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TECH Help: What you put in your master channel?

permalink   Thu, Jun 21, 2012 @ 1:47 PM
Hail, fellow mixters!!
Experimenting is fun, but sometimes it is good to ask those who know.

I would like to ask (to improve my poor knowledge), what filters/effect you put in the master channel of your DAW?

I usually put a compressor, an enhancer (fl maximum), an equalizer (SonEQ), a very light reverb and another master compressor (PSP XENON).

Please share your wise knowledge!
permalink   Fri, Jun 22, 2012 @ 8:48 PM

I personally tend to be minimal at the master channel stage, usually just a limiter to keep those nasty red clip-monsters away… most of the EQ, compression, or stereo imaging issues, I try to address with the individual track channels.
permalink   TheDICE Sat, Jun 23, 2012 @ 9:52 AM
Now i try to put a limiter!
Thanks very much Duckett for sharing knowledge!
Joel Frijters
permalink   Sat, Jun 23, 2012 @ 2:05 PM
Much like Monsieur Duckett I keep my master channel simple. The only thing I use every time is a maximizing limiter (which works as a eq/compressor/limiter). Many times I will use a very light, sparse reverb and depending on my sources I will use an enhancer/exciter. All major compression, heavier verbs and noise reduction I keep on the tracks or on a bus. Lately I have been using more busses. One for rhythm tracks, another for vocals, etc.
Anyway, hope that helps :-)
permalink   TheDICE Tue, Jun 26, 2012 @ 12:52 PM
That helped a lot, you are very friendly. This answered many questions i had in mind. Thank you very much, KungFu.
permalink   Joel Frijters Tue, Jun 26, 2012 @ 1:31 PM
No problems. I had many, many years of trial and error so it is very easy to share. Hopefully all the advice puts you light years ahead :-)
Abstract Audio
permalink   Sat, Jun 23, 2012 @ 2:35 PM

I do use a lot of compressors limiters eq’s etc to tame or enhance my individual sounds or busses (when a number of channels are routed to 1 channel aka a bus). I want to have everything under control before it’s getting to the master channel. The reason for that is that if you get it right at that stage the final mix will be a lot easier to get at its best. I make my songs at a relative low level to make sure it doesn’t clip or get unwanted distortion.
At a later stage when the song is finished I render a wave file and then I use a number of tools to lift the impact and volume most of the time it will be an eq compressor (single and/or multiband) and allways as last a limiter. Sometimes I use ozone for this task.

The most imported reason for me to separate the to things is that they are to diffrent techniques. It wouldn’t be the first song I kill fiddling to much with the individual sounds to make the whole sound better.
permalink   TheDICE Tue, Jun 26, 2012 @ 1:14 PM
Thank you very Abstract Audio, this is really useful. I use busses too, they are essential, in my humble opinion.

ps: After having organized, compressed and equalized the mix, I often end up with -20/-25 dB, then I normalize the wave to reach the 0db. I believe this is wrong.
permalink   Abstract Audio Tue, Jun 26, 2012 @ 1:53 PM
No it isn’t check this

Just keep in mind if you want to burn your stuff on a cd it’s best to normalize to -0.3 dB
permalink   TheDICE Wed, Jun 27, 2012 @ 12:18 PM
Now I can understand the existence of that shortcut in audition “Normalize to -0.3dB”. And thanks for the link, teached me a lot of things… a true lesson, grazie!!!
permalink   Fri, Jul 6, 2012 @ 4:52 PM
Hi TheDice,

you are using ImageLines Maximus (you wrote fl maximum)? This is a great tool (multiband compressor, limiter) for mastering your track, but while mixing, keep hands off, as this will lead you to a wrong image of your sounds and levels.

usually, while mixing i keep the master channel empty, but use a lof of busses (eg. one for drums n bass, some for other instruments, fx) with compression, reverb or other effects.

for mastering, i use algorithmix red or orange EQ and maximus (with parallel compression), as well as the TT dynamic range meter.

permalink   Abstract Audio Sat, Jul 7, 2012 @ 2:10 AM
Hey Tigabeatz some questions about the use of parallel compression. I have never used it so I really like to know why and how you use it and if you use it a lot?
permalink   tigabeatz Sat, Jul 7, 2012 @ 4:41 AM
Quote: Abstract AudioHey Tigabeatz some questions about the use of parallel compression. I have never used it so I really like to know why and how you use it and if you use it a lot?

Hi Abstract Audio,

i have read about it several year ago here:

since then i use it a lot when mastering. what i like about it, is to be able to fatten a song without loosing to much transients. in principle you can bring up the more silent signals by raising the overall volume along with compressing with a high ratio and a low threshhold on one bus and mix it with an uncompressed bus.

With maximus its pretty easy to achive (seperate button, paralleling inside it, no need of a seperate uncompressed bus), with other compressors, limiters, at least those i tried, its a big hassle to compensate latency between the hard compressed signal and the uncompressed as you constanly have to adjust latency.

permalink   TheDICE Sat, Jul 7, 2012 @ 10:40 AM
Yes, it’s that one, Maximus. Thanks for sharing your knowledge, tigabeatz!! that answer of parallel compression whas useful too.
I’m very happy some people partecipate in this thread… i gathered some useful notions
permalink   Sat, Dec 8, 2012 @ 1:35 PM
On my master bus I put a FabFilter Pro-Q set to 48db/Oct slope, at 22Hz and 19KHz to remove inaudible frequence, set to Linear Phase. Remove this for composing as it causes a delay.

