Adding gain on master channel

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Nielsen
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Joined: 05 Nov 2017

Post 15 Jun 2020

I have developed a habit of controlling gain across all individual channels to ensure consistent levels throughout signal flows. I primarily do this to keep my mixes from clipping halfway into the production process, and my reference level is typically -12dBFS. However, sometimes my finalized mixes end up not peaking higher than -8dBFS on the master channel, which leaves a fairly great amount of headroom. Mixes peaking around -8dBFS obviously necessiates the addition of several dB of gain when aiming for competitive loundness during the subsequent mastering stage.

So my question, is it problematic in any way to add several dB of "additional" gain on the master channel? Does it in any way harm dynamic range and similar, or is that only the case when subtracting gain on the master channel? Every now and then I read how mixes ideally should peak around -3 dBFS pre-mastering, but does it actually matter whether this peak level is achieved "naturally" by the combined output of all channels, or by boosting gain with a plugin on the master channel? I hope the question makes sense.

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Loque
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Post 15 Jun 2020

Is this your final mix or a mix which will be mastered?

If it will be mastered, it is ok to leave headroom for your mastering engineer.

If it is your final mix, you just can normalize it. But i recommend to use a good limiter to catch inter sample peaks and check for analog clipping. If you dont have a good limiter, just leave a final headroom with at least -0.3db for CD up to -1db for streaming. Try to get some good measuring stuff, to check also the LUFS.

My recommendation, if you have a good mix, put at least a good limiter in the master channel. Go for -14 to -10 LUFS and leave a headeroom of minimum -0.6db.

If you are into loudness war, crank everything up :-D
:reason: 11, Win10 64Bit.

Nielsen
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Post 15 Jun 2020

Loque wrote:
15 Jun 2020
Is this your final mix or a mix which will be mastered?

If it will be mastered, it is ok to leave headroom for your mastering engineer.

If it is your final mix, you just can normalize it. But i recommend to use a good limiter to catch inter sample peaks and check for analog clipping. If you dont have a good limiter, just leave a final headroom with at least -0.3db for CD up to -1db for streaming. Try to get some good measuring stuff, to check also the LUFS.

My recommendation, if you have a good mix, put at least a good limiter in the master channel. Go for -14 to -10 LUFS and leave a headeroom of minimum -0.6db.

If you are into loudness war, crank everything up :-D
Final mix before mastering, as mentioned.

I've read your answer a few times over, but I'm not sure it answered the question, or maybe it just made me more confused.

Essence of the question is whether there are any audio-related pitfalls in getting a relatively low peak level on the master channel.

Scenario 1:

Final mix peaking around -8dBFS before mastering
Mastering limiter's ceiling set to let's say -0.3dBFS
7.7dBFS of gain required before limiter kicks in

Scenario 2:

Final mix peaking around -2dBFS before mastering
Mastering limiter's ceiling set to let's say -0.3dBFS
1.7dBFS of gain required before limiter kicks in

Would there be any reason to avoid scenario 1 over scenario 2? Or are there no unwelcome side-effects to simply adding gain (no matter how much) on the mastering channel before hitting the limiter's defined ceiling?

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moggadeet
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Post 15 Jun 2020

Nielsen wrote:
15 Jun 2020
So my question, is it problematic in any way to add several dB of "additional" gain on the master channel? Does it in any way harm dynamic range and similar, or is that only the case when subtracting gain on the master channel? Every now and then I read how mixes ideally should peak around -3 dBFS pre-mastering, but does it actually matter whether this peak level is achieved "naturally" by the combined output of all channels, or by boosting gain with a plugin on the master channel? I hope the question makes sense.
In my experience working with professional master engineers, they do not need any "-x dBFS peak" figure, they are ok if they receive a signal that goes up to 0dB if the waveform was not clipped in the export process. On the other side, if you send 24 bit files peaking at -12dB for example, you would be not exploiting the full 144dB dynamic range of the 24bits and you would throw away the upper 12/6=2 bits. You would still have 22 bits used in the file and 132dB dynamic range, which is more than enough for the commonfolk. Then there are people who use special purposed DSP processing plugins to apply gain, https://www.airwindows.com/purestgain-vst/
It might have a point, but I will not be able to hear it anyway in my poorman studio :)

