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Gain staging on the master bus /mastering in the box


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I usually use a few plugins in the master bus when mastering .I find getting mastering volume up always a challenge as I don’t want to destroy dynamics .

Here’s my usual master bus





(Maybe another eq here .



I’d appreciate any suggestions for anything else in regards to the master bus or mastering in the box itself .I rarely use a gain plugin on the master bus. I get enough volume from compressors/ limiters . I’m just curious for other approaches as this is what i always do and the results are really just ok never great or that close to commercial sounding . I know I can’t compete with 500,000 outboard gear and a person who is a devoted mastering Engineer . I’ve been at this a very long time …getting better with some better 3rd party plugins and always willing to learn and experiment . Decent tuned room but not perfect etc. thank you. Ps I also of course try to get each channel right first before attempting the master. One thing I’ve never done is normalize all tracks before mixing ….might have a go at that but ….

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I don't do anything after the limiter (and I prefer to use the Adaptive Limiter). So I wouldn't do any EQ after your limiter, if you need some extra EQ do it before the limiter, as EQ can easily raise the level of your audio signal, even when cutting frequencies (see: why does decreasing EQ increase the main meter level?).
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Interesting …..I didn’t realize that subtractive eq would add to the level …..but it makes sense. The limiter is the last plug I use except for a meter …i generally don’t use logics adaptive limiter

too much although one of my best mixes /master has logics adaptive limiter come to think of it ….

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  • 1 month later...

One thing about compression I was happy to discover was to use the filter under the sidechain settings in Logics compressor. If I filter (some of) the lowest octave or so into the compressors sensor I find it easier to set the compressor.


But I do this when mixing.


Humbly, Ylan

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A great tip I got from Fuzzfilth on this forum when I was struggling to get my masters up to the required LUFs. Set your stereo out fader to 0 dB and don't touch it (unless it's a fade out).

Use a gain plug in first to get your initial level around -3 dB, max peak say -1 dB or so, gain staging all the way. The last plug in you can use to bring your final levels up.

Others might have different ideas about where your meters should be hitting but it's basically the same principle.

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