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R/E/P => R/E/P Archives => Brad Blackwood => Topic started by: bblackwood on June 23, 2006, 07:37:30 am

Title: Your chain
Post by: bblackwood on June 23, 2006, 07:37:30 am
So, what's your typical chain? Is it too much? Not enough? How often do you change it up? Are you looking to change any part of it?

Discuss.
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: jtr on June 23, 2006, 09:22:15 am
bblackwood wrote on Fri, 23 June 2006 04:37

So, what's your typical chain? Is it too much? Not enough? How often do you change it up? Are you looking to change any part of it?

Discuss.


Sequoia loaded source ->Optional eq plug->d/a DAC1->Manley Massive  ->Millenia Twincom ->Mytek 24/96 ->Sequoia.
All powered by Equitech balanced power (Oregon product!)

As I'm working, I will sometimes have the Sequoia in software fx mode so I can listen to the results of any post recapture plugs that might be of use later.
What I do works for my market. I currently only have one primary outboard comp and eq, so of course I hope to eventually "diversify".   There are a couple pieces I'd like to add just for the alternatives available. Advertising "panel with Weiss Logo" just doesn't cut it....
My last job I had lots of great gear (Z-sys, Sontec, etc) , but still kept the chain in use fairly simple. I find that the more I put in the chain, the harder it is to keep perspective regarding what it was I set out to do. I'd say that my present setup has been good for me in general.

Adding a picture of my lab here: http://rusbymastering.com/Lab.aspx

Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: Ged Leitch on June 23, 2006, 12:14:11 pm

Cool idea for a thread!


All digital and ITB here>>>

My usual chain was>>>

Samplitude -

Waves Desser

URS Mix EQ (Two instances for more bands)

Voxengo Marquis compressor (Very versatile fullband Comp!)

Waves L2 / Timeworks limiter (L2 when I need it clean as possible, Timeworks when the customer wanted more level)


I have just recently been using a new chain

Better results IMO

New chain>>>


Spitfish Desser or Waves

PLPar EQ ( Lin phase or IIR sounds superb IMO, and it does M/S)

Voxengo Marquis compressor

Desser again but at about 1 to 2db only if at all needed.

Endorphin (soft saturation + Level)

This may seem a lot but i dont use them all the time, but recently have had mixes that had severe *Digititus*

If money were no object i'd have to get myself the OCL-2
and the TC system 6000, cause after hearing them on some mixes i was like....MMMmmmm...

Ged.





Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: Pingu on June 23, 2006, 12:15:24 pm
I'm always trying new approaches.

Probably cause I'm tyring to make do with digital.

I think things would be a lot simpler with  1 really expensive eq and compressor and that's it.
But i tend to leave my latest chain set up and throw what I'm working on straight into it, adjust to taste.




Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: jazzius on June 23, 2006, 12:44:42 pm
My chain seems to have settled on the following for most jobs:

Plugins - maybe
Weiss EQ1mk2
Weiss DS1mk2
D/A (Benchmark DAC1)
STC8
Thermionic Culture Phoenix
Lundahl L/R to M/S
Cranesong Ibis
Lundahl M/S to L/R
Cranesong Hedd A/D
Cranseong Hedd processing
Limiter plugin

Obviously not everything is used all the time.

I'd like to add an analog router like the Crookwood or SPL.

Darius
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: Ged Leitch on June 23, 2006, 12:53:39 pm
jazzius wrote on Fri, 23 June 2006 17:44

My chain seems to have settled on the following for most jobs:

Plugins - maybe
Weiss EQ1mk2
Weiss DS1mk2
D/A (Benchmark DAC1)
STC8
Thermionic Culture Phoenix
Lundahl L/R to M/S
Cranesong Ibis
Lundahl M/S to L/R
Cranesong Hedd A/D
Cranseong Hedd processing
Limiter plugin

Obviously not everything is used all the time.

I'd like to add an analog router like the Crookwood or SPL.

Darius



Now your just showing off Darius!  Twisted Evil
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: jtr on June 23, 2006, 01:04:46 pm
Guess now I need to name names on my minimalist setup. Oh well. I'll edit my post.
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: Ged Leitch on June 23, 2006, 01:07:49 pm
jtr wrote on Fri, 23 June 2006 18:04

Guess now I need to name names on my minimalist setup. Oh well. I'll edit my post.




Please do Jim,

Intersting to see you pro's approach to processing
and by how much / little etc.
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: OTR-jkl on June 23, 2006, 01:47:48 pm
Still mostly ITB over here:

Samp1 (playback) > ITB EQ (PSP MasterQ or PLParEQ3) > ITB Comp (PSP MasterComp) > Tube D/A-A/D > Samp2 (capture) > Limiter (PSP VW) > SRC (Samp offline) > Dither (Samp TPDF).

The order of EQ/Comp varies; sometimes I EQ the bottom first then compress then EQ the top; other times I'll EQ all then compress. (Not every song gets Comp or Limiting. I'm just finishing a project right now that has 1 song that only got compression and 2 that got neither.) I almost always upsample because I think the limiter works better at a higher Fs.

I'd really like to get into h/w EQs & Comps and better convertors but I think my biggest priority right now is a monitoring upgrade.
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: jazzius on June 23, 2006, 04:03:24 pm
Ged Leitch wrote on Fri, 23 June 2006 17:53

jazzius wrote on Fri, 23 June 2006 17:44

My chain seems to have settled on the following for most jobs:

Plugins - maybe
Weiss EQ1mk2
Weiss DS1mk2
D/A (Benchmark DAC1)
STC8
Thermionic Culture Phoenix
Lundahl L/R to M/S
Cranesong Ibis
Lundahl M/S to L/R
Cranesong Hedd A/D
Cranseong Hedd processing
Limiter plugin

Obviously not everything is used all the time.

I'd like to add an analog router like the Crookwood or SPL.

Darius



Now your just showing off Darius!  Twisted Evil


Hey Ged, good thing i didn't mention the Massivo, C2 and manley-mu sitting idle in the rack most of the time!  Razz
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: Ged Leitch on June 23, 2006, 04:05:47 pm
jazzius wrote on Fri, 23 June 2006 21:03

Ged Leitch wrote on Fri, 23 June 2006 17:53

jazzius wrote on Fri, 23 June 2006 17:44

My chain seems to have settled on the following for most jobs:

Plugins - maybe
Weiss EQ1mk2
Weiss DS1mk2
D/A (Benchmark DAC1)
STC8
Thermionic Culture Phoenix
Lundahl L/R to M/S
Cranesong Ibis
Lundahl M/S to L/R
Cranesong Hedd A/D
Cranseong Hedd processing
Limiter plugin

Obviously not everything is used all the time.

I'd like to add an analog router like the Crookwood or SPL.

Darius



Now your just showing off Darius!  Twisted Evil


Hey Ged, good thing i didn't mention the Massivo, C2 and manley-mu sitting idle in the rack most of the time!  Razz




You just did!

< Analog envy!!!>
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: mbruce333 on June 23, 2006, 04:16:20 pm
While it can vary, this seems to be my core set-up, with variations as needed...

WaveLab 6

Crane Song HEDD D/A

Manley Vari-Mu

NSEQ-2

HEDD A/D with processing

Back to WL6.


I'm using an RME AES-32, so i've got a DBX Quantum on it's own AES loop that can be inserted before or after my HEDD/analog loop.  Love the routing flexibility in the RME!

Waves and Voxengo plugs either before or after the trip to analog, too.  Great for little touchups!

Monitoring through a Grace 904, Rotel 1080 and B&W 803S.

I'm also checking out the new Lucid GENx192 clock, I'll try and post some audio samples soon....

Mike Bruce

Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: jtr on June 23, 2006, 04:30:05 pm
Ged Leitch wrote on Fri, 23 June 2006 10:07


Intersting to see you pro's approach to processing
and by how much / little etc.


To some extent we are influenced by our regional needs and time in business. Since my business is relatively new, and it's all mine,
the line up is compact. Didn't want to remortgage my house -
I'm able to make this work but hope to expand in the future.
I've been enjoying the mixture of outboard gear and plugs together-
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: Oldfart on June 23, 2006, 06:26:25 pm
In the box here too.

Here's whats typically loaded in WL5 insert slots. I activate as  needs arises.

1-various spacial tools
2-UAD1 Precision EQ
3-UAD1 Precision Multiband (generally used to d-ess)
4-UAD1 LA2A
5-reserved for WAVES Denoiser or other restoration tool
6-UAD1 Precision Limiter
7-SRC (I know I need better one then the generic in WL5, so I'll either upgrade to WL6 or find another plug. Any recomendations??)

and WAVES IDR in the dithering pane

And as for the listening chain:

Lynx L22
Coleman M3
Dynaudio Bx-30A
Dynaudio BM6As

Simple yet efficient, and more importantly, keeps my rates within my client's budgets

Oldfart
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: hnewman on June 23, 2006, 06:35:03 pm
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).
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: Mark Donahue on June 23, 2006, 06:58:41 pm
bblackwood wrote on Fri, 23 June 2006 07:37

So, what's your typical chain? Is it too much? Not enough? How often do you change it up? Are you looking to change any part of it?

Discuss.

Well, This is an interesting question. For me it depends on what kind of mastering I am doing.
I have 2 basic chains:
Classical Reissue (Analog Source) Studer/Flux/Aria to the Crookwood transfer desk>
API 550M>
Custom re-formatter/mixer>
Meitner, HDCD or Dcs converters depending on sampling rate or if it's DSD.

Analog Source: Tape machine of choice for sonic character> (ATR with OEM  heads, Highly modified FrankenStuder A80 Mk1, Levinson ML-5 (A80 RCII) or above Studer Mk IV/Aria)>
Digital Source: For 44.1 masters I work in Sonic HD, For all others I use Sequoia or ProTools for playback to any one of a half a dozen DA converters. (HDCD, Benchmark, DCS, Meitner, Apogee, Lavry
Crookwood Transfer desk>
Summit MPE-200 EQ>
API 550M>
Api 2500>
Pendelum PL-2>
DBX 902 De-esser>

Additionally I have an Old school rack that I built that has the following stuff in it:
(Which I virtually never use these days)
Neumann W495STB (2x) (Modified 1dB steps)
Neumann W495 (2x) (Modified 1dB steps)
Neumann OE DUO (2x) (Modified 1dB steps)
Lawo 995/6 (2x) (Modified 1dB steps)
Neumann U473a (4)
NTP 179-120 (2) (Black Face Mastering version)
W444STB Fader

As far as the order it changes on a song by song basis. Obviously, I don’t use everything all the time, but I like to have the flexibility.  The really powerful thing about my Crookwood transfer desk is that I can change the order of the processing without patching anything. And as a bonus, I have a summing/mixing insert so I can do parallel compression or add reverb to the signal.
From there I convert to digital and enter the digital processing chain.
Like the analog stuff, I change the order and pick and choose based on the application. All the processing is on a Z-sys 32X32 Router that bridges to a Tesi 48x48 Router for all the different computer I/O.
System 6000 Mastering/Reverb
Weiss EQ1-DSMk2
Weiss DS1-Mk2
Weiss EQ1-DSMk2 (for processing after compression)
TC Finalizer 96k
Computer with Plug-ins (Waves etc...) and metering. (I virtually never use these.)
HDCD Model 1 for peak limiting or Apogee UV-1000HR for clipping (Nova rules!)
All this feeds the workstation Du Jour (Normally SonicHD, but on occasion Sequoia, Pyramix or Wavelab.)
As far as changing tools in and out, It takes me a good 6 months to work a new piece of gear into my chain to the point that I feel really comfortable using it during a session.
At this point I would have to say that my Crookwood transfer desk is far and away the thing that has made the greatest difference in the way in which I work. It allows me to very rapidly find the device I want and get it in the chain with a minimum of brain damage.
We had it built for surround, so whether I’m mastering for SACD/DVD-V/DVD-A or CD it seamlessly transitions between stereo and surround.
All the best,
Mark
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: Ged Leitch on June 23, 2006, 07:00:46 pm
Oldfart wrote on Fri, 23 June 2006 23:26

In the box here too.

