Is it reasonable to use Live as a plugin host for mastering?

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
andrew_
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Is it reasonable to use Live as a plugin host for mastering?

Post by andrew_ » Fri Jun 19, 2009 6:33 pm

So I'm trying to get rid of my pirated software, which includes the copy of Wavelab I've been using to master my tracks.

So now as I'm considering either buying it or another host app, I'm beginning to wonder if there's any need. If I use the exact same plugins on the master channel in Ableton, it shouldn't make a difference right?

McQ714
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Re: Is it reasonable to use Live as a plugin host for mastering?

Post by McQ714 » Fri Jun 19, 2009 6:48 pm

the rumor is that Live's sound quality isn't as good as other programs. but you can make that judgment yourself. i think it's fine, personally. sounds better than a crackly old worn-out vinyl album and people still love listening to those. and i do exactly what you are asking. i just add mastering plugins on my master channel before i render the audio to disk... usually just Ozone which some soft limiting and a touch of stereo widening on the high-end. any compression and eqing i do is done on individual tracks or groups of tracks using mostly waves plugs. not saying that just using Live is the best choice but it works for me. what mastering plugins do you use?

and congratulations on defecting from the dark side.

tw1nstates
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Re: Is it reasonable to use Live as a plugin host for mastering?

Post by tw1nstates » Fri Jun 19, 2009 6:58 pm

As long as you dont warp then for playback live is exactly the same as any other programme.

Adding FX is obviously a different matter and the included live ones will give you good results however more than likely they wont be up to the same standard as say the UAD ones or some native ones that you will pay a fair bit of money for.

There was a really interesting thread about digital eq a while back and it was basically saying they are all the same, it's just the curves that are different (plus harmonic saturation in some of the IIRC).. .

Anyway yes live will do all that and more.

A good not too expensive add on is the Sonalksis eq and compressor pack, or go for the URS channel strip pro. THat good

Alternatively if you on a PC then the voxengo stuff is shizzle and very cheap for the quality. .
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Robert Henke
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Re: Is it reasonable to use Live as a plugin host for mastering?

Post by Robert Henke » Fri Jun 19, 2009 7:12 pm

What is your source material? What is the desired final medium you are mastering for?

The sound quality of the engine is not a criteria, simply all modern DAWs out here are fine in this regard.
However, there are some things to consider, when attempting to use Live for mastering purposes:

Lives engine is for historic reasons bound to a beat time grid. The engine works sample accurate, but e.g the display of the waveform does not know about individual samples. If you need to produce gapless audio tracks for a CD master, this could be an issue. If you master individual, non overlapping tracks for CD or vinyl, this might not be a problem.

Since Live allows to mix sources with different Sample Rate, and allows to apply warping etc.. there is a higher risk to create unwanted sample rate conversions etc. When mastering in Live one should be aware of those potential issues.

But, honestly, more important than any software and more important than 100 different plug ins is: let someone else master your stuff if possible. Or at least master with someone else who has good ears present. You need a person that has not heard the song 1000 times already for a good mastering.

Robert

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Re: Is it reasonable to use Live as a plugin host for mastering?

Post by mholloway » Fri Jun 19, 2009 9:11 pm

I master in ableton with a plug-in chain on the master channel -- ozone4 for EQ, multiband comp and then voxengo elephant for limiting. i've been happy with what i'm getting. I could load it up in logic and do the same but i'm not convinced it will sound any different, as per comments above.

-M
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Re: Is it reasonable to use Live as a plugin host for mastering?

Post by squelcht » Fri Jun 19, 2009 9:18 pm

Sure...Why not?

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Re: Is it reasonable to use Live as a plugin host for mastering?

Post by leedsquietman » Fri Jun 19, 2009 10:55 pm

I think what Robert is referring to is mix finaliziing, i.e. preparing the track for CD audio etc but most DAWS do not include red book compliant CD burning, so you can get your mixes volume maximized and finalized for that last stage but need another program to burn the CD. Logic has Waveburner, Samplitude has red book compliant CD authoring too.

I personally use Soundforge for mix finalizing as it is super easy to use, supports VSTs, easy to edit audio and fades and has relatively good metering, including (in SF9) phase metering and goniometer for viewing stereo imaging. I then burn the finished product to red book compliant CD Architect, which works co-operatively with SoundForge as both are Sony (formerly Sonic Foundry) products. Wavelab is good choice - audio editors like Wavelab, Soundforge and Audition also provide extra tools such as noise reduction, declicker/denoiser/dehum and clipped peak restoration tools. Wavelab is also red book CD compliant for CD authoring.

