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Author Topic: Your chain  (Read 28683 times)

lagerfeldt

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Re: Your chain
« Reply #30 on: June 24, 2006, 05:04:13 am »

I just got the DAD AX24 which I consider keeping Smile http://www.digitalaudio.dk/ (front page)

-Playback from WaveBurner (or Logic Pro, depending on the flexibility I need)

-Digital EQ/Multiband from Waves Linear Phase EQ or Sonalksis (filters and corrective EQ)

-DAD AX24 D/A (converter output)

-Gyraf Gyratec X Vari Mu compressor (tube drive and/or compression)

-SSL G Type 4000 compressor (compression) - I want an STC-8 here!

-(here I'd like an analog EQ instead of the LP EQ below - any ideas for my chain? I don't think I want more tubes)

-(here I'd like to add a Pendulum Audio PL-2)

-DAD AX24 A/D (converter input) back into WaveBurner or Logic Pro

-Waves Linear Phase EQ (add a bit of EQ a few places)

-L2 (limiting)

-Clipping (maybe)

or no L2 and clipping the AX24 instead

NOT all stuff is necessarily active, a decent range of options are good in my book.

Thomas W. Bethel

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Re: Your chain
« Reply #31 on: June 24, 2006, 05:39:13 am »

Room #1
Wavelab 6 > RME AES/EBU out> Weiss EQ1 MKII > dbx Quantum II > RME AES/EBU> Wavelab 6. Tons of plugins if needed. t.c. electronics M-3000 for reverb (if needed) Samplitude some times instead of Wavelab 6, If needed Valley Audio 730T or t.c. electronics Finalizer, patching done by a combination of XLR patch bay (Canare wiring) and Z-Sys router.

Monitoring on Alon IVs driven by a Bryston 4B amplifier

Room #2
Wavelab 6 > RME AES/EBU out > ZEQ1 > t.c. electronics Finalizer >RME AES/EBU Wavelab 6. Tons of plugins if needed. t.c. M-2000 for reverb (if needed) Patching by XLR connectors (Canare Wire)

Monitoring on Alon IVs driven by a Bryston 3B amplifier

Room designs by Don Mitchell of DSM and Associates http://www.dsmassociates.com/

Analog transfers Otari MTR-10 Room #1 with Dolby B and Dolby SR and DBX I and II available.

Analog transfers Tascam BR-20T Room #2

Sony R-500 DAT Decks both rooms

Analog Turntable Micro-Seiki turntable Ortofon cartridge Stanton (heavily modified)phono preamp Room #1

Technics SL-1200 Ortofon cartridge, Stanton (heavily modified) phono preamp.

Other transfer equipment as needed includes Tascam and Sony Cassette decks, Sony MiniDisc players, 78 rpm turntable by Braun and Sony 601D Beta deck combination and a Tascam X-7 1/4 track.

Apogee A to D soon to be upgraded to a Benchmark.

Besides mastering we do a lot of format changes and audio restoration which is why all the additional equipment for playback.
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masterhse

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Re: Your chain
« Reply #32 on: June 24, 2006, 10:13:57 am »

My typical chain for a digital source:

Pro Tools HD system, session is setup either as an M/S session or with a stereo audio track(s) going to 1 or 2 stereo aux tracks.

1. Any "corrective" processing is inserted in the audio track. This may include a plug from Waves, Crane Song, etc. or digitial outboard gear (Weiss units, etc.).

2. Digital output goes through AES out of PT to an Apogee PSX-100 then to the analog rack. Can consist of Crane Song Ibis EQ->Chandler LTD-2 (with Sterling mods)-> Crane Song STC-8. Gear is added/removed from chain as needed via patchbay. I may also use a Urei LA-22 for de-essing, but it's been pretty rare. The Otari MTR-12 1/2" machine could also be added in the chain for analog tape saturation.

From the analog chain it goes back to the Apogee A/D and back to the PT AES. The AES in/out is inserted in the aux chain of the PT session where needed, usually first.

3. From there any additional digital processing that may be needed is inserted in the aux track and last in the chain goes to an L2 or the Weiss DS-1 (if not required elsewhere) where it's dithered at 24 bit and goes to Waveburner for CD creation.