I know I need better one then the generic in WL5, so I'll either upgrade to WL6 or find another plug. Any recomendations??)
Oldfart






Voxengo R8 brain Pro.

http://www.voxengo.com/product/r8brainpro/

Get the pro version, and check out their forums on it.
It's apparently up there next to the new Weiss SRC in the tests.
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: Oldfart on June 23, 2006, 07:18:00 pm
Ged Leitch wrote on Fri, 23 June 2006 19:00

Oldfart wrote on Fri, 23 June 2006 23:26

In the box here too.

I know I need better one then the generic in WL5, so I'll either upgrade to WL6 or find another plug. Any recomendations??)
Oldfart






Voxengo R8 brain Pro.

http://www.voxengo.com/product/r8brainpro/

Get the pro version, and check out their forums on it.
It's apparently up there next to the new Weiss SRC in the tests.



Can it operate as a plug-in ? Or only as a file converting tool?

Thanks in advance for your reply,

Oldfart
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: Ged Leitch on June 23, 2006, 08:05:12 pm
Oldfart wrote on Sat, 24 June 2006 00:18

Ged Leitch wrote on Fri, 23 June 2006 19:00

Oldfart wrote on Fri, 23 June 2006 23:26

In the box here too.

I know I need better one then the generic in WL5, so I'll either upgrade to WL6 or find another plug. Any recomendations??)
Oldfart






Voxengo R8 brain Pro.

http://www.voxengo.com/product/r8brainpro/

Get the pro version, and check out their forums on it.
It's apparently up there next to the new Weiss SRC in the tests.



Can it operate as a plug-in ? Or only as a file converting tool?

Thanks in advance for your reply,

Oldfart



Just a stand alone app, hope that will work ok for you.
It doesnt seem to get as much press as the rest, but check out the test results on the voxengo forum, they're impressive!
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: Bob Boyd on June 23, 2006, 10:23:37 pm
Here's a quick overview of the setup.  The path can change depending on the task at hand so it might be easiest to describe the hookup and provide some comments.

Playback / Initial Gain:
ProTools HD3|Accel

AES Insert 1-2 on Digidesign 192:
Crane Song HEDD 192
Weiss EQ1-LP (which I often switch between normal and M/S mode)

AES Insert 3-4 out:
Lavry Blue 824 D/A feeding the patchbay

On the patchbay:
Maselec MEA-2
Manley Massive Passive
API 550m's
Alan Smart C2 (SSL-type compressor)
Chandler LTD-2's (modified)
Crane Song STC-8/M (due in any day!)

Lavry Blue A/D returns to AES 3-4 (and also serves as a master clock when it's used)

AES Insert 5-6:
Weiss DS1-MkII

AES Insert 7-8:
Syetem 6000 (Mastering and Reverb)

AES Monitor Out feeds a Z-Sys 16x16 Detangler where it is split to the Lavry Gold DA924 and a Weiss SFC2.  The convertered output of the Weiss SFC2 is sent to a Metric Halo ULN-2 interface (AES) on my second Mac where the playlist is assembled for the disc in PreMaster CD.

All 16 Digi 192 D/A's feed a Dangerous 2Bus that can be used during mixing projects.

Any plugs that I may want to add in the chain can be inserted anywhere among the hardware inserts in PT HD.

I tend to EQ before I do any dynamics.  The API 550m's have found themselves in the path often lately even when I'm not EQ'ing with them.  They sound great.  I will do this with the Chandler LTD-2's sometimes as well if it doesn't make things too thick.  Sometimes I just run through the Manley MP and the Maselec EQ's as well.  Both of those units can add a very nice presence to the mids when they're engaged (the Manley is more colored than the Maselec of course).

I also tend to shape and color with the analog gear and correct with the digital gear - both in eq and dynamics.

I reach for the System 6000 for multiband tasks (which is rare) or de-essing in M/S mode (which is more common).  When M/S mode is not needed, the Weiss DS1 is a more transparent choice.
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: Bob Boyd on June 23, 2006, 10:25:04 pm
Where's Brad?  Didn't he start this?
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: bblackwood on June 23, 2006, 11:25:44 pm
Bob Boyd wrote on Fri, 23 June 2006 21:25

Where's Brad?  Didn't he start this?

I'm here...

I was hoping to see folks discuss not only their chains, but why they have them the way they do (more on that later).

I can share mine if it means anything to anyone, but it's nothing special...
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: Bob Boyd on June 23, 2006, 11:38:57 pm
bblackwood wrote on Fri, 23 June 2006 22:25

Bob Boyd wrote on Fri, 23 June 2006 21:25

Where's Brad?  Didn't he start this?

I'm here...

I was hoping to see folks discuss not only their chains, but why they have them the way they do (more on that later).

I can share mine if it means anything to anyone, but it's nothing special...

Gotcha.  Just wanted to make sure you weren't getting off the hook.   Smile

I put some usage comments in there.
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: zetterstroem on June 24, 2006, 01:27:21 am
i'm split between two "answers"

either most people are using too much "gear".... or i'm using to little.....

give me one or two notches (digital)..... a vari-mu.... an analog eq..... and an L2.... and i can master almost anything....
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: bblackwood on June 24, 2006, 01:31:35 am
My typical chain is this:
Wavelab (playback) -> db Tech DAC -> (all further processing through mastering console) -> Crane Song EQ -> Sontec EQ -> Pendulum comp -> Crane Song comp -> Crane Song ADC -> L2 -> SRC -> Sequoia

Analog is the same except I have a Studer 1/4" and 1/2" machine that takes the place of WL and the DAC above.

A very simple chain, really.

That order rarely changes - over the years I've found that EQ works better before comp (for me) and this chain's order is really symbiotic.

I'm hoping folks with analog chains will be able to share more details about how/why they came to use the chains they do...
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: Bob Boyd on June 24, 2006, 01:31:36 am
zetterstroem wrote on Sat, 24 June 2006 00:27

either most people are using too much "gear".... or i'm using to little.....

I've tried to put together a good set of tools but I never use the whole toolbox.
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: Jerry Tubb on June 24, 2006, 01:55:35 am
bblackwood wrote on Fri, 23 June 2006 06:37

So, what's your typical chain?


My humble mastering chain in Studio A:

Analog Playback: Ampex ATR-102 with Dolby SR, A, or dbx noise reduction if needed.

Digital Playback: Pro Tools HD 7.1 with Digi's 192 I/O interface, the typical Waves plug-ins, & NoNoise. Sometimes add/subtract a dB or two of level here.

Lavry Blue DAC - nice and smooth!

Millenia NSEQ-2 - sexy black mastering version with detents, considering adding Forsell's new mod. It goes first because of the 6dB level loss.

Manley Vari Mu Compressor, a version 4, no mods... a few dB of gain here.

Sontec MES-432C - the mastering EQ with the Big Knobs & Big Sound.

Lavry Blue ADC - sometimes hit it pretty hard.

Waves L2 hardware - I like the knobs, leave it unlinked, & set the release time manually... almost never turn it past 3dB limiting.

Pro Tools HD 7.1 to print,  WaveBurner 1.2 to assemble, dither, and burn.

Quote:

 Is it too much?


Usually not, one or two EQs should be enough... the tailor that cuts the least...

Quote:

Not enough?


Maybe add a Weiss De-esser, and an alternate flavor of analog compression.

Quote:

How often do you change it up?


Although the core of the chain remains the same, I sometimes modify it depending on the task... like insert a Z-Systems EQ before the DAC for corrective EQ-ing (sounds better than plug-ins), or put the Sontec before the Manley. Sometimes use plug-ins for M/S work, do a tape bath, or even add an 1178, many variables.

Quote:

Are you looking to change any part of it?


Other than the few items mentioned above... very pleased with the sounds we're getting. I'll leave Nick to describe our Studio B chain.

JT

p.s. Good topic Brad, a welcome change from the volume wars & ice cream truck threads.

p.s.s. How about your chain DC ? ... give it up!

addendum - I added a pic of my chain, can you spot the tuning fork & the ratshack SPL meter?
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: Bob Boyd on June 24, 2006, 02:02:08 am
Jerry Tubb wrote on Sat, 24 June 2006 00:55

p.s. Good topic Brad, a welcome change from the volume wars & ice cream truck threads.

Has anyone noticed how loud Marcussen's Ice Cream truck is?

He blamed it on some little girl down the street.  Said it was the "client's request".
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: cerberus on June 24, 2006, 02:12:07 am
Bob Boyd wrote on Fri, 23 June 2006 22:23


Crane Song STC-8/M (due in any day!)

if anyone ever says my work is half as good sounding as your work is, then may i use that line too? Laughing

edit: my bad mood..not personal...i just found it funny to see it buried in the gear list as if the work of yours that i heard and really liked... had been constructed from anticipation more than gear itself. i hope you took it lightly bob, you've been helpful to me here!

jeff dinces
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: mcsnare on June 24, 2006, 02:20:23 am
My chain which stays the same almost always is:
Wavelab playback>Lynx 1 AES out> Lavry blue DAC>
Input 1 Dangerous Monitor console with 3 inserts
Input 2 is an ATR-102
Insert 1 NSEQ 2 with the amazing Forssell mods> API 2500
Insert 2 STC-8M > API 550M usually with M/S mode on the console
Insert 3 Pendulum OCL-2
Cranesong Hedd A/D @96K >
dbx Quantum SRC 96 to 44.1 >
L2>
second Lynx 1 for AES dig in to Samplitude and dig out to second Lavry as monitor D/A

sometimes I use the L2 at 96K and use R8brain for src
insert 1 gives me eq before comp
insert 2 comp before eq and M/S option
insert 3 tube love

This order evolved after trying things in different spots and feeling like this is the most versatile way to chain stuff.
I sometimes use plugs on playback and sometimes plugs after capture.
I sometimes use a bit of width on the Muth M/S knob, but not necessarily with the insert engaged or the opposite, insert on M/S setting but no added width.
All processing on the inserts is pretty close to unity so I use the console input level to drive things and the output level to determine level at the A/D.

