Mastering plug-ins by any other name?

Discussion in 'Mixing' started by jmm22, Nov 12, 2010.

  1. jmm22

    jmm22 Guest

    I am confused by the mastering plug ins. Can any comp/limiter be used to boost levels during mastering, or does one need a dedicated mastering plug in?
  2. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

    You can use any comp or limiter.

    Of course, bad processing of the whole mix will do a lot more damage than bad processing of just one channel within it, so there is usually a greater emphasis on high quality components / sophisticated anti-aliased algorithms. And there is a specific "brick-wall" sub-class of limiter which is mostly intended for final level maximising during mastering. But basically the tools are the same.

    I would honestly suggest you forget about 'mastering' for now: instead learn how to get your mixes right so that they don't need fixing at the mastering stage.

    "Proper" mastering should happen in a different studio, with different monitors, and preferably a different (more experienced) pair of ears making the decisions. This gives the best chance of catching and fixing mistakes that were made during mixing, whether due to poor monitoring or room acoustics or whatever. If you try to 'master' in the same room in which you mixed there is a good chance you will simply compound your errors.

    I would suggest the following strategy:

    1. Create your mix as best you can to sound exactly as you want it.
    2. Use a free brick-wall limiter to raise the RMS level. Aim for about -14dB for most pop / rock material. A bit lower if its purist acoustic / classical / jazz etc.
    3. Burn a CD and take it out into the real world: try it in on other hi-fi systems, your car, your ipod, on a PA if you can, etc. See if you can spot any trend in the differences, then go back to step 1 to try to fix them.

    This process should also help you to identify whether you have any problems with your monitoring, and roughly where those problems lie. You should not attempt any 'mastering' until your monitoring is telling you the truth, ie: you can create a mix in your studio and not get any nasty suprises when playing it elsewhere.
  3. jmm22

    jmm22 Guest

    Thanks for the reply and good advice. Even intuitively, I agree that it would be best to have mixes mastered in another facility, for all the reasons you mention, but being a typically curious person, I am inclined to experiment and learn about this aspect of recording as well, hence the question. In addition, there is something alluring about taking mixes somewhere else for mastering. It lends some kind of legitimacy to the music. But whether this validation is warranted remains in the ear of the beholder :)
  4. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    IIRs' advice is something you will read a lot on this forum. Not because it's elitist banter but because it's good advice. Go ahead and try your hand at mastering but I would suggest taking an unmastered version of a track that you mastered to a PROPER mastering house to make comparison. I don't mean one of these cheap pseudo mastering sites on the web but a dedicated mastering studio. There are at least four people who frequent this site and/or moderate the mastering forum here who could probably help you out.
  5. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    INcidentally, check out these plugins. [(Dead Link Removed)

    Also, check out his mastering advice: (Dead Link Removed)

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