A final mastering equaliser for some gentle boosts and cuts. Disable this for mixing.

I sometimes use a Mix Gel compressor. Its a very light compression but can gel the mix together. It works on some tracks not on others, so use with care.

The most important part is a hard Limiter set to -0.3 dB which I use as a gain control so I can get a decent volume without too much clipping. I turn this up until a little clipping occurs.

A Utility that I switch to mono to check for phase problems.

I am a monitor freak, so lots of meters.
1 - Nu Gen Visualiser used as a level meter.
2 - Fast Spectrum analyser to look for peaks that may cause clipping.
3 - s(M)exoscope Waveform visualisation so I can watch the waveforms. I am looking for peaks, dynamics, max and min volumes.
4 - Nu Gen Visualiser used to monitor:
a) Channel correlation
b) Spectrogram
c) Stero Spectogram (L/R) balance

Ears to listen!

If I do find a problem I go back to the individual Track and fix it. I try and get the individual tracks right first, then check for conflicts when I may, in order, set volume, alter velocity of a note or two, equalize, add a side-chained high pass or a side-chained compressor.

I put all my ambient reverb on a separate bus. No reverb on the master bus. I don’t put reverbs on a Track unless its an effect.

I don’t use a lot of compression on my tracks, I like them to be dynamic. As a result I get lots of loud transients and so my master bus has lots of metering to look for transients. If I composed differently, using fewer instruments, more compression or more widely spaced bands then I would use less metering.
permalink   TheDICE Sun, Dec 9, 2012 @ 6:38 AM
Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge. I’m still weak in the mastering process, so this was really useful!
permalink   Quarkstar Sun, Dec 9, 2012 @ 9:43 AM
This is how I mix and master.

For mixing I remove the Pro-Q equalizer as it still seems to delay the track, turn off the mastering equalizer, turn off the compressor (if used), turn off the gain and mix the master to -6dB. At this stage I do all the corrections and tweaks.

I switch the mono on and off and listen for any parts of the mix that seem to get fainter at low, mid and less importantly high frequencies.

For mastering I put all those effects back in and use the limiter to get the track gain until I get just a little clipping (gain seems to end up around +10db). At this stage I also adjust the equalizer to enhance the track. If I am putting more than 6dB changes then I begin to think the individual tracks are not correct and go back to check my mix.

You know how you can decide to listen to say the bass, and you hear the bass. My meters are there pick out things I should be listening for, my ears are the final decider.

If you put reverb on each track, it will sound as if they were recorded in separate rooms. By putting all the tracks through one reverb bus it sounds as if they are all in the same space.

I put delays, ping-pong delays, grain delay, etc. on the individual tracks.

I like to keep my tracks dynamic so I keep the bus clear, but thats my personal preference. Nothing wrong with master bus effects.
permalink   Admiral Bob Tue, Dec 11, 2012 @ 2:02 PM
Quote: Quarkstar
If you put reverb on each track, it will sound as if they were recorded in separate rooms. By putting all the tracks through one reverb bus it sounds as if they are all in the same space.

I don’t usually do this, as this

1.) Isn’t analogous to what happens live. Most digital pianos will have their own built in reverb (beyond the sustain pedal) that is entirely unique from what the guitar player will have on his amplifier. And then the vocalist has likely been put through board effects, which are different again. I think this is a lot less important than people think it is. The purpose of reverb is to help determine placement in the mix, i.e. back to front depth, so that’s the way I use it, while also trying to be true to the instrument being mixed.

2. Instruments have different resonance - I almost never reverb a bass for instance - it just doesn’t need it.

Putting reverb on everything is useful on occasion, if something needs to feel like it is in a cathedral for instance. But I don’t as a general rule reverb the whole thing.
permalink   Quarkstar Tue, Dec 11, 2012 @ 2:30 PM
You are right. I was taught EDM and each genre has its own way of doing things.

Each channel can be placed in space; I use pan and amount going to the reverb to place them. Pan for left right and reverb for distance. The exception being low notes like kicks and bass which don’t need reverb.
permalink   Tue, Dec 18, 2012 @ 3:35 AM
We run Ozone 5 in the master channel. Ozone effects used depend on the audio mix and desired sound. Been experimenting with mid-side lately.

Once or twice we have used Image Line Maximus multiband compressor/limiter in the master channel.
permalink   TheDICE Sun, Feb 17, 2013 @ 4:06 PM
thanks for your knowledge, texasradiofish! i’m love with maximus, when i apply it at the end it makes everything louder without damage (i think… maybe), using the “clean master” preset and tweaking a bit…
Doxent Zsigmond
permalink   Wed, Feb 6, 2013 @ 1:50 AM
Usually i put Limiter but not always. Sometimes it’s a tape compression after if the result is too quiet.
It really depends on the song. I try not to clutter my stuff with too many unnecessary plugins. Also I almost never equalize on the master. Try to do it on separate tracks instead.
permalink   TheDICE Sun, Feb 17, 2013 @ 4:53 PM
Now i’m learning on internet what is a “tape compression”, i discovered this thing from you. thanks Doxent for your knowledge!