Recommendations for a Standalone Mastering Program


May 10, 2023
Gear owned
Seeking recommendations for a standalone mastering program. The only one that I've tried and currently trialing is MajorDecible's Mastering Studio RX It's pretty basic and maybe a bit pricey for what it is. I've tried a few of songs on it and though it seems to be basic it does improve my Tascam > Audacity > BandLab recordings.
I'm just going to cheap-out and stick with BandLab :D
The only standalone Mastering app that I know is TC-Electronic Finalizer. I've owned that for several years and I don't use it for very much. It's difficult to top and tail the master and there is no way to add a fade, or do any content editing while Mastering. But the clamp on it is amazing and it has infinite headroom. You can drag the slider for whatever output level you want and it will not go over.
I also can rec the Finalizer, but I use it one generation removed - for main bus multi band compression I use a TC Electronics M5000 which has MD2, the 1994 hardware predecessor to the 1996 software Finalizer. It does a lot of what I need for limiting, expanding, and ensuring punch and density. But yep there isn’t any (useful) shaping or fading.

I’m looking at drum and mix bus compressors currently and I’m liking a few modern and vintage hardware units but since the topic is software, I’ll leave it at that!
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I've been using Wavelab for mastering for decades. Not an easy program to learn, but there are also 'easier' versions. There's Wavelab Pro, Wavelab Elements and Wavelab Cast. Here you can take a look - and also downlaod a 30-day trial version.
Is there a Wavelab or Finalizer for Dummies book :LOL:, such as I would need, to go along with it?

I've recently replaced Audacity with BandLab (online) to mix and master my Tascam individual tracks. I used to mix and master them in Audacity (freeware version) and then add to those masters in BandLab. I find using BandLab directly there's more effect options for widening, delay, compression, limiting, etc. and so far I've been getting cleaner, louder mixes. Though, when I compare it to others that post their music on Bandlab mine still sounds weak in volume and clarity. There's a lot people on there that are making midi music that doesn't involve any real instruments. Oh, and their vocals usually have a whole lotta Auto-tune. Except this dude He knows what's up! HEEHEEHEE!
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Autotune is applied in degrees and with Melodyne and a skillful editor it is sonically invisible, except that your vocals sound amazing.

Finalizer has a very good PDF user manual. I tried Wavelab elements for Mastering. It's a good program but I now use Streaky's template for Reaper that I modified. That gives me the best results by far. I've also invested quite a bit in software tools, including things like RX for repair/restoration.

Btw, I'm about to take my second course in Mastering. I cannot over-stress the importance of education when it comes to Mastering. It's a completely different approach and mindset from mixing.

Most of the objectional things that I hear people talking about (not just on this forum) are happening because anyone can upload/release anything. Even people who don't know what they're doing. So, yeah, that's what we're hearing.

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