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Author Topic: Which DAW do you use for Mastering?  (Read 43679 times)

Matt_G

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Which DAW do you use for Mastering?
« on: June 14, 2008, 10:10:32 am »

I'm feeling the need to re-evaluate my current software model for mastering. I've been using Pro Tools HD for sometime for processing & WaveBurner for CD assembly. Having recently discovered a bug with WaveBurner I've already moved to Sonic PMCD for CD assembly & this has me thinking about looking into ditching Pro Tools as well.

I am a very avid mac user even though I also have a reasonably well spec'd PC as well (mainly for Plextools & real time metering).

So I thought what better bunch of people to ask about their current DAW of choice. I've set up the Poll as an indicator of who is currently using what. Perhaps you could also supply a brief answer in this thread as to why you prefer your DAW over the other options available.

An amazing piece of software has recently come to my attention in the form of Reaper http://reaper.fm

While not specifically designed with mastering in mind it stood out as a valid DAW for CD mastering & here is why...

This application can be run on OSX or Windows & is a true 64bit floating point end to end DAW, has plug-in & hardware latency correction built in, can do hardware inserts, can route anything to anywhere & multiple output routing, can handle mixed sample rates in the same session without SRC on import (uses non destructive real time SRC), supports VST or AU plugs up to 64bit end to end (if the plug-in supports it), has unlimited track counts, utilizes multi-core CPU's very efficiently (even more so than Logic!), allows you to change pan laws to whatever you want, has a phase reverse button built into each channel, handles stereo interleaved files without splitting, renders audio in non-realtime or realtime from 16bit up to 64bit float wave files. It also can do PQ editing & CD burning right from the application. This is just a small list of what it's capable of & all of this for a commercial license of $225US!

So far the only limitation I've had trying the demo of this amazing software is the HD Digi core audio driver for OSX I'm using is limited to 8 channels of I/O instead of 16 channels (thanks Digi!). Another thing Digi screwed up with HD when 002/003 users can get 18 channels of I/O from the core audio driver... Rolling Eyes

I've been very impressed with what I've heard & how easy it is to set up & customize to a particular workflow. Has anyone else here tried or used Reaper for mastering recently?

The other application I've also been considering recently is Sonic soundBlade. I think it's still in it's infancy but at least it's getting stable with new features & improvements added  all the time. Probably not as flexible as Reaper, but designed specifically for CD mastering.

Thoughts?

Matt

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Matthew Gray Mastering

Brisbane Australia

Matt_G

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Re: Which DAW do you use for Mastering?
« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2008, 10:19:45 am »

Also I'm interested to know if you're using your DAW to send & capture to & from analog at 44.1kHz & using it primarily for CD assembly or whether you actually use digital processing as part of your workflow in the mastering DAW?

Ideally I'd like to be able to process the source files digitally first at 96kHz, send out to analog & then recapture to 44.1kHz for CD assembly. Who is working this way & how are you doing this approach?

Matt
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Matthew Gray Mastering

Brisbane Australia

Eliott James

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Re: Which DAW do you use for Mastering?
« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2008, 11:00:35 am »



How about Peak 6.1. Not bad.

Drop mixes in, tweak, levels, assembly.
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bblackwood

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Re: Which DAW do you use for Mastering?
« Reply #3 on: June 14, 2008, 11:01:55 am »

Dig playback via Wavelab (for PCM), capture/edit/cut parts in Sequoia.
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Brad Blackwood
euphonic masters

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Re: Which DAW do you use for Mastering?
« Reply #4 on: June 14, 2008, 03:38:44 pm »

Sequoia or soundBlade.  I wouldn't recommend anything else for catching/assembly.  If you want two machines (or dual cards in one box) and want to pitch with another title, that's fine.  