I'm pretty happy with this chain for processing, very easy to move things around/add/remove and automate. One of these days I plan to incorporate MIDI to control the Weiss EQ and comp, but just haven't found it to be that important yet.
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Phil Demetro

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Re: Your chain
« Reply #33 on: June 24, 2006, 03:33:41 pm »

I just changed the 'patching pattern" around here recently... sadly about as stable
as nitro-glycerin. This month looks like this.

(I'll skip obvious things like models, #'s, gear mods, tape machines,
soundcards, digital routers, wordclock, cables &  DITHER etc...)

me--->aeron chair---->espresso--->protools or sequoia for PB ---> (maybe a
ZSYS EQ/or Weiss comp/or MaxxBCL here)----->Prism DA--->DM Master/line amps

Analog stage:
insert 1: I used to use this insert to correct the tonal balance now I use
it to set the tone!:  Neve EQ (party time!) <---> Api EQ---->Maselec desser

Insert 2: if I want to use MS it's here: sontec EQ--->Focusrite
EQ--->Chandler comp. (Using MS 60/40 these days. Use the width about 20/80)
Never more than .5 dB.

if I need a bit more poly-filla....
Insert 3: spl Kultube---->spl Tube Vitalizer. Have swapped in a Prism Comp
here a couple of times (am selling).

---->Prism AD (not selling) ------> ZSys EQ (party time)------> Sequoia  -
and if I want -  last minute plugin touchups.-----> 5 minute nap.

sometimes I go into sequoia at 16 , 24 or 32 depending on what i had for
breakfast.


I listen thru a DM Monitor.

Phil
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hnewman

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Re: Your chain
« Reply #34 on: June 24, 2006, 08:37:01 pm »

hnewman wrote on Fri, 23 June 2006 18:35

Lynx AES out >> Mytek DAC >> Massive Passive >> STC8 >> Vari-Mu >> Mytek ADC >> Weiss EQ >> L2 >> Lynx AES in

Sometimes the Weiss gets dropped in before the Mytek DAC instead. Monitoring off the Lynx card (L22).


As for the why's ;;;

Like to keep the Vari-Mu at the end so I can control how hot it's being fed from upstream -- don't like to play with it's input control very much.  

Like having the MP at the top of the chain for broadstrokes EQ moves, and also helps if there is low-end crankiness to deal with that would otherwise make the compressors pump.  

The problem with the Weiss at the front of the chain is that it overs very easily, and if I'm starting with a very hot signal I either have to digitally attenuate it or tread very lightly w/ the EQ.  Putting it at the end of the chain alleviates this.

Would be happier with more control over the levels going into the ADC -- the interface and meters are all but useless on the thing, maybe this is common with other ADC as well, but it is definitely something I would consider upgrading in the future.

The L2 sits like a lump at the end of the chain as a safety net, it is not uncommon for entire tracks to pass through it without attenuation.  I would be happy to replace this piece, and could certainly live w/o it.  Have my name down to test drive the Pendulum PL2 one of these days.


Andy Krehm

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Re: Your chain
« Reply #35 on: June 25, 2006, 01:40:07 am »

bblackwood wrote on Fri, 23 June 2006 06:37

So, what's your typical chain?


I have mastered for years with a patch bay and like Brad, discovered that I don't change up the order my analog gear that much. Therefore, I recently I had all my analog gear wired up point to point with Requisite cable.  The cable runs are very short and no more hunks of metal and extra runs of wire get in the way of the sound. The audio sounds noticeably better. Of course the abandoned PB is a long-frame bantam so not like some of the high-end mastering PB that some of you have.

We have researched and tested the analog gear and they all appear to have true bypasses, ie, the equivalent of XLR to XLR when in bypass so if I don't need a unit, I just bypass it.

Because the access to the space behind/under my desk is limited, I had a rotating desk designed and built. The left side holds most of my analog units, flips up like a car hood so that cables can be easily changed without lying on one's back. I think its very well implemented and is easily accessible. I will be posting pictures of my new studio and this unusual desk in a couple of weeks when I finally anounce the completion of my two year upgrade plan!

