Mastering Suite recommendation/comparison??

Hi all,
I think I’m ready to move into a separate mastering application, since my results within Cubase are not satisfactory to me.

Now, here’s the disclaimers:
I’m completely 100% sure that this is a direct and immediate result of my personal inability to do it right, since I do not have proper mastering skills or a proper room to work in. Seriously.
Secondly I know that this is best left to a professional facility that DOES have the aforementioned characteristics… :sunglasses:

Now that’s out of the way, what do you guys/girls use and why? :wink:


I use Cubase 8 Pro with the FabFilter Pro Suite (Pro-C2, -Q2, and -L plus others that I don’t use at least in mastering) and two plug-ins from Variety of Sound: FerricTDS and SlickHDR. There are some great YouTube videos on using the FabFilter suite for mastering if you’re curious.

You could try Ozone 6.
You can download trial for 10 days.

I’m using Ozone 5. I think you have to know what you’re trying to achieve because all of these mastering plugins act on what they get as input. People say get Ozone and try the presets, but the presets don’t know how you mixed it. You have to be aware of where the levels are before you get into mastering, because with low levels, the loudness/compression stuff doesn’t do anything. The plugins in Ozone have their equivalents in Cubase 8 as far as I understand it, but you can’t always tell what’s going on (with Cubase plugins – Ozone plugins have a lot more meters and such to help you). Another thing Ozone gives you is this, for free:

That’s some plugin there, ‘swampy’ :smiley: !

No vst3 version though… and i wanna be able to side chain into it!!! :smiling_imp: :smiling_imp: :smiling_imp: :smiling_imp: :blush: :blush:

Considering what the OP wrote … “my personal inability to do it right, since I do not have proper mastering skills or a proper room to work in” … it’s the only appropriate “plugin” for the task at hand, if-you-know-what-I-mean-and-I-think-you-do. :wink:

thanks all!
@swamptone, I think you did get the message… :wink:

I just wanted to avoid the (seemingly unavoidable…) commentary of “You really need to go to a proper mastering engineer!” with my introduction.
And let’s not kid ourselves, the majority of folks here master/polish/adjust loudness themselves, otherwise nobody would buy those plugins and mastering suites…
If I’d make an album with an actual budget, a real mastering studio would be the first thing I’d plan for. And I’ve made productions in the past that suffered from my inexperience and resulting lack of know how, and don’t sound as good as they could.
Meanwhile, I think I’ve gotten better at this and my mixes aren’t so bad anymore. However, not all productions warrant the money for a mastering engineer. If I’m putting together a quick radio jingle for a few hundred bucks, I’m not wasting a bunch of money on top-class mastering, especially if it’s going to be squashed on local FM radio… :neutral_face:

It is just that I’d like better metering and spectral analysis tools and I’d also like to separate the mixing from the mastering better by going with a standalone mastering package.
See, I mix mostly stems through an analog board and record the mix back into the DAW. That resulting file I’d like to take out of Cubase and put it in a separate mastering/editing environment for more control.

So, for those in the know: How about Ozone 6 (and soon 7!) vs. Wavelab for example?


For more ‘important’ stuff i’ve worked up a good relationship with this guy over the past few years… 'dale (at)
He doesn’t advertise as he works mainly word of mouth within the major level industry (pretty impressive list actually!) but he’s a really nice guy and is quite welcoming to individuals of the ‘general public’ for want of a better phrase lol… VERY reasonable prices too compared with many mastering houses, highly personal service too!.. drop him an email :smiley:

Thanks for all that commented in this thread, and I’d like to give my closing thoughts on this process:

I’ve acquired Ozone 6.1 Advanced in the meantime… :slight_smile:

I chose Ozone for the following reasons:

  • I actually liked the UI and not so much Wavelab’s more geeky knobs and buttons, but that’s personal preference, of course.
  • I don’t think I need the Wave editing capabilities of Wavelab, since I export complete mixes and master them. I also think that I’ll be content with the audio manipulation possible in Cubase itself, should the need arise.
  • I did not actually test Wavelab myself, since I tried Ozone first, and then never looked back… :mrgreen:

What I like about Ozone:

  • Fits my current workflow of separating mixing from mastering, as recommended by most publications I read about the subject. I actually do not add mix buss compression at all during mixing, only on stems and individual tracks.
    It’s just great to take a done-as-good-as-I-can mix, throw it into Ozone and take it to town… :sunglasses:
  • There’s limitation by design in Ozone, i.e. there’s a small amount of VERY powerful modules, so you don’t get lost in the possibilities at first and everything is very flexible and immediately accessible.
  • a LOT of the processors are multiband, where I especially like that is in the multiband stereo manipulation and the multiband exciter (!). Makes total sense to constrain these to certain frequency bands, right? :wink:
  • Haven’t even used the dynamic EQ yet, which is kind of a triggered PEQ. Seems to be a very nice De-esser, if needed.
  • Fast fluid interface with a lot of depth.
  • And lastly: In version 6.1 they added a tube mode for the limiter/maximizer, and that thing is pure cream. It’s like having a Fairchild or VariMu but with look-ahead and intersample peak detection. Very, very cool. And the optical feedback couples nicely with what you hear, so you see exactly what happens while you hear it happening. Just what I needed to get experience with this, very educational.

Anyway, just wanted to share my thoughts on this. Right now, I’m also in the grace period for an upgrade to Ozone 7, which will add MP3 export and codec preview plus a bunch of “vintage modes”, always handy!

I’m having fun!

Wavelab is by far superior than Cubase for mastering.

But as Cubase it’s a very deep and complicated program to learn.

Mastering is also an art on it’s own and takes years to master.

I would suggest to use a mastering engineer. There are a gazillion mastering engineers on the net and some are very reasonable with prizing.

If you are serious about your work and want to release it get a mastering engineer. To just slap on Ozone and T-Racks on everything in Cubase is not the way to go.

If you do music for fun well yep you can play with Ozone :sunglasses:

Back to basics: it’s the cook ánd the kitchen

The cook: you need to be able to judge your own work unbiased and hear what it needs and know how to get there.
This has nothing to do with the “right” daw or certain plugins. You need to know when to use an EQ, when to compress, how to compress, how to EQ, how hard you can drive a limiter, understand target loudnes, understand the LUFS short, mid and intergrated of compareable tracks. Amongst many other skills. All of this can be perfectly done with the standard set of Cubase plugins.

The kitchen: your room and monitoring need to be top notch, they need to be trusted 100%, full range and your output needs to translate FLAWLESS anywhere.

Choice of DAW or plugins has NOTHING to do with this. Neither does stacking a pile of plugins to make things sound “phat” that’s NOT mastering. It’s actually degrading to talk about “mastering” in such a way.

If anything, start with REW and start working on acoustic treatment and response, once that is in place to a certain level and you know HOW to work the standard plugins, it’s time to look further.

Which is why we pay someone else to do our more important stuff… for pitches etc…

To expand on the ‘unbiased ears’ comment… also a fresh pair of ears, even those with years of experience can very often benefit from a different perspective… it’s pretty rare to see a commercial release that was mixed and mastered by the same person…just mho…

I would agree with the last two postings. I’ve learned the mechanics of mastering from…lol…watching YouTube videos. And while there is a definite increase in the quality of my work product it still pales in comparison to stuff produced here by people like Lenny, Kim, Jet, and others.

Thanks for all your thoughts and input!
And yes, I’m making music for fun, but people happen to pay me for doing it…


I’m not mastering professionally, but have productions I wish to hear on other speakers/soundsystems to get an idea if it works.
In this case most of us would do simple mastering ourself because of cost cutting.

I use IK-Multimedia, waves, Plug alliance plugs to do so and sometimes just the plain cubase plugs.
If I had to release a production I certainly would not do it myself, I have adequate high end monitoring but mastering is a level higher regarding listenback device, room acoustics ADDA conversions etc etc.

Thanks very much for getting it, staying on topic and providing relevant information without bias! :sunglasses:

You’re welcome bro from the ABC islands, cheers from Surinam!

Excellent thread, very informative.