"Workflow" question

Hi, would this be a proper way to master an album, both for audio cd/ddp and digital versions?

So, I have recorded 12 tracks in cubase.

I import the wav files into wavelab, into a montage, they are now 32 bit floating point. I place all 12 tracks on separate tracks. Then I master them by using eq and maximizer on each track. I make sure the songs are even in volume and as loud as i want them.

Then I export the tracks as new 16 bit wav files. And place them in a new montage.
But this time I place them after each other on a single track, in the order I want them to be on the cd.
Then I create markers (splice markers) and with help of them create pauses at the end of each track as we have discussed Justin!

When I am happy, I can from this montage:

burn a cd/ddp
export the tracks to new 16 bit wav files (for ex spotify/itunes)
export a mp3 version
export a 32 bit floating point version to archive on my computer

Would this be a good way to do this? This way all the 4 file versions would be identical, as i see it? Which I have understand that they need to be, if information about the tracks for example are downloaded from internet?

Does it matter that the files get exported 2 times? (first time from montage nr 1, and second time from montage nr 2, as ready masters)

You can probably get away with using just one or two montage tracks by using clip plugins instead of each song on it’s own track. The montage output section is also useful for some global things such as dither and maybe final limiter or intersample peak limiter.

I tend to stagger the songs across two tracks (incase any overlaps need to occur) and use clip effects and montage output effects. You also have montage track effects (not to be confused with CD Tracks) which come in handy sometimes but not often for me.

No real harm in using two montages but be careful of bit-depth and dither as any audio processed in the montage is 32-bit floating. Keep everything at 32-bit floating until you need to reduce to 24 or 16-bit when rendering the final files.

There’s no single correct way to do it.

Thanks for the info. So you mean if I import the files as 16 bit files to the second montage, (which I suppose I have to do, since I am going to burn them form there), it maybe is bad to also export(render) 32 bit floating point versions FROM the 16 bit wav files? It means I have to “upgrade” it again if I export it from the second montage?

Hope you understand how i mean. :slight_smile:

PS: I edited my first post, I added information about which bit format they are in each montage.

If you are not doing any gain changes, fades, crossfades, or other processing with plugins…you could render the files to 16-bit and then import into the second montage.

But, if you know that you might do some crossfades, fade ins/outs, or other processing, it’s best to render from the first montage at 32-bit floating and then handle the dither in the second montage as needed after all the processing is done.

This also opens the door for rendering 24-bit, and 16-bit masters in the second montage so in general, it might be best to keep the audio at 32-bit floating until the final files are made and use the dither there. In other words, keep at 32-bit float as long as possible, and then dither to 16 or 24-bit as needed from he second montage. You may end up with a third montage for the 24-bit version if you want.

Okey I think I got it: I render the files from the first montage, as 32 bit floating. Then I import the 32 bit floating files to a second montage. Creating splice markers and all that. Then I render new final master versions: 32 bit floating versions, 16 bit wav versions, and maybe mp3 versions. But then I have to import the 16 bits into a new montage I guess to burn to audio cd? (since I can’t burn the second montage, because the imported audio files were 32 bit)

Sorry for spamming you with questions, this is my last question for today!! :slight_smile:

Well, when you create the 2nd montage you could apply dither to 16-bit using a plugin running live in the montage output section. This will let you render 16-bit WAVs as well as render a DDP or burn a CD, all from that 1 montage. The source files in the montage would still be 32-bit floating which leaves you some flexibility. Then you could do Save As… and remove the dither to render mp3s, and maybe another Save As… and change the dither to 24-bit if you need to render 24-bit masters. The Save As… lets you keep all your marker and CD-Text work, and just tweak the dithering plugin as needed for that format.

Don’t forgot that you need to apply a dither via a plugin as well as set the bit-depth on the rendered format. They are two separate actions.

Many thanks! I guess it was just this I was looking for. Could you please maybe show a screenshot on where I can find the “dither plugin” and how to apply it to the montage output? You don’t need to do it now, you can do it when you have some time over :slight_smile:

Thanks again =)

So it is so, that as long as I have this “dither plugin” activated, the files themselves don’t need to be for example 16 bit, I can burn a cd by only having the plugin activated? Sounds very good because then I don’t have to export the files again!!! Had no idea about this :smiley:

Yes, the main idea of the montage is to perform non-destructive processing to clips, montage tracks, or the entire montage output. So, like any other plugins, the dither plugin can be running live in the montage. You may also prefer to use a dither found in your final limiter. Some people put the dither in the global master section but that requires some extra saving and loading.