Nielsen
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Post 16 Jun 2020

moggadeet wrote:
15 Jun 2020
In my experience working with professional master engineers, they do not need any "-x dBFS peak" figure, they are ok if they receive a signal that goes up to 0dB if the waveform was not clipped in the export process.
Do you simply mean that a pre-mastering project shouldn't clip on the master channel? Or are you referring to intersample peaks when you say "not clipped in the export process"? I'm still not sure how to tame intersample peaks, but in my experience a relatively low ceiling on the limiter (like -1dBFS) usually does the trick. But again, not entirely sure.
moggadeet wrote:
15 Jun 2020
On the other side, if you send 24 bit files peaking at -12dB for example, you would be not exploiting the full 144dB dynamic range of the 24bits and you would throw away the upper 12/6=2 bits. You would still have 22 bits used in the file and 132dB dynamic range, which is more than enough for the commonfolk.
I gather this wouldn't be very audible? But related to my original question, wouldn't normalization with just about any gain trim plugin on the master channel compensate for an issue like this and bring the audio back into the optimum range without any unintended side-effects?

Yesterday I was reading about this topic, and some articles argue that normalization will also boost the noise floor. Would this even be a concern when working entirely within a digital domain like Reason, or any other modern DAW, without any external analogue gear connected?
moggadeet wrote:
15 Jun 2020
IThen there are people who use special purposed DSP processing plugins to apply gain, https://www.airwindows.com/purestgain-vst/
It might have a point, but I will not be able to hear it anyway in my poorman studio :)
My acoustic space is nothing special either, but I'm just trying not to make any easily avoidable mistakes. :D

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BRIGGS
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Post 16 Jun 2020

Loque wrote:
15 Jun 2020
Is this your final mix or a mix which will be mastered?

If it will be mastered, it is ok to leave headroom for your mastering engineer.

If it is your final mix, you just can normalize it. But i recommend to use a good limiter to catch inter sample peaks and check for analog clipping. If you dont have a good limiter, just leave a final headroom with at least -0.3db for CD up to -1db for streaming. Try to get some good measuring stuff, to check also the LUFS.

My recommendation, if you have a good mix, put at least a good limiter in the master channel. Go for -14 to -10 LUFS and leave a headeroom of minimum -0.6db.

If you are into loudness war, crank everything up :-D
Image

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Benedict
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Post 16 Jun 2020

It seems to me that you are not asking about Mastering so much as "is it ok to be running my Mix at -8db?"

Yes indeed. I assume you are working in Reason therefore everything is in the box.

In Analog World, no you don't entirely wanna do that because you have signal to noise to worry about. If you are in Reason and everything is clean (or powerful at least) then there is no real drama with getting to the end of your mix process and finding that you are 6 to12db under Mastering level. You have nothing to worry about as it is all "potential" music at that point. It isn't a thing until you export it.

This is how I tend to work too. It is great because if your mix is sounding punchy, smooth, clear and all the other good things, when you bring it up, it will sound better.

I keep my lower "natural" level until:

A. I get to feeding the final Limiter and then use Selig Gain to bring that track up so it is showing 0db for the limiter to clip any nasties.
B. I want my overall mix to push harder and add Gain to the input of my Glue Comp (SSL Master Bus Limiter) which is the entry to my Mastering gauntlet.

This all depends on if I want my mix to seem "open" or "full".
I am just rendering off a Mix Walkthrough where I did the latter to make all the saturation doohickies in the process be a bit more exciting.
Normally that is a bit too "ballsy" for my music.

:-)

Nielsen
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Post 16 Jun 2020

Benedict wrote:
16 Jun 2020
It seems to me that you are not asking about Mastering so much as "is it ok to be running my Mix at -8db?"
Yes, correct.
Benedict wrote:
16 Jun 2020
Yes indeed. I assume you are working in Reason therefore everything is in the box.

