Using Waves plugins for mastering

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by Tiger9695, Nov 21, 2005.

  1. Tiger9695

    Tiger9695 Guest

    Hi, I am new here and am looking for some advice on using waves plugins for mastering. I just got the Platinum bundle and am a slight novice. Any tutorial help would be great as well....I use sonar 4.0 PE for seq. wavelab 5.0 for editing plus a boatload of other plugins. Thanks for any help and taking a moment to read this post.
    Bernie T.

  2. Reggie

    Reggie Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2004
    That is a butt-load of $dough$ for a novice to spend on plugins. I suggest you get to reading the help files and spending some time working with them, listening for yourself to what they do.
  3. Raoul Duke

    Raoul Duke Guest

    Wow for the dough you dropped on the bundle you could have gotten a nice amp and some speakers and then had some loot for a UAD or the URS plugs if you are going that way......
  4. Tiger9695

    Tiger9695 Guest


    Hey, thanks for some input! I should re-state that I am not a complete novice. I have been recording for about 2 years now...I play in a band an write a variety of music from meditation soundscapes to progressive rock. I already have an extensive guitar/keys and amp inventory. This is just the first time I took it to a new level, learning how to master from my home DAW. I heard so much about the waves well as wavelab (I was using soundforge).

    The boatload of money will be paid for quite sometime...(visa card went just to buy these What I was interested in was if there are any tutorials for Waves? I used the music doctor for sonar and soundforge (he was ok at best, very basic info). I have searched the web but have not found anything of value, actually that search led me here to this forum. I read extensively and experiment all the time, but I know that if you get some key tips from pros, it can make the workfolw so much more productive....thanks for the input and any future advice!
    Bernie T.

  5. jahtao

    jahtao Guest

    dont quote me or nuffin but..... get a great mix first, compress it, eq it (post compressor more often than not), limit maybe, dither. And then bouce. And some people for some styles of music will add an amount of gain to the bounced file say, 4db... the only way to get it loud enough these days... anyone else tried that? i know its hardly audiophile behaviour but hey its worked for me. Don't just distort by 4db in your sequencer it sounds crapper. limiters distort more than this technique usually
    Consider having one or two reference recordings (mastered!) on another output to compare to.. boring i know but helps
    Eq: At the moment i try and keep my mind on the mids and just think about about hi and lo end in terms of, is there enough? If i don't do this i seem to end up with really scoopy mixes. its all about mid for me at the moment.
    Bus compression: i'm rubbish at this
    dither: read around (Bob Katz's book?) if you dont understand. dither is overrated if you ask me, but its important to have good technique generally so...
    (got any great outboard tube gear?)
  6. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    The trick is *not* learning how to use the Waves plug-ins.

    The trick *IS* learning how to use the devices that the Waves plugs operate as.

    For example, to learn about the C1 - learn how to use a compressor. All the settings of a compressor are represented here and are used in the same manner.

    To learn about the L2 - learn how to properly use a limiter. Again - all the information in a "real" limiter is represented here in the Waves plug.

    Eq, (Q1-Q10), same thing. Learn how an EQ works and use it.

    I don't think that there are many tutorials out there that are worth any money whatsoever.

    BTW - I agree with all of the above posters that you have spent an AWEFUL lot of money on a device which you don't know how to use and don't have the appropriate hardware/experience to use. I don't mean this as an insult, but why on Earth spend that kind of $$$ on something if you don't know how/why to use it?

    You would have been far better off purchasing something like T-Racks. It's a piece of crap, but as a learning tool, it's cheap and can get you going in the right direction.

    Your money would be FAR better spent on getting the monitoring chain set up correctly. Of course, I'm making certain assumptions here that it might be a weak link, but it usually is in most cases.

    My advice would be to sell the Waves bundle and buy yourself a good set of monitors and some acoustic treatment (professionally done - for the $$$ you spent on the Waves bundle, you could easily get a good set of monitors and hire a professional to give you some advice as well as some acoustical products.)

    This will get you much further down the line towards a good master than the waves bundle will.

    Just some thoughts.

  7. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    Sep 12, 2002
    NYC New York
    Home Page:
    Tiger, welcome to the forum.

    the bundle you have is a ton of different things. you have to be more specific.

    OR, you can sift through the thousands of posts and you'll find more than you could hope for. Everything you wanted to know and were afraid to ask, is all right here.
  8. Tiger9695

    Tiger9695 Guest

    Waves mastering....

    Thanks for all the input! As I mentioned I do have experience in the recording aspect and mixing...I do have a pretty nice home studio setup with monitors (Mackie) and a dedictaed DAW I built last year (desinged for audio, 3.2 gig P4...etc). I love the waves bundle...and have sampled almost all of the real question was to get some tips using waves that pros on this board use in the mastering process, like the L3mb or the Linmb. I look forward to searching the many articles on this site...