I've used several of the titles on your list and that's my 2 cents.
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TotalSonic

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Re: Which DAW do you use for Mastering?
« Reply #5 on: June 14, 2008, 03:53:24 pm »

My vote was "Other" for RML Labs' SAWStudio - http://www.sawstudio.com - with the JMS Audioware Cue Sheet Generator add on - http://www.jms-audioware.com/csg.htm

some things I like about it:
* 64bit fixed point internal processing math used for all multiples and divides returning a full 32bit dword (not just a 24bit + 8bit mantissa typical of 32bit floating point engines) throughout the entire signal chain
* engine core written in assembly language which bypasses many Windows shells allowing for rock solid stability and efficiency of cpu use
* a number of excellent very cpu efficient 64bit processing plugins in fully automateable native format (including fantastic stuff by Sonoris) readily available as well as support for VST, DX, UAD-1
* all bounce to discs for processed image creation much faster than real time
* NO dongle, NO activation scheme, NO registry hooks, allowing complete ease of installation and frees you from any concern that issues with these commonly used forms of copy protection can malfunction and delay a session
* ability to reorder plugins on the fly with a single key click
* excellent editing, cross fading, unique fade parameter controls, etc.
* ability to quickly copy automation (i.e. fades), loaded plugins and all other settings from one layer or track to another

Best regards,
Steve Berson

carlsaff

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Re: Which DAW do you use for Mastering?
« Reply #6 on: June 14, 2008, 05:13:31 pm »

Still using Nuendo, and still not feeling a need to change.

MoreSpaceEcho

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Re: Which DAW do you use for Mastering?
« Reply #7 on: June 14, 2008, 05:20:47 pm »

i've been doing everything in wavelab forever.
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Glenn Bucci

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Re: Which DAW do you use for Mastering?
« Reply #8 on: June 14, 2008, 05:26:48 pm »

carlsaff wrote on Sat, 14 June 2008 17:13

Still using Nuendo, and still not feeling a need to change.


You can't burn CD' with Nuendo, nor do you have the editing features, or the helpful metering of some of the other programs.
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Bob Boyd

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Re: Which DAW do you use for Mastering?
« Reply #9 on: June 14, 2008, 05:55:46 pm »

Glenn Bucci wrote on Sat, 14 June 2008 16:26

carlsaff wrote on Sat, 14 June 2008 17:13

Still using Nuendo, and still not feeling a need to change.


You can't burn CD' with Nuendo, nor do you have the editing features, or the helpful metering of some of the other programs.

Personally, I don't think the inability to cut parts disqualifies a app from being used in mastering. Conversely, being able to burn a disc doesn't make it a 'mastering' app.  Admittedly, this is coming from a guy that mastered in the ProTools TDM environment for years and used a separate program from assemblies for many years.  

Even having now switched fully to soundBlade after adding a 304 I/O, I have a mastering session at the native rate and an assembly session post-SRC.  Really no different in practice than using a 2-app solution.
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carlsaff

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Re: Which DAW do you use for Mastering?
« Reply #10 on: June 14, 2008, 08:05:08 pm »

Glenn Bucci wrote on Sat, 14 June 2008 16:26

You can't burn CD' with Nuendo


Yeah, I figured that out. Smile I really don't mind exporting a disc image and burning using CUE sheets. In fact, it has one really nice advantage -- I can de-archive masters from many years ago, including some mastered in apps I no longer own, and burn perfect copies from the master image files (a rare need, but it has happened). That would be tricky were I dependent on a specific application to burn. CUE sheet burning isn't likely to become obsolete any time soon. DAWs sometimes do fade away.

Quote:

nor do you have the editing features, or the helpful metering of some of the other programs.


Metering can be added on via plugins (I love Inspector XL and Voxengo's Span) and I'm at a loss to think of an edit I couldn't perform in Nuendo. Not saying there isn't one... I just haven't been asked to or wanted to do something that couldn't be done... yet.

TotalSonic

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Re: Which DAW do you use for Mastering?
« Reply #11 on: June 14, 2008, 08:17:43 pm »

carlsaff wrote on Sat, 14 June 2008 20:05

Glenn Bucci wrote on Sat, 14 June 2008 16:26

You can't burn CD' with Nuendo


Yeah, I figured that out. Smile I really don't mind exporting a disc image and burning using CUE sheets. In fact, it has one really nice advantage -- I can de-archive masters from many years ago, including some mastered in apps I no longer own, and burn perfect copies from the master image files (a rare need, but it has happened). That would be tricky were I dependent on a specific application to burn. CUE sheet burning isn't likely to become obsolete any time soon. DAWs sometimes do fade away.


I agree totally that cue sheets offer an excellent non-proprietary master image archival system.  I just happen to like the ability to create the index points and subcodes for the cue sheet directly from the same app I use for processing and editing.  Having done processing/editing and index point creation with two seperate apps previously I found that having both tasks in a single app made auditioning, revisions, and taking a holistic approach to the album much easier.  