In Analog World, no you don't entirely wanna do that because you have signal to noise to worry about. If you are in Reason and everything is clean (or powerful at least) then there is no real drama with getting to the end of your mix process and finding that you are 6 to12db under Mastering level.You have nothing to worry about as it is all "potential" music at that point. It isn't a thing until you export it.
Thanks, this clarifies it. Please elaborate the final part about export. What becomes a thing when exporting?
Benedict wrote:
16 Jun 2020
This is how I tend to work too. It is great because if your mix is sounding punchy, smooth, clear and all the other good things, when you bring it up, it will sound better.
Agreed!
Benedict wrote:
16 Jun 2020
I keep my lower "natural" level until:

A. I get to feeding the final Limiter and then use Selig Gain to bring that track up so it is showing 0db for the limiter to clip any nasties.
Same here. I usually trim the gain up to -2dBFS and then let inserts in the master channel take care of the remaining loudness boost. Asking whether this is good practice is essentially why I created the thread. So based on the feedback so far - it's perfectly fine to add gain to the master channel with a trim plugin before proper mastering as long the mix doesn't clip, is entirely digital and finely balanced. Please correct me if wrong. :)
Benedict wrote:
16 Jun 2020
B. I want my overall mix to push harder and add Gain to the input of my Glue Comp (SSL Master Bus Limiter) which is the entry to my Mastering gauntlet.

This all depends on if I want my mix to seem "open" or "full".
I am just rendering off a Mix Walkthrough where I did the latter to make all the saturation doohickies in the process be a bit more exciting.
Normally that is a bit too "ballsy" for my music.

:-)
Maybe I misunderstood this part, but how do you make the mixer's master bus compressor respond solely to the input signal before mastering? In my experience it always seems to be affected by the final output post mastering chain inserts. Toggling the "inserts pre compressor" button on / off in the master insert section section doesn't seem to make a difference.

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QVprod
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Post 16 Jun 2020

Yes adding gain to the master channel is pertly fine as long as you don’t clip. I wouldn’t be too concerned about it being as loud as -3dBfs though unless you’re mixing analog. There’s isn’t much of a noise floor to fight against in digital.

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selig
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Post 16 Jun 2020

If you're not doing ANYTHING in the master channel (no inserts, no master compressor, no limiter, etc), then you COULD turn up all the faders as a group. BUT, if you're using the Master Compressor (I almost always do, old habit from my SSL days), then you'll want to use the Master Fader instead - IF adding gain is important.
That being said, there's no harm in adding the gain during mastering. My mixes peak from -9 dBFS to -3 dBFS depending on the mix, and I never worry about the final output too much. But for consistency across my projects, I typically use the Makeup Gain on the Master Compressor to hit around -6 dBFS, maybe up to -3 dBFS max on all my mixes just so I already have them all at that level if any get sent to mastering. Plus, it also means my limiter, typically the only thing I use when mastering "in house" is set pretty consistently. When you're trying to crank out tunes on a regular basis I find it handy to stick to consistent levels – individual tracks peaking around -12 dBFS, mixes peaking between -3 to -6 dBFS, masters peaking -0.4 to -0.6 dBFS
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Benedict
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Post 16 Jun 2020

Nielsen wrote:
16 Jun 2020
Benedict wrote:
16 Jun 2020
You have nothing to worry about as it is all "potential" music at that point. It isn't a thing until you export it.
Thanks, this clarifies it. Please elaborate the final part about export. What becomes a thing when exporting?

-
Benedict wrote:
16 Jun 2020
B. I want my overall mix to push harder and add Gain to the input of my Glue Comp (SSL Master Bus Limiter) which is the entry to my Mastering gauntlet.
Maybe I misunderstood this part, but how do you make the mixer's master bus compressor respond solely to the input signal before mastering? In my experience it always seems to be affected by the final output post mastering chain inserts. Toggling the "inserts pre compressor" button on / off in the master insert section section doesn't seem to make a difference.
Thanks :-)

Sound inside the digital domain doesn't really exist. It is "potential" music until you spit it out. A but Quantum I know, but understanding that means that you can be more flexible on some things as not everything (esp levels) really mean anything until they leave the DAW either via Export or Soundcard.

Any FX device only ever responds based on what you feed it. If it is a purely linear process (M-Class Comp maybe) then the levels that go in are not particularly important to the output that you get out as the transform is the same if you are running -12db as they are if you are running +3db. You will just set your Threshold or other "triggers" based on what you have. If you have a non-linear process like Scream, what you feed the process will affect the output more if you have that +3db than if you have -12db seeing things do not behave the same at every level.

