I interview Brian Buckalew from ProVizion Studios in response to his YouTube video “Mastering in Pro Tools (with stock plugins)“. I stumbled upon the video while attempting to put together a decent-sounding mix. I used to be able to produce some pretty good mixes, but they weren’t quite up-to par with some of the music that I listened to on a regular basis. So I Googled something like “mastering in pro tools using stock plug ins” or “stock plug in pro tools mastering” and Brian’s video popped up. I was so inspired by the video that I reached out and asked if he wanted to be a guest on the podcast and he was all about it!
In the interview, we talk about Brian’s journey from violin player to bass player to audio engineer, graphic designer, and studio owner. We then proceed to deconstruct the technicalities related to mastering and signal flow. Here’s a breakdown of Brian’s signal flow for self-mastering in Pro Tools (version 10.3.4):
Brian Buckalew’s Pro Tools Stock Plug Ins Mastering Chain
- Create a new session.
- Set input monitoring to on (Track > Auto Import Recording).
- Create 2 stereo audio tracks, 2 stereo auxiliary tracks, and 1 stereo master track.
- Name the tracks as follows:
- Audio Track 1 – Beginning Audio
- Auxiliary Track 1 – Sub Mix
- Auxiliary Track 2 – Stereo Print
- Audio Track 2 – ***PRINT***
- Master Track – Master 1
- Record Enable – ***PRINT***
- Import your audio into the Beginning Audio track.
- Set up a bus from the output of Beginning Audio to the input of Sub Mix.
- Add the EQ3 7-Band plug in and roll a few decibels off the low end around 60 hz and the high end around 20,000 hz.
- Next, add the Pro Tools Compressor/Limiter as the second plug in. Use the “Clean Limit” preset and toggle the threshold until you are compressing no more than what the preset output is boosting (about 2 decibels).
- Then, add and set the BF-76 Peak Limiter plug in.
- Then, using a new bus, send the output of Sub Mix to the input of Stereo Print.
- Use the Maxim Limiter set the threshold to -0.3 and toggle threshold until you have the sound you want.
- Send the output of the Stereo Print (using another new bus) to the input of ***PRINT***.
- Add Dither plug in.
- Set the playhead to the beginning of the track and record the session to print the audio to ***PRINT***.
- Export new audio.
My description of Brian’s Mastering chain is an oversimplified one. He explains in depth in his video here:
Anybody looking for help regarding audio, graphic design, or general recording studio needs can find all of that at www.provizionstudios.com.
Brian Buckalew can be reached at his email firstname.lastname@example.org or his studio line Monday through Friday from 10:00 am – 9:00 pm (Eastern) at (850) 352-1194.