"New" Old Topic

Yesterday, I got to drop by Tom Zartler’s studio - awesome, awesome time hanging with him - on the way back from a trip to the D.C. for work. And while I can easily imagine myself camping on the floor of his control room, I did get some great tips, etc. for mixing and stuff from him. (Thanks Tom!)

That got me thinking about remixing some old stuff and actually doing an explicit mastering step. Since my master bus, currently, typically has a few plugs in it:

TDS (Variety of Sound)
HDR (Variety of Sound)
Frequency Analyst (Blue Cat)
Peak Meter Pro (Blue Cat)

That really doesn’t leave much in terms of really being able to do some of the traditional mastering stuff, like add a Compressor in the chain (while keeping the Limiter but changing it so that it’s a brick wall instead of Light Peak Limiting, like I use it now).

My question to those who consider their process to include mastering is this:

Do you master as a separate project?
If so, do you do it in the same directory?
What plugs do you use in the Mixing project vs. the Mastering project?

What I’m trying to do is determine a good process / workflow for me so that a) it’s not onerous and b) I don’t end up confusing myself and start mastering inconsistently from track to track.

Hi Larry, depends on what my target is… if its just something for me, and no plans to publish beyond my four walls, then I load up the master bus in a way similar to yours. If however its going to be for someplace / someone else, then I leave the master alone and head into Wavelab. (more care taken in the mix first too).


Really? Well, that’s surprising…


Not sure I understand the Qs. If you are getting at what I think you are, remember that you can always “Save Selected Chs” - this way if you have plugs on your MBus that you find works for you, you can then reload that ch later on in a different project, and have the same plugs & settings.


I set up separate project files, in separate directories, on separate drives, for “mastering” (or pre-mastering).

I use Universal Audio UAD-2 plugs exclusively. I have all of the “mastering” plugs (except the Shadow Hills compressor). I also like the UAD Ampex ATR-102 emulation; and (while not a “mastering” plug per se) I love using the Fairchild limiter and compressor in the “mastering” buss. On rare occasion I’ll use either an EMT or Lexicon reverb plug.

Haha :laughing: :laughing: :laughing: :laughing: :laughing:

Yeah, that’s not the question. My current method of “mixstering” is adequate, but I have never denied that I hold Lenny up as the gold standard in terms of the quality of what one can do. (In fact, I’ll claim that his mixes on The Silver Thread are better than many professionally done albums…my litmus test is whether or not the bass stands out with clarity without crowding the other tracks on my crappy car stereo while still sounding good in other environments, which his does hands down.)

And so when Tom and I got to talking about mixing techniques and ways to do things like increase the presence of vocals on the few tracks of mine that I played for him, it got me wondering if I should stop settling for “pretty good” and really make a concerted effort to step things up a bit. That requires a conscious effort at mastering, so I wanted to know what people’s approach is to this, assuming you do a separate mastering step.

Does that help clarify?

Ok so more questions for those with an explicit mastering step: what types of plug-ins do you use in your mixing project and then in your mastering project? I know I can watch videos on this (and have) but I’m interested in y’all’s opinion more than a video that may or may not be good. :smiley:

OK, I’m not creating a separate mastering project, but that’s because I’m using Ozone as a plug on the last slot to do final eq, multi-band compression, loudness (compression/limiting) and dithering. But I think in Cubase you could create another submix for your meters, if you needed more slots. I am convinced that light compression always belongs on the main mix bus, and that’s where I also put amp simulation (so before mastering).