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Is mastering with plugins really possible ?
People are always asking me “Is it possible to master using plugins ?”. And until recently my answer was always – “well in theory, yes – but the truth is, I’ve never found any I liked…”
I’d tried them all, but none of them sounded right to me, and all of them were a complete pain to use ! TC Electronic made their “MD3” package which was great, but it was expensive and you needed dedicated hardware to use it.
But in recent years, all that has changed.
There are now several packages of fantastic mastering plugins that are straightforward to use, highly flexible and sound great. They’re native, cross-platform, affordable – and they sound excellent.
If you’ve ever:
Wanted to pull a mix together and lift the level without squashing it
Wished you had a clean, simple way to enhance the stereo image of your source – without going back to the drawing board
Struggled to sculpt your mix with EQs that mess up the sound or
Tried to use multi-band compression for “mix glue” and found yourself lost in a sea of different options, none of which do what you want
These days plugins can achieve all these goals for you – and I can help you get started on using them effectively. But first, you might be asking…
Why have I been testing plugins ?
In a nutshell – I don’t have my own studio right now !
For over fifteen years I worked as a professional mastering engineer for one of the UK’s top independent studios, but in 2010 I left to set up my own company – Mastering Media Ltd. This was an exciting, scary step for me and happily I’m delighted with how things are going.
But there was a catch.
I used to virtually live in a professional mastering studio. Some days I was there for 18 hours. It was an acoustically treated, purpose-built room, with B&W 801 monitoring, a TC Electronic System 6000 surround mainframe and racks full of lovely audio toys.
Now, all I have is an office.
(Just to be clear – I do still use a proper studio for my mastering work ! But I hire it as needed, so I don’t have the unlimited 24/7 access I used to enjoy)
And this sets me a new challenge. Because people are still asking my opinion – will my music benefit from mastering ? And quite often the answer is “I think so – but I need to try it” !
Before, I could just pop into the studio, or take fifteen minutes out between sessions to listen, try a few things, and give an honest opinion. These days, I still need to offer that opinion to people quickly, but I may not have access to the studio exactly when I need it – which means I need mastering tools I can trust, but that I can use at home.
Which means – plugins.
Find Out More
Here’s an example song I mastered entirely using plugins, running inside Logic:
Since I shared this song several years ago, I’ve had so many people asking about the topic that I decided to created a free e-mail “Quickstart” course to help you get up to speed and help you decide if mastering with plugins is an option for you, too.
What the course includes
Regular free short lessons to help you get started mastering with plugins
A summary of the key plugins in the mastering chain, and what order to use them in
A brief description of each plugin and what it does
A breakdown of the most important parameters – so you can focus on the settings that matter
Suggested “default” settings to help you start getting great results quickly
Hints and tips on how to use plugins effectively in mastering
Signing up to the course is easy ! Just enter your email in the box below and click the button.
It’s very important to me that everyone receiving the Mastering Plugins Quickstart Course truly wants it, so you’ll need to confirm that you want to receive it by clicking a link in the confirmation email.
So remember to check your inbox after you sign up. And of course I’ll never rent, sell, or otherwise share your details.
I hope you enjoy the course !