The biggest thing I want to change is having realtime src after the L2 so I can use it at 96k and not have to take the time to software src. Once in a while I want to use the STC-8 but not with the 550M's, so I unplug the API's cause they don't have a true bypass. Another thing I've wanted to do for a while but didn't want to lose the 550M's while it's being done! I'm using a Coleman for monitor level and input switching to the monitor D/A. Input 1 is after Samplitude ( post processing), input 2 is console out, preprocessing with Chris's nifty gain matching knob for equal level comparison. A Muth monitor switcher is also on the wish list.
I've been thinking about some tube eq, some kind of Pultec style copy. I used to use the Manleys but never thought they were as good for mastering as they are for mixing. Anyone try those Mercury Pultecs?
Dave
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: lagerfeldt 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.
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: Thomas W. Bethel 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.
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: masterhse 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.
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: Phil Demetro 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
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: hnewman 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.


Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: Andy Krehm 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.
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: cerberus 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
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: bblackwood 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.
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: Pingu on June 25, 2006, 09:40:14 am
I find more = less.

I try to be minimal.
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: cerberus 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
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: jtr 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.

Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: Thomas W. Bethel 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

Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: Andy Krehm 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.
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: Bob Boyd 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.

Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: jtr 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.

Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: Bob Olhsson on June 25, 2006, 11:33:00 am
I came up pretty old school being taught to always patch around anything in the signal path that you weren't using.

I've done a lot of listening to both analog gear and digital processes in "bypass," engaged but set to "flat" and in different orders because of running into some big surprises both positive and negative at all price levels. The important thing is matching signal levels carefully because a couple tenth's of a dB more  volume can make something sound better that actually sounds degraded once the levels are matched up.

I choose what to put in the chain based on the sonic benefit being obviously greater than the inevitable sonic loss that the same piece introduces. I've never found anything that always makes things sound better although sometimes a particular piece of gear will sound better when it's buffered by another set to flat or bypass. I listen very carefully for what's getting screwed up in addition to whatever I'm trying to accomplish. For example using a different equalizer without de-essing can sound better overall than the first one I tried that sounded great but then really needed to have the esses softened.
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: masterhse on June 25, 2006, 11:33:33 am
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?

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.


Less = more, but more = more options.

It's better to have more options and remove any fat in the chain. To do this you need to be able to have a malleable processing chain, and one that can change quickly.

I usually start from a blank slate and build the chain as I go. The first thing that I do is try to listen to a rough version of final level of the mix, usually by starting with a limiter if needed. I then listen for issues in the mixes that need correcting, remove the limiter, and start building the chain.

I like to listen to all of the mixes on the album before starting to build the chain in order to see common issues between them. If there are, this processing goes on the aux track common to all of the songs. Individual issues are addressed by either automating along a timeline, or on individual audio tracks containing each song. If there are tweaks that need to be made to the aux track that has processing for all of the songs, I will either automate that, or tweak before bouncedown if it's in the analog world. The automation is great for revisiting a master if changes are required.

In summary, the chain is customized for what the project needs.
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: Andy Krehm on June 25, 2006, 11:54:50 am
Bob Boyd wrote on Sun, 25 June 2006 11:13

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.



Well, we are going to try the Logic idea first as it already up and running. My tech guy has it synced by machine control with Pro Tools and says that I'll be able to flip around via markers as if I had the master recorded back to Pro Tools (the way I work now). I will no longer have the visuals of the master's waveform but I create the markers before mastering so it shouldn't matter. I can always bring Logic to the foreground if I want to check something on the master. After the album is mastered, I'll simple drag and drop the files from the Logic Audio folder into a WaveBurner Template and continue on as usual.

If it doesn't work smoothly enough, I will try a second computer.

With your dual computer setup, is there a reason why you didn't go for a monitor/keyboard switcher box as opposed to another monitor? My speakers, desk and single monitor (20 x 13 rectangle) are already very carefully designed and placed for mimimum reflections and there is simply nowhere to place another monitor without compromising the setup. On this fairly large monitor screen, I have room for PTs, Spectra-Foo and my TC 6000 software (yes, one can save about $2,000. by not keeping the fancy controller that makes no sound and the software works almost as well. Mind you, if I want to impress a client by saying I have a TC 6000, I have to point to the unit in the machine closet as I no longer have the cool looking fader box to show off!).

Also, when you chose a second computer, what was your reasoning in choosing another Mac? My thought was, since PC has different things to offer and are generally less expensive, why not go with a PC, if one must have a second computer in order to do real time sample rate conversion?

Andy,

Silverbirch Productions.
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: Phil Demetro on June 25, 2006, 12:44:20 pm
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?
.


The chain I've currently posted  here is sounding good (for now).  But It's not random either. Each piece is where it's at  in the chain for a reason. I do spend some time thinking about it,  (re) define my goals and listen to it and then put it up for a test run. I've only had one way of "working" since I entered the business in 1997 as an intern to George Graves and when I was ready for clients - carried on with a similar approach myself when my own room got going in early 2000.

It's very hard to desribe the sound I am going for in my head and then reproduce it in a signal path. It's definitely more complex than just saying I want it to sound better. I am trying to achieve a signature even when doing very little. The guys at the studio here used to have a laugh and  test how current my ears were by putting various popular music CD's up on the speakers and having me figure out who did the mastering. I could tell most times.... So it' been my goal to have my projects sound good yet still have that something that people can recognize.  I am striving to be a really great mastering engineer and while good gear is part of the equation I do feel more than ever that if the gear is set up right it should become transparent and therefore be more about what I am doing instead. It took a while to figure that one out.  But all experiments were time well spent. These days I spend less time thinking about gear but alot more time on how I'm going to put it together.

This is why i don't feel like I'm giving away any real secrets here... this signal path lets "me be me" more and gets me closer to that sound in my head.

It's getting better the more time I invest in it, it seems.  And the less gear I use the better it seems to sound. Even tho' tempting to use everything I got. It's all paid for so I guess I don't feel the need to use everything all the time!

All my gear choices are based "tone"  - a word I don't hear very much anymore. Most modern gear that is marketted  or aimed for mastering I typically don't like at all. Some of it leaves me really unimpressed.
Specs be damned. I want something with some tone, muscle, depth, distortion, whatever. "I'm over"  the  world of mastering that operates in .1 dB increments.  I'm far more interested in running stuff thru a transformer. This is my world. Who says this method can't sound really good or great?

While I do find outboard gear to be more suited to my style I do use plug ins a lot these days. I surprise myself by saying that, too. While on their own some of then are truly horrible - incorporated into the chain I have just setup, I find the plugins really great. To my ears a more pleasing addition to the mix than some of those expensive outboard digital processors. I sold my weiss eq. Really Surprising.

A neat thread here, thanks.

Phil
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: Bob Boyd on June 25, 2006, 01:01:21 pm
Andy Krehm wrote on Sun, 25 June 2006 10:54

With your dual computer setup, is there a reason why you didn't go for a monitor/keyboard switcher box as opposed to another monitor? My speakers, desk and single monitor (20 x 13 rectangle) are already very carefully designed and placed for mimimum reflections and there is simply nowhere to place another monitor without compromising the setup.

I like having the additional screen space.  Different screens for different but simultaneous tasks.  I like assembling the album as I master so it's not uncommon for me to run both systems and switch the D/A back and forth a couple of times.  I was very careful to make sure the second screen didn't compromise my monitoring.  There is a large clearance between the screens.  I went with a larger DLP monitor in front to keep it out of the listening path.  The one on the left is far enough out of the way - just a little forward of being almost directly to my left.
Quote:

On this fairly large monitor screen, I have room for PTs, Spectra-Foo and my TC 6000 software (yes, one can save about $2,000. by not keeping the fancy controller that makes no sound and the software works almost as well. Mind you, if I want to impress a client by saying I have a TC 6000, I have to point to the unit in the machine closet as I no longer have the cool looking fader box to show off!).

I know where you're coming from.  It was a difficult decision to buy the System 6000 ICON.  I hadn't intended on buying the controller but they were smart to send it with the demo system.  Once I realized how much faster I could fly around with the dedicated controller I decided to keep it.

Quote:

Also, when you chose a second computer, what was your reasoning in choosing another Mac? My thought was, since PC has different things to offer and are generally less expensive, why not go with a PC, if one must have a second computer in order to do real time sample rate conversion?


I looked but it was actually cheaper to go with another Mac.  I already owned Peak, utility stuff like Barbabatch for mp3/mp4 encoding, and a host of other software apps.  A comparably equipped PC with similar performance was roughly the same money anyway.  I'm still doing acquisition in Peak but I am assembling in Sonic PMCD now.
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: mikepecchio on June 25, 2006, 02:17:08 pm
I consider my setup pretty stripped down. and I usually don't have everything going at once.  everything comes out to an XLR patchbay.

temporarily using a psx-100 for conversion since the lavry blue left with my old partner.

GML 8200, SSL 384G comp, neve 33609 (I generally only use the limiters), cello audio palette EQ/line amp.  recently added a pair of tube tech program EQs, not sure if they will stay.

DAW is nuendo. digital EQ with plugins. Refined audiometrics PLP EQ and JMS hi-res. I also sometimes use the waves D-esser and voxengo elephant.

monitoring with a bencmark dac-1

chime!
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: bblackwood on June 25, 2006, 04:29:48 pm
Interesting read thus far. It's especially interesting seeing the different philosophies and how they manifest themselves in people's gear choices and chain complexity...

I'm a simple (minded) guy - over the years I have chosen gear that almost always improves the sonic characteristics of what's run through it. I've done flat transfers before that really made the mixers happy - they were asking what all I did to it. I don't consider my chain to be colored, but it does seem to impart a nice bit of depth and tone. I'm going to add one more EQ and then I cannot imagine adding anything else.

cerebrus wrote:

but why would anyone add complexity if it didn't sound better?

For some (not all), I would be willing to bet it's the whole 'gear slut' mentality, where the gear becomes the goal, not the tool. I've seen enough of this over the years to say with confidence it happens.

Fact is, in my room, I always seem to find ways of achieving the sound in my head with my simple chain. Diff strokes and all that.

Keep 'em coming, guys!
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: Andy Krehm on June 25, 2006, 05:42:19 pm
bblackwood wrote on Sun, 25 June 2006 16:29

Interesting read thus far. It's especially interesting seeing the different philosophies and how they manifest themselves in people's gear choices and chain complexity...