Now to the analog chain:

* PTs HD 192 -->Lavry Gold DAC-->ATR 102 Custom 1/2" w/ Aria or Vintage electronics-->Tube-Tech SMC 2B-->Maselec MEA-2-->EQ3-D-->Manley MP EQ-->Manley Vari-Mu Comp(w/Side Chain Mod and T-Bar on its way)-->Requisite L2M Mastering Comp-->Pendulum PL-2-->Lavry Gold ADC-->Digital Limiter-->POW-R dither-->PTs (back in via insert).  (See last paragraph for alternate route that we are working on)

* Digital Limiter choices:

L2 (outboard), L3, Sony Inflator or TC 6000 Brick Wall Limiter.

* The other digital gear consists of a Digital Domain K-Unit, Weiss EQ1 LP/Dyn, Weiss DS1 MK 2 and TC 6000. TC 6000 has 4 engines and use one for M/S work (MD4 starting point), one for Multi-band (MD4) leaving the last one for Ad Hoc tasks like the occasional use of reverb. I rarely use more than one or two bands of the MD4 in stereo mode.

Mostly, the digital gear is inserted before the analog chain. The exceptions are if I need the Weiss compressor for heavy compressing in which case it goes after the ADC and before one of the limiters. Same for the Weiss EQ. It goes after the ADC if the compression has darkened the audio too much.

Plug-ins: Waves Restoration Tool Kit and very occasional use of MDW EQ.

We assemble and burn DACs masters in WaveBurner and use a Dangerous ST with Weiss DAC for the room monitor setup.

Details:

* Lavry Gold DAC: The Lavry, or one of the best, DACs on the market. I previously used an Apogee PSX-100 and of course, the Lavry is noticeably more transparent with a beautiful soundstage.

* ATR 102 Custom 1/2" w/Aria or Vintage electronics: Since I rarely get a tape to master from, this is used right after the digitally copied mix, as if it was recorded to tape. Just got it 3 months ago and am probably overusing it but like the sound of it for close to 50% of my masters. Rarely used for heavy compression but it has a sound that my clients and I love. I have a three way switch which allows me to flip from Aria to bypass (true) to Vintage in order to quickly audition whether the tape will be useful and if so, which electronics work for the track. We put the machine in record and run the o/p to the DAW piece of gear (called lay-back mastering by some). The amount of tape compression is controlled by changing the gain in the DAW just before the DAC.

* Tube-Tech SMC 2B (multi-band): used mostly as a gain stager for the analog chain (after the tape) and for the sound of the unit but sometimes helpful to raise or lower the volume of one or two of the three bands. Also, is sometime handy for mild deesing and/or compressing the bottom end.

* Maselec MEA-2: Have finished testing the SPL PQ EQ and am sending it back. I will post a full review when I have a chance. In short, a brilliantly designed, great sounding unit but has a fatal flaw which limits its use for corrective work. My Maselec arrives next week. I tested one two months ago and it is nice sounding analog eq capable of broad strokes and reasonable precise corrective work. This unit will be a work horse for me. I had the budget for the PQ EQ and the Maselec is much less expensive so now I have enough for something else! Hmmm...

* Night Pro EQ3-D: This is a crazy little eq unit that probably has no place a mastering rack but it has an amazing air band and a useful sub. The unit is not notched and has to be calibrated side to side with tones. I use it 25 to 50% of the time. It just has a sound that works with a lot of material. I like this unit so much that I spent almost $1,000. to have it modified to be more accurate side to side and to have the headroom increased. Only the latter mod was successful but worth it as it doesn't bottle-neck my chain any more. The unit is so hard to match sides on that I just  bypass if it doesn't work for the track with my standard settings.

* Manley Massive Passive EQ: More than enough has been said about this unit. Suffice to say,  I use it on many of my masters. A great colour eq. This unit is very rarely bypassed but is often used very subtly.

* Manley Vari-Mu Comp(w/Side Chain Mod and T-Bar on its way): Again, much has been written about this unit on the boards but I use it to get more gain, sometimes with compression but often not. It has a clear open sound that seems to give most masters a little extra subtle depth and width. The SC Mode lets more bottom end through and I'm hoping the T-Bar mod will cut down on transient distortion, which is usually the only reason I bypass this unit. I master a lot of hip hop, reggae and blues and don't understand when I read comments about "soft bottom" in this unit or the Tube-Tech, for that matter. This is not what I hear or maybe I'm compensating elsewhere (?). My bottom is not soft , mon, unless I want it to be!

