In this article we’re going through the mastering chains of pro producers like Deadmau5 and Laidback Luke. We will also show you our PML Mastering Chain, made with Ableton stock plugins. These racks come in handy when polishing up your tracks - that’s why we have included them as a free download. Enjoy!
Deadmau5's Mastering Chain
1) LinEQ (Waves)
Low Cut: roll-off below 32HZ (depends a bit on input track)
Removing low frequencies we can hardly hear on most playback systems and gaining headroom for our other elements.
Widening the stereo spectrum of the track, achieving a richer stereo image.
34% Depth (in this case)
3) Xfer Records OTT
Multiband Compressor, Compressing our different frequency bands (low, mids, highs) with different intensities, depending on what the track needs
4) FabFilter Pro MB
Used by Deadmau5 as Dynamic EQ - for one band at 59.462 Hz, +3.42dB,
Usually is used as multiband compressor
5) FabFilter Pro-L
Allround Limiting (increasing general loudness of the track)
+13dB (track dependent), Attack 118 ms, Release 500 ms
6) L2 UltraMaximizer (Stereo Mode)
Additional subtle limiting (-2.1 Threshold)
(depends on the source track)
Laidback Luke's Mastering Chain
1) Ableton EQ8/FabFilter Pro-Q
Multiple instances for surgical and balance control over the frequency range. Settings vary from track to track.
2) Izotope Ozone 6 - Exciter
Slightly overdriving the higher frequencies for a "crisp hihats" effect
Dual Triode Setting
Low Band: 0% Amount
Mid Band: 194 Hz - 3.97kHz. 0.7% Amount
High Band: 3.97kHz - 11.9kHz. 3.8 Amount
High Band 2: 11.9kHz - 20k. 6.6 Amount
3) Ableton Stock Compressor
Compressor focussed on adding a bit of punch to the track:
Threshold: -2.07dB (depends on track)
Attack: 5.47 ms
Release: 37.4 ms
Makeup Gain On
4. Ableton Stock Chorus
Stereo enhancing for high frequencies. Therefore its highpassed:
Hipass setting at 1.93kHz
Amount 5.22 ms
Rate 1.67 Hz
5. T-RackS Spectrum Analyzer
Analyses adjustments made before applying the limiter.
6. FabFilter Pro-L
Brickwall limiting at the end
PML „Ableton Only” Mastering Chain
When “mastering” on this basic level, we are trying to accomplish 3 things:
- balance the mix
- clean up resonance
- add loudness (punch) to the track
Lowcut - This EQ is operating in mid side mode. We are cutting out frequencies below 100hz on the side and freqs below 35 hz in the mids. That way we have a clean low cut and our bass is operating in mono
We are catching some of the peaks over the entire frequency range
We are flattening out some unwanted resonances
We are balancing the low, mid and highs with 3-band multiband compression
We are adding punch to the mix, emphasizing the dynamics
We are flattening out the mix a little bit (in order to be able to make the sum louder in the end)
Final touches, we are pulling up the bass a bit and adding a little bit of brilliance in the top end
We are increasing the loudness of the sum of our track. Note: don’t push it too far, Ableton’s limiter starts distorting the sound quite quickly.
Of course, this chain has its limitations - but we found it a good way to start with a basic master for your Ableton productions. Make sure you adjust the loudness of your mix before entering the chain. If the mix plays at low volumes, add a utility in front of the chain an turn up the level to get the chain compressors working - if its getting too heavy - turn it down a tad.
I’m a music maker who likes to share his experiences with other producers. I regularly show up with tutorials, articles & project files at PML.
Skype lessons with me: http://bit.ly/pml_s_one2one
More articles on Mastering:
- Mixing/Mastering tip: Why use reference tracks?
- Mastering tip: The end of loudness war
- Mastering tips: Compression
- 8 Essential Todo's Before Sending Your Track To Mastering
Keywords: Mastering with Izotope Ozone, LUFS vs dbFS, Fab-Filter Saturn, Mastering with Fab-Filter only, Mastering with Ableton only, Fletcher-Munson Curve, Mastering Chain Blueprint