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hey people:what vst plugins mastering suites do ya use when mastering

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Posted (edited)

EDIT- Cakewalk has some mastering chains built in if you know where to look for them.

Ozone 9, TRacks 5, Lurssen mastering console also by IK.

Sometimes all it takes is a good EQ and limiter on the master bus. 

My method is to load a chain in either Ozone or TRacks and modify it to my needs.

Ozone gets a lot of attention, but recently I have preferred TRacks over it.

Waves  has a very reasonably priced mastering chain that works especially well for me on rock mixes called the Abbey Road TG Mastering chain advertising for 59 smackers today on the Waves site. It could be used for any genre but has a few chains that can really make a rock track smoke.

Edited by Tim Smith

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1 minute ago, Tim Smith said:

Ozone 9, TRacks 5, Lurssen mastering console also by IK.

Sometimes all it takes is a good EQ and limiter on the master bus. 

My method is to load a chain in either Ozone or TRacks and modify it to my needs.

Ozone gets a lot of attention, but recently I have preferred TRacks over it.

Waves  has a very reasonably priced mastering chain that works especially well for me on rock mixes called the Abbey Road TG Mastering chain advertising for 59 smackers today on the Waves site. It could be used for any genre but has a few chains that can really make a rock track smoke.

thanks tim.jack c.

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Hi jack, I am self taught and don’t own a lot of mastering type plugins but i do find ozone helpful. I use the mastering assistant for a starting point then tweak stuff like the eq or compression settings. I usually add modules like the imager, low end balance, exciter. I also put their tonal balance control on the master bus after ozone to check the overall balance of the mix, and their insight to watch the lufs and peaks measurements. I find these tools helpful and so far my feedback on songs i post in the songs forum are good. 

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2 hours ago, treesha said:

Hi jack, I am self taught

as i'am.thanks for insights.jack c.

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I know this is drifting slightly off topic - I see mastering as more than only what happens at the end of a mix.

I don't claim to be a master of mastering. I have learned a few things over the years that have helped the end product sound better.

If a person can anticipate the end goal for a mix, they can set up the mix to work better for a master.

A few questions I might ask myself are:

What kind of a mix am I shooting for? Since different mixes will need different treatment this is important. If the goal is to have music that's interesting dynamically, I would normally send the tracks to master at a lower level than I would for music with less interesting dynamics in a genre that need to be loud such as EDM. If I'm looking to make a master of a folk group playing guitars with no drums  I would be somewhere in the -6db ranges going to master, then I might use several layers of light compression and limiting to get it to level while retaining the dynamics.

In a 4 piece rock band I will be looking to push the guitars through the mix using a mid emphasis keeping as much of the mids as I can without making mud.Usually rolling off the bass on electric guitars. On bass I will be looking to make it work well with the bass drum by placing them at slightly different frequencies and ducking or dynamic EQ to keep them from stepping on each other. Snare and cymbals will be panned and in the same vicinity as the electric guitars.A bass guitar that has some upper end character I would exploit by slightly boosting  the upper harmonics of it. When I get to master with that mix I will be looking at dynamics and how the tracks are playing against one another. Sometimes it makes sense to side chain a master compressor if the mud can't be tamed , other times a little EQ work on the individual tracks will make this unnecessary. Deeps EQ  cuts might be necessary if shooting for a clean rock mix. If shooting for a more garage grunge feel, a little tube dirt never hurts. The key is to have a mix that pops well before you ever go to master. At master you could pull a Metallica and pump it way up to the edge with a limiter. The better the limiter, the better the end result. Not all limiters are created equal. You can still ride automation on the master to give a little more character to the final mix. Nothing too extreme.

I try to add in my reverb early and sometimes I will stack reverb sends to get a desired result. Because adding a reverb in Cakewalk has a  cumulative db effect, it's very easy to overdo reverb. I almost always roll off the low end on my reverb sends. No one wants to hear the low end mush associated with most reverbs. We only want the higher reverb transients. In a rock mix where the guitars were already tracked with a reverb, things could get complicated. If I can't make it jive, I might resort to using subtractive methods like Izotope RX reverb removal. With guitars it's usually a delay that I can let alone. It's probably better to add efx onto guitars AFTER tracking. That way you can time the effects to the timing of the project. 