    Thanks again for all the input!!

    Bernie T.

  9. By default, first I EQ the mix (by ear ideally not too much), and then I follow these directions for my linMB:

    I will then hit the mix with a Maxx Bass set to aggressive (pop/urban music style) with a ratio around 1.5 and an L3 with threshold at about -4 or 5 dB.

    The wonderful thing about Waves is the plug-ins are so good you barely have to know what your doing to make your tracks sound relatively strong.

    eg. - A pro could do better, but those first two tracks (and the many others I'm finishing offline) rival big studio sound and with little more distortion. They came straight out of my Sonar project and I'm monitoring on Truth 2030a's.

    REVISION 2005/12/14

    I've been doing a lot more work with my 'mastering' and I've come to a some more .. developed conclusions. I've visited some of your websites and your mastered products sound awesome. Professional mastering can do things amateurs never can.

    However, in some cases, DIY/budget is truly the most logical route to take. For example, in my case I have as many as 30 demo songs to promote. These only need to reach a certain basic standard for my songwriting to be audible. From the current state of many of my tracks, Waves and other budget approaches seem capable of allowing this.

    My new approach:

    1) Enhancing - The best place I've found to start is with exciting your signal as much or little as is necessary. For this I use BBE. I originally used to try to develop my low and high end purely by EQ, but found it impossible to get the depth or height of a near commercial sound. I no longer apply Maxx Bass.

    2) EQ - The objective I apply here is to keep my EQ adjustments general and gentle. I've come to feel that if I have to do anything too dramatic, my mix likely needs more work.

    3) Compression - I still use the LinMB with the general approach above. Sometimes, I'll adjust my thresholds a bit relative to one another, but generally I just let it do it's thing because it's better qualified as an audio processor than I am.

    4) Limiting - About 4.5 dB of reduction with the L3 seems happy enough to me.

    5) Digital clipping - I output my wavs from Sonar 2 dB over 0. This is not a healthy way to gain volume from a recording and, I agree it should only be done by trained professionals who know what the result is going to be.
  10. mixandmaster

    mixandmaster Active Member

    Jul 13, 2004
    Home Page:
    :shock: Wow. Please do not listen to this advice. Nothing wrong with learning from presets as to how the plugins work, but to apply the BEFORE you fully understand what's going on, is not a good idea. Then again, it's just music and no one gets hurt, but if you want to "get good" at mastering, you'll really have to dig in. There's a LOT to it. I was a professional recording engineer (meaning paid by strangers) for about 10-11 years before I started mastering (little by little), and I'm still learning a LOT all the time.
  11. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    Jul 18, 2004
    Chicago area, IL, USA
    Home Page:
    Don't worry - Once they hear the sample on his site, they'll know not to listen.

    Crushed. Crushed beyond crushed. Crest of about 7 or 8dB crushed.

    Sounds like it was run through a Waves maul-the-band plugin.
    And Waves are decent... Good. Hardly so good that you don't have to know how they function.
  12. Have those of you who are ever stopped to consider WHY Green Day's American Idiot is so loud? Or why Jay Z's Black Album in a completely unrelated market is only about a decibel behind it? Have you ever seen a demo played for someone and watched them ask, disappointed: 'why does it sound so quiet?'

    The only solid answer I've come across: In general, people simply enjoy crushed music. ie. The truth is that 90% of the population doesn't realize what loudness does to a mix, and most of the rest don't care. People like putting on headphones and going "Wow listen to all that bass!" They want to be overwhelmed, even if it means suffering ear fatigue.

    The two examples I cited were among the biggest albums of the past 2 years in the two genres I'm most familiar with. HUGE record sales. People ate them up by the millions.

    Audiophiles often complain about how this means music is losing it's touch. That's fair; it's true - with the increase in volume comes an undeniable loss of dynamics and listenability. But that's what people want, and some of us enjoy making music as much for others to listen to and be happy with as for ourselves. That's nowhere more true than if you are writing as a songwriter ie. producing songs FOR other artists to use, live, and work with.

    From my roots, I am a rock musician - guitarist/drummer in bands etc. I have played for years and years and recorded on multiple occassions. I understand that people care about dynamics and they are important. Even still, I'm not sure why people are so against crushing, or at least learning how to do it correctly.

    As far as Waves and it's ilk go, I used to be a member over at, and so for years now I've heard complaining about the L1 etc. However, I cannot think of a better way for an affordable demo/DAW to sound "pro", and I think tools like Waves, Reason, DAWs - all of it - are making a tremendous contribution to the music scene and what people can accomplish.

