For each of the songs on the new Dicepeople album I’ve used mastering plugins in Logic as I’ve gone along. Despite this, however, I felt as if all the songs still needed some additional work during the mastering stage in order to make them work better together and to give them more presence.
I used Apple WaveBurner – a decent application which comes as part of the fantastic Logic Studio 8 suite – to master the CD. Initially I tried using Logic’s plugins to add the desired additional presence to the songs, but I found that, although I think Logic’s internal plugins are fantastic (I don’t currently use any third-party FX plugins at all when working on songs within Logic), this wasn’t quite cutting it. I therefore decided to investigate third-party mastering plugins for WaveBurner.
Initially I looked at the Waves plugins, as these are generally regarded as being very good. I attempted to try a demo of the Waves Masters Bundle, but, after a confusing ordeal, it became apparent that I couldn’t run the Waves demo without first buying a hardware dongle. This seemed fairly ridiculous, so I looked for alternatives. A good bet seemed to be iZotope Ozone, and this came in the form of a demo which I could use straight away.
Ozone is much cheaper than the Waves plugins but still seems to be well respected, and I found version 4 of Ozone to be just what I needed. I used its Paragraphic EQ and Multiband Stereo Imaging modules subtly, and I used the Multiband Harmonic Exciter, Multiband Dynamics and Loudness Maximizer modules more overtly. (I didn’t use the Mastering Reverb or Dithering modules.) The end result was more fatness, presence and warmth on the songs in a way that I’m very pleased with. I was so impressed with Ozone that I decided to buy it once its demo expired, and I’m sure it will come in very handy again in the future.
I have to say, though, I found the process of mastering the CD quite a strain. It’s involved weeks of agonising over subtle details, relative loudnesses, comparisons to commercial CDs, and so forth, and it’s been quite exhausting. I can see why it’s generally recommended that you should pass your album over to a dedicated mastering engineer for the mastering process – their experience and objectivity are things that are very hard to emulate.