Are you using what’s in the box, or outboard gear. If so, what??
After many years of trying to master ‘mastering’ by,
1-taking ‘real’ and on-line courses
2-buying mucho hard and software
3-some nice Joe Meek outboard gear (SC4 DAD)
4- All the IK mastering gear. (cost me a small fortune)
I now realize that mastering (to me) is an area all it’s own
and IMHO is best done by those who only do mastering.
So to answer yer question, if my clients want their projects mastered,
I send it out to a pro.
Cost $$$ yes but most times the results can be astounding.
(And sometimes not so astounding)
Here is a brief thread that might help if you are doing mastering for yourself.
(And there are quite a few more on this topic if you do a forum search)
I used to use Waves L2 or Kajurhaus analog limiter(depends on what I’m doing),equality eq in linear phase mode and psp vintage warmer.
I tried ozone 5 and I got exactly what I was after…so now it’s ozone.
Mastering is just to get my tracks up to stuff to sound good but for the end result if I’m serious about them I would get them mastered by a pro.
Another vote for Ozone 5. By far the best compromise between simplicity of use and professional results.
You still need to know what you’re doing though…
I think the biggest challenge is really having a room and monitors good enough to master on. I think listening to a LOT of pro mastered reference music on your monitors ( what ever they are) is really important. I think of it as ear training. Understanding where key frequencies work in the bass and mid range in particular. I think that is art of mastering that really takes some time to develop as a skill.
When I compare my final mixes to a reference track before “mastering” they almost always sound quiet and dull in comparison. Getting a loud mix is really easy these days with Ozone 5 or Waves L2, L3, Slate FGX etc., but I think that the hard part of mastering is more about EQ and getting the most out of the original mix without making it worse. My personal shopping list would be as follows: New mixing room - Add to cart!
It seems though that even guys like Dave Pensado who is well known for lots of “mix buss” processing does concede and remove some or all of it when he sends his mix off to his mastering engineer - when the project is important enough and budgets can account for it.
Give a lot of attention to the room you are working in.
Clean your recording.
Start with panning, compression and equalizing.
A good mix is 80% of the work.
Use multiple sets of speakers.
and … rest for your ears is so important.
Mastering should be done external,
a new pair of ears have added value.
Find a pro company that fits your sound.
As others have said if you can afford it then a pro company is the way to go otherwise I normally have 3 cubase projects:
- Compose with instruments etc and then export down to stems
- Do the mix on those stems and export as a wav
- Master that wav alone in a project. I tend to use Pro-Q for eq, then a multi band compressor and maybe a touch of reverb and of course a limiter (Pro-L or sometimes Ozone). Often add some saturation to tast, I used to use Ozone for everything but have found I like to mix it up a bit with other plugins but still use Ozone’s maximiser
- Final step is to import into Audition and use that to convert into final formats including dithering etc.