug ins (more for the classical and acoustic stuff) and you need Powercore for this

- Izotope Ozone3 (if you want the loudest master possible, this will probably do it!)

The last one is the cheapest and not bad at all. If you know what you are doing you can get some great results with the Izotope plug in alone, but it is also very easy to completely ruin your track with it. Use with moderation and try to stay clear of the presets as much as possible! They offer a fantastic guide to their plug in as well.

also check Vintage Warmer by PSP and their new EQ Neon/Neon HR

all these plug ins work with almost any DAW like Pro Tools, Cubase or even something like Ableton Live. For Pro Tools you need their hardware as stated before but an Mbox is a cheap solution and you can go wild with the plug ins if you want, just load your mixes onto a stereo (or multiple mono) track in Pro Tools, insert the plug ins and start tweakin'!!

Pro Audio Guest Thu, 06/15/2006 - 19:29
I really appreciate your help...however he does Live Recording, Drums, Bass, Piano, Dobro, Fiddle all are live even horns...the only synth would possibly be if the Piano added some effect, but what we see and he sees is my music is played both on the Radio and on the Internet Mastering...and I can not recall the name fo the hardware he uses but it can be set to a Country Flavor or Southern Gospel Flavor and virtually an genere of music and it brings all of the instruments as well as the vocals to the front and pushes any sound that is too loud back in and levels it. The Mastered sound he is getting now is incredable...but when we move it to MP3 or Wave we seem to be loosing a lot of the quality, the original mastering had. Why he wanted to add the PC Mastering is to see if we could keep the same CD quality sound on our MP3's and Wav's as we have on the CD were not actually wanting to create any electronic sound..just get the same quality on the MP3's and Wav's but If I used Plugins would we have to buy a Stand Alone Program to use the Plugins with? We were kind of shying away from Pro Tools because of the extra hardware issue...

Pro Audio Guest Fri, 06/16/2006 - 04:39
I really do not want to offend anyone but it seems to me you really do not understand what mastering is! You say that he manages to create an incredible sound by using presets on hardware?! Well if that were really possible all mastering engineers would be out of a job and I would like to get that hardware myself (and I'd not be the only one!).

Mastering is not converting your music to wav or mp3, in fact it has nothing to do with it. "Pre"-mastering (final mastering is actually something else, pq codes and all) is the process of applying "effects" to your MASTER fader or as is usually the case: aplying effects to a final bounced mix. The usual effects are:

- EQ
- compression (multiband)
- exciter (or something similar)
- limiter
- dither / noise shaper

When this is done right you end up with 16 bit CD ready music, meaning you can burn this directly on any CD or you can convert it to mp3 without problems.

You state you have problems converting the music to wav.? Maybe you are forgetting to use a dither and are in fact trying to convert 24 bit files into 16 bit wav files; if so you are loosing a lot of sound information indeed. Again not to offend anyone, but if you do not know what a dither is my guess is that you have no idea what mastering is as well.

Also your question regarding Pro Tools and the plug ins leads me to think that you are problaby better of leaving the mastering to an experienced sound engineer. There is no high quality stand alone software for pre- mastering as far as I know so basic knowledge of a DAW is mandatory before you attempt to use plug ins.

Why do you think I was referring to an "electronic sound"? I was talking about T-racks sofware being used by electronic music producers to master their music, it has nothing to do with electronic sound!

Well maybe I just don't understand what you're talking about and I might be completely off with my "analysis". It seems to me like your friend is the recording engineer, so maybe he could ask the questions directly?

gdoubleyou Fri, 06/16/2006 - 06:47
MP3 is a compressed format, Basically it has less audio data, and will sound different.

To make a higher quality MP3, encode at a higher bitrate. It will sound better, but a larger file will result. You have to decide what's more important download speed, or sound quality.

Probably what you are hearing is the difference between a 24bit recording and the 16bit audio cds.

I've allways paid for mastering of the final product, I think it's worth it.

He has a large treated room and europeon analog gear that cost more than my car. Takes him about six hours, in two sessions.

He does more than any plugin I know. What I'm paying for is his knowledge, experience, and the abiltiy to get it right the first time.

Here his gear list...


Thomas W. Bethel Fri, 06/16/2006 - 06:52
Back on TOPIC

Best mastering software (IMHO) in order




Sound Forge

Audition 2.0

Pro-tools is basically good for tracking and mixing not for mastering.

This is in the FWIW department and is biased on my own likes and dislikes. Take it as such.

Mastering is something that is best left to a professional mastering engineer with the tools, the ears and the room to do a proper job. If you or your friend wants to do it yourself - have at it but realize that the best possible job will come with the experience and tools a professional mastering engineer will bring to the job.

Best of luck!