When producing an album, my duties often include mixing and mastering. Independent music often has a single producer covering all angles, and with High Iron’s debut album, I’m that guy.
I’m currently in the mastering phase and there are my tried and true “go-to’s” when it comes to gain staging and limiting the stereo bus. When working on an album (I work on just one at a time) I like to investigate and experiment to determine just what exactly “completes” the mix. A coat of “sonic-urethane” if you will. The last sprinkle of color and distortion before it’s called done.
I had previously attempted to use the Presonus ADL600 to add some natural tube compression / distortion. It didn’t work like I thought it was. The ADL600 has character, but not necessarily color and it wasn’t working for this mastering.
I needed tape saturation not tube. Being the avid user I am, I knew that Soundtoy’s EchoBoy has saturation and tape emulation, but I never considered EchoBoy for that purpose. I have always used EchoBoy for wicked delays and effects… It’s not uncommon to see me use EchoBoy on the drum bus, gtr bus, and vocals… I don’t really use it on the master 2bus until tonight. Ahhhhhh! The heavens parted and I basked in the audible glory.
My new discovery with EchoBoy is that you can bypass the delay processor and just employ the saturation processing.
First, I cut the delay time down to 1/64 beat or 31.3msec. None of the emulators sounded good at “o msec”. I put the saturation about 75% with the input gain about -2db, with about a 1.5db output gain. Using the ‘Mix’ I was able to add the distortion each song called for, but also have the cohesiveness of using the same algorithm.
EchoBoy’s tape presets include “Master Tape”, “Studio Tape”, “Tube Tape”, etc. They all sound great. I chose Studio Tape ‘style’ simply for the way the distortion is dispersed in the stereo field. It actually increases the perceived stereo image, making the program wider and separated. Just what I was looking for.
SoundToys plugins never cease to amaze me. If you’re interested, check em out at http://www.soundtoys.com