Mastering in N???


Can N be used to do a general Mastering Process of the mixdown file?
Can Anyone outline the setps and tools involved for the obvious (loudness db boost) Limiter… presets?
Which Compressor & settings
Which Eq? Settings?

Lemme know what’s working for u.

Sure, you can use N for a quasi-mastering…I say quasi because real mastering is an art…It is best though to at least “master” on a different set of speakers than you mixed with…basics: normalize the mixdown…at this point I use the ultrafunk multiband compressor on it’s smooth preset and adjust as needed. Then the Waves L2 to smoothe the peaks and increase the loudness…finally the Voxengo Gliss eq (or lately the roger Nichols Freequalizer) to shape the sound, usually in the 400-1k range (GENTLY!)…I then put a TINY amount of room verb from something like Acoustic Mirror or Pristine Space (wet signal of -24 at the most!)…if needed a touch more of the L2 and then listen to it on all types of systems…this beats a raw mix but once again it isn’t a good mastering engineer in a great room with great outboard gear and most important…great ears…
Maybe Chip can chime in…his masters are pretty darn good!


Software choice like N versus Cubase versus Sonar versus reaper versus whatever makes little difference in a mastering environment. Math is math is math and they all SHOULD sound identical (for both mixing and mastering). The difference comes more in how you treat the material. Obvious, eh?

EQ and settings… I can’t give you any suggestions there. That is a thing completely dependent on the material at hand. Do you need more air? Is it harsh in the 2-7k area? Is the bass muddy? All these things are what you need to listen for and adjust accordingly. I could go in to linear phase versus minimum phase EQ, but until you knwo what to listen for, a good old minimum phase (What most EQs are) will work fine.

Compressors: What for? Smoothing? Color? Loudness? Deessing? You will use different comps for different things. A good multiband and a good full band will get the job done depending on what needs to happen. Also, don’t forget about running a comp in parallel to the source as an expander… this makes soft parts louder with out making the loud parts louder. Very handy.

Limiters: Are we talking limters or are we talking CLIPPERs. Two different items called the same thing. Kjaerhaus mastering limiter, Waves L2, Event Horizon, ad nasuem are all clippers. The result is a limiting of the signal but not in the way a traditional limiter limits. Know the difference and know when when and how to use both.

M/S: Oooo, never heard of that one, did ya? This allows you to effect the middle different than the sides… so say you want to add more width to a master… compress the S and add some make up gain. Or maybe just add gain to the S. Want the vocals to come forward? Throw a multiband on the M and compress the vocal range, add make up. There are 100 things you can do with M/S that most folks don’t think or know about. This will require a M/S decoder and encoder however. There are a few VST freebies out there for this.

So now that you are sufficiently confused, go grab Bob Katz’s book and memorize it then practice practice practice.


Also, don't forget about running a comp in parallel to the source as an expander... this makes soft parts louder with out making the loud parts louder. Very handy.

Bubba good stuff but could you spare the time to expand on this a bit more please? I'm probably being thick here (wouldn't be the first time). Exactly how do you go about doing this?

You can do it one of two ways.

Method 1: Use a compressor that has a wet and dry control so you can independently djust the level of the wet and dry signal. Ratio of 4:1, fastest attack you can muster, peak detection, medium release (250-350ms generally) and clamp down the thresh hold to like -20db. This will smash the ever living h ell out of the signal. The idea being that when you reach a soft passage, the comp will back way off and double the dry signal adding volume. However, in loud passages, the comp smashes the wet signal hard making it disappear and the dry signal is all that is used. Adjust the threshold so that in very soft sections sections there is little to no compression.

Method 2: same as above except you have a compressor that is only 100% wet. Duplicate the track and put the comp on the duplicated track.

Thanks Bubba, gotta try that technique…