Mixing to Mastering Question About Harmonic Saturation
I have a question for the gurus: should continuity be maintained when using saturation, specifically from the final mix-down to the mastered output?
Here's my situation: I created a mixed a track with two instances of Wave Arts TubeSaturatorVintage (TSV for short). One instance was put on my bass bus for a little gentle low-end beef and crunch, while another instance was placed on the master bus for little extra warming ("Warm-a-Mix" preset, actually, which is quite nice). Now, TSV is a tube emulation, and generates even and odd harmonics. So between the bass bus TSV and the master bus TSV, I have quite a bit of harmonic action, and this is of course printed into the final mix-down file.
For mastering, I'm using Ozone 6. I like to use the Exciter module for a bit of brightening-up of the high-mids and highs. Ozone 6 provides several modes of saturation: Dual Triode, Triode, Tube, Tape, Retro, and Warm. Therefore, should I be mindful of what type of saturation I use, perhaps keeping it the same as what type was used in the mix? If so, then should I stick with either Dual Triode (aka full tube), Triode (aka half tube), or Tube rather than Tape, perhaps keeping the master from getting too harmonically-challenged or turning into a muddy mess? :-)
Out of all the modes, Tape is one of the most powerful. It's easy to overdo it. I've found that Triode sounds pretty good and is much more subtle. Triode mode was most likely the exciter mode used in Ozone 5.
I guess this wouldn't have mattered back in the day, as the master (and the mix) would have been printed to tape.
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Re: Mixing to Mastering Question About Harmonic Saturation
Batsbrew is fundamentally wrong. Everything within an analouge signal chain adds some kind of low level harmonic distortion. When digital was first introduced, yes distortion was bad as bats suggests, and it's still bad unless you understand some digital audio theory and aesthetics.
Think of each level of a mix as a cake, and into the cake each layer has some crunchy harmonic sugar...too much and yuck. Too little yuck.
This is controversial and nearly every old school analouge engineer who frequent this board and doesn't like my opinions will howl it down, but analouge or simulated harmonic distortion sounds horriable unless you mix and master and print if you are planning to create an Mp3 or Mp4 master to 64bit fp audio files. This is not the whole recipe for the secret sauce...but it's fundamental if you want to play around with virtual harmonic distortion. Or follow bats advice and don't add any, and stick with 24 bit and 16 bit :).
P.S check my work out in my signature if you have doubts-my advice is listen to my last work a cover of Nights In White Satin.