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Old 17th May 2009 , 03:25 PM
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Default What to do on the master channel?

So,

after playing around with EQ and levels a lot the last few days my latest project sounds a lot better, clean, punchy and full of space. The only downside is the mix is now very quiet and I want to push the level right back up again on the master channel. One option is to use the ubiqitous 'maximiser' plug in, or something like Ozone. I'd like to keep things a bit more simple though. I read a neat little trick the other day which was put a limiter and EQ on the master. Set the output of the limiter to -0.1db to prevent clipping and play around with the input or gain. Use the EQ to apply a couple of db wide boost at 10k and above to add some air.

What else could I do that would get the volume levels right up and try to find that smooth commercial sound. Apart from getting the mix right in the first place. I'm still working on that

I'd rather steer clear of the all-in-one mastering plugins until I'm comfortable that I can get the best out of the simple tools I already have.

Thanks
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Old 17th May 2009 , 03:48 PM
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Well, the correct answer is "send it for mastering."

But if you wanna try stuff at home, start playing with buss compression and/or limiters. Limiters can smash it (if you want to do that), buss comps can add glue/colour.

My favourite software 2-buss comp is the SSL Duende G comp... there's a Waves version as well (and possibly a UAD fake-out as well now) that are all nice. They tend to work better on aggressive material, but they add that elusive 'glue' and lots of punch as well when done right.

Other decent options that I've personally used are the PSP Vintage Warmer or Mastercomp, Waves API 2500 (not as good as a real 2500 but pretty cool nonetheless),
Flux Solera or Alchemist (the former being very transparent, the latter being whatever you want it to be), the SSL Duende X-Comp (also quite flexible), ProAudioDSP's DSM, Abbey Road TG Comp (colour-city).

T-Racks 3 Deluxe might be worth a look too, because the individual modules are available seperately now so you could try the Fairchild model for example, it's allegedly pretty good (I have it here but haven't used it yet!)

In limiters, the best one so far IMO is the Massey L2007 but it's Pro Tools only.

However, if you have Ozone try the limiter in that.

One thing I've discovered is that there is no one-size-fits-all limiter. The L2007 works on most things but sometimes there is a better option, so it's nice to have a few. It depends on the source material.

Now, all that said, try the basic tools that you have first! If you have a decent compressor, give it a go. Pop a limiter at the very end just to catch stray peaks if you have to, but try using the comp for your make-up gain rather than the limiter itself.

The EQ is fully optional - if it's necessary, go for it - as you have said, yes, you can restore some 'air' or gently bump some other frequencies if they need it (a mastering engineer may use a good EQ but I doubt you'll see more than 2-2.5db of action on any given band) but in any case it's not necessary for outright level.
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Old 17th May 2009 , 05:22 PM
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Interesting. I've heard lots of very good things about PSP Vintage Warmer, and Ozone for that matter. I've d/l the demo of Ozone but don't really understand the process that's happening so I thought i'd give it a bash myself before spending money on software when I'm not entirely sure of it's use.

So you're saying use a compressor to increase the volume overall rather than using a limiter to get it right up to 0db, but having a limiter last on the master chain just to catch anything?

I tend to use the native Cubase compressor for everything, mainly because sidechaining is a pain in Cubase when you don't use that one and partly habit. I suppose a dedicated compressor will give me better results when it's not being used just for ducking. Something to think about.

I've heard the term buss compressor as well, I assume this is a beast specifically suited or designed for mastering?
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Old 17th May 2009 , 07:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tehlord View Post
I've heard the term buss compressor as well, I assume this is a beast specifically suited or designed for mastering?
A bus compressor is nothing more than a compressor that resides on an aux or master channel. The SSL G compressor is one, as is the API2500. There are lots of options in the hardware world. (I'm currently jonesing for a dramstic obsidian, which is in the SSL G family, and a pair of Retro 176s).

Absolutely use a compressor to raise your volumes. FWIW the only software limiter I've found with sero artifacts if mix through it on the mixbus is the UAD precision limiter. Others may have other suggestions. IMHO better to use a mixbus compressor for a little glue and then once you have mixed down to a stereo track then apply another compressor (or two or three) and a limiter at the end of the chain. You'll suffer less artifacts that way.
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Old 17th May 2009 , 07:38 PM
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cytomics - the glue is based on the ssl, its native and the cheapest in the group with great results.

also check out voxengo stuff, elephant, varisaturator in particular.

as for massey search for the free tape saturation, it has a BW limiter in itself which is great
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Old 17th May 2009 , 08:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TrevCircleStudios View Post
A bus compressor is nothing more than a compressor that resides on an aux or master channel. The SSL G compressor is one, as is the API2500. There are lots of options in the hardware world. (I'm currently jonesing for a dramstic obsidian, which is in the SSL G family, and a pair of Retro 176s).