* Requisite L2M Mastering Comp: My final place to get some more analog gain and use some more, or different compression, if needed. This unit is based on the LA-2a but has 4 times the headroom. It sounds amazing.

* Pendulum PL-2: This is a transparent sounding (if you don't drive it too hard) peak limiter. It works somewhat like the Apogee Soft-Limit but sounds better and has much more user control.

* Lavry Gold ADC: see DAC comments plus this unit has  digital limiter soft-limit that is useful once in a while.

* Digital Domain K-Unit: This unit is designed by Bob Katz and is marketed as an "Ambient Recovery Unit".  It has 4 stereo algorithms, which are bandwidth controllable and also can be equalized, plus a full-band M/S control. I use this very subtly on 90% of my masters. It is always inserted before the analog chain. I pretend that the ambience it provides was part of the mix (or maybe should have been!).

* Weiss EQ 1 LP/Dyn:This is usually inserted before the analog chain. I use this very transparent eq mostly in dynamics mode to tame harsh frequencies. It can also be used in the lower bass or sub frequency to subtly control the bottom end. When I need an eq after the ADC, this one does the trick.

*  Weiss DS 1 MK 2: extremely useful as a compressor (full or parallel), ranging from subtle (before analog chain, to heavy (after ADC and before limiter). For heavy deessing, it is the best.

* TC 6000 Mastering & Reverb: what a great sounding,  versatile unit. I use a modified MD4 for M/S eqing, compression & steroizing. Great for corrective work, especially with vocals that are out of whack. I almost always check out the sides of specific frequencies to see if  the  sound stage could use a little more width. Since I got this, I rarely widen the entire mix anymore. This is sooo much more subtle. The MD4 in regular mode is useful for raising or lowering specific frequencing. Once in a while I'll use the compression but am not a fan of the eq unless I want to notch out a very specific frequency. This is the very best notch eq I have. The Brickwall Limiter works great for me if I am not trying to make a typically loud pop master. I use it more for jazz and blues.

* Limiters: They all sound different, work differently and the variety I now have over the old L2-only days is just great.

Quote:

 Is it too much?


My normal technique is use much of my gear most of the time. A lot of times I'm just using the tube gear to get some dbs and not for their functionality. Everything has a purpose in my chain but it I don't need it, it is bypassed!

Quote:

Not enough?


Maybe I'll add a solid state compressor. I'm inspired by my Lacquer Channel colleague, Phil Demetro, who doesn't use any tubes but does good work anyway!

Quote:

How often do you change it up?


More often the digital outboard gear than the analog, depending on the job.

Quote:

Are you looking to change any part of it?


I own a Lavry Digital Optimizer, which I want to use for real time SRC and dither. Since we use Pro Tools to record and playback (limitation is one sample rate per session only), we have been stymied as to how to set up to do this without investing in a second computer to record to and sequence in.

However, we own Logic and a second sound card being used for SpectraFoo (in the same Mac). My tech guy is working out a system where we will be able to output PTs to the Lavry Digital Optimizer and into the second sound card and record into Logic Audio (which I own). I'll then be able monitor the 16b/44.1 dithered masters as I'm mastering a high rez session. He says it works fine but wants to make sure there is little or no lag time when playing back Logic controlled by Pro Tools.

If that doesn't work smoothly enough, I'll probably go for a second computer or maybe even explore changing the entire mastering setup to PC and Sequoia. The latter idea doesn't really interest me except when I hear about all the neat sounding mastering plug-ins PC users have access to. However, I rarely use the neat plug-ins that Pro Tools offers so I probably wouldn't in Sequoia either. I hear it's a great editor but I've used PTs for 10 years and haven't been frustrated too often. However, I don't master much classical music and am guessing that pop music is less challenging to edit(?).

Andy,

Silverbirch Productions.

cerberus

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Re: Your chain
« Reply #36 on: June 25, 2006, 09:27:08 am »

my chain is all itb, mac g5, cubase, mostly waves plug-ins. not much else.

i 've used m/s extremely liberally (every dynamics processor except L3)  since 2001.

i've used multiband dynamics since 2001.

i have used a fully floating point signal path since 2003 (except for L3).

i have upsampled everything to 88.2kHz since 2005.

i have used parallel compression with more than one compressor since december 2005.

i have used delay lines in all masters since march 2006.

