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mastering (was: mastering plug ins)

> I sent you a more detailed email offlist but basically what I need is 
>post recording mastering. For putting the finishing touch on my 

First of all, I'd like to quote from my original message:
> Not freeware, but a good set of speakers would be a good start

The presentation you sent me has that sentence "don't operate without
an x-ray" in it. I'd say many a great doctor has operated without
x-ray, but every single surgeon has to rely on seeing the patient
during the operation. So your most important tool are in fact the
speakers (and the room you're sitting in). It does not make a lot of
sense to argue whether the blockfish or the kjaerhus sounds better, or
all of them sound worse than the waves rcomp, if you're not able to
make out what your processing steps actually do.

A lot of people rave about KRK's low-price line, while the Behringer
active nearfields are another nice candidate (though I believe the
price is much less attractive in the US, but this may have changed
with currency effects). Of course, for speakers it makes sense to a)
read on educated forums (see below), b) go and check those things out
in a store which carries several candidates and has them set up with
matching levels so you can A/B them properly. Bring music you know
well and music that sounds good (see Katz's site below for his
"Mastering Honor Roll").

To address the chain you're quoting:
"Waves Linear phase EQ lowband - equivalent noise reduction (I have
this) Waves S1 Shuffler - equivalent Waves C4 multiband parametric
processor - equivalent Waves L3 Ultra Maximizer - equivalent"

I'd like to disagree here: I'd use destructive EQ - stereo thing
(optional) - compressor - shaping EQ - limiter/dither/noiseshape.

Multiband compression has been overused a great deal, and if your
source material is not fucked up seriously, you're almost always
better of with a fullrange compressor, followed by and preceeded by an
EQ. Why two EQs? There's things you want removed (like low-frequency
stuff, or some disturbing resonances) before the compressor, because
you don't want them to affect what the compressor does. On the other
hand, you may want to add some shaping which should not affect the
operation of the compressor, and that goes after the compressor.

I found the group on the recording.org forum very helpful.
gearslutz.com also has some (!) competent contributors.

Another very helpful resource (for reading material) is digido.com -
Bob Katz's site.

Finally, when judging mixes and masters, there's the important issue
of the subjective perception of audio levels. If you're listening at
normal room levels (say 60-70dB SPL level), then you usually percieve
the louder version as "better-sounding". How to work around that
problem? Calibrate your speakers so they give a SPL of 83dB at the RMS
level you want to achieve (-14 is a good choice for pop/rock stuff,
-20 for audiophile listening). That way, you percieve exactly this
level as good and the levels around it as equally good (unless they're
off by more than 6dB), so you're not cheated by your ears. Bob Katz
has a lot to say about this (see the "Level Practices" articles).