Absolutely use a compressor to raise your volumes. FWIW the only software limiter I've found with sero artifacts if mix through it on the mixbus is the UAD precision limiter. Others may have other suggestions. IMHO better to use a mixbus compressor for a little glue and then once you have mixed down to a stereo track then apply another compressor (or two or three) and a limiter at the end of the chain. You'll suffer less artifacts that way.
More good information to mull over, thanks


Quote:
Originally Posted by sureno View Post
cytomics - the glue is based on the ssl, its native and the cheapest in the group with great results.

also check out voxengo stuff, elephant, varisaturator in particular.

as for massey search for the free tape saturation, it has a BW limiter in itself which is great
I've been following the The Glue thread over at KVR and it's supposed to be quite buggy still. Worth keeping an eye on though. Tape saturation is going to add warmth right?
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Old 17th May 2009 , 08:15 PM
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I've been following the The Glue thread over at KVR and it's supposed to be quite buggy still. Worth keeping an eye on though. Tape saturation is going to add warmth right?
well its in beta still, iv been running it quite successfully and as for tape saturation yes it adds warmth/grit/analogue feel what ever floats your boat, i find very subtle amounts works a treat
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Old 17th May 2009 , 08:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sureno View Post
well its in beta still, iv been running it quite successfully and as for tape saturation yes it adds warmth/grit/analogue feel what ever floats your boat, i find very subtle amounts works a treat
I'll definately look into that then

Cheers matey
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Old 20th May 2009 , 08:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TrevCircleStudios View Post
FWIW the only software limiter I've found with sero artifacts if mix through it on the mixbus is the UAD precision limiter.
+1 - thi is the best software limiter I have come across as well, though Im sure Trev has probably tried more.

I also use either the UAD precision bus compressor, or their precision multiband compressor (usually the latter). Having a UAD DSP card in your DAW is worth it just for those precision series post-mix plugins.

TBH, I dont really use the 'bus compressor' that much, Ive got used to working with the multi-band comp which allows for much more precise tuning.

As for the precision limiter, another plus point for it is K-System metering. Its quite interesting when you try to completely abuse the the thing - it actually wont let you. I think it internally limits the amount of limiting to that needed to raise the average VU level to 0dBfs, regardless of what you set the input level too.

Downside for them, they add alot of latency to you DAW, so on most host you will need to remove them completely if you deceide you need to do some real time drop ins.
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Old 21st May 2009 , 05:45 PM
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Quote:
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also check out voxengo stuff, elephant, varisaturator in particular.
+1 on the Elephant...that's a fantastic Limiter. I have to admit that I use the UAD Precision Limiter most of the time though...at least until I get the API2500.

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Old 21st May 2009 , 09:11 PM
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Hmmmmm, looks like UAD is the way to go. I've been ignoring it in my mind for a long time. Might have to build myself a new PC while the case is open too
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Old 30th June 2009 , 05:47 AM
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on every project i always use the UAD precision limiter , i bought the UA 4k buss comp a few days ago and was loving it until my UAD-2 suddenly stopped working im currently in the process trying to get the thing fixed with a series of phone calls and emails to universal audio , they did promise to email me yesterday after a phone call but didnt as to be quite honest i dont think they have a clue what the problem is with my card as i'd tried all the usual fixes before i phoned them so ill wait til after 6pm tonight and give california another ring , im lost without the UAD-2 as the plugins are so so so superb.

Another tip for loudness if your a UAD user is to put the UA maximiser plugin on your master buss put it in 3 band mode then turn the limiter off put the shape all the way down and turn up the input until you hit the spot you want
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Old 30th June 2009 , 08:58 AM
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I'm still nowhere near in a position to go for a UAD card both financially AND logistically, I've just realised I dont have the spare slot in the PC

I've been experimenting with Voxengo Elephant on the latest project i'm working on and it really is quite splendid. I just set the output to a little below 0db and push the input up as far as it can go without clipping, then pull it back a bit for safe measure. Technical huh?

It really does the job though, the volume and power is definately hugely improved and it's very transparent too, unlike the other limiters i've tried.
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Old 30th June 2009 , 09:56 AM
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Useful discussion chaps.. stickied..
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Old 30th June 2009 , 12:46 PM
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on every project i always use the UAD precision limiter , i bought the UA 4k buss comp a few days ago and was loving it until my UAD-2 suddenly stopped working im currently in the process trying to get the thing fixed with a series of phone calls and emails to universal audio , they did promise to email me yesterday after a phone call but didnt as to be quite honest i dont think they have a clue what the problem is with my card as i'd tried all the usual fixes before i phoned them so ill wait til after 6pm tonight and give california another ring , im lost without the UAD-2 as the plugins are so so so superb.
That sucks.

UAD is usually really good with customer service though. If they can't fix it they'll likely replace it.

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