I want to start off by saying thank you to everyone who sent me such inspiring emails about this series of reviews.
Part – 3 Mastering Plug Ins
In this third installment I will focus briefly on each of the following FabFilter Plug Ins for the purpose of Mastering.
ProC, ProQ, & ProL.
As good as all of these FabFilters are, they become useless if what you are using to hear the amazing results they are capable of producing, through just ordinary headphones or cheap speakers. It probably goes without saying, but excellent headphones and decent monitors are very important. We can’t all have studio monitors, but having at least very good headphones are a must. If you’re using the Apple ear buds that came with you’re iPod, or anything from the general selections of headphones from the electronics store, stop now. Go look at, listen to, and then buy some good ones. The differences you’ll hear are night and day. That’s just my opinion for what its worth.
I’m using Sennhieser HD 558 around the ear headphones. They were about $200 and sounded equal to all the other headphones I tested that cost hundreds more. For monitors, I am using some Altec Lansing speakers with a powered sub woofer, Ive had for ages. They have a very clean sound, but not quite up to “studio monitor” levels. They do get the job done in the limited space I have.
FabFilter Pro C
$29.99 via IAP
This easy to use and great sounding compressor is a significant step up from the free compressor option built into Auria. Visually far more appealing at the very least. As is the case with all the FabFilters. ProC has 3 styles: Clean, Classic, & Opto. Hard, Soft Knee, Side Chain Supported, & Auto Gain & Release.
I found ProC to be more useful over the built in compressor and maybe its just me, but it sounds tighter. The moving compression level display has customizable curves. Seeing and hearing the work makes all the difference.
If you want to fine tune your sound at every point, you can, and ProC is very reliable. There are presets included as well that are set perfectly for each of the selections. Undo, Redo options and a before/after selector are also included.
Program dependent attack and release curves
Large input, output, and gain change meters with different scale settings
Active knee display
Super-fast attack times
If you are just getting comfortable with using compression this will be a great plug in to begin with. If you have high expectations and want the very best compressor, this it. Whatever the need this sounds extremely good.
FabFilter Pro Q
$29.99 via IAP
A good EQ is essential, if not the most important mastering tool. This 24 band, touch manipulated EQ is a godsend. Zero latency or linear phase with adjustable latency. It has all the filter shapes with variable DB/Oct slope selections you’ll need and is so easy to use. Make a mistake or change your mind theres a undo & redo option. Before and after toggle, left/right independent channel EQ’ing, real time frequency analyzer with pre & post EQ metering. Several perfectly tuned presets to choose from and very detailed parameters to (wait for it) tweak. Notching out a hot frequency is no problem, and with automation support there’s nothing you can’t manipulate or correct with high quality results.
Up to 24 EQ bands
Filter shapes: Bell, Notch, High/Low Shelf, High/Low Cut with 6, 12, 24 and 48 dB/oct slopes
Intelligent solo mode makes it easy to tune notch filters and hear the effect of a band
Different display ranges: 3 dB and 6 dB ranges for mastering, 12 dB and 30 dB for mixing
Smart Parameter Interpolation
From hi, low shelving, stereo enhancements, frequency fixes, to wild filter FX like “telephone” sounds, and everything in between are possible. This is probably the single most necessary Plug In, and sounds noticeably better than the built in EQ. Which isn’t too shabby to begin with.
Yes, you need this. No you won’t regret it.
FabFilter Pro L
$39.99 via IAP
Another essential mastering and mixing tool is the “Brickwall Limiter”.
ProL has multiple advanced algorithms, features, and accurate metering.
Great transparent sound combined with maximum loudness
Four different limiting algorithms, all with their own character
Highly accurate output and gain reduction metering
Adjustable meter scale, including K-System support
Adjustable look-ahead, attack and release settings
Separate channel linking for both the transient and release stages
Advanced dithering with three different noise shaping algorithms
Inter-sample peak detection
ProL is designed to be very accurate. It has up to 4x oversampling, but is very demanding on device resources. Of the 3 FabFilters looked at here, this one can put the greatest burden on your device. When the need for a really good limiter comes up, there just isn’t anything better. This particular FabFilter might be more niche than absolutely necessary. I mean that the included brickwall limiter does a fine job, but this is really specialized and more for experienced sound engineers to be fully appreciated.
Each of the FabFilters looked at here are of the highest quality. Certainly comparable to most available on desktop DAWs. They did an amazing job with these to really offer the very best tools for serious users who don’t want to compromise. They all have undo and redo, support for automation, touch support, and have extensive help support within.
Again, I hope this was helpful, and sorry it took so long to get this part 3 finished.
Part 4 coming up soon.