Can this bold new ef­fects chain plugin re­ally democra­tise the mas­ter­ing process and give pro­fes­sional engi­neers sleep­less nights?

Computer Music - - Contents -

De­vised and de­signed by Brainworx/Plugin Al­liance main man and renowned pro­ducer/ en­gi­neer Dirk Ul­rich, bx_masterdesk is the lat­est ad­di­tion to the cur­rently trend­ing cat­e­gory of sim­pli­fied mix­ing and mas­ter­ing pro­ces­sors. Ul­rich reck­ons “many peo­ple are over­think­ing the mas­ter­ing process”, and to that end, his new plugin (VST/AU/AAX) pro­vides a com­plete sys­tem for quick and easy mas­ter­ing, via a stripped-back con­trol set that gov­erns a far more com­plex ar­ray of un­der-the-hood al­go­rithms and pro­cesses.

’Desk job

bx_masterdesk em­u­lates an ana­logue mas­ter­ing chain, com­pris­ing com­pres­sion, bass en­hance­ment and gen­eral EQ, THD sat­u­ra­tion, de-es­s­ing, lim­it­ing and stereo ma­nip­u­la­tion. The first thing to do is set the in­put gain into the com­pres­sor at the start of the chain us­ing the big Vol­ume knob. The qui­etly in­ge­nious Dy­namic Range VU me­ter al­lows you to vis­ually mon­i­tor the loud­ness level in easy-to-un­der­stand terms by de­scrib­ing the dif­fer­ence be­tween peak and RMS lev­els at any given mo­ment (the crest fac­tor). You can raise or lower the vol­ume as per re­quire­ments to keep the nee­dle in the green range (be­tween 6 and 8dB), and you can pretty much rest as­sured that your track is safely within es­tab­lished ‘loud­ness norms’.

The Foun­da­tion con­trol is your next port of call. This gov­erns a tilt EQ that en­thu­si­as­ti­cally boosts or pulls back the low end. It’s pretty heavy-handed – sur­pris­ingly so, given the re­straint ex­er­cised in the pa­ram­e­ter bound­aries of the other con­trols – and we can’t imag­ine ever want­ing to twist it more than about 45 de­grees off cen­tre in ei­ther di­rec­tion. Re­ally, we’d pre­fer finer ad­just­ment across a shorter range.

Next comes the Tone sec­tion, home to a four­band EQ. This en­ables up to 3dB of cut or boost to be ap­plied to Bass and Tre­ble bands, and a broad mid-range bell fil­ter; and up to 6dB of cut/ boost (with a con­trary boost/cut in the high­mids) to the high-fre­quency Pres­ence band. In the in­ter­est of keep­ing the in­ter­face as un­in­tim­i­dat­ing and ‘muso-friendly’ as pos­si­ble, the EQ looks like a gui­tar amp tone stack, and the cen­tre/cor­ner fre­quen­cies of each band

“The Dy­namic Range VU me­ter lets you vis­ually mon­i­tor the loud­ness level in easyto-un­der­stand terms”

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