Where Live falls down for mastering is a) a lack of metering - yes spectrum helps, but there is no phase or stereo image monitoring although there are plenty of cheap and even some free vsts/aus you could load on the master channel to perform this, stuff like PSP's Stereopack or RN Digital (formerly Elemental Audio) Inspector XL are particularly good but expensive (the latter especially although it's metering options are just insanely numerous and flexible). b) no red book compliant CD authoring with disc at once burn options - so another program becomes necessary here and Itunes and Roxio, Nero etc are all consumer based products that lack some of the high end red book features which are useful for duplication/replication purposes. If CD burning is not a consideration, say you are only making mp3 for digital downloads, then this is obviously less of an issue. (unfortunately Live also requires another program for converting .wav/aiff to mp3 as well).
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andrew_
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Re: Is it reasonable to use Live as a plugin host for mastering?

Post by andrew_ » Sat Jun 20, 2009 11:34 am

Wow a lot of good insight here.

I guess even if I use Live to process my audio I'd still prefer to use an editor to chop down and fade the rendered file... Can anyone recommend something for Mac?

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Re: Is it reasonable to use Live as a plugin host for mastering?

Post by 33tetragammon » Sat Jun 20, 2009 11:39 am

andrew_ wrote:Wow a lot of good insight here.

I guess even if I use Live to process my audio I'd still prefer to use an editor to chop down and fade the rendered file... Can anyone recommend something for Mac?
sure,check these out:
-Audiophile Engineering : Wave Editor(this is what i use)
-DSP Quattro
-Bias Peak

i heard that Steinberg is working on Wavelab 7,which will work for mac also.......about time......

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Re: Is it reasonable to use Live as a plugin host for mastering?

Post by Khazul » Sat Jun 20, 2009 12:03 pm

If Im 'mastering' in live then I dont stick post mix tools on the master track, instead I bounce the master out to an audio track (use resampling input), then goto work on that bounced track by soloing it, so its the only track going to the master out. (Incidently, the only plugins I ever stick on the master out are metering type plugins.)

If my track is quite CPU heavy, then this give me the option to goto work on post-mix (or what you probably call mastering) in a separate project.
Ill then stick the post-mix tool on this bounced track and assign it to cross fader A.

Ill often load up a couple of other tracks, either finished tracks of my own or appropriately similar reference mastered tracks from CD etc so I can cross fade between them and the track I am working for comparative purposes (and solo enable those too).

Once Im happy with the post-mix work, then ill unassign the crossfader, mute all the addition reference tracks and bounce to another audio track, then consolidate it just get the start and end points of the audio file exactly where I want them.
Nothing to see here - move along!

aleme
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Re: Is it reasonable to use Live as a plugin host for mastering?

Post by aleme » Sat Jun 20, 2009 1:28 pm

What the hell is mastering? :lol:

today everyone talks about mastering, how would it be to mix the tracks in a better manner than to make a bad mix sound louder?

Geebag
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Re: Is it reasonable to use Live as a plugin host for mastering?

Post by Geebag » Sat Jun 20, 2009 3:31 pm

aleme wrote:What the hell is mastering? :lol:

today everyone talks about mastering, how would it be to mix the tracks in a better manner than to make a bad mix sound louder?
You cant beat a good master. If you did you would be a master beater
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Re: Is it reasonable to use Live as a plugin host for mastering?

Post by SubFunk » Sat Jun 20, 2009 8:18 pm

R.H. wrote:
But, honestly, more important than any software and more important than 100 different plug ins is: let someone else master your stuff if possible. Or at least master with someone else who has good ears present. You need a person that has not heard the song 1000 times already for a good mastering.
+1 a second set of ears is the most important issue about mastering... mastering your own stuff is just, well plain s...
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leedsquietman
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Re: Is it reasonable to use Live as a plugin host for mastering?

Post by leedsquietman » Sat Jun 20, 2009 8:26 pm

It is always preferable to have someone else master your work (so long as they have the right skills, room and experience), this can bring a fresh perspective to your work - however if you have no budget and you have the experience and knowledge, there is nothing wrong with mastering/mix finalizing your own material.

I have been working with audio and music techology for over 20 years, done courses, worked in studios and read/bought all the best stuff such as Bob Katz's advanced book 'Mastering Audio : The Art and The Science (2nd revision, focal press)'. I have an acoustically treated space and some decent monitors and headphones, and some very powerful hardware and software which I have gotten acquainted with over the years to know how to use it.

Novices are also well advised to at least try and experiment and build up their skills, by educating and experimenting for themselves, even if they hand off their mixes to someone else. Knowledge is power.
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andrew_
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Re: Is it reasonable to use Live as a plugin host for mastering?

Post by andrew_ » Sat Jun 20, 2009 11:09 pm

Yeah I'd love to be able to afford any kind of outsourced mastering situation but at the rate I'm producing stuff, both for myself and for commission, there's just no chance at it. However I'm super finicky about the way I EQ during tracking/mixing, so in general my mastering process is just to pump the dynamics. And I listen on different systems, get friends' opinions etc. just nothing pro unfortunately at the moment...

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