Very basic mastering help?


VIP Junglist
just wondering what you guys would do if you if you wanted to just apply a basic master to any of your tunes, just to bring things up the the level they should be and what sort of parameters youd be adjusting.


(i'm using ssl waves plugins)


broke but not broken
Leave it to the mastering engineer to decide ;)

Ok leaving it to the pros aside, here's how I usually go about mastering my own stuff. It depends on what needs doing (also if there's any easy way of sorting it out in the mix).

My usual chain if I'm doing something a bit more fancy than just putting a limiter on the master is as follows:

Compressor (I'm aiming for subtle compression here a dB or so reduction with slow attack and release to gel things together a bit. I'd keep the ratio low and bring the threshold down until it's getting the results I want).

Multiband Compressor (if the kick and bass need a bit more glueing together I'd use a multiband compressor to subtly compress the kick and bass using the low band - adjust the band to the kick and bass in question - and make sure the other bands aren't doing any compression).

EQ (make any subtle changes to iron out the tonal balance)

Saturation or Warmer style plug in (I might use one of these to just bring the track forwards a little - again subtle settings - and gel things a little more).

Limiter (to bring the overall level up and then limit to taste - even if I want a loud master imo anything more than 6dBs of gain reduction is overkill).

Note that the saturation and multiband compressor don't always make it onto the chain.

Disclaimer I am in no way a mastering engineer but I have been reading around the subject. Hope that helps.

VIP Junglist
My usual chain:

1. Master compressor (PSP mastercomp). Treshold 3-6dB below the peak level of the track, depending on how busy the mix is. Attack from very low (2ms) to about 50ms, depending on the dynamics. Sparse transients -> longer atk. Release to go with the groove of the kick and snare, maybe 200ms to 800ms. If the kick is powerful, i adjust the sidechain to ignore the kick dominant freq.

2. Stillwell 1973 eq for adjusting the highs, upper mids to taste, here I A/B the most.

3. Sometimes PSP mixsaturator in this slot with extra mild settings. Depends on a lot of things. Mainly the 'clinicalness' of the mix. If it's very synth driven, i apply a bit more. If I use a lot of samples, I might skip the saturation.

4. Linear EQ for cutting off above 17-20Khz, again depending on the drums mostly. Also cut lows below 20-30hz, depending on how deep the sub goes.
PSP Xenon limiter, push the peaks down and get the RMS in the loudest parts to about -10. Release from 50ms to 250ms, depending again on the transients and main drums. With a rigorous A/B regime b2b analyzer analism, I might push the bass freqs up or down a few dB.

5. Voxengo SPAN to keep an eye on the extreme subs.

It's really hard to do a master in the same space that you've mixed the track, so I usually bounce the track to wav, carry it around, listening with different setups and adjust accordingly.