If you don’t need any features that are specific to the global master section, just insert the dither plugin LAST in the montage output effects because this will affect all the audio from the montage as it should for dither (in most normal cases). It should be the very last thing inserted and no processing should happen after that, especially going to 16-bit. A picture is attached. I think the iZotope MBit+ dither that comes with WaveLab is very good, but you may find other options in your plugin list. There is no right one to use, but using one is important.

So, just do what yo need to do and put the dither last. You can branch off and make a montage with the dither set to 16-bit, and another set to 24-bit, and another with no dither for rendering mp3s, AAC files, or to make a 32-bit floating WAV for future use.

You also need to determine the bit-depth of the rendered file in the “Format” section of the render tab. There are two parts to it…insert the dither last in the processing chain, and also be sure you tell WaveLab what bit-depth the rendered file should be. I have Format presets for 16-bit WAV, 24-bit WAV, 32-bit Float WAV, mp3, AAC etc.
Screen Shot 2016-11-09 at 1.48.14 PM.png

Hello Justin, just some questions regarding your posts.

Can you check the picture I attached, I wonder if that on the picture is the “montage output section”, or if it is the global master section? If its not, where can I find the montage output section? So I know where I shall put the dither plugin.

I also wonder, you advice me to “save as…” , but when I press save as, you mean I save a NEW montage (which is identical to the one I am in), but I remove the dither and render MP3. But why cant I just temporarly disable the dither plugin from the montage output section from the “montage output section” instead, and export a MP3? And same for the 24 bit files, why cant I just temporary change the dither to 24 bit and export? Is it better to create a new montage for those “versions” by using save as…? If so, why?


You certainly could just temporarily change or disable the dither for those alternate versions. I prefer to do a Save As… so I have a precise record of what I did when the files were rendered. Also, when rendering mp3s or alternate versions such as 24-bit/high sample rate, sometimes I make other small tweaks to the final output ceiling to prevent overs during encoding or sample rate changes that the files may encounter downstream. It’s your preference how to work in that regard.

The picture you attached shows the global master section which is not truly part of your montage. The settings need to be saved and loaded manually which is something I don’t care for. If you are not doing any processing in the global master section, you can put the dither in the montage output section. You could also put Master Rig in this section before the dither. Dither must be last after everything else including any Resampling or any other digital processing changes.

The Montage Output Effects are located in the Effects Tab (near the CD Tab). The Effects tab has three sections:

Clip (applies processing to individual clips/files)
Track (applies processing to montage tracks and not to be confused with CD Tracks)
Output (applies processing to the entire montage output but before the global master section if it’s used).

I have attached a bigger picture of the Montage Output Effects slot.

Thank you for the info! Awesome. I shall try this stuff out soon, I maybe get back to this thread with more questions!

No problem. There are a few things such as “Resampler” that are only available in the global master section but if you are using plugins and things that are all available on the montage output section, you might prefer this because all those settings are saved and reloaded with the montage without any extra work.

When you use anything in the global master section, you must put the dither after that and not before.

You also need to determine the bit-depth of the rendered file in the “Format” section of the render tab. There are two parts to it…insert the dither last in the processing chain, and also be sure you tell WaveLab what bit-depth the rendered file should be. I have Format presets for 16-bit WAV, 24-bit WAV, 32-bit Float WAV, mp3, AAC etc.


I’m using this thread as reference trying to refine my WL9 workflow as well. I think i’m finally getting the hang of it.
Do mp3s and AACs need to be a certain resolution? i.e.: 44.1 or 48k? Does it matter? What do you use?
For the longest time i couldn’t understand if you need to dither when rendering mp3s or AACs. My source files are 32/48. Does going from 32 bit to 320kbps require dithering, like from 32b to 16b?


Although mp3 files support 48k sample rate, I like to provide them to my clients as 44.1k to prevent potential compatibility issues if the client wants to burn them to CD or whatever.