Quote:

Quote:

nor do you have the editing features, or the helpful metering of some of the other programs.


Metering can be added on via plugins (I love Inspector XL and Voxengo's Span) and I'm at a loss to think of an edit I couldn't perform in Nuendo. Not saying there isn't one... I just haven't been asked to or wanted to do something that couldn't be done... yet.



Again I agree that DAW based metering equal to the quality of any packaged with any DAW app is very easily added via plugins - and I figure like myself most mastering folks are using additional analog hardware metering as well.

Best regards,
Steve Berson

Andy Krehm

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Re: Which DAW do you use for Mastering?
« Reply #12 on: June 14, 2008, 09:26:34 pm »

Matt_G wrote on Sat, 14 June 2008 10:10

I'm feeling the need to re-evaluate my current software model for mastering. I've been using Pro Tools HD for sometime for processing & WaveBurner for CD assembly. Having recently discovered a bug with WaveBurner I've already moved to Sonic PMCD for CD assembly & this has me thinking about looking into ditching Pro Tools as well....


Same thoughts here although I started think about this a year ago.

I'd love to try some of the PC applications. Sequoia, in particular, seems to do everything I'd want in a DAW.

Unlike my learned web board buddy, Jerry Tubb, (who likely would have been exploring the New World, had he lived in that era), I just want to go to the studio every day and master. I only change things up or experiment when something is not working or if I have a new piece of gear to test.

Using my current setup, PT & WB, I'm fast and efficient. The few little things that WB doesn't do, causing one to go back to PT, are few and far between and when necessary, only add a few minute to a session.

However, I am also alarmed by the WB bug, plus I know there are more elegant ways to handle sessions with multiple sample rates than my current methods. CD writing in the same program would be a plus and there are a few other perks in some of the other setups.

The big question is cost versus perceived and practical improvements.

1) I have a G5 and would need to either upgrade to a new Mac or switch to a PC.

2) My 2 HD units would need to be upgraded in either case and with the PC, I would only be able to use one HD for inserts and so would have to get a bigger Z-Sys.

3) The cost of the new software. Sequoia is currently about 3K although Samplitude is less expensive and WaveLab even less.

The total cost would be anywhere from 6 to 10K!

I do not believe that the few improvements that I might make by doing this, after suffering through the installs and new software learning curve, could possibly warrant the expense on a business level. Maybe on a personal growth level but I'm not going to make that money back by spending it on a new setup. My work is not going to be significantly faster nor will it sound better!

The simple alternative to WaveBurner is to just go with SoundBlade and stay on my current computer. That is the least expensive solution but as the owner of the now discontinued DDP V2, I am gun shy! I could also look at the other Mac CD writing programs...

I'm looking forward to seeing more comments on this subject.

tom eaton

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Re: Which DAW do you use for Mastering?
« Reply #13 on: June 14, 2008, 10:03:19 pm »

I tried to like Soundblade, I really did.

It's back to Nuendo for me, too, though.

As a longtime Sonic "classic" user, Nuendo feels comfortable, is ridiculously fast, edits and fades quite nicely without playback hiccups (you can even rewrite a file and replace while playing and it won't stutter).  No, it doesn't do indexes and PQ... but that can be done easily elsewhere. What is does do is make the sonic part of the job easier.

The amount of information that Nuendo gives the user about what's going on is phenomenal, too.  And the segment based gain handle.

I also demoed "Wave Editor" from the Sample Manager people... but it misses some very basic functionality for me.

-tom

Andy Krehm

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Re: Which DAW do you use for Mastering?
« Reply #14 on: June 14, 2008, 10:06:49 pm »

tom eaton wrote on Sat, 14 June 2008 22:03

I tried to like Soundblade, I really did.

It's back to Nuendo for me, too, though.

As a longtime Sonic "classic" user, Nuendo feels comfortable, is ridiculously fast, edits and fades quite nicely without playback hiccups (you can even rewrite a file and replace while playing and it won't stutter).  No, it doesn't do indexes and PQ... but that can be done easily elsewhere. What is does do is make the sonic part of the job easier.

The amount of information that Nuendo gives the user about what's going on is phenomenal, too.  And the segment based gain handle.

I also demoed "Wave Editor" from the Sample Manager people... but it misses some very basic functionality for me.

-tom

What do you use for assembly and burning?
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