I'm a simple (minded) guy - over the years I have chosen gear that almost always improves the sonic characteristics of what's run through it. I've done flat transfers before that really made the mixers happy - they were asking what all I did to it. I don't consider my chain to be colored, but it does seem to impart a nice bit of depth and tone. I'm going to add one more EQ and then I cannot imagine adding anything else.

cerebrus wrote:

but why would anyone add complexity if it didn't sound better?

For some (not all), I would be willing to bet it's the whole 'gear slut' mentality, where the gear becomes the goal, not the tool. I've seen enough of this over the years to say with confidence it happens.

Fact is, in my room, I always seem to find ways of achieving the sound in my head with my simple chain. Diff strokes and all that.

Keep 'em coming, guys!

You know, I've never thought of my chain as being simple but it actual is.

I start by playing the mix through four tube units, while carefully working on the gain staging. I also carefully A/B the master against the mix at the same volume, especially the first master of the album . That way I and anyone attending can be sure that were are improving the the sound and not losing anything good, especially the kick and snare!

After bypassing any tube gear that isn't working out (rare), I'll check out how it sounds through the ATR 1/2", make a decision on that and then start adding in any number of digital outboard gear and/or some analog solid state eq.

The tube setup is the basis of my sound and everything else is added for a purpose.  Of course I may vary the starting procedure depending on the music but that really is my basic routine.

To re-paraphrase my colleague Phil at the Lacquer Channel, anyone that doesn't like tubes probably shouldn't be mastering at Silverbirch!

Everything piece of gear that I have here was selected for a purpose --- no gear-slutting... honest!!

I can easily assemble a very expensive and effective outboard digital chain with my Weiss units, TC 6000 and Digital Domain K-Unit, not to mention some pretty good plug-ins. This I will use only on request or because something in a mix will over-excite my tube gear and cause distortion, but I don't care for the sound of pure digital, no matter how good the processors are.

Different stokes!!!

Andy,

Silverbirch Productions.


Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: Ed Littman on June 25, 2006, 06:15:33 pm
cerberus wrote on Sun, 25 June 2006 09:52

more =

but why would anyone add complexity if it didn't sound better?

jeff dinces


Gearaholic + loss of perception= overcooked.

I love running my signal into the dangerous S&M box & assigning the left channels of my ibis, chandler ltd-2, stc-8(usually eq first as to use the comps for makeup gain) to the center(sum) & the right to the sides(minus). chaining things this way, I can easily process in m/s if needed, spread the signal wider, balance side vs. center, or process in a normal mode. just thinking side/ mid instead of left right when setting up gear.
after this analog chain i hit the hedd(not to hard)& makeup gain on capture in the box while adding in plugs like the algorithmix red, orange, & restoration, or some waves Etc. if needed.
This is the best & cleanest chain I have ever had. I am waiting for the crookwood analog router as to not have to deal with the xlr patchbay. I had crispin program it so everything is in duel mono or a switch to lock it into stereo. This would allow me to easily continue routing as stated above.
Ed
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: cerberus on June 25, 2006, 07:23:41 pm
two types of gearaholic/slut  i do respect:

1. the curious engineer who needs to try everything themselves, and can afford to do so. they do not need to justify their purchase of anything by claiming to like it; nor do they feel obligated to use something they have bought in order to recoup their investment; or to not seem foolish and wasteful, even to themselves, etc...

2. a mastering jedi who is past the point of diminshing returns on improving their skills and their gear is obviously holding them back from doing best possible work.

what bothers me most is an "engineer" who think their box makes them elegant... when inside it's doing m/s, parallel processing, multiband, companding... or whatever they think they are not doing and don't have a clue about what the box is doing to the signal "like magic". often they will mention the piece in their personal signature on internet forums; not sure if that is intended to help others or put them down for not being as educated or affluent as them; or to gain acceptance into a particular clique.

i know my clients can be curious, but they really don't seem too anxious about which compressor i might use or not use. i've lost mixing business for not being compatible with pthd, and surround (because i have contacts from my analog days who moved in that direction, we can't work together now unless i spend $40K+...that puts a different perpective on my gear needs) but no issues like that so far with stereo mastering.

jeff dinces

Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: Brad Sarno on June 25, 2006, 08:32:53 pm
I've had this chain for about 3+ years now, and I'm pretty happy with it. Most all of what I do here in St. Louis is rock and rap, but there's plenty of everything coming thru here.

Mac running MOTU's DP

Spectrafoo metering

MOTU 2408 used strictly at a SPDIF router. Handy because it has both a SPDIF output, and also doubles the analog outs on a second SPDIF for sending to a good monitor DAC.

Lots of Waves stuff, linear phase, mastering, renn. etc.

The path leaves the 2408 via SPDIF into a GW Labs upsampler/de-jitter box. There I'll upsample to 96k and then on to the Benchmark DAC. So it's playing out at 96k, dejittered, and also since it's at 96k, the anti-alias filtering has a far more gentle slope so it and sounds pretty nice. That 44.1kHz anti-aliasing can really put that crispy smear on sound, so I like to feed the analog path with a 96k DAC output.

From the Benchmark it goes to a Manley Massive Passive. Pretty colored EQ, but for most projects it's pretty friendly and musical. I've grown very used to the MP and really like it. The high end on that thing can make some really nice, sweet air on top that I couldn't get away with using many or maybe any other EQ's. I also like the whole range on the MP. The hi-pass filters are nice too for those junk-in-the-trunk mixes.

From the MP, it hits a Manley Vari-Mu. The way that the Vari-Mu kind of fuses or melds the kick and bass into a more cohesive sound is nice. I'd like a less mushy comp someday, maybe an STC-8, but I barely squash with it in general, and I like to keep the attack real slow to preseve punch. Release time usually relates to tempo. Generally the Vari-Mu treats me pretty well.

From there I'm hitting a stock Apogee Rosetta. I like its sound for the rock and rap stuff. Again, I'd like a more open and natural A/D, but I'm used to this one for the moment.

The whole system is clocked off the Apogee.

Once it's back in the box, I monitor with the L2 on and use Spectra Foo to help nail the average loudness (Thanks Mr. Katz). The new file is still 24 bits and has yet to actually be peak limited. What's nice about leaving the real L2 till later is that it's very easy to tweak loudness since the file is still unpeaked.

I'll import the files into Waveburner Pro and insert the operative L2 at that stage. I use the Pow-R dithering instead of the L2's shaping and dithering. From there I can burn a Redbook disk. I also am set up to create DDP's in Sonic Studio's DDP software. I'm not real slick in DDP yet, and honestly it doesn't even come close to Waveburner when it comes to true efficiency and ease in laying out the CD. But I'm gonna spend more time with DDP and form a better opinion.

I may upgrade DDP to Soundblade if they ever put out the demo. It seems like they're on the right path, but I'm not convinced yet that they truly understand workflow yet.

I monitor using a custom grayhill switched passive monitor controller. The main amp is a Musical Concepts mod to a Hafler DH200 mosfet amp. The main monitors are Dunlavy SC-4's and a 1000 watt, sealed cab, Velodyne sub. I also monitor thru a Sony jambox with a line in. Those little cheesy, ported 4" speakers will always help me dial in the 120Hz to 250Hz range. I've also got Rogers LS3/5A's, NS-10's, Auratones, and a few others, but most of my monitoring is done on the Dunlavys and the Sonys.

Burning CD's with a Plextor premium using Taiyo Yuden disks.

Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: Brad Sarno on June 25, 2006, 08:34:36 pm
Oh yea. I wish I also had a Sontec EQ and a Cranesong STC-8 comp and another A/D converter, undecided which one.





Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: jfrigo on June 26, 2006, 02:02:08 am
In addition to the complexity of chains being discussed, the complexity of their use (M/S processing, multiband and parallell compression) is also an interesting, related subject. I wonder, are the people who love to have complex chains the same people who like complex processes?

I tend to stick with pretty straightforward processes unless I have a specific reason to deviate. I don't default to M/S and multiband etc, and don't find myself needing them a majority of the time.

Though I have a fair amount of gear available, I pretty much stick to my NSEQ-2, Vari-Mu, Weiss EQ, t.c. 6000 (MD4 limiter usually), and L2. Sometimes the only thing in use is the NSEQ-2 to a custom ADC and one of the limiters (t.c. or L2).

Source is usually Pro Tools to a Lavry DAC, and analog is either Studer A820, or Ampex ATR. The Studer lives in the room, though the Ampex gets wheeled in often... if often is the right word with the dwindling analog coming in lately. A few pieces of gear in the room (or out of the room but near-by) are used for occasional specific things, similar to my POV about bringing in M/S EQ etc. When I have a specific desire for a certain trick, some of the other gear gets added to the chain. Otherwise, it's just there to cover eventualities.

My basic POV is use as little as necessary to get the job done. However, I'm not afraid to string up a bunch of stuff now and then, or change it up if that's what it takes.

The one thing that's been on my list for a while, but I haven't found the one to suit me yet, is a more neutral analog compressor, or if not neutral, at least a different color from the Manley. I've been through a couple, but none have stuck.
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: Jerry Tubb on June 26, 2006, 02:37:07 am
jfrigo wrote on Mon, 26 June 2006 01:02

...Though I have a fair amount of gear available, I pretty much stick to my NSEQ-2, Vari-Mu, Weiss EQ, t.c. 6000 (MD4 limiter usually), and L2. Sometimes the only thing in use is the NSEQ-2 to a custom ADC and one of the limiters (t.c. or L2).

Source is usually Pro Tools to a Lavry DAC, and analog is either Studer A820, or Ampex ATR.
(snip)
The one thing that's been on my list for a while, but I haven't found the one to suit me yet, is a more neutral analog compressor, or if not neutral, at least a different color from the Manley. I've been through a couple, but none have stuck.


Sounds like we're on the same (or similar) page Jay.

Cheers JT
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: cerberus on June 26, 2006, 08:04:03 am
jfrigo wrote on Mon, 26 June 2006 02:02

In addition to the complexity of chains being discussed, the complexity of their use (M/S processing, multiband and parallell compression) is also an interesting, related subject. I wonder, are the people who love to have complex chains the same people who like complex processes?


yes, exactly, i could just say i use a computer. that would simplify things for people who want to hear it that way. you don't even begin to get into what makes the vari-mu special...we should call in hutch to tell us why he bothered to make it...and then maybe it won't seem so "simple" to any of us. a studer isn't too simple either...

of course i think you understand more that you are letting on here. if i received the general quality of mixes you did...i probably wouldn't use differental m/s on them either. but if you were to do a freebie for one of my  clients, i bet you'd be finding you'd need to visit your patch bay more often than usual. i see no sense in pointing out the differences in our clients, as long as you could still handle what i do on a regular basis if you needed to.

no disrespect intended, but we don't compete for the same jobs. if you remain a better engineer than me, then that will always be the case. but if it comes down to what boxes i can afford...then i have a chance to catch bigger fish if i find some money?  i don't believe it.  wouldn't get me a single client.  if it did;  then they would fly away as soon as the next "must have" box comes out...unless i bought that too,...is that the kind of "client loyalty" i seek? no way.

what i am counting on is people hearing my work and that's how work comes. nobody called me looking for a guy with a vari-mu.. they don't care if i post on the same forum as eveanna occasionally does; (even though i think it's cool!).

jeff dinces
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: FredForssell on June 26, 2006, 10:00:59 am
Quote:

...we should call in hutch to tell us why he bothered to make it...