If I were mixing EDM, that's all pretty much about putting everything in your face. The bass needs to drive and cut. The lines here can be blurred when working with synths, since a synth  can have both a bass and a high end personality. One thing is an absolute, mud never cuts in a mix. I would go after a low end sound that's clean but very powerful. The beat is going to carry this. The EQ on this mixes would be more smiley face than anything. Compressors would be set to fast attack.

There's really a lot to getting a mix ready for a master.

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22 hours ago, Alan Tubbs said:

Voxengo  is my go to mastering plugs.

thanks.jack c.

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21 hours ago, Tim Smith said:

There's really a lot to getting a mix ready for a master.

this is great.thanks so.jack c.

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i master using several Waves plugs;

L3

H-comp

G-series SSL master comp

Pultec EQP-1A

F6 dynamic EQ

 

ii don't use them all at the same time, 

the L3 is the only one used as brickwall at end of chain for all masters.

sometimes i'll use a native EQ, but typically, the mixes are ready before mastering,

so very little is done for EQ and Compression at the mastering stage.

 

 

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Some really good suggestions here :)

I think unless you're fairly comfortable with mastering, something like Ozone is a safe bet to get a good result at the end, especially with its Mastering Assistant. It's *very* easy to overcook a master, especially on styles of music that really should be left the hell alone if the mix is good enough.

For me personally, it's mostly Waves. I'll typically run a Linear Phase Lowband and Wideband EQ in the chain, S1 Shuffler to adjusting the spacial image a bit (although that's a dangerous trade-off if you're looking at mono compatibility - use with caution!), L2 as my final limiter, and - although it's kind of a not-done kind of thing since it's not Linear Phase - I'll often throw a Sonitus Multiband in there if I want to make sure certain parts of the low end are not making the rest of the master pump too much, if it's a style that will benefit from things being really slammed, like a lot of punk, metal or EDM does. I'll often also throw some tape saturation in the chain somewhere too if the mix is a bit harsh, and I'll almost always finish up with some good visual waveform and loudness monitoring, just to both give myself a sanity check that I'm not doing anything too stupid, and to compare frequencies against reference material.

Mastering is definitely a bit of a black art. Unless your room sounds great and you have a bit of experience, my biggest advice is to hand it off to a dedicated mastering place if you have the budget for it, and it's a mix intended for commercial release. But for home masters, Ozone is a fantastic choice. :)

 

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On 3/22/2022 at 12:16 AM, Lord Tim said:

Mastering is definitely a bit of a black art.

 

On 3/21/2022 at 6:00 PM, batsbrew said:

so very little is done for EQ and Compression at the mastering stage.

thanks mates.jack c.

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Posted (edited)

hey jack...you might try checking out this oldie but goodie: Mastering Audio: The Art and the Science by Bob Katz.

Edited by Hidden Symmetry

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For final limiter  plugins I have a few favorites. 

Limiters

TR5 ONE- This is in the TRacks toolbox.

McDSP ML4000 . This one takes a bot of learning to get right, but once you get it, it's amazing. An old standard used in many Hollywood sound tracks.

PSP Xenon- This limiter has a nice clean personality and doesn't color the mix, yet it can really boost.

There are also a few DAW based plugins I sometimes use. While Cakewalk has some good limiters, I am preferring the new limiter plugins in Cubase. 

FYI you can drop a 3rd party limiter into Ozone and TRacks.

I learned a lot looking at the various chains and it's amazing how simple some of them really are. Adding 'air' is generally a few db boost from say 3K on up the spectrum.

Adding 'clarity" is often some subtractive EQ and a multi band limiter. "Old vibe" just throws some tube dirt into the chain usually.

If you have 3rd party mixer emulation or use Cakewalk's console emulation this will contribute to that feel.

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13 hours ago, Tim Smith said:

For final limiter  plugins I have a few favorites. 

thanks tim.jack c.