:-)

Nielsen
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Post 17 Jun 2020

QVprod wrote:
16 Jun 2020
Yes adding gain to the master channel is pertly fine as long as you don’t clip. I wouldn’t be too concerned about it being as loud as -3dBfs though unless you’re mixing analog. There’s isn’t much of a noise floor to fight against in digital.
Great :thumbs_up:
selig wrote:
16 Jun 2020
If you're not doing ANYTHING in the master channel (no inserts, no master compressor, no limiter, etc), then you COULD turn up all the faders as a group. BUT, if you're using the Master Compressor (I almost always do, old habit from my SSL days), then you'll want to use the Master Fader instead - IF adding gain is important.
My master channel is bypassed when I'm mixing, but moving faders as a group is rarely an option anyway due having performed fader automation on multiple channels. The master fader I prefer to leave at unity.
selig wrote:
16 Jun 2020
That being said, there's no harm in adding the gain during mastering. My mixes peak from -9 dBFS to -3 dBFS depending on the mix, and I never worry about the final output too much. But for consistency across my projects, I typically use the Makeup Gain on the Master Compressor to hit around -6 dBFS, maybe up to -3 dBFS max on all my mixes just so I already have them all at that level if any get sent to mastering. Plus, it also means my limiter, typically the only thing I use when mastering "in house" is set pretty consistently. When you're trying to crank out tunes on a regular basis I find it handy to stick to consistent levels – individual tracks peaking around -12 dBFS, mixes peaking between -3 to -6 dBFS, masters peaking -0.4 to -0.6 dBFS
:thumbs_up:
Benedict wrote:
16 Jun 2020
Sound inside the digital domain doesn't really exist. It is "potential" music until you spit it out. A but Quantum I know, but understanding that means that you can be more flexible on some things as not everything (esp levels) really mean anything until they leave the DAW either via Export or Soundcard.
The takeaway essentially is that the digital realm of music production is very flexible within the DAW as long as the master output doesn't clip?
Benedict wrote:
16 Jun 2020
Any FX device only ever responds based on what you feed it. If it is a purely linear process (M-Class Comp maybe) then the levels that go in are not particularly important to the output that you get out as the transform is the same if you are running -12db as they are if you are running +3db. You will just set your Threshold or other "triggers" based on what you have. If you have a non-linear process like Scream, what you feed the process will affect the output more if you have that +3db than if you have -12db seeing things do not behave the same at every level.

:-)
What I don't understand is why the master bus compressor's limiting action is affected by the loudness boost caused by inserts in the master channel when the bus compressor is set to its default "inserts pre compressor off" signal path. To my understanding this would suggest that the bus compressor would be upstream and whatever happens downstream from there wouldn't affect it. Yet the bus compressor changes behaviour at the default signal path when master insert devices bypass button is toggled either on or off. Why is that?

Excuse me if this is what you just tried to explain, but in that case I'm still confused. Again, upstream devices shouldn't be affected by whatever happens downstream, right?

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selig
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Post 17 Jun 2020

Nielsen wrote:
17 Jun 2020
Excuse me if this is what you just tried to explain, but in that case I'm still confused. Again, upstream devices shouldn't be affected by whatever happens downstream, right?
Correct, and that's how Reason works. Try this simple test. Insert a device, any FX device, into the master insert (make sure nothing else is patched there), and turn on the Master Compressor so it's clearly working. Get a drum pattern or similar playing so that you see the gain reduction meter moving on the Master Compressor. Now switch the FX in the Master Insert to OFF (from the On/Bypass/Off switch) and you should see the Master Meters go dark and not hear any audio. Now, looking at the Master Compressor, switch the Signal Path button on off - see that when the button is off you still get gain reduction from the Master Compressor, but when it's ON you get nothing? This proves the insert is being moved, or the compressor is being moved if that makes more sense - either way this shows it works as you expect it to work. Make sense?
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Nielsen
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Post 17 Jun 2020

selig wrote:
17 Jun 2020
Correct, and that's how Reason works. Try this simple test. Insert a device, any FX device, into the master insert (make sure nothing else is patched there), and turn on the Master Compressor so it's clearly working. Get a drum pattern or similar playing so that you see the gain reduction meter moving on the Master Compressor. Now switch the FX in the Master Insert to OFF (from the On/Bypass/Off switch) and you should see the Master Meters go dark and not hear any audio. Now, looking at the Master Compressor, switch the Signal Path button on off - see that when the button is off you still get gain reduction from the Master Compressor, but when it's ON you get nothing? This proves the insert is being moved, or the compressor is being moved if that makes more sense - either way this shows it works as you expect it to work. Make sense?
I'm getting the same test results, and it's also the results I would expect.