IF I remember correctly,  David Manley designed the vari-mu, not Hutch.  Hutch probably did have his hands in the later modification of the vari-mu so it could use a different variable mu tube. I think that was after David left the company.
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: jtr on June 26, 2006, 01:34:12 pm
jfrigo wrote on Sun, 25 June 2006 23:02

In addition to the complexity of chains being discussed, the complexity of their use (M/S processing, multiband and parallell compression) is also an interesting, related subject. I wonder, are the people who love to have complex chains the same people who like complex processes?





I'd suggest that once you find a technique that works for you on a given project, you'll use it again. There are many ways to get there from here.   I don't think anyone loves complex chains, just adequate support for their favorite techniques. And some markets require a more diverse offering of solutions than others.

It's worth noting that M/S isn't really a complex process, although many of the "mastering grade" pieces are now including support for it. This may give the illusion that it is complex.

My first exposure was back in my live classical recording days.   The ability to change the stereo image post recording was priceless. Really understanding M/S and it's value to preserving (or destroying) the final imaging is
a skill useful to all mastering engineers- whether it's Mozart or earsplitting punk thrash bands.
I don't use M/S on everything. It's just a tool that is available when you want to process the mono content or l/r content independent of each other.

Parallel compression isn't all that complex either , although it isn't something I use very often in mastering. Some do. It's a great technique.  Again, some manufacturers build in the functionality hence the perception complex process.



Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: Ged Leitch on June 26, 2006, 02:29:04 pm
jtr wrote on Mon, 26 June 2006 18:34

jfrigo wrote on Sun, 25 June 2006 23:02

In addition to the complexity of chains being discussed, the complexity of their use (M/S processing, multiband and parallell compression) is also an interesting, related subject. I wonder, are the people who love to have complex chains the same people who like complex processes?





I'd suggest that once you find a technique that works for you on a given project, you'll use it again. There are many ways to get there from here.   I don't think anyone loves complex chains, just adequate support for their favorite techniques. And some markets require a more diverse offering of solutions than others.

It's worth noting that M/S isn't really a complex process, although many of the "mastering grade" pieces are now including support for it. This may give the illusion that it is complex.

My first exposure was back in my live classical recording days.   The ability to change the stereo image post recording was priceless. Really understanding M/S and it's value to preserving (or destroying) the final imaging is
a skill useful to all mastering engineers- whether it's Mozart or earsplitting punk thrash bands.
I don't use M/S on everything. It's just a tool that is available when you want to process the mono content or l/r content independent of each other.

Parallel compression isn't all that complex either , although it isn't something I use very often in mastering. Some do. It's a great technique.  Again, some manufacturers build in the functionality hence the perception complex process.







Well said Jim!

Personally i cant be bothered getting complex,

reasons being that it would distract me from the listening,

the most complex i go is probably M/S EQ, but thats hardly complex lol.

Simple for me is best, as long as the tools im using are up to it

I dont think i could do without the PLPar EQ now, very precise!
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: chrisj on June 26, 2006, 03:13:14 pm
I find that when things get complicated for me I tend to abuse them- being the dumb coder guy I can write whatever I like, but being an ME of sorts I find myself writing some pretty crazy things at times. I'll find someone saying "Yah, ya gotta use XYandZ EQ on latin stuff for the burnished glow of the horns" (okay, so that's a audiophool example) and I'll be off and running trying to measure and/or code a 'burnished glow' knob. Then if I even half succeed, I'll want to hear it doing something...

What I ended up with that sticks around is like this:

-file preprocessing into 64 bit float
-pre gain
-overall high frequency EQ algorithm, not in the form of frequency bands
-EQ with a bit of phase shift and a bit of 'HEDD'-like saturation on each band
-compression
-separate 'HEDD'-like saturation over the whole 2-buss
-limiting
-dither.

If I get non-44.1K sample rates I preprocess them in Audacity with a virtual analog SRC. I run EQ before compression after hearing guys like Brad talk about it, trying  it, and finding I liked the result better than comp-EQ.

I always try to con myself into doing as little as possible- I must be a mix AE at heart because I like re-imagining sounds but I find that works poorly for me in mastering. I'm still very much learning my thing and so much of my 'chain' is a factor of what I'm trying to hear out of the result- so much so that it'd be worth having a separate thread just for the  'mental chain' factor.
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: carlsaff on June 26, 2006, 03:39:43 pm
My chain is a little different every time (one of the symptoms/benefits of being plugin based [for now]), but certain rules usually apply:

* I like width enhancement, noise reduction, M/S mixing and de-essing (if any of them is desired/warranted) early on in the chain (process order being program material dependent).

* I usually like corrective equalization before compression.

* I usually like "sweetening" equalization after compression.

* Limiting and dither are always last, and in that order (of course).

Beyond these simple rules, lots of other things can and do happen. But there are jobs that end up being simple level sets, corrective EQ and limiting, and jobs where far more than is outlined above is called into play. The quality of the mix master is usually inversely proportional to the ammount of processing employed.

As for what makes me happy about my chain and what could be better...

What I like about my system now is that I frankly love working in the box. I can't deny it. I rarely feel the desire for knobs and instant recall lets me work with ridiculous efficiency. Nuendo is, for me, a great host for mastering, but then my methods are probably a little "unconventional" at times.

What makes me not happy is knowing with certainty that analog processing is better for some things. I can't wait to get my new STC-8/M into the chain (waiting on a new Lavry DA and RME AES-32 card to come online so that I can feed it), and a tube EQ (Massive Passive, most likely) will be the next thing to drop into the desk. I don't mind doing corrective EQ in the box at all. I think that I actually might prefer that indefinitely. But I defintely would like all of my broadband compression and "sweetening" EQ to be handled by out-of-the-box analog devices. I just think those processes will always sound best in the analog realm (watch me be proven wrong after I've already coughed up the cash for them... I keep waiting for Tritone Digital to break the "analog is still better" ceiling).
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: cerberus on June 26, 2006, 04:38:29 pm
chrisj wrote on Mon, 26 June 2006 15:13

 'mental chain' factor.

i've read the journal of mastering tools at your site. imo when you decided to gang multiple paramaters on single knobs in an effort to simplify, it was like tying one hand behind your back. i think mastering comprises a series of incremental improvements, it cannot be done in broad strokes.  if i could choose a version of mastering tools to try, it would be from before what i perceive as a turning point or milestone in the formation of your 'mental chain'.

carlsaff wrote on Mon, 26 June 2006 15:39

What makes me not happy is knowing with certainty that analog processing is better for some things.

i am totally unconvinced.. chrisj refers to "HEDD-like"...implying to me that he uses a digital emulator as a  reference point, and it seems "acceptable" now that he didn't say "tape" or "transformer" or even "portico".

jeff dinces
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: chrisj on June 26, 2006, 05:00:26 pm
cerberus wrote on Mon, 26 June 2006 16:38

chrisj wrote on Mon, 26 June 2006 15:13

 'mental chain' factor.

i've read the journal of mastering tools at your site. imo when you decided to gang multiple paramaters on single knobs in an effort to simplify, it was like tying one hand behind your back. i think mastering comprises a series of incremental improvements, it cannot be done in broad strokes.


You could be right- I've been considering  breaking  out some of the 'hidden' stuff that's ganged together. In fact  I've already done some of that, but I'm reminded of how much ganged stuff is under the hood in my  EQ. Maybe it's not best to try and compensate for a lack of self-discipline by  restricting tool choices. The trouble becomes, where do you stop?
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: cerberus on June 26, 2006, 05:05:17 pm
use scientific method. it is not easy because everything interacts, so removing one thing may sound better, but adding it with something else may also sound better. at least science offers us guidelines for navigating this chaotic territory.  

jeff dinces
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: ammitsboel on June 26, 2006, 05:42:18 pm
There's no chain like no chain.
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: masterhse on June 26, 2006, 09:25:20 pm
ammitsboel wrote on Mon, 26 June 2006 17:42

There's no chain like no chain.


That's about as minimal as you can get.
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: Mark Donahue on June 26, 2006, 09:52:48 pm
ammitsboel wrote on Mon, 26 June 2006 17:42

There's no chain like no chain.

Then there really isn't much use for a mastering engineer either now is there  Wink
At that point you're just the copy boy.
-m
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: ammitsboel on June 27, 2006, 04:13:15 am
Mark Donahue wrote on Tue, 27 June 2006 03:52

ammitsboel wrote on Mon, 26 June 2006 17:42

There's no chain like no chain.

Then there really isn't much use for a mastering engineer either now is there  Wink
At that point you're just the copy boy.

Or the project saviour!
I hope that your excuse for using one is another than "otherwise I'm just the copy boy"? Smile
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: zetterstroem on June 27, 2006, 05:22:34 am
ammitsboel wrote on Mon, 26 June 2006 23:42

There's no chain like no chain.


there's no music like silence  Very Happy
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: jazzius on June 27, 2006, 07:15:49 am
ammitsboel wrote on Tue, 27 June 2006 09:13

Mark Donahue wrote on Tue, 27 June 2006 03:52

ammitsboel wrote on Mon, 26 June 2006 17:42

There's no chain like no chain.

Then there really isn't much use for a mastering engineer either now is there  Wink
At that point you're just the copy boy.

Or the project saviour!
I hope that your excuse for using one is another than "otherwise I'm just the copy boy"? Smile


Try doing nothing to the sound of your client's music and see how long you stay in business (unless you're in the copy business, in which case i'm sure you'll be very successful!).........D
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: lagerfeldt on June 27, 2006, 04:44:00 pm
Haha
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: ammitsboel on June 27, 2006, 05:41:12 pm
jazzius wrote on Tue, 27 June 2006 13:15

ammitsboel wrote on Tue, 27 June 2006 09:13

Mark Donahue wrote on Tue, 27 June 2006 03:52

ammitsboel wrote on Mon, 26 June 2006 17:42

There's no chain like no chain.

Then there really isn't much use for a mastering engineer either now is there  Wink
At that point you're just the copy boy.

Or the project saviour!
I hope that your excuse for using one is another than "otherwise I'm just the copy boy"? Smile


Try doing nothing to the sound of your client's music and see how long you stay in business (unless you're in the copy business, in which case i'm sure you'll be very successful!).........D

You give the impression that you don't understand me?
Having a scientific discussion and enlightening every aspect is a way to achieve good results, do you not agree? Being able to accept and deal with the opposite opinion can be a great help.

