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Recommendation to MOTU: Add a DP "Mastering-oriented" window

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Recommendation to MOTU: Add a DP "Mastering-oriented" window

Postby mhschmieder » Wed Jun 06, 2012 3:19 pm

In the wake of the death of BIAS and the apparent trend towards people just using their multi-track DAW's for their single-track editing and their mastering needs, I would like to recommend that MOTU add a dedicated window or tab to DP that is Mastering-oriented in its workflow and layout.

The tools are all there; it's just the workflow -- and perhaps the fine-tuned scrub-like audio editing and fades/edit points/markups/etc. -- that is missing.

Of course putting together a CD Master (with track listing and info, etc.) is entirely different from multi-track workflow and also the traditional domain of the stereo editors, but plug-ins exist for DDP/etc. in either context, and it would be possible to also design a dedicated sidebar or window/tab to deal with this task.

Ideally there would be something equivalent to Chunks, that one would use to gather up prepared pre-masters, so that they don't become part of normal project track layout within current chunks/sequences.

Of course, a big difference between mastering and Recording/Tracking/Mixing is that the former usually involves destructive edits, whereas the latter almost always involves non-destructive edits. The workflow and the tool layout should reflect this and easily decouple the processes.

MOTU has already been well on the road to making DP the ultimate DAW for all purposes, by introducing the consolidated window and having contextual redundancy such that each window, tab, or sidebar represents a role that the end user has taken on at any given point in time. This is the trend in GUI design, and it isn't much of a stretch to extend this policy so that a clear and separate Mastering workflow is available.

Too late for DP8 at this point, but maybe for DP9...?
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Re: Recommendation to MOTU: Add a DP "Mastering-oriented" wi

Postby Prime Mover » Wed Jun 06, 2012 7:09 pm

I'm just curious, what kind of destructive edits tend to be involved in mastering? I haven't quite read Bob Katz from cover to cover, but I certainly don't recall anything that couldn't be done non-destructively. With the exception of hardware-based processing. But I would imagine that too is starting to be used less and less.

One thing that WOULD be nice for a lot of things, and would solve one of your problems, would be a hierarchical soundbite window with virtual (or not so virtual) folders. I often get sick of wading through thousands of clips to find a bounced track. Also, wouldn't it be nice to have a simple toggle at the top that shows/hides all sub-clips? Most of the time, I really don't care to look at every single splice edit that I've made in a 10-sequence project! The soundbites window definitely could use some updating.

Still, I'm not really sure how the Sequence window isn't ideal for mastering, especially with the channel strip. With the CD track info pane you suggested, and a few additional features, I'm not sure that having a whole new edit window for mastering is really necessary. Last time I used BIAS Peak, it was a stereo-only editor, but I prefer to have my tracks appear on different rows, that way I can see individual fades and automation more clearly.

In the latest edition of Mastering Audio, Bob Katz mentioned Digital Performer as a fine mastering platform. Of course, full-time mastering engineers are probably going to prefer to cut the fat and have software that focuses specifically on their needs without the additional distractions (MIDI, VIs, recording, comping, etc).

I guess my point is, the additions that would be nice for mastering would probably be welcome for other areas of mixing as well. Might as well simply build those features into the Sequence window.
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Re: Recommendation to MOTU: Add a DP "Mastering-oriented" wi

Postby mhschmieder » Wed Jun 06, 2012 7:17 pm

Mastering isn't the only use of stereo-oriented wave editors. I personally do destructive edits though as it is much faster for workflow and requires slightly fewer cached interim files. So I apply mastering tools one at a time, with a save each time, once I've done my trims. I can always go back to the final pre-master mix later if I want to use different mastering processes. This also allows me to choose more cohesive file names that are consistent and time-stamped for organization.

For videos, you might have a gazillion cues that all just need a bit of trimming. That would take too long if loading into a multi-track project, which isn't the right perspective for that actor role anyway. It's all about workflow at that point. There are any number of tasks where it may work out better to have an unprocessed raw track that gets saved, but have a series of sequential tasks that then all operate destructively on a derived wave file that eventually becomes the master.