*i have run signals backwards and tapped intermediate points in the chain, bounced them to files, and mixed them back with real-time processes, often cross panned and polarity inverted....sometimes folded to mono... since april 2006.

i have used a parallel limiter bank consisting of L3, magneto (filtered), and  non limited signal. since may 2006.

i have used a transient designer post limiter stage experimentally with good results since may 2006.

i have used a bass enhancement plug-in, as a parallel process entering the chain after the limiter.... experimentally with good results, since june 2006.

i have used sample shifting on bounced files* to time correct for eq processes that incur internal delays i wish to nullify since june 2006.

jeff dinces

bblackwood

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Re: Your chain
« Reply #37 on: June 25, 2006, 09:36:19 am »

To continue the thought process...

How does your chain sound? How does that sound influence your decision regarding the order of the processors? Is that something you consider, or is it a matter of what needs to happen where to achieve your desired goals?

Does more = better or does more = more?

It's fascinating to me so far that there seems to be very little middle ground - folks seem to have either tons of gear or somewhat simplistic chains...

Discuss.
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Brad Blackwood
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Pingu

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Re: Your chain
« Reply #38 on: June 25, 2006, 09:40:14 am »

I find more = less.

I try to be minimal.
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cerberus

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Re: Your chain
« Reply #39 on: June 25, 2006, 09:52:03 am »

more = more time

but why would anyone add complexity if it didn't sound better?
each process makes an incremental improvement for me, there is no single magic wand...so it must be complex. i need to emulate analog character, so it must be complex. more must equal better for me, or i would shut it off.

my set of strategies will yield garbage if they are not set up properly, investments of time and concentration are a given; it's completely intolerant of pilot error.  as the chain builds to it's full level of complexity, quality control becomes ever more critical to the result. it can all turn sour with one slip up.

jeff dinces

jtr

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Re: Your chain
« Reply #40 on: June 25, 2006, 09:57:57 am »

bblackwood wrote on Sun, 25 June 2006 06:36

To continue the thought process...

How does your chain sound? How does that sound influence your decision regarding the order of the processors? Is that something you consider, or is it a matter of what needs to happen where to achieve your desired goals?

Does more = better or does more = more?

It's fascinating to me so far that there seems to be very little middle ground - folks seem to have either tons of gear or somewhat simplistic chains...

Discuss.


Speaking as one of the somewhat simplistic chain owners-  I can get where I need to go cleanly- if my somewhat limited external processors don't do it, then I've got many ITB plugs to supplement.
I'll add and upgrade as time and money permit, but the practice of
working simply has been good for me.

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Thomas W. Bethel

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Re: Your chain
« Reply #41 on: June 25, 2006, 10:09:30 am »

Sometimes when I am in a situation where the client is a clock watcher I revert to a setup that I know will work 90% of the time. If I can take some time (like in an unattended mastering session) I will change things around until I find something that works very well for the material at hand but may not work for a majority of the work I do.

Sometimes by being so concerned with the time and the charges for that time clients at attended sessions are actually limiting my choices to something that I know will work but may not be optimal for this particular project. When I start changing my setup ( by simply patching in a different limiter or the changing the chaining of equipment) they start to fidget and ask "is anything wrong" or "is this going to take extra time" so I have learned not to do it.

When I was learning mastering as an intern I had a fixed setup. I could not re-patch the setup without getting under the console and physically changing the connections at the inputs and outputs of analog equipment which was not what I was suppose to do so everything that came though got mastered with the same chain in the same setup.

When I started on my own I had very little equipment so it basically was setup in a fixed setup and very seldom changed. With the technology available today and with additional equipment in the rack I have some choices but due to pressure from the clock watchers of the world I sometimes have to do what I know will work and not "experiment" on the client's nickle.

I hope that in the future to own a Crookwood setup so I can do this repatching more quickly and with out the client even knowing that it is happening but that is still a ways off.

MTCW

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Andy Krehm

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Re: Your chain
« Reply #42 on: June 25, 2006, 11:05:23 am »

bblackwood wrote on Sun, 25 June 2006 09:36

To continue the thought process..,

Does more = better or does more = more?

It's fascinating to me so far that there seems to be very little middle ground - folks seem to have either tons of gear or somewhat simplistic chains...

Discuss.

I knew some mastering engineers that made it through my far too lengthy gear list post would be thinking, why use so much gear?