Best Regards
H
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: Andy Krehm on June 27, 2006, 10:02:08 pm
ammitsboel wrote on Tue, 27 June 2006 17:41

jazzius wrote on Tue, 27 June 2006 13:15

ammitsboel wrote on Tue, 27 June 2006 09:13

Mark Donahue wrote on Tue, 27 June 2006 03:52

ammitsboel wrote on Mon, 26 June 2006 17:42

There's no chain like no chain.

Then there really isn't much use for a mastering engineer either now is there  Wink
At that point you're just the copy boy.

Or the project saviour!
I hope that your excuse for using one is another than "otherwise I'm just the copy boy"? Smile


Try doing nothing to the sound of your client's music and see how long you stay in business (unless you're in the copy business, in which case i'm sure you'll be very successful!).........D

You give the impression that you don't understand me?
Having a scientific discussion and enlightening every aspect is a way to achieve good results, do you not agree? Being able to accept and deal with the opposite opinion can be a great help.

Best Regards
H

Perhaps Henrik is saying that once in a while one doesn't need to do any (or little) processing to a track to make it work in an album.

I'll never forget a jazz album that I worked on early in my mastering career. My client didn't like any sonic manipulations that I tried on the first song I worked on. Not having a enough experience at the time, I felt inwardly resentful that my client didn't like what I was trying to do!

Fortunately, I was smart enough to finally give in and just do what was essentially an as is transfer. What floored me in the end was that I had to use every resource and trick that I knew, at least at that time in my life, to match up the rest of the album to that one "as is" transfer!

Also early in my career, I remember one other album where I did a full-blown enhancement of the mixes on a jazz  album only to get a call from my client saying he didn't like the work and preferred the original mixes. And this after sitting through the whole day! So, he came back another day and I did a simple digital mastering job just slightly raising the volume while matching the volumes track to track and once in a while adding the most minute eq on the cymbals.

When reviewing that experience, I realized I should have known not to mess with the mixes because this particular client had actually mixed the album at my studio with my house mix guy. He came back and touched up the album many, many times and in the process, must have grown to love the mixes that he had spent so much time shaping.

Andy,

Silverbirch Productions.
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: Trillium Sound on June 27, 2006, 10:07:01 pm
Andy Krehm wrote on Tue, 27 June 2006 22:02

ammitsboel wrote on Tue, 27 June 2006 17:41

jazzius wrote on Tue, 27 June 2006 13:15

ammitsboel wrote on Tue, 27 June 2006 09:13

Mark Donahue wrote on Tue, 27 June 2006 03:52

ammitsboel wrote on Mon, 26 June 2006 17:42

There's no chain like no chain.

Then there really isn't much use for a mastering engineer either now is there  Wink
At that point you're just the copy boy.

Or the project saviour!
I hope that your excuse for using one is another than "otherwise I'm just the copy boy"? Smile


Try doing nothing to the sound of your client's music and see how long you stay in business (unless you're in the copy business, in which case i'm sure you'll be very successful!).........D

You give the impression that you don't understand me?
Having a scientific discussion and enlightening every aspect is a way to achieve good results, do you not agree? Being able to accept and deal with the opposite opinion can be a great help.

Best Regards
H

Perhaps Henrik is saying that once in a while one doesn't need to do any (or little) processing to a track to make it work in an album.

I'll never forget a jazz album that I worked on early in my mastering career. My client didn't like any sonic manipulations that I tried on the first song I worked on. Not having a enough experience at the time, I felt inwardly resentful that my client didn't like what I was trying to do!

Fortunately, I was smart enough to finally give in and just do what was essentially an as is transfer. What floored me in the end was that I had to use every resource and trick that I knew, at least at that time in my life, to match up the rest of the album to that one "as is" transfer!

Also early in my career, I remember one other album where I did a full-blown enhancement of the mixes on a jazz  album only to get a call from my client saying he didn't like the work and preferred the original mixes. And this after sitting through the whole day! So, he came back another day and I did a simple digital mastering job just slightly raising the volume while matching the volumes track to track and once in a while adding the most minute eq on the cymbals.

When reviewing that experience, I realized I should have known not to mess with the mixes because this particular client had actually mixed the album at my studio with my house mix guy. He came back and touched up the album many, many times and in the process, must of grown to love the mixes that he had spent so much time shaping.

Andy,

Silverbirch Productions.



That is knowing your clients needs. With another client, the scenario that would work is totally the opposite.
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: TotalSonic on June 28, 2006, 04:55:27 am
Hey folks - been busy and out of town a little bit too so haven't posted for a little bit -
but here's my usual "simple" chain:

Digital Source (SAWStudio DAW #1 w/ Lynx One AES outs, DA-20 or PCM2600 DATs, MD350 MD player. Denon or Philips CD players)
-> Z-sys digital patch bay
-> 2 Lavry Blue DAC's (1 direct to Coleman M3PHmkII for source monitoring, 2nd to chain) ->
OR
Analog Source (Sony/MCI JH110B / Sansui SR717 turntable / Denon cassette deck) ->

Amek Medici eq ->
API 2500
OR pair of custom modded NTP179-120 ->

Mytek Stereo96 ADC ->
Z-sys digital patchbay ->
SAWStudio DAW #2 (w/Sydec Mixtreme192 & ibox AES4)->
RML Labs Levelizer &/OR Waves L3 ->
Sonoris Dither (or sometimes Waves IDR dither if the L3 is the final processor)
__________

Of course a lot of times things aren't as "simple" in which case the above might get augmented on the analog side by:
-> pair of Filtek MKIII eq's - if I need either a hardedged bottom or more bands than the Medici gives me, and sometimes a
-> SPL Vitalizer (I have the original stereo version, the SX2) if dealing with something that has too much "M's" (i.e. Mono-ish, Muddy, Muted, overly Mid-rangey) -

& on the digital side (either patched into the playing DAW or receiving DAW depending on the processor) as needed of:

(fully automateable 64bit processing SAWStudio native plugins)
JMS Audioware Hi-res EQ
Sonoris Compressor
Sonoris Mulitband Compressor
Sonoris M/S codec
Sonoris Equalizer
Sonoris Linear Phase EQ
Sonoris Pitch/Time
Brainspawn Stereo Panner

(DX/VST plugins)
Virtos Stereo Processor
Virtos Noise Reduction
Sony NR2.0 Click Remover
Spitfish De-esser
AIPL Warmtone (only used in rare cases to distort side channel)

_____________

OK - now the reasoning behind the choices.
On the analog side I've picked out mainly "sleeper" units - ones that to my ear sound just as good as the $4g + stuff - but that I sourced used (except for my API2500), and in some cases had racked up or modded, for generally under $2g's.  The Medici  is especially one of my fave things in that it is incredibly versatile and you can really boost the mids on highs with it if you need to without things getting grainy.  From looking at the Neve Masterpiece seems a lot of things were carried from the Medici to the Masterpiece's eq modules (such as the "sheen" & "glow" options).

On the digital side - I've been using SAW since the first version that came out in 1994 so I know it like the back of my hand and can edit things with it quicker than using anything else.  Plus the quality of it's internal processing math (64bit integer) and the efficiency of its engine (hand coded in assembly), the ability to easily layout and  PQ indexes and subcodes directly in it using the JMS CSG add-on, and the amazing level of support from it's author, make it to me the best native PC app out there.  The SAW native Sonoris plugins (coded by Pieter Stenekes - who has participated in the recent WUMP's) are some of the few plugins that I actually feel are "master" quality in their sound - all the while running amazingly efficiently due to the SAWStudio plugin API & environment.
__________

As far as things I'd like to change in the chain:
* well, while the Filtek's usually work well as a secondary eq - I'd still like to find another option that could be a lot more subtle as the Filtek's 2dB steps tend to be overkil for most applications.  The Langevin MiniMassive kind of caught my eye for this.  I'd like to look into getting my Filteks modded to 1dB steps also but so far seems the cash needed to do this would be better saved towareds just getting another eq
* I really love the smoothness of the NTP comps (recapped & modded with Triad input & Jensen output transformers) but they're not the easiest things to set as they work on a fixed threshold based on how much signal is sent into them - so I've been thinking of getting am active gain stage placed permanently before them (usually I feed them from the Medici which has a variable input to take care of this) - and I'd like to get them set up with meters also
* I had Dan Zellman open up my Medici and he's pretty sure he could open up the sound a little more by upgrading the caps in it.  I'd like to replace the pots on the input gains (seems Neve doesn't see any problem with this as the same kind of thing is on the Masterpiece) with stepped switches in 1/2dB steps also.
* I'd like to get either a Weiss DS-1 or a Maselec de-esser to hopefully better handle this chore than my current in-the-box options
* definitely would eventually like another dynamic processor - the DW Fearn VT7 really caught my ear recently - but I'm open to other options
* and definitely would like to get an analog M/S matrix.  Think the Dangerous S/M box might be the ticket - but I'd be curious to see if I could just get some of the older Neumann or Telefunken "panorama" modules racked up to get the same functionality for less cash.
* I downloaded the Voxengo Elephant 2.5 demo recently and, unlike the first version, was pretty impressed with it, so this will be my next digital processor purchase as another alternative to the other digital limiters I have
* I'd like to look into possible upgrades beyond the stock repro amps for my JH110B
* and finally thinking of getting a Lavry Blue ADC module added into my 4496 box as an option to my Mytek.

...but at this point all these things are of lower priority than getting a few things sorted out in my monitoring  - so at this point stands for the N802's and some more treatments for the room that will be my next purchases.

Best regards,
Steve Berson
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: dea on June 30, 2006, 02:10:49 pm
Tascam 2488 Portastudio
Behringer Ultragraph Pro FBQ3102 - Graphic EQ
Behringer Virtualizer Pro DSP2024p - multifx
Behringer UltraTube T1951 - parametric eq
Behringer Ultrafex T1954  - exciter/enhancer
Behringer Composer Pro MDX2600  - compressor

Computer SW:
Voyetra Record Producer Deluxe
Reaper
Various plugins

I primarily use this equipment to record our bands jam sessions.  I also setup MIDI files to play my drums against.  I use the fx equipment to warm up the MIDI generated sounds.
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: EP on June 30, 2006, 04:11:24 pm
TotalSonic wrote on Wed, 28 June 2006 09:55


I really love the smoothness of the NTP comps (recapped & modded with Triad input & Jensen output transformers) but they're not the easiest things to set as they work on a fixed threshold based on how much signal is sent into them - so I've been thinking of getting am active gain stage placed permanently before them


given the typical levels in a modern mastering operation, don't you find that you need to turn the inputs down, not up, to get it just right? Seems like a passive attenuator option early in the chain would do it.....