Meanwhile, I seem to have identified the culprit that is otherwise causing a problem for me - External Side Chain "KEY" button on the bus compressor enabled in combination with the following setup:

Routing:
Master Section CTRL ROOM OUT ---> Filter FX Input
Filter FX Output ---> Master Section Dynamics Sidenchain Input

Inspired by this tutorial:


When applying the routing in this setup, the master bus compressor responds to level changes caused by devices in the master insert section regardless of the signal path setting (on / off) for the master bus compressor. Is there a workaround so I can still focus the master bus compressor with a filter without interfering with the default pre-inserts routing for the bus compressor?

Only solution I can think of would be to export project with the bus compressor enabled, and then add master channel inserts in a separate project with the bus compressor off, but please let me know if there's another solution with routing. :)

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selig
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Post 17 Jun 2020

Nielsen wrote:
17 Jun 2020
Only solution I can think of would be to export project with the bus compressor enabled, and then add master channel inserts in a separate project with the bus compressor off, but please let me know if there's another solution with routing. :)
There's a BETTER routing, one I use for my default startup song.
The routing in that video uses the output of the compressor to feed the input, which not only induces a batch delay (64 samples) but also a feedback loop of sorts.

Yes and no - what are you trying to accomplish?
The solution I've used is to build filtered side-chain by feed the INPUT to the compressor ALSO to the key input via a filter. But this uses the Pre Compressor insert point.

Set the inserts to Pre Compressor, and put a Stereo Imager in the insert. Patch the Separate Output into the Key Input, and set it to High Band, and that's your HP filter. Since setting this up years ago I've never used the Master Compressor without the side-chain filter!
It basically looks like this:
Image
You can add pre-compression inserts after the imager - post compression inserts need to be added AFTER the Master Outs, where you can see I've added my mastering setup.
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Nielsen
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Post 18 Jun 2020

selig wrote:
17 Jun 2020
There's a BETTER routing, one I use for my default startup song.
The routing in that video uses the output of the compressor to feed the input, which not only induces a batch delay (64 samples) but also a feedback loop of sorts.
Ok.
selig wrote:
17 Jun 2020
Yes and no - what are you trying to accomplish?
Basically I want the master bus compressor to glue my final mix pre master channel inserts but with the bus compressor only responding to higher frequency content.
selig wrote:
17 Jun 2020
The solution I've used is to build filtered side-chain by feed the INPUT to the compressor ALSO to the key input via a filter. But this uses the Pre Compressor insert point.

Set the inserts to Pre Compressor, and put a Stereo Imager in the insert. Patch the Separate Output into the Key Input, and set it to High Band, and that's your HP filter. Since setting this up years ago I've never used the Master Compressor without the side-chain filter!
It appears to work as expected but I have a few questions for further clarification:

1. The X-Over Frequency knob basically works as a filter cutoff knob?
2. What type of cutoff slope does it use?
3. The stereo imager device won't affect stereo balance as long as the LO Band and HI Band knobs are left at the default zero value?
4. Seteo imager's Solo section should be left at Normal?
selig wrote:
17 Jun 2020
You can add pre-compression inserts after the imager - post compression inserts need to be added AFTER the Master Outs, where you can see I've added my mastering setup.
Is bypassing the top upstream device of the mastering chain in this configuration the equivalent of bypassing the entire insert section of the master section when using Reason's default routing?

Routing the master section and hardware interface via an FX chain seems like a major change as opposed to Reason's default routing. Does this have any side effects whatsoever for audio reproduction, other signal flows and overall functionality?

