In­spi­ra­tional mas­ter bus pro­cess­ing hacks

Try th­ese tips when you need pro­fes­sional sheen and weight right from the start of the writ­ing process

Future Music - - FEATURE -

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Let’s look at a hand­ful of mas­ter bus pro­cess­ing tech­niques to get you pumped as you pro­duce. Just to be clear, we’re not claim­ing th­ese are pro mas­ter­ing tech­niques – in­stead, th­ese tips are de­signed to give you more of a ‘pro’ sound as soon as you be­gin writ­ing a track. Let’s be­gin…

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If you’ve got a few sounds go­ing in a project, but every­thing’s sound­ing a bit dull and unin­spir­ing, try load­ing a high-qual­ity EQ on your mas­ter. A glossy high-mid and/or tre­ble boost will lift top end in a mu­si­cally-pleas­ing way, and will save you hav­ing to brighten in­di­vid­ual parts.

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The much-dis­cussed tech­nique of ‘glue’ com­pres­sion can gel things to­gether es­pe­cially well if you mix into it straight away. Set up an SSL-style compressor, with a slow at­tack and gen­tle ra­tio, and aim for 1-2dB of smoothen­ing gain re­duc­tion.

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While on the topic, a dose of par­al­lel com­pres­sion on the mas­ter will pull up low-level sig­nals and in­crease RMS lev­els, which will help your track reach pro loud­ness lev­els with­out de­stroy­ing tran­sient de­tail. Dial in fast at­tack and re­lease times, then blend the squashed sig­nal in sub­tly along­side the dry sig­nal.

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This one’s a risky tech­nique: try sat­u­rat­ing your mas­ter bus! This’ll only work if you’re go­ing for an ag­gres­sive, ‘warm’ mix. Multi­band sat­u­ra­tion usu­ally works best, as you can fo­cus the drive around, say, only the high-mid area, to avoid the track’s bass over­load­ing the drive. Al­ways mix in par­al­lel – try a sub­tle 2-5% to be­gin.

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Fi­nally, around 2-5dB of lim­it­ing will boost loud­ness lev­els up to com­mer­cial stan­dards. Al­ways keep your pro­cess­ing sub­tle, reg­u­larly by­pass to eval­u­ate ef­fec­tive­ness, and keep in mind that th­ese treat­ments are only there to add vibe and power dur­ing the writ­ing stage – turn the plug­ins off for the mas­ter­ing engi­neer!

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