As for the Sequence window, maybe I'm missing something, in terms of it being able to have different contents than the Tracks View -- unless you're talking about loading all the pre-masters into a new chunk. I do see though how that could serve as a good Mastering editor where one is doing fades and trims, as I find it a very powerful audio editing tool compared to other applications that I use and very flexible. In fact, I find it more powerful and precise than the one in BIAS Peak Pro.
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Re: Recommendation to MOTU: Add a DP "Mastering-oriented" wi

Postby Prime Mover » Wed Jun 06, 2012 11:48 pm

Dude, you want to try and have as few destructive edits as possible while mastering in a 24bit floating point environment. The whole beauty behind a floating point environment is that the values aren't rounded until the end to the process. Creating numerous destructive edits means rounding values over and over again, creating a less precise product.

mhschmieder wrote:unless you're talking about loading all the pre-masters into a new chunk. I do see though how that could serve as a good Mastering editor where one is doing fades and trims, as I find it a very powerful audio editing tool compared to other applications that I use and very flexible. In fact, I find it more powerful and precise than the one in BIAS Peak Pro.


Yes, I'm talking about loading pre masters into a new chunk. What other way would there be? The sequence window provides a very robust editing environment that is far less destructive (only if you specifically go out of your way to do so) than an audio editor. But if you really want to be destructive, you can.

The one place I miss destructive editing is in doing crazy sound effects. Back 10 years ago when I had a PC, I used to have SoundForge, which was a dream to use for creating little effects. I actually never liked Peak, found it to be far more clunky.
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Re: Recommendation to MOTU: Add a DP "Mastering-oriented" wi

Postby mhschmieder » Thu Jun 07, 2012 3:00 pm

I typically stay at 32-bit float until the end of the process, but the important thing to note here is that I have been doing more and more of my tasks in RX2 Advanced lately. I can't remember if Peak support 32-bit float or not. But I think RX can only open one file at a time.
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Re: Recommendation to MOTU: Add a DP "Mastering-oriented" wi

Postby Shooshie » Sat Jun 09, 2012 8:26 pm

Don't know how others do it, but when I go into mastering mode, I just bounce down to either a two-track, or stems, then use those to finish the job. In the Sequence Editor, I simply de-select all the other tracks in the track selector column, so that I'm left with my mastering tracks. At that point I may as well be in another chunk, since I'm only looking at the final output of all that came before. The difference, of course, is that at any point I can go back and recreate those tracks, changing the effects or levels, then go at it again. I'm not limited to those tracks only.

It's a process. I don't claim to have any real mastering skills, but as time goes on I learn more and more about what I want those final two-tracks to have or not to have. The futility of mixing for a particular playback system makes mastering less personal, more of an "industry standard" kind of operation.

I actually do a lot of my final mastering in WaveBurner. It probably will eventually go the way of Bias and others that are no longer with us, as I'm not sure Apple is still supporting it. Mine came in the Logic 8 Studio bundle. It's been a fantastic tool for creating CD's for people, and knowing that those CD's are going to be about as good as they can be.

If MOTU wanted to make something really useful for that end of the process, I'd recommend that they create a new window that resembles the Song Window in a sense: you drag & drop tracks into it, and they are lined up and ordered (also via drag & drop) as in the WaveBurner timeline, with capabilities of adding global (all tracks) or local (per track) plugins, with tools to check for clipping, to normalize, set the time between tracks, and so forth, while hearing the final output as if it were the CD itself. The mastering window could be a new kind of Chunk -- along with sequences, songs, and V-Racks.

I think it's a good idea, Mark. Maybe we could drop it in the MOTU suggestion box.

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Re: Recommendation to MOTU: Add a DP "Mastering-oriented" wi

Postby mhschmieder » Sat Jun 09, 2012 11:42 pm

Some good ideas there, Shooshie. Bring back Mosaic, and DP becomes the all-in-one app. :-)
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