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On 3/28/2022 at 11:36 AM, jack c. said:

thanks tim.jack c.

Very welcome jack c.

I find the subject interesting.

Another trick sometimes used on the master bus is using plugins that cancel stereo out on the bass and mid bass regions. This has the effect of cleaning a mix up. The theory being bass isn't directional so to keep it in a mono zone allows more breathing room in the material that is directional. There are more of these plugins around than I was aware. 

While not always used on the master, they make great ways to shape  the low end on a master. 

One of those plugins is Waves Vitamin sonic enhancer. This plugin lets you select a crossover frequency and make a bass range totally mono. Ozone Imager works for this too.

In mixing every rule seems to have an exception. In some cases it is actually desirable to have some stereo in a low track. I have seen this work well for a synth with a lot of low end energy in it in the 200-500 range, this would be the low mids range. If you shape it right  those frequencies in a synth track can really cut well in a mix. If the synth has 20-150 energy that's fighting my other tracks I would probably roll it off. If it's useful though I might keep it and  make it mono using something like Waves Vitamin or Ozone Imager.

 

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On 3/17/2022 at 8:14 AM, jack c. said:

hey people:what vst plugins mastering suites do ya use when mastering

I've tried a few, and I've also set up my own mastering stack, with a bus compressor, mid-side EQ, and limiter.

Right now I am really digging Brainworx' bx_Masterdesk, which is available right now as a freebie from Plugin Alliance. Before that I had the lite version, Masterdesk Classic, and liked it. It's just a collection of all the usual tools you'd have in a mastering chain: EQ, compressor, limiter, stereo controller. Classic is fine, but the pro version gives you more control.

Since I have so many excellent bus-friendly FX, I vacillate between using the Swiss Army knife tools and individual ones like Shadow Hills Mastering Compressor, elysia alpha compressor, Millenia NSEQ, Lindell TE-100, etc. Meldaproduction MLimiterX is my current fave limiter, but Sonic Anomaly Unlimited is also excellent.

With Brainworx stuff, always be sure to remember that you can load factory presets from the "VST3" menu in the Cakewalk plug-in UI.

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You lucky buggar. 😁I think I payed something for Brainworx' bx_Masterdesk. As I recall it wasn't very much, but still.... I hate to admit I forgot I have it until now.

Here's the thing that's blurring the lines for me a little bit with Plugin Alliance. Aren't they now owned by Ozone? And Ozone and NI are together as well. Does that work for or against us? Maybe I have my info wrong too.

I've  looked at Shadow Hills. The A one. I haven't pulled the trigger on it yet. The thing that causes me some reluctance is I need to learn what all of those knobs do. Is it just eye candy or is it a pretty decent copy? And it almost NEVER goes on sale, even when everything else is on sale. Sure I can get Shadow hills B on sale. Not the high end one.

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19 minutes ago, Tim Smith said:

Here's the thing that's blurring the lines for me a little bit with Plugin Alliance. Aren't they now owned by Ozone? And Ozone and NI are together as well. Does that work for or against us? Maybe I have my info wrong too.

I've  looked at Shadow Hills. The A one. I haven't pulled the trigger on it yet. The thing that causes me some reluctance is I need to learn what all of those knobs do. Is it just eye candy or is it a pretty decent copy? And it almost NEVER goes on sale, even when everything else is on sale. Sure I can get Shadow hills B on sale. Not the high end one.

They are all owned by the same VC company.

You know when they announced buyout, Shadow Hills B was part of the free bundle along with bx_Masterdesk.

Unfortunately, they stopped giving away the bundle yesterday.

 

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Just now, scook said:

Unfortunately, they stopped giving away the bundle yesterday.

I guess I should have been in the deals thread more. Oh well.

Shadow Hills B isn't bad. Still looking at Shadow Hills A.

Not sure how this whole combination is going to pan out in the future. I see NI offering Ozone deals in combination buys with their libraries. Maybe they will even integrate Ozone tech into NI instruments. Plugin Alliance looks to be the odd man out. There is overlap in plugin sales with Ozone. Hard to tell what's going to happen at this point.

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