Please elaborate, if you have time, as I am soon to receive my -120's....
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: permeke on July 02, 2006, 08:42:39 am
I see a lot of you have two compressors in your chain.
A softer / slower one (varimu) and a faster one (SSL type, ....).

In what order do you hook them up ? Firdt the vari mu, then the fast one , or vice versa and why  ?
regards
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: fuse on July 02, 2006, 09:54:33 am
Most of the times my chains change but the general approach stays the same. As taken from the setup from the TC finalizer.

First add things to the sound (Phased EQ/MS/Width/Exciting) and as 2nd stage if needed multiband compressing and EQ cut away. Final stage would be limiting and dithering.

And as to parallel processing the TC works FX chain is an ideal toy to split of a parallel signal and process it. You would have to compensate for delays though. But the same goes for hardware equivalents as well.

But I wondered if someone else thinks swapping my first and second stage would make more sense. For me it's just the most practical approach giving me the best results.
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: dea on July 07, 2006, 03:39:18 pm
My budget chain.

Tascam 2488 Portastudio
Behringer Tube UltraQ T1951 Parametric EQ ->
Behringer Virtualizer Pro DSP2024P multifx ->
( Behringer Composer Pro MDX2600 compressor <- side chain Behringer Ultragraph Pro FBQ3102 graphic eq ) ->
Behringer Tube UltraFex T1954 sound enhancement processor



Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: TotalSonic on July 07, 2006, 03:54:44 pm
EP wrote on Fri, 30 June 2006 21:11

TotalSonic wrote on Wed, 28 June 2006 09:55


I really love the smoothness of the NTP comps (recapped & modded with Triad input & Jensen output transformers) but they're not the easiest things to set as they work on a fixed threshold based on how much signal is sent into them - so I've been thinking of getting am active gain stage placed permanently before them


given the typical levels in a modern mastering operation, don't you find that you need to turn the inputs down, not up, to get it just right? Seems like a passive attenuator option early in the chain would do it.....

Please elaborate, if you have time, as I am soon to receive my -120's....


Hi Erik -
Sorry for the delayed response - just noticed this post after the thread was brought to the top again.  

You are correct - 9 times out of 10 to set the threshold to where I want to I need to attenuate (and not boost), and in these cases I agree a passive attenuator would be a more transparent (and for my usual purposes because of this a superior) choice.  

But there are indeed a few rare cases, more often where the original source is analog and highly dynamic, and where I want to have the compressor after the eq (which is my usual preference), where I actually am wanting to slam the NTP's, that I would like the ability to boost after the eq.  My Medici's have gain controls at the input that I can adjust (but no output gain controls) - but in some cases just boosting these to the level I want to set will overload the eq's.  SO - seems having a box with a passive attenuator and a bypassable active gain stage (with seperate controls for each side), and switchable metering from input to output, would be a good thing to get.  Maybe a switchable M/S matrix at this point would be the jammy too.

Best regards,
Steve Berson  
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: EP on July 07, 2006, 10:33:21 pm
Funny how those simple little projects get a bit bigger over time  Laughing I have a pair of shallco passive attenuators (10db) that I plan to use for this purpose.....although I see your point on the coolness of having gain in the same unit. (not to mention m/s, although that can be a passive transformer circuit so not nesc. an active vs passive thing)

One of these days pretty soon, Dan will have my 179-120's done.....I'm getting excited!
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: TotalSonic on July 08, 2006, 02:20:09 am
EP wrote on Sat, 08 July 2006 03:33

Funny how those simple little projects get a bit bigger over time  Laughing


Yeah - it tends to happen that way as soon as you try and get the "vintage sleepers" to work in as streamlined way as the latest "state of the art" mastering gear.  But I just used the NTP's on a "poky" digital recording of piano/vocal that hadn't been recorded too well, and man, it was such the perfect compliment, with instant "warmth" added that it seemed to make the journey to getting these babies going more than well worth it.

Quote:

I have a pair of shallco passive attenuators (10db) that I plan to use for this purpose.....although I see your point on the coolness of having gain in the same unit. (not to mention m/s, although that can be a passive transformer circuit so not nesc. an active vs passive thing)

One of these days pretty soon, Dan will have my 179-120's done.....I'm getting excited!


Good stuff!    
Although probably once he has your pair shipped out he's going to have to get one of mine - as one of the modules has developed an intermittent noise in the past couple days  Crying or Very Sad

Maybe I'll take the downtime for this box as a positive thing to have Dan do the rest of my desired customizations so I can finally have these uber-smoov-vibe-compressors be as easy to use as my API2500. Smile

btw -
I found some interesting info on how Tocano Mastering in Copenhagen (which is also the former home of NTP) modded their 179-120's - at
http://www.resolutionmag.com/pdfs/FACILI~1/TOCCANO.PDF

Tocano knows its processing equipment well and Eliasson is happy to talk through some of the ways that they use it.  
Orland / NTP 179/120 compressor modules:
The original NTP modules were a favourite with mastering suites because of their smooth compression action but their minimal controls don't apply them so well to modern bass-heavy music. Ex-NTP and local designer Trols Orland will modify modules, adding new control facilities, such as side chain, peak clip, de-esser, stereo link, metering and a new rack. Using the side chain with an LF cut of 6dB/octave below 300Hz they become more usable on dance music.


It would be interesting to get hold of Mr. Orland and see if some schematics for all of this would be purchasable.  (although getting the stereo link going is no problem as Dan Zellman already added that on mine).

Best regards,
Steve Berson
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: EP on July 08, 2006, 10:48:05 am
TotalSonic wrote on Sat, 08 July 2006 07:20



The original NTP modules were a favourite with mastering suites because of their smooth compression action but their minimal controls don't apply them so well to modern bass-heavy music. Ex-NTP and local designer Trols Orland will modify modules, adding new control facilities, such as side chain, peak clip, de-esser, stereo link, metering and a new rack. Using the side chain with an LF cut of 6dB/octave below 300Hz they become more usable on dance music.


I suspect whats done here, to affect most of the 'mod' is the side chain is looped out to a filter with some controls on the faceplate.....Hey Dan's got mine on his bench-if you see him tell him to experiment a little  Very Happy !  I would not be surprised if he already had thought of how it could be done.
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: TotalSonic on July 08, 2006, 01:18:39 pm
Kris permeke wrote on Sun, 02 July 2006 13:42

I see a lot of you have two compressors in your chain.
A softer / slower one (varimu) and a faster one (SSL type, ....).

In what order do you hook them up ? Firdt the vari mu, then the fast one , or vice versa and why  ?
regards



I can't speak for others, especially as I don't have a vari-mu type comp, but it's actually pretty rare for me to have 2 analog comps in series.  For me the reason I have more than one (and want to in fact get more at some point) is that the ones I own have very different characters from each other  - and since every track is different, and the best compressor for one track might not be the best for another, it's nice to have multiple options.  

Once in a while I'll use one for the Mid and a different for the Side channels though in order to get different characters on these two elements.   And once in a blue moon something might come in that I want to get some squash on - in which case one way to proceed might one adjusted with a low ratio and lower high threshold for just some smoothing and another acting more as a limiter on the peaks.

Best regards,
Steve Berson
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: Viitalahde on July 09, 2009, 02:14:26 pm
Processing chain discussions are so 2006, but I'll bump it up anyway. I've read through this topic and I'd like to see more discussion.

My chain has changed pretty radically from the last autumn when I upgraded my processing converter to the HEDD. After that I built a new passive EQ with a tube make-up stage, and I built that with clean audio in mind. Now I got myself a brand new Knif Audio compressor, of which I'm going to write a review once I've used it for a while.

My chain is definately going for cleaner and cleaner, and if I can't get it transparent, I'd like to have something that actually makes the audio slightly more open when just ran through. The passive EQ and the Knif compressor do just that. It's subtle, it's not an obvious sonic fingerprint but it's there.

Right now my chain is this, pretty much in the order:

-HEDD192 D/A
-LCEQ2 (the passive EQ)
-A parametric EQ based on a Sontec (replaced this summer with a Barry Porter design)
-Knif Audio Pure Mu compressor
-Gyraf Audio G10 compressor
-HEDD192 A/D

Not all used all the time, obviously.

I like to keep things simple and work out my way doing little things. Occasionally, I drive the sound to saturation, and I've been using the Gyraf for this. This might change, since I'm interested in the use of pentodes in vari-mu compressors.

Before this I'll also try out an optical compressor in the chain, based on the sidechain Fred Forssell has published. I have a certain sound of compression in mind with this.

Whenever I'm changing my chain, I always have a goal in mind. I hate constant changes in the chain. I have a good feeling that the HEDD, the passive EQ and the Knif compressor are the first pieces in my chain with which I'll have a long working relationship with.

Oh, I control this all with a pretty simple passive console. I'm building a new one, since I want a different kind of a monitor attenuator and sends for VU meters. The number of inserts is about shrink down, too.
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: mastertone on July 09, 2009, 04:15:48 pm
Hey Jaakko, did you ditch your opto? I liked what i heard from it, very brief but still.

EDIT, sry, slow eyes, is this the one?
Before this I'll also try out an optical compressor in the chain, based on the sidechain Fred Forssell has published. I have a certain sound of compression in mind with this.
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: Viitalahde on July 09, 2009, 04:21:51 pm
mastertone wrote on Thu, 09 July 2009 21:15

Hey Jaakko, did you ditch your opto? I liked what i heard from it, very brief but still.


Yeah. I gave it to the mixing guys. I just began using it less and less, and eventually stopped. Chain evolution I guess..
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: mastertone on July 09, 2009, 04:25:35 pm
Viitalahde wrote on Thu, 09 July 2009 15:21


Yeah. I gave it to the mixing guys. I just began using it less and less, and eventually stopped. Chain evolution I guess..



Ok! Too much color, or not enough controls on it?
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: TotalSonic on July 09, 2009, 05:50:02 pm
Interesting to look back at my old post from 3 years ago where I was 3 months into working at my own room after an 8 month break from when Europadisk closed.  

Lots of things have in fact remained the same but some things have changed.

TotalSonic wrote on Wed, 28 June 2006 04:55


Digital Source (SAWStudio DAW #1 w/ Lynx One AES outs, DA-20 or PCM2600 DATs, MD350 MD player. Denon or Philips CD players)
-> Z-sys digital patch bay
-> 2 Lavry Blue DAC's (1 direct to Coleman M3PHmkII for source monitoring, 2nd to chain) ->
OR
Analog Source (Sony/MCI JH110M / Sansui SR717 turntable / Denon cassette deck) ->


Nothing different here except the PCM2600 died and was replaced with a Panasonic SV3700 (which also goes just as unused!), and I added a Sony DVD player, a Yamaha 4-track cassette deck and a Panasonic VCR player (not that any of these have gotten much use either but I still like to be able to offer transfers from as many formats as I can).  

