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Mastering in Logic Express 8

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by Aram, Mar 3, 2010.

  1. Aram


    Feb 2, 2003
    New York, NY
    Hi...does anyone have any tricks or workarounds for mastering in Logic Express 8?

    They don't include any of the plugins you need to normalize the track...but I really don't think I should spend $300 just to get some mastering features that are only available in Logic Pro when I don't need all the other features.

    Any suggestions?? Should I dig up my old copy of Cubase and see if that has something? :help:
  2. fokof

    fokof One day ,I'll be in the future

    Mar 16, 2007
    How about a real mastering facility ?
  3. Aram


    Feb 2, 2003
    New York, NY
    Would love to, but it's not in the budget...really hoping for a work-around that can normalize the track just so I can bring it up to acceptable levels.
  4. normalizing is bad.

    and if you really need to crush it, i think theres a normalize option in the bounce settings. at least there is in logic 8 pro. never used express.
  5. There squite a bit of misconception around normalising, it doesnt squash anything, it doesnt really do that much! Its not really a mastering tool as such.

    Normalisation is an instruction to raise the gain on a piece of audio until the LOUDEST point in the audio file is at a set value below distortion (OdBfs). It doesnt change anything about the audio, or increase/decrease any perception of loudness and more than turning the fader in the DAW does! Normalisation can be used to prepare a load of audio files to the same rough volume ready for mixing, it can make sure a rough mix is a half decent level to listen back to on a cd player etc but its just a simple little tool, not a creative one. I'm a tracking/mix engineer for a job, every day, and I can't remember the last time I normalised anything!

    When mixing or mastering you will be playing more attention to the master bus levels, and try and get them to hit a certain area. as such normalisation isn't needed any more, now you are zoning in and looking at the overall 'volume' of the track in more depth.

    You shouldn't have to normalise a finished mix ready to send to mastering, and you CERTAINLY shouldn't have to normalise after mastering itself!

    The tools used in mastering are (amongst others) compressors and limiters, this is sometimes what people mean when talking about normalisation. These tools squash the audio, reducing dynamic range and increasing the PERCEIVED loudness without actually having to increase the overall level of the track.

    They are necessary tools and a big part of the way we hear music these days. However they are often abused by engineers wanting there mixes/masters to sound louder than everyone else's, even with engineers who should know better. Similarily if you are not quite sure what you are doing you can easily make your track sound a lot worse!

    I'm pretty sure logic express has all you need for the BASICS of mastering. All you need is an eq and a compressor or some sort. Doesn't express have a limiter as well? if so thats probably the easiest tool to get ok results from straight away.

    A limiter is just a compressor with a very high ration so once the audio going into it hits the threshold it DOESN"T get any higher, sometimes called a brick-wall limiter for that reason. So a comp with a high ratio is pretty much a limiter, but you get specific 'limiter' plugins that can be easier to use. Some of these have a lot less controls, just a ceiling that you set to be the highest 'volume' you want something to be (normally something like -0.1 db or so. Ie you are stopping the audio getting any louder just a little short of distortion). then you just move a gain slider to increase the overall gain of the audio.

    As you turn up the gain and the peaks in the audio start to hit the 'brick wall' you have set above, it will start to compress, the audio will appear to get louder but will then become more and more distorted (not like normal distortion, it will be an odd, crushed, sound as the limiter tries to do too much). You have to decide the happy medium! Many limiters have more controls for changing how it responds but thats the basics.

    EQ wise, you are talking tiny boosts and cuts, normally a db or two at most. If it needs to be much more than that then you have probably mixed it slightly wrong! There are occasions where you may need more, but normally as a part of an advanced technique not worth going into here!

    Mastering is a bit of a dark art, very subtle, very easy to do a basic master but VERY difficult to do it properly. It often involves a few more processes as well, which are worth looking at once you have got the basics.

    If you want specific tips or techniques let us know! You should have everything you need to get started in logic, but if not there are hundreds of free compressor, limiter and eq's 'audio units' plugins you can get up and running in minutes. try searching somewhere like kvr, or visit stillwellaudio's website, they have all the tools you need to master and some other cool stuff besides!

    ps - if you want to normalize something in logic its under 'functions' in the waveform view, it isn't a plug in. It can't be really as it needs to be able to analyze the whole song for the highest peak. sorry for the silly long post!
  6. bluestarbass


    Jul 31, 2007
    Logic is not good for mastering. I would never master in multitrack. If you have to bounce to stereo first then apply your settings. There's still soooo many tools your missing if you don't use a real mastering program. One of the other engineers I work with swears by Sony architect, and it's cheap. I prefer sequioa or wavelab. To be honest your monitors are by far your most important piece. Without a great set of speakers you'll struggle no matter how good you are.
  7. I think it will probably be fine for the OP, you can certainly learn the fundamentals in Logic! The additional tools you get in Sadie etc are not really necessary for home masters.
  8. Aram


    Feb 2, 2003
    New York, NY
    Thanks guys for the insight! I guess I'm mis-useing the term "normalize". What I'm looking to do is increase the clean gain of the tracks without bringing them to clipping. I do have what I consider to be good mixes that were mixed with good monitors (Yamaha HS8 plus sub).

    I know Logic Pro has some good mastering tools like adaptive limiters, but I think Express deliberately witholds them so you'll upgrade. As you've speculated, I really just need a good basic master, as these are going to be MP3s at first (eventually I'll revisit and do a better master). But as of now, i'm having a hard time getting the levels near my other mp3s. I also realize that someone with skills could do an amazing job with the tools in Express, but for now I just need something quick and dirty...
  9. Hmm, no adaptive limiter but it has just the normal limiter right? that should do the job ok!
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