Thank you, and forgive all the questions. :)

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selig
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Post 18 Jun 2020

Nielsen wrote:
18 Jun 2020
Basically I want the master bus compressor to glue my final mix pre master channel inserts but with the bus compressor only responding to higher frequency content.

It appears to work as expected but I have a few questions for further clarification:

1. The X-Over Frequency knob basically works as a filter cutoff knob?
2. What type of cutoff slope does it use?
3. The stereo imager device won't affect stereo balance as long as the LO Band and HI Band knobs are left at the default zero value?
4. Seteo imager's Solo section should be left at Normal?

Is bypassing the top upstream device of the mastering chain in this configuration the equivalent of bypassing the entire insert section of the master section when using Reason's default routing?

Routing the master section and hardware interface via an FX chain seems like a major change as opposed to Reason's default routing. Does this have any side effects whatsoever for audio reproduction, other signal flows and overall functionality?

Thank you, and forgive all the questions. :)
I was asking more about how you wanted to use inserts - I understand your desire to filter the key input, again something I've been a fan of for many years now and I never use the SSL Master Compressor any other way.

1 & 2- Yes, the x-over is controlling the HP filter feeding the key input with a smooth 12 dB/Oct slope, which I find ideal for this task. You can certainly use ANY EQ or filter in this position and get similar results, but one advantage of this approach is you can split the signal for further processing without needing a spider in the insert.
3 - the Stereo imager isn't affecting the main audio path so it cannot affect the stereo image. Important to note the KEY input converts to mono any way for the side-chain function, so it wouldn't matter what you did to the stereo image.
4 - the solo buttons affect the main output - leaving them off allows you to use the main output as a pass through (split) of the pre compressor signal if you want to add any additional processing of the main pre-compression signal in the Master Insert.
Hitting solo on the high band allows you to hear the filter effect temporarily (called "Side Chain Listen" in other compressors) so you can fine tune what's feeding the KEY input to the compressor if necessary. I have this assigned to the Master Insert control - remember ALL inserts are basically Combinators, and you can assign knobs/buttons to any function of any device in the insert. I have Rotary 1 assigned to Frequency (crossover), and Button 1 assigned to "Solo Hi Band" for the "listen" function, which allows me to set the filter without opening the Master Insert.

Maybe this flow chart will help explain what's going on:
Image
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Nielsen
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Post 18 Jun 2020

selig wrote:
18 Jun 2020
I was asking more about how you wanted to use inserts - I understand your desire to filter the key input, again something I've been a fan of for many years now and I never use the SSL Master Compressor any other way.
I want to use mastering FX inserts post bus compression in a typical mastering chain with a limiter at the end:

Dry mix (various inserts on individual channels) ---> Bus compressor with sidechain enabled ---> Mastering FX chain with limiter at the end.

I believe this approach is compatible with the configuration in which you exemplified the master out and hardware interface routed via a mastering chain, correct?

With Reason's default routing I have acquired a habit of bypassing the mastering chain inserts while mixing the balance, and then enable the master section inserts for good when the mix is considered done. It's important that I can listen to the "dry" mix by the flip of a switch, and what would be the simplest way to set up a similar bypass switch here? I guess a Combinator would do the trick, but I'm starting to get disoriented by all the cabling.

More importantly, does routing the master out and hardware interface via an FX chain have any side-effects for audio and signals opposed to using Reason's default routing?
selig wrote:
18 Jun 2020
Maybe this flow chart will help explain what's going on:
Image
Nice illustration, and I suppose it would be somewhat inverted in the inserts post compressor routing configuration?
selig wrote:
18 Jun 2020
I 1 & 2- Yes, the x-over is controlling the HP filter feeding the key input with a smooth 12 dB/Oct slope, which I find ideal for this task. You can certainly use ANY EQ or filter in this position and get similar results, but one advantage of this approach is you can split the signal for further processing without needing a spider in the insert.
3 - the Stereo imager isn't affecting the main audio path so it cannot affect the stereo image. Important to note the KEY input converts to mono any way for the side-chain function, so it wouldn't matter what you did to the stereo image.
4 - the solo buttons affect the main output - leaving them off allows you to use the main output as a pass through (split) of the pre compressor signal if you want to add any additional processing of the main pre-compression signal in the Master Insert.
Hitting solo on the high band allows you to hear the filter effect temporarily (called "Side Chain Listen" in other compressors) so you can fine tune what's feeding the KEY input to the compressor if necessary. I have this assigned to the Master Insert control - remember ALL inserts are basically Combinators, and you can assign knobs/buttons to any function of any device in the insert. I have Rotary 1 assigned to Frequency (crossover), and Button 1 assigned to "Solo Hi Band" for the "listen" function, which allows me to set the filter without opening the Master Insert.
Thanks, very informative!