I also recently added an Otari MX5050 to allow me to actually record to 2-track tape when desired (my MCI JH110M is a playback only deck) and to playback 1/4" 1/4 track tapes - just got the transport fixed on it but still have to get heads relapped for this one so it hasn't seen any action just yet.

I upgraded my phono pre to a Simaudio Moon LP5.3 - been really happy with this.  I've also been thinking of upgrading my turntable - have my eye on this one  - www.needledoctor.com/Pro-Ject-RM-5-Turntable

Quote:


Amek Medici eq ->
API 2500
OR pair of custom modded NTP179-120 ->


The Medici is still my primary go to eq, and the API2500 still gets plenty of work here as well - but the NTP's are out of the chain now - replaced with a Focusrite Blue 330 and a Pendulum OCL-2.

Quote:


Mytek Stereo96 ADC ->
Z-sys digital patchbay ->
SAWStudio DAW #2 (w/Sydec Mixtreme192 & ibox AES4)->


This is all the same but I stopped using the ibox AES4 to connect to the Sydec Mixtreme and replaced it with an Apogee Soundscape 896I/O as it gives a ton of connectivity into the DAW (8 channels AES, 8 channels TDIF, 8 channels ADAT, 8 channels analog i/o in case I have to do multi-channel transfers).

Quote:


RML Labs Levelizer &/OR Waves L3 ->


Both of these limiters are now almost never used - replaced by Voxengo Elephant 2 & 3, as well as occasional use of GVST GClip and Stillwell Audio Event Horizon+.  I also bought the Flux Pure Limiter II recent but haven't attempted to solve my system's severe stability problems with the full version of it yet.

Quote:

Sonoris Dither (or sometimes Waves IDR dither if the L3 is the final processor)


Using the Sonoris Dither exclusively these days.

Quote:


Of course a lot of times things aren't as "simple" in which case the above might get augmented on the analog side by:
-> pair of Filtek MKIII eq's - if I need either a hardedged bottom or more bands than the Medici gives me,


replaced by both an API 5500 and a modded Sontec MEP250EX

Quote:


and sometimes a
-> SPL Vitalizer (I have the original stereo version, the SX2) if dealing with something that has too much "M's" (i.e. Mono-ish, Muddy, Muted, overly Mid-rangey)


I had Dan Zellman swap out a number of the IC's in this for ones with lower distortion and lower self noise - definitely helped make it give cleaner results.  

Quote:


& on the digital side (either patched into the playing DAW or receiving DAW depending on the processor) as needed of:

(fully automateable 64bit processing SAWStudio native plugins)
JMS Audioware Hi-res EQ
Sonoris Compressor
Sonoris Mulitband Compressor
Sonoris M/S codec
Sonoris Equalizer
Sonoris Linear Phase EQ
Sonoris Pitch/Time
Brainspawn Stereo Panner


The updated versions of Sonoris EQ & LPEQ are getting lots of work for both minor tweaks and surgical needs here - the 2.x versions of these are simply some of the best digital eq's ever made.  Been using the Flux Stereotool instead of the Brainspawn Stereo Panner these days though.  The rest of these plugins only get used rarely although occasionally I do still like the JMS Hi-res EQ in preference to my other options for creating big low shelf cuts with really high slopes in order to reshape the bottom end away from rumble and into thump.

Quote:


(DX/VST plugins)
Virtos Stereo Processor
Virtos Noise Reduction
Sony NR2.0 Click Remover
Spitfish De-esser
AIPL Warmtone (only used in rare cases to distort side channel)


Added Acon Digital Studio Clean (primarily for it's excellent declicker/decrackler), Voxengo Redunoise, and Wave Arts MR Hum to help with restoration tasks.  I also got a UAD-1 card loaded with the Precision series plugins but frankly I almost never use it beyond occasional use of the Precision De-esser (it's just it's resale value is lower than the value I get by having it listed in my gear list).  

Quote:


As far as things I'd like to change in the chain:
* well, while the Filtek's usually work well as a secondary eq - I'd still like to find another option that could be a lot more subtle as the Filtek's 2dB steps tend to be overkil for most applications.


I ended up selling off my racked pair of Filtek MK3's and got a Sontec MEP250EX (modded so the pots gain ranges are half of what they are stock), and an API5500.  Both of these have a lot more headroom and versatiliy than the Filtek's although once in a blue moon I do miss the hard edged bottom the Filtek's had.  The 2dB steps with them were definitely deal killers.

Quote:


* I had Dan Zellman open up my Medici and he's pretty sure he could open up the sound a little more by upgrading the caps in it.  I'd like to replace the pots on the input gains (seems Neve doesn't see any problem with this as the same kind of thing is on the Masterpiece) with stepped switches in 1/2dB steps also.


I ended up getting these mods done (stock cheap Korean caps replaced with current Panasonics that have much better specs) and am definitely glad to have done it.

Quote:


* I'd like to get either a Weiss DS-1 or a Maselec de-esser to hopefully better handle this chore than my current in-the-box options


Didn't get either - instead I got a pair of Empirical Labs DerrEssers in an Avedis R52 rack - cheaper than either of these other options but it works fantastic to my ear for dealing with both sibilance or edgy overly bright percussive elements.

Quote:


* definitely would eventually like another dynamic processor - the DW Fearn VT7 really caught my ear recently - but I'm open to other options


Ended up getting not one but two new options (Focusrite Blue 330 and Pendulum OCL-2).  Definitely happy to have these options now as they both give very different sounds from my API2500.  The one mod I still want to do though is to get rid of the OCL-2 output pots and have these replaced with stepped switches.

Quote:


* and definitely would like to get an analog M/S matrix.  Think the Dangerous S/M box might be the ticket - but I'd be curious to see if I could just get some of the older Neumann or Telefunken "panorama" modules racked up to get the same functionality for less cash.


Ended up instead of getting a pair of ADR Propak Audiomates (now discontinued) and then had the input pots and bypassed and the opamps upgraded from the stock JRC's to NS LM's (forget the actual part #).  

Quote:


* I downloaded the Voxengo Elephant 2.5 demo recently and, unlike the first version, was pretty impressed with it, so this will be my next digital processor purchase as another alternative to the other digital limiters I have


Which indeed it was.

Quote:


* I'd like to look into possible upgrades beyond the stock repro amps for my JH110B


still on the to do list.

Quote:


* and finally thinking of getting a Lavry Blue ADC module added into my 4496 box as an option to my Mytek.


Also still on the to do list.  Been thinking of Lavry Black or Burl B2 as possible options as well.

Quote:


...but at this point all these things are of lower priority than getting a few things sorted out in my monitoring  - so at this point stands for the N802's and some more treatments for the room that will be my next purchases.


Which they indeed were - both the Sound Anchor stands and tons of GIK Acoustics bass traps made a big difference in getting things sounding more accurate in here.

The biggest other change to my chain is going to happen in about a couple weeks when my Manley Backbone finally gets here.  I'm excited to finally be able to insert processors with a button instead of having to physically repatch things.

Best regards,
Steve Berson
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: compasspnt on July 09, 2009, 06:01:20 pm
Steve, a (perhaps hypothetical) question...

If you were called upon to recreate a master from two (or more) years ago, or to "just make this one little change" to such an "old" master, what would you now do?

•Drag out all the old stuff (if possible)
•Come as close as possible with your current chain
•Start over and do it "my way today"
•Other option

?
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: TotalSonic on July 09, 2009, 06:17:50 pm
compasspnt wrote on Thu, 09 July 2009 18:01

Steve, a (perhaps hypothetical) question...

If you were called upon to recreate a master from two (or more) years ago, or to "just make this one little change" to such an "old" master, what would you now do?

•Drag out all the old stuff (if possible)
•Come as close as possible with your current chain
•Start over and do it "my way today"
•Other option

?



Well - I still have nearly all my masters and session files (including edit list files and 24bit captures from my analog process chain) and from the past few years from the start of my own studio as digital archives.  If the archive failed or was missing and I needed to recreate  a previous master exactly due to client request my "go to" processors as well as the converters have remained the same since I opened the studio - and since I have nearly all my recall notes from the past few years it should be possible to get extremely close to what existed before.  If there was an analog processor in my recall list that I don't have anymore (like the NTP's or the Filteks) I think I'd still be able to get close and more than likely even better the previous results.  And the processors I've modded still work the same - they just are cleaner and/or easier to recall now.  

If there were no recall notes either then I'd just as likely start over as I think I've learned a lot in the past few years experience here so I'm generally making better masters than when I first started working in here.  

If the change requested was relatively minor (i.e. re-editing, perhaps a small eq cut)  then it's possible that I would work off the previous 16-bit master and just do some additional digital processing as needed.

Anyway - I actually did receive a call recently where a former Europadisk client was looking for their DMM's - for this particular kind of request unfortunately they are s.o.l. as the lathe was auctioned off to the Scientologists and the old masters sold to a scrap dealer.

Best regards,
Steve Berson    
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: dave-G on July 09, 2009, 07:13:23 pm
TotalSonic wrote on Thu, 09 July 2009 17:50

Some things have in fact remained the same but lots of things have changed.

FIFY



*cough*


<g>
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: Viitalahde on February 25, 2011, 04:26:27 pm
Hey Brad, may I suggest this topic among the ones to be moved to the other side? There's some good stuff in here.

Me, I'm at the core of my chain right now, and things are beginning sound really, really good.

HEDD D/A -> LCEQ (passive+tubes) -> Barry Porter EQ -> Knif Pure Mu -> FCS P3SL -> HEDD A/D.

I know I want and sometimes even need a simple low/high EQ.. And I'm going to wrap the LCEQ around an optional M/S matrix+filter set. WIth compressors, I'm going to have to cook it for a while, but so far it feels like I'm about done.

The number of inserts is reducing to two with a "hidden" insert in between. This holds the core of my chain, the BPEQ and the Knif. I'm trying to minimize the amount of cable and switch contacts, and suddenly daisy-chaining some stuff and taking stuff out with inserts instead of adding seems rationable to me.
Title: Re: Your chain
Post by: Joe_Caithness on March 03, 2011, 04:19:35 pm
Cubase Essential 4 (why would I need anymore than this?)

Almost all the time for dance/club music it's something like:

PSP Neon HR (usually FAT + HI RES)
->
RME ADI2 DAC
->
GSSL DIY BUILD w/ API style TONE control mod and sidechain HPF
->
MEP250 inspired DIY BUILD w/ stepped everything, joint stereo
->
RME ADI2 ADC
->
VOXENGO ELEPHANT 3


Or variations of the above without stuff "in" if the mix doesn't need it.

Often for acoustic stuff, and sometimes for the rock stuff, I'll compress 1 or 2 dB with Oxford Dynamics, but often I won't if it's acoustic and just "use the headroom" when coming back into the DAW to gain and do any more I need with the Elephant with a dB or two of gain reduction if it sounds good.

Monitoring:

BENCHMARK DAC1
->
2xFOCAL SOLO 6be Nearfields