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Mastering In Cubase 11: Audio Examples

Hear For Yourself By John Walden
Published April 2021

These audio examples accompany John Walden’s Cubase Mastering workshop in SOS April 2021.

www.soundonsound.com/techniques/mastering-cubase-11

Audio Example 01

This audio example contains a short extract from an instrumental mix. You hear the extract six times, each with the following processing applied and as described in the main body of the workshop article; (1) the raw track as mixed with no ‘mastering’ processing; (2) as for (1) before but with the StudioEQ active; (3) as for (2) but with Compressor active; (4) as for (3) but with the full mastering signal chain applied; (5) and for (4) but with 2dB of gain added between StudioEQ and Compressor; (6) as for (4) but with 2dB of gain applied between Compressor and Limiter.

Extract (1) and extract (4) form the main comparison, with the latter being slightly brighter, having a slightly lower maximum peak c. -1dB but a higher average loudness. Extracts (5) and (6) have the same peak levels as (4) but both have slightly higher average loudness which may or may not be desirable.

Audio Example 02

This audio example contains a same short extract from an instrumental mix but Squasher has replaced Compressor within the mastering signal chain. You hear the extract six times, each with the following processing applied and as described in the main body of the workshop article; (1) the raw track as mixed with no ‘mastering’ processing; (2) as for (1) before but with the StudioEQ active; (3) as for (2) but with Squasher active; (4) as for (3) but with the full mastering signal chain applied; (5) and for (4) but with 2dB of gain added between StudioEQ and Squasher; (6) as for (4) but with 2dB of gain applied between Squasher and Limiter.   

Extract (1) and extract (4) form the main comparison, with the latter being slightly brighter, having a slightly lower maximum peak c. -1dB but a higher average loudness. Extracts (5) and (6) have the same peak levels as (4) but both have slightly higher average loudness which may or may not be desirable. Interestingly, comparing extract (3) within Audio Example 1 and Audio Example 2 suggests the settings used with Compressor result in a louder signal being passed to the limiting stage than the settings used with Squasher.

Whether what has been done in either example amounts to ‘good’ mastering is, to some extent, a matter of musical and personal taste, but if your aim is to EQ balance a series of tracks to form a coherent project, achieve a specific average loudness (perhaps by trading off against some dynamic range), and to avoid clipping, all these things can be achieved within Cubase Elements 11 plus the addition of a few freebie plug-ins.

Published April 2021

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