Treating The Master Buss

The practice files are no longer available for this video, sorry for the inconvenience.

This article is focused on the Mix Buss and the processing that I used for the final stage of the mix.

Now I’ve covered the topic of Mastering a Song before but since this is a pretty unique circumstance I wanted to cover it again.  Plus my technique and style is always changing so who knows, maybe a year from now I’ll do another article on the Mix Buss with a different approach.

What We Are Working With

So this particular track as is sounds fine but since we are working with the Mix Buss we need to achieve a couple of things.  The first that’s the most obvious is level; we need to bring the overall volume to a place that feels competitive with other records out there.  The other things I was trying to achieve was a bit more glue as well as pulling out the important parts of a mix.

I would never claim to be a mastering engineer and this is not meant to be an “Ultimate guide to Mastering”.  It’s merely just a representation of how I was able to give this record just a little something extra without actually going overboard.  Sometimes the subtlties are what makes the record better.


Blue Cat Audio MB-7 Mixer 2

Treating the Mix Buss - Blue Cat Audio MB-7 MixerThe first thing that you’ll notice is that I am using the Blue Cat Audio MB-7 Mixer 2 because it allows me to host VST plug-ins which I used for the Master Bus in this record.

Blue Cat was cool enough to give all of my readers/subscribers a 10% discount on this plugin as well as their entire library of plug-ins.

Just use the code MDRNMIX when you checkout.


Here is the mix without any Mix Buss Processing

[audio:|titles=Mix without any Mix buss Processing]


VOS Ferric TDS

Treating the Mix Buss - FerricTDS

download here (FREE)

Here is the mix with the FerricTDS engaged

[audio:|titles=Mix with FerricTDS]

I used the Ferric TDS to give the record some of that tape vibe.  I wanted to help smooth out all of the transients and also try to glue all the parts together.  Now this plug-in is being used very subtly.  Less is more in this case.

The plug-in was primarily used with the stock settings as I tend to prefer the sound.  The only thing I did was bump up the input volume a bit.


Sir Elliot Mastering Limiter Series IV

Treating the Mix Buss - Sir Eliot Mastering Limiter

download here (FREE)

Here is the mix with the FerricTDS + The Mastering Limiter engaged

[audio:|titles=Mix with FerricTDS  + Mastering Limiter]

The Sir Elliot Limiter has an interesting colour to it when you start to drive it; this is especially true if the clip prevention is engaged.  I find that it tends to enhance the record in the mid and upper mids without having to use an EQ.  You have to be careful though because if you hit it to hard the hard clipping starts to distort the signal, especially sounds that are very bass driven.

In the case of this song, I just engaged the clipping and increased the input gain by a few dB’s .  I’m trying to add some colour and that’s about it.  It helps the vocals some through the record a bit and it also puts some extra sweetening on the track.  This is supporting the Ferric in the gluing process but it’s just producing a different tonal colour.


Waves L1 Ultramaximizer

Treating the Mix Buss - Waves L1 Limiter

Download demo here

Here is the mix with the FerricTDS + The Mastering Limiter + L1 engaged

[audio:|titles=Mix with FerricTDS  + Mastering Limiter +L1]

This plugin is primarily being used to bring up the volume.  I’m not trying to crush the track or over limit it by any stretch of the imagination.  I wasn’t going for colour with this plugin though it does tend to have a warmer sound to it.

I set the threshold to -6.5 and that’s maybe snagging a half a dB here or there.  Then I set the Output to -0.3 to make sure I wasn’t clipping on the way out, though this plug-in can add some cool texture when you clip the output.


Final Thoughts

Every time I approach the Mix Buss it tends to be different.  It really depends on the day and how I feel but also really depends on the sound that I want from the plugins.

Use this lesson as a starting point but don’t be afraid to experiment because that’s usually where happy accident happen.