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selig
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Post 18 Jun 2020

Nielsen wrote:
18 Jun 2020
I want to use mastering FX inserts post bus compression in a typical mastering chain with a limiter at the end:

Dry mix (various inserts on individual channels) ---> Bus compressor with sidechain enabled ---> Mastering FX chain with limiter at the end.

I believe this approach is compatible with the configuration in which you exemplified the master out and hardware interface routed via a mastering chain, correct?

With Reason's default routing I have acquired a habit of bypassing the mastering chain inserts while mixing the balance, and then enable the master section inserts for good when the mix is considered done. It's important that I can listen to the "dry" mix by the flip of a switch, and what would be the simplest way to set up a similar bypass switch here? I guess a Combinator would do the trick, but I'm starting to get disoriented by all the cabling.

More importantly, does routing the master out and hardware interface via an FX chain have any side-effects for audio and signals opposed to using Reason's default routing?
My approach is using the Master Compressor towards the end of a mix, which is how I learned way back in the 1980s on a real SSL - works the same in Reason IMO.
Then when I'm ready to export, I simply turn on Ozone Elements which comes after the Master Outputs (so it's post compressor), exactly how it would be if I sent the mix out for mastering. Keeping it outside the master channel makes sense because mastering comes AFTER the mix. That way I can export a "pre master" mix simply by turning off anything "post mixer".

One potential issue with using a brick wall limiter in the Master Insert is that in Reason the Master Insert is NOT the last thing in the signal path - the Master Fader comes AFTER the Insert. Thus if you do anything to the master fader, you mess with your final "post limiter" level! Same for if you add dither with your mastering devices - you should never adjust levels after adding dither, so if you want a fade out on your song you're out of luck using the Master Fader (which is the place to do a master fade out IMO). And if you fade out the mix, you'll get the same results as you would if you faded it out and sent it to mastering - but if the master limiter is BEFORE the fader, you won't. Make sense?

The only thing to be aware of with this setup is that the clip indicators on the Master Meter (next to the Master Fader) will be disabled when patching any device between the Master Output and the Hardware Interface, which is what you want - I always use the Big Meter for master metering anyway, but in this case it's going to be the only place to see the actual final levels/clipping. Hopefully I've not confused the issue further - please ask if I'm still not being 100% clear on anything, as it can be a bit confusing at first! :)
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Nielsen
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Joined: 05 Nov 2017

Post 19 Jun 2020

selig wrote:
18 Jun 2020
My approach is using the Master Compressor towards the end of a mix, which is how I learned way back in the 1980s on a real SSL - works the same in Reason IMO.
Then when I'm ready to export, I simply turn on Ozone Elements which comes after the Master Outputs (so it's post compressor), exactly how it would be if I sent the mix out for mastering. Keeping it outside the master channel makes sense because mastering comes AFTER the mix. That way I can export a "pre master" mix simply by turning off anything "post mixer".
Sounds more or less similar to the workflow I described above, except I've always used the default master section channel as the final step.
selig wrote:
18 Jun 2020
One potential issue with using a brick wall limiter in the Master Insert is that in Reason the Master Insert is NOT the last thing in the signal path - the Master Fader comes AFTER the Insert. Thus if you do anything to the master fader, you mess with your final "post limiter" level! Same for if you add dither with your mastering devices - you should never adjust levels after adding dither, so if you want a fade out on your song you're out of luck using the Master Fader (which is the place to do a master fade out IMO). And if you fade out the mix, you'll get the same results as you would if you faded it out and sent it to mastering - but if the master limiter is BEFORE the fader, you won't. Make sense?
Like I mentioned earlier in the thread, I never touch the master fader or automate it for that matter, but still good to know where it sits in the signal flow. So let's say I would like to keep my mastering chain within the default master insert section, would there be another way to add the side chain filter on the bus compressor pre master inserts, and still steer clear of the feedback loop issues you mentioned earlier relation to using CTRL Room output?
selig wrote:
18 Jun 2020
The only thing to be aware of with this setup is that the clip indicators on the Master Meter (next to the Master Fader) will be disabled when patching any device between the Master Output and the Hardware Interface, which is what you want - I always use the Big Meter for master metering anyway, but in this case it's going to be the only place to see the actual final levels/clipping. Hopefully I've not confused the issue further - please ask if I'm still not being 100% clear on anything, as it can be a bit confusing at first! :)
Also good to know. :thumbs_up:

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selig
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Post 19 Jun 2020

Nielsen wrote:
19 Jun 2020
Like I mentioned earlier in the thread, I never touch the master fader or automate it for that matter, but still good to know where it sits in the signal flow. So let's say I would like to keep my mastering chain within the default master insert section, would there be another way to add the side chain filter on the bus compressor pre master inserts, and still steer clear of the feedback loop issues you mentioned earlier relation to using CTRL Room output?
Yes, as I mentioned you can all any amount of devices in the insert point AFTER the Stereo Imager (or with a Spider Splitter if using a different filter/EQ), as long as you don't use the Master Compressor or Master Fader (since you won't want anything to follow the final master limiter).

There are plenty of solutions, the simplest if using Reason 11 is to create your own routing in the Master Insert, ignoring the built in Master Compressor/Master Fader and instead using the separate Master Compressor RE and splitters etc., and doing any fade outs with an RE "post compression/pre limiter". The "limitation" in this case is you can't selectively bypass mixing process vs mastering processing since it's now all in the same place, if that's important to you. This is the main reason I put mastering in a separate area so I can quickly bypass it (for exporting a pre-master, or when I need to do a quick overdub and want to avoid the additional latency added by the look ahead in the limiter).
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littlejam
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Post 20 Jun 2020

hello,

just attending another Selig audio school session and bookmarking for future reference
thank you for the knowledge going back and forth

mahalos,

j
littlejamaicastudios
i7 2.8ghz / 24GB ddr3 / Quadro 4000 x 2 / ProFire 610
reason 10 / reaper / acidpro /akai mpk mini / korg padkontrol / axiom 25 / radium 49
'i get by with a lot of help from my friends'

Nielsen
Posts: 83
Joined: 05 Nov 2017

Post 22 Jun 2020

selig wrote:
19 Jun 2020
Yes, as I mentioned you can all any amount of devices in the insert point AFTER the Stereo Imager (or with a Spider Splitter if using a different filter/EQ), as long as you don't use the Master Compressor or Master Fader (since you won't want anything to follow the final master limiter).
Are you referring to this?
selig wrote:
17 Jun 2020
You can add pre-compression inserts after the imager - post compression inserts need to be added AFTER the Master Outs, where you can see I've added my mastering setup.
Please correct me if I understand it wrong, but anything chained after the "sidechain imager" in this setup would be pre-bus compression? It's my impression that having mastering FX devices before bus compression isn't commonplace, or maybe it's just the limiter that is typically the final mastering device?
selig wrote:
19 Jun 2020
There are plenty of solutions, the simplest if using Reason 11 is to create your own routing in the Master Insert, ignoring the built in Master Compressor/Master Fader and instead using the separate Master Compressor RE and splitters etc., and doing any fade outs with an RE "post compression/pre limiter". The "limitation" in this case is you can't selectively bypass mixing process vs mastering processing since it's now all in the same place, if that's important to you. This is the main reason I put mastering in a separate area so I can quickly bypass it (for exporting a pre-master, or when I need to do a quick overdub and want to avoid the additional latency added by the look ahead in the limiter).
Good point on avoiding the limiter's latency. What would be the best way to configure a bypass button so I can bypass my entire chain of mastering FX at once when configured this way post bus compression. I assume having the mastering FX devices inside a Combinator would do the trick? However, I don't really have a lot of experience using the Combinator, so how would I route a Combinator into the setup you exemplified with the image below?
selig wrote:
17 Jun 2020
Image
Your help so far is much appreciated! :)

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