For me the answer is simple. I started with plug-ins and slowly, over 13/14 years, added analog gear. Although plug-ins have come a long way since I started mastering, they and cheap converters weren't so hot back then so I just kept buying and upgrading my analog gear, mostly of the tube persuasion.  

After loading up on analog gear, I tried expensive outboard digital which, IMO, and in almost every case, outperform their plug-in counterparts. I mean, can anyone honestly tell me that their plug-in compressors/dessers work and sound better than a Weiss DS1 MK2? This is not a knock on those that are starting out and can't afford these pieces yet. But when you can, you will see why they are always in the gear list of top-ranked mastering studios.

So I then started buying digital outboard pieces because they have a different sound from the tube gear and are generally better for corrective work. And lastly, I realized that I needed a precision analog eq. I didn't want any more tube pieces so after trying the Maselec MEA-2 and SPL PQ EQ, settled on the Maselec. The SPL sounds spectacular but has a fatal flaw due to some design choices and is not very effective, IMO, for corrective work. However, for those that can afford the rather steep price of $13 grand US and can afford a second precision analog eq, buy it immediately! It sounds that good! I may try a solid state compressor, just for a different sound but after that, my gear buying days are over for a while!

bblackwood wrote on Sun, 25 June 2006 09:36

To continue the thought process...

How does your chain sound? How does that sound influence your decision regarding the order of the processors? Is that something you consider, or is it a matter of what needs to happen where to achieve your desired goals?



My typical day starts like this. After preping the album, I pick a track to start mastering. I start by checking the gain staging, bypassing my solid state and digital gear and then I  run the mix through all my tube gear. Whether its jazz, blues, hip hop, reggae, AC, R&B and most kinds of rock, it almost always sound nicer, to my ears. I mean if it sounds better already (to me), why not use it? If it doesn't, I'll start bypassing but this is rare for me with the tube stuff. I might even change the order but this is really rare for me.

I'll then fire up the ATR-102 (lay-back mode) and check how the master-in-progress sounds through the Aria or Vintage electronics. Almost 50% of the time, I feel that there is a subtle to spectacular improvement. I then add in any of many digital outboard pieces or solid state eqs that will make the master sound better. And that's how I sometimes end up with every piece of gear in the studio being used. It just sounds good to me! It also must sound good to my clients because I have a steady flow of new clients ( from "word of mouth" and hearing CDs mastered here) and plenty of repeat business.

Andy,

Silverbirch Productions.

Bob Boyd

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Re: Your chain
« Reply #43 on: June 25, 2006, 11:13:06 am »

Andy Krehm wrote on Sun, 25 June 2006 00:40


However, we own Logic and a second sound card being used for SpectraFoo (in the same Mac). My tech guy is working out a system where we will be able to output PTs to the Lavry Digital Optimizer and into the second sound card and record into Logic Audio (which I own). I'll then be able monitor the 16b/44.1 dithered masters as I'm mastering a high rez session. He says it works fine but wants to make sure there is little or no lag time when playing back Logic controlled by Pro Tools.

If that doesn't work smoothly enough, I'll probably go for a second computer


Andy,

you may have better luck that I did but before buying my second Mac, I tried running both PT and Peak and it proved to be too much for the overall system (and I'm not using any CPU-based plugs).  Far too unstable, even on a Dual 2.5 G5.

I would recommend going with the second system when you can.  Although you'll need to consider monitor placement, I have loved having more screen real estate - doing my work on the main system and having the analyzers/meters on the second screen making it easy to glance over at them.

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Re: Your chain
« Reply #44 on: June 25, 2006, 11:31:50 am »

Andy Krehm wrote on Sun, 25 June 2006 08:05


I knew some mastering engineers that made it through my far too lengthy gear list post would be thinking, why use so much gear?

For me the answer is simple. I started with plug-ins and slowly, over 13/14 years, added analog gear. Although plug-ins have come a long way since I started mastering, they and cheap converters weren't so hot back then so I just kept buying and upgrading my analog gear, mostly of the tube persuasion.  




You point out one important aspect of the more well equipped rooms- time. It takes time to build inventory, and to select gear which supports your judgement.
My system right now is simple, but it works.
Talk to me in 4 years and either I'll still be in business and the owner of more gear or I'll be doing something else.

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