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Old 03-14-2009, 08:38 AM
darrena darrena is offline
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 26
Default Re: Comparison of HD, LE and M-Powered?

They way you describe it is how I *usually* work. I mostly don't do anything in the master. I buss everything and lower the busses until I can keep the master at 0 without clipping. I usually use a dynamics plug on most busses (frequently all of them).

That's pretty conventional.

However, I can get the same result as if I mastered in Sound Forge by putting the mastering plug or chain of mastering FX on the Master Buss and just rendering with it on. (I'm not saying leave it on all the time, I'm just saying when you are ready to master.)

After all it's doing the exact same thing to the WAV, right?

But this method gives me the extra flexibility of being able to control more variables during mastering. For example, if I render to a WAV and then master and discover that I'm getting too much bass, in SF I only have the master's EQ and compression to play with, but if I put it on the master buss, I can also tweak the bass and drums buss volumes. Another example is that sometimes you find that an effect like reverb sounds "just right" on a track before the mastering and sounds too wet after. Can't do much about that in a 2-step mastering process using Sound Forge (unless you want to go back and re-render the 2ch WAV).

So you see why my template has a mastering plug on the master (but it's disabled) from the get-go.

So! Now that we have my motivation for that covered, I should talk about my workflow.

Since I'm primarilly a song writer and I'm not really an engineer, I go through the most of the composition and experimentation part of the process in my DAW (today Acid Pro 7). That means trying out new synth patches, FX, etc. on different tracks yadda yadda...


1. Compose "bones" on real live piano (chords, melody)
2. Score basics in MIDI
3. Add loop-based rhythm tracks
4. EXPERIMENTATION: Flesh out MIDI-based score, try to find good sounds (using different patches, FX, tweaking things). This often involves looping a part of the composition and flipping through presets, messing with FX chains, etc. to find a rough sound I like.
5. Arrange
6. Write lyrics
7. Record live tracks
8. MIXING: now I worry about levels, EQ, pan, final FX chains

So during #4 above, I turn on the mastering plug. I turn it off usually before #7 above and leave it off until #9. I turn it on in #4 because I have come damn close to accidentally blowing my monitors out during the experimentation phase because a synth patch or an effect surprises me and jumps my levels from comfortable to INSANE with one click of the button.

Does that make sense?

I will check out MBDynamics, etc.
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