I work mostly at 96k though and use Saracon for the sample rate conversion so I’m usually already going down to 44.1k from 96k.

If I was working at 48k already, I would consider keeping the mp3 and AAC files at 48k. Definitely a judgement call as far as to how the mp3s will be used or listened to.

Regardless of sample rate, I remove all dither for my mp3 and AAC encodes, they can be created from floating point audio. No need to dither. I had one person tell me they prefer the sound of mp3s encoded from 16-bit instead of 32-bit floating point but I don’t have that opinion.

I also leave a dB of headroom on the final limiter to make room for peak level increases on the mp3 encode. You can try to split hairs and set the final limiter to -0.3 or -0.6 and do trial and error checking on the mp3s for peaks but I like to use -1dBFS as the final limiter ceiling and know that it’s safe for nearly all mp3/AAC/lossy encoding. Sample rate conversion will also change the peak levels so keep that in mind too.

Awesome! Thanks

I work mostly at 96k though and use Saracon for the sample rate conversion so I’m usually already going down to 44.1k from 96k.

When do you use Saracon, before starting your Wavelab sessions? So you have all your montages at 44.1k?

Also, do you find it useful to have project templates? I’m trying to make a project template containing 3 or 4 empty montages with various plugins on their outputs ready to go so all i have to do is import wav files. But for some reason it will only let me save such a project if it has the montages as “linked” files. I was expecting the project (with one file group and 4 montages in it) to be saved “in” the project file as one self-contained file…like Cubase where i can set up as many empty tracks and folders and fx channels as i’d like. But WL doesn’t seem to want to do that. What is your workflow… build each session from scratch?
Also, i was expecting my montage render output field settings to be saved with the project as well, but they don’t. Kind of a bummer.


First I use Saracon to get any files that are 48k or lower up to 96k. When things come in at 88.2k or higher I leave them there and get to work. I use REAPER instead of WaveLab for the analog play/capture chain but I know some people are OK using WaveLab. If I’m mastering all “in the box”, then I just insert the files into a WaveLab montage and get started.

Even when using REAPER though, I do the final limiting and any other final touches in WaveLab so when everything is sounding good and arranged correctly, I render the “Whole Montage” as a single 32-bit floating point 96k WAV and have WaveLab make a new montage from the result, with all my markers, names, CD-Text etc. Then I save it as a new montage and add a 24-bit dither to the montage output effects.

I do all this so that all my digital processing (aside from dither) is done at a high sample rate, and so I don’t have any plugin glitches with songs that overlap which can happen if you render overlapping or connecting songs one at a time when certain plugins are involved.

Now I can render 24-bit/96k WAVs of each album track.

To get to lower sample rates, I use Saracon to change that single 32-bit floating point 96k WAV of the entire project to 32-bit floating point 44.1k WAV and place it in a new folder named 44-1k Renders. Now I can use the custom montage duplicate feature in WaveLab to recreate my 96k montage (the one with all the plugin processing printed and dither running live) at 44.1k. Then I just have to change the live dither from 24-bit to 16-bit and then I can render 16/44 WAVs or a DDP.

If I need a montage at 48k for video I can use the same approach and then render 24-bit/48k WAVs. Again, all the processing besides dither is done at a high sample rate then.

Custom Montage Duplicate is my savior.

I do use montage templates to get some basic things in place for each new project, in particular my metadata preset that auto-populates CD-Text and other montage info to ID3 metadata.

As far as the render output settings, I just use the somewhat new render presets to change all the parameters of the render which are different if I’m rendering my initial montage as one file to lock in the plugin processing, or to render 16 or 24-bit WAVs, or mp3 etc. They don’t seem to live with the montage templates but that doesn’t bother me, I have an extensive set of Render Presets that make quick work of it all.

So, I guess I don’t use project templates, just montage templates depending on what I’m doing which could be a new EP/album assembly at 96k, or 88.2k, or perhaps a simple DDP assembly job for a client with already mastered WAVs so that template would be set to 44.1k already, or my library music client that stays at 48k and for this I don’t bother upsampling due to the logistics and large number of files etc.

Great! Thanks for the detailed reply, Justin! Very helpful to see someone else’s workflow to better your own and know you’re not alone.
Much appreciated!