I am about to share with you some of my mastering secrets. This is the Mastering Chain I prefer to use and think it adds a nice amazing final mix. I sadly don’t own most of these programs and have a few friends in the mastering business that let me use their rig for the final cut, but these programs are completely worth the investment. Here are the basics.

The Mix Down

To start before you do the mastering though make sure that it is all set for the mixdown. Here is a quick list to go down.

  • Are your different instruments eq’ed to not clash (High pass on melodies and such)
  • Cut off your low end around 30hz
  • Levels are good and all elements are at a good volume
  • The final master channel is around -3db for “headroom”
If your volume is all set then do your final stereo bounce. Bounce down in whatever bit rate the samples and program runs at. either 32 or 24bit.

The Chain

Start a new instance and loud your stereo bounce. From here we are going to set up the effect chain for the mastering. To start the chain I use the Engineers Filter. This is a great high and low pass filter. I cut the sound at about 30hz just to make sure. Depending on your style of music you could go higher as well.

From there I go to the V Comp to give just a little compression and an analog touch.

This super-responsive dynamics processor packs a recognizable musical punch heard on countless hit records. Its controlled, gentle compression can really glue a mix together.

The next part of the chain is the Waves C4.

The ultimate multiband dynamics processor, the C4 does it all: 4-bands of up and down expansion, limiting, and compression, plus dynamic and standard EQ. Combining technologies from our acclaimed Renaissance Compressor and the powerful C1 Parametric Compander, the C4 gives you unprecedented control over the contours of your mix, with maximum clarity and transparency.

Read more about Waves and Mastering

I love this as my Multi-Band compressor that evens out the sounds and makes a great even and smooth mix.

The last part of the chain is the Ozone 4.  I mainly like to use this as a limiter and dither. I don’t like there Multiband. The mix should have been EQed by now and such so I don’t find the rest of the mastering vst useful. I do think they have an amazing Limiter though.

All the pictures in this article are the settings I have used to master songs in the past so it is a good starting point.  With this chain, you can easily get a decent master of your songs. Running through analog gear definitely helps the sound quality but this is a great way to get a simple pro sound.