Best analog mastering gear for HipHop/Electronic music

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Acho

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Hey Folks,

this is my first thread here (I've been lurking for a while ;) and I really hope this is the right subforum for this...
I do a lot of mastering for HipHop/Rap and also Techno-ish/electronic artists and I really want to start going analog by now because the gear just behaves entirely different than software and offers more to my palette (and who doesn't love turning knobs? x).
I've seen a lot of awesome gear on here, but my fear is that it doesn't sound that good on the electronic/bass-ier side of the music. I would love to hear any experiences and suggestions!

I'm mostly looking for DIY Compressors but I'm open for gear that's non DIY (including EQs, Colour boxes, etc.) if there's something that comes to your mind.

Really looking forward to your replies - stay healthy! :)

Aaron
 

Script

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Tastes vary of course.

GSSL in stock mode (not Turbo Mode), slower attack and sidechain high -pass filter settings, I find, can sound good on electronic music. Obviously not for taming but shaping.

ATT and REL controls can easily be modified to variable or stepped with more timing options.

In stock mode (also called Aarhus mode), the control signal driving the gain reduction only 'sees' mono (L+R), which leads to some off the stereo being slightly less compressed. It's subtle but there. This can make some stereo signals sound more nervous or agitated or dynamically "enhanced' -- for lack of better words.

The GSSL help thread is sheer intimidating. But info is all there. With very careful soldering, a stock- built version is often ready to go at first fire-up.
 

jensenmann

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Do yourself a favour and make a list of features you want to have in your mastering chain. Then check if the DIY projects available here meet your specs. It´d make no sense to DIY something just because it´s a clone of (fill in some gearname here ) which doesn´t fit your needs workflow wise.

Regarding a mastering compressor I´d want to have (besides the obvious features) everything switched (no pots), a sidechain HPF, very precise metering, a second release time, hard knee/soft knee, sidechain inserts, wet/dry blend for parallel compression, feedback/feedforward mode with all the controls not interacting.
 

Acho

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Thanks for your replies!
I already built a GSSL but didn't like it on the Audio Material I worked on... that's actually why I wanted to ask here what experiences you guys have with the Projects here on electronic/HipHop music.
@jensenmann I was not planning to DIY just anything you tell me here. I just had the feeling that 90% of the clones of 60s gear like 436, 176, 670, etc. that I find here will not work with the music I want to use it on (more on acoustical music)... sadly I can't just go into a store and test DIY stuff...
 

PermO

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Ah, I would suggest GSSL ... but you allready did that and don't like it.

Is there any plugin compressors that you do like to work with ?
It could be a way to pre select the type you want to build, like VCA vs Diode vs Opto vs Vari Mu.

Do you plan on mastering people's albums, or do you want a vibey compressor on your masterbus for mix dutys ?
It could take a different approach, as the first is really a tool that needs very precise controls and the later just sits there being vibey, hardly getting touched.
 

Acho

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Well my 3 most used plugin compressors are Elysia Alpha Compressor, SPL Iron (both by Pluginalliance) and Kotelnikov. I'm not sure if it makes sense to search for something similar in order to expand my palette, but as I said I'm open for any suggestions and experiences you guys had with the Genres! :)
I mostly master albums and singles. For Mixing I prefer staying in the box. :p
Thanks again for the Help! :)
 

PermO

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I would pick something with adjustable side chain filter as Hip Hop is bass heavy music.
Stepped controls, as it will be a mastering unit.
I think I would like to have a MS function as the kick and bass form a huge part of the music and most of the energy in the track is mono information, it would be cool to be able to process that sperately from the sides where the stereo information is happening.

MS76 with stepped controls ?
 

Acho

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Most of the time I work in M/S, so I will go out of my converter like that already. A Sidechain Filter would be nice indeed, but I doubt that any form of an 1176/FET-based compressor is suitable for mastering purposes :D
 

jensenmann

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Lots of preconceptions. Check out a Daking FET or ADT audio Toolmod TM114 (FET) compressor. They are very neutral, not a trace of FET distortion due to better cancellation circuits. You´d love them on a mix.
Besides that I know a bunch of professional mastering guys who use 436/670 etc stylee gear for mastering, no matter what genre. If the original circuits are adapted to modern needs then why not? That´s the beauty of DIY, you can tweak your gear into the direction you want it to have. Even more so I don´t believe that any piece of audio gear has been made for a certain musical style only, anyway.
 

ruairioflaherty

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Full time mastering engineer here. I don't specialize in Hip-Hop or EDM but even so end up doing quite a bit.

I almost never compress these genres and looking across the leaders in the field (for hip hop) almost everyone is ITB for these projects. Typical mixes come in compressed heavily already and there is almost never a requirement to add it.

I have access to a dream collection of compressors but in modern mastering they get used on maybe 10% of projects.
 

calaverasgrande

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Curious what you didn't like about the GSSL?
While it isn't really a mastering compressor per se. It is based on the compressor which is pretty standard for mixing into. When I had a studio space inside a larger complex full of hip hop producers, nearly everyone had the Xlogic, GSSL or a derivative of those two.
If I am mastering my own stuff, I stay away from my outboard gear, which is best for broad strokes and big moves. Instead I go to my mastering plugins, (largely UAD) which are very good at precisely knocking off a very deliberate amount of gain reduction exactly where I want it without adding nonlinearities I didn't bargain for.
 

Gold

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To my eyes the best general purpose compressor project around here is the Total Audio Control Compressor One. 500 RACK / EQ ONE , MICPRE ONE, MID-SIDE ONE by Total Audio Control

It's a 500 series project but you could always build it into a case if you want. I haven't used it but it looks good to me.

I built a DAOC but it's a one trick pony. I love to use optical compressors as a final 'sloppy limiter'. I also sometimes use it on sparse material like a piano vocal but mostly I just kiss it at the end of the chain.

I think an EQ would be more useful than a compressor. A passive EQ with makeup gain is a hard sound to get ITB.
 

Fluffycrow

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If you have a decent pc (or a heavy cpu mac) try acustica audio stuffs (dynamic convolutions of eq and comps), kinda heavy on the cpu but they really stepped up their game with the speed of their algos in the last years so compressors are usable in a mastering chain now. I used to build clones and do mods for clients but to be honest the plugins are so close to the real thing i went for it and never looked back.
And of course you don't mind the mouse+keyboard workflow.
their pricing policy is good too (usually you have a bundle of pres, eq and comps for the price of one plugin)
Ps: i have no stakes in the company i'm just a rabid fangirl.
 

Script

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sadly I can't just go into a store and test DIY stuff...
YouTube might be helpful. Some shootouts there.
and who doesn't love turning knobs? x).
Simply a midi controller (fader / rotary / DIY) ?
Mixing I prefer staying in the box
Maybe, when mixing, implement more OTB -- for that knob feel ?

There sure is no fully-fledged dream ; ) mastering compressor on this forum. But there's a plethora of units, tweaks and mods, alongside massive technical info discussed that could get you closer to what you need or want. Time is a factor.

The Total Audio Control 'Compressor One' looks interesting indeed. +1 Don't have it, but rather clean ?

Other than that I know at least one guy who uses tube simulation plugins in mastering for some tad of 'vibe' or 'sheen' (or whatever) -- might be interesting OTB, provided your environment allowed you to go unclean (Hip-hop ?).
 
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