    6 years ago, I was running my system off of Cakewalk Pro Audio 9. I could barely multitrack to record my drums to my Delta 1010, etc without dropping out with 200 ms latency, let alone handle as much processing as I'd liked. Most of the people here, it seems, are similarly amateurs or hobbiests themselves. For non-pros like us, every year that these tools become more affordable, they make a huge difference in what can be done without paying $50-100 an hour.

    I think that at the end of the day, each person has to decide what they want out of the music they are responsible for. eg:

    1) Do you want satisfied customers and a happy market? Or do you only want internal satisfaction? Can you be flexible enough to perhaps have both?

    2) Do you have years to spend learning every nuance of the trade or do you just want to make music the best way you can? Perhaps again, you can be willing to do both?

    I came into the DAW arena back then because I wanted an affordable way to record and make demos for my band. Now, I want to make music I can enjoy and others can as well. On that topic, I will be putting my audio back up once I am finished working on it. Yes, I am still crushing. In fact, I am putting a tonne of effort into it. To say that I haven't been doing it very carefully and with a tonne of work and energy would be very inaccurate. Mastering is something that takes years and years to gain skill in and obtain the best results with - I am doing the best with the experience and knowledge I have.

    I will post again once I get them back online, and I hope for some of the veterans here can keep an open mind for a moment, because I'm sure you'll have valuable insights if you're willing to offer them.

    Back to the original poster, as far as learning how to use Waves goes, I'd recommend a book called "Production Mixing Mastering with Waves" by Anthony Egizii for $80 (comes with 5 example audio projects). I only got it recently so it didn't have much I wasn't already familiar with from from years of messing around with this stuff. But if these are new to you, it will give you a start and would be worth it I imagine.
  13. headchem

    headchem Guest

    Well, I'm no expert in mastering, but I recently posted my chain of devices that I use to master. Granted, they're all in Reason, but I promise you have all these plugins and many more at your disposal. My set-up is pretty basic:

    I'm curious how others use MaxxBass in their mix / master. I think I'll go start a new thread to discuss just that! (or maybe I'll go search though to forums to make sure it's a needed thread...) On that note, maybe a good sticky thread for the admins to make would be a list of some of the most useful posts on how to master audio for beginners?
  14. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    Sep 12, 2002
    NYC New York
    Home Page:
    it would be nice to be able to sum up mastering in a few paragraphs but that's not really what it's about. The whole forum is what is needed to discuss mastering.

    I know there are people here that vary in experience, some with a lot and some with none. Some have spent tons of $ and lots of years fine tuning their craft and they can be passionate about it. So don't be too offended if you get a little backlash by simplifying the process. Tunning the ear takes time. initially when something is louder, the first reaction is it's better. But once you sit with it for a bit, you'll begin to notice the subtleties of a master and what differentiates one from another besides loudness. Using these plugin tools can be great and can do some nice things, but listen beyond the obvious and you'll begin to notice things you didn't initially hear.
  15. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    That's the ticket! MF's right. There are seriously diverse levels here, but that's a good thing. Don't take it personally when those with higher levels of experience and ability get a little elitist (wrong word, but right sentiment without the negative conotation). These guys have been honing their craft and their ears a lot.

    I'm certainly no expert at mastering, but I have been practicing for a long time. I think my first breakthrough in mastering came when I realized one simple thing.

    Just because I have the tool, doesn't mean I have to use it.

    Some mixes don't need EQ, many don't need multi-band compression (I would argue that most if not all do not...) many don't need MaxBass(see above...).

    The trick to mastering (in my humble opinion on this subject) is consistency. Keep your monitoring chain consistent (so that amplitude and listener placement are the same) and so much about the mix becomes apparent. Then, it's not a matter of throwing tools at the mix to make it better, it's just listening and judiciously deciding what minimal tool will make the good mix better.

    Then of course, affording the really cool stuff (Weiss EQs, B&W 801s, TC6000s, etc) is just the really nice icing on the damn-fine cake.

  16. alimoniack

    alimoniack Guest

    belated waves opinion

    I totally agree with the above posts - Waves stuff is pretty good for mastering in the box, but usually only in strict moderation. A decent mix shouldn't need a bunch of multi-band compression, and the max bass is pretty useless for a full mix in my cucco says, keep it simple.

    What really improved the clarity and fullness of my mixes was getting half-decent monitors set up in a good room - I still like using the Waves EQ's and the RComp though!

    Good luck & have fun setting up your chain, whatever you use.
  17. Calgary

    Calgary Active Member

    Nov 25, 2005
    The Waves stuff are useful tools with decent sonic performance and specific functions. In the big picture they are trustworthy at the very least from a performance standpoint. I have confidence in them. The prices are a tad high IMO. :cool:

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