Mastering, a world where every morning just before dawn grey bearded audio wizards get into their Hi-tech squiggly air driven speaker spaceships and collect the magical rainbow unicorn dust that falls across the spectrumlands each night as it is this dust that powers their magical analog mastering desks which makes anything that comes out of their towering speakers sound like the heavens themselves had blessed your track with divine auditory goodness and then finally your track blessed with all of its magical unicorn shine is finally done and ready to be shown to the world where it will become a chart-topping success all because of the secret mystical art of Mastering.
All joking and imagination aside in this review we are going to be going over Brainworx bx_masterdesk which according to owner Dirk Ulrich is an analog style solution for professional mastering in your own computer. So let’s get into it.
The GUI of bx_masterdesk is really intuitive it is laid out in such a fashion that it is extremely easy to use almost a bit too easy it seems for what is a mastering tool after all.
bx_masterdesk even tells you what to do and it is as easy as 1, 2, and 3.
0. Slap it on your master channel.
1. Adjust the volume to feed the plugin and get into the desired Dynamic Range.
2. Set the foundation of your track more bass centered to the right and more treble centered to the left.
3. Adjust the tone stack to preference.
Now just play around with the Compressor, Limiter, Resonance filters, M/S and the THD settings and you’re done.
Now that’s just too easy isn’t it? I really love it when a GUI is just that easy to work with.
With the volume knob you control how hard your signal is hitting the chain inside of bx_masterdesk adjust the volume to get into the desired dynamic range by viewing it on the VU meter. You should get it to between 8 and 6 where 8 is a rough target for streaming services and around 6 for a loud CD master.
The foundation knob seems to be a tilt eq where you can set the foundation of your track. Is it more popish and treble centric twist it to the left if it is a more bass heavy track twist it to the right.
The Tone stack is where you can boost or cut the bass, mid and treble of your track the values of these knobs represent a -3 to a +3 dB range except for the presence know which has a range of -6 to +6 dB so even if you really push the controls it’s not like you are adding crazy amounts of eq.
The Mid/Side section houses a mono maker which will make anything in your signal mono from 20 Hz up to 300 Hz. This is especially welcome if your track is played in clubs or car systems with a big sub.
The Mid/Side section also houses a stereo enhance tool which utilizes an automated eq system to specifically target your instruments in the stereo field without boosting unwanted boomy or muddy sounds.
The Compressor in bx_masterdesk plugin is comprised of 4 different TMT settings and compression modes with 1 being the hardest compressor setting and 4 being the weakest. TMT is Brainworx patent-pending Tolerance Modeling Technology which is found in the Bx_Console series and takes into account the real world tolerances in the components that make up those big beautiful mixing boards and gives a realistic analog representation.
The Compression mix know goes from 86% up to 100% this allows for some parallel compression that leaves some of the natural nice sounding transients through so your mix doesn’t sound lifeless and flat.
You can also link the compressor meaning that if the threshold is exceeded on either the left or right channel both get attenuated this is really nice if you want some pumping in your mix one of the tracks I tested this plugin on this worked really well.
The Resonance filters in bx_masterdesk plugin notch out some of the most common problem frequencies found in many mixes.
The low Filter will notch out 160 Hz and 315 Hz and this can really help to clean up your low end it can really help define the kick and gives some clarity between bass sounds.
The high filter will notch out either at 3150 Hz and at 6666 Hz and can help tame those harsh frequencies in the mid and top end of your track I found that the 6666 Hz setting works great on those overly bright synths.
The De-Esser is great to tame harsh crashes and cymbals in your mix and to remove sibilance these annoying noises could be buried in your mix somewhere and only rear their ugly little heads once the volume gets pushed so remove them and then spread out the rest with the stereo enhance.
The THD knob in bx_masterdesk stands for Total Harmonic Distortion this is present in all analog gear and can be really pleasant to the ears and help glue your mix together. Turning the THD knob down can tame the transients in your music which makes the compressor not have to work as hard while turning the THD knob up can brighten up your sound.
The meters in bx_masterdesk can be set to show the input and output dynamic range levels so you know where you started and where you ended up this can help with some troubleshooting along the way.
The limiter is the last component your sound travels through in bx_masterdesk and is set to a default boost of 1dB however if you turn on turbo mode it goes up to 2dB resulting in a louder mix be it a bit more squashed which really works well on genres like EDM.
Brainworx bx_masterdesk reminds me of a quote I heard once which goes “if you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” And Dirk Ulrich really does understand it well enough because this plugin is so simple to use but so powerful in what it does to your sound that you can really tell that 20+ years’ experience in the mastering industry has been put into this plugin. bx_masterdesk is one of those plugins you must have in your toolbox even if you are a seasoned professional because if anything this plugin can save you so much time and time is money so.
- Easy to use
- It just works and works really well.
- None, whatsoever.
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