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Getting The Late 80s CD Sound (Part 3)

Continued from Getting The Late 80s CD Sound (Part 2)

Step 8: Boosting Levels Using Multiband Compression

The master should be sounding pretty good at this point. The only thing left is to get a little more consistency across frequency bands. Add the Waves L3 MultiMaximizer to your track right after Ozone 3. The interface looks pretty scary but we aren’t going to get too carried away. We don’t want to crunch all the dynamics our of the mix like we did in Modern Mastering because we are going for the 80s sound which is quite a bit cleaner and (dare I say) a bit sterile.

Play your track all the way through which will initialize the meters and peak hold boxes on the L3. Check the settings in the peak hold boxes of the Threshold meter (Figure 22). Determine the higher of the two numbers. In our example -4.9 is the higher of the two negative numbers. Subtract 3 from this and enter that value in the Threshold box. -4.9 minus 3 is -7.9 so that is what we enter for the Threshold value (Figure 23). Set the Out Ceiling to -0.1 (Figure 24). We are shooting for a modest 3.0dB of gain reduction. A more modern sounding mix would stand for around 6.0dB of reduction but we want to keep the mix very clean and spacious with lots of dynamic range so we are only bringing things up a little bit. Play back your whole track and inspect the Atten column for the value showing there (Figure 25). We did not quite hit our -3.0dB target but we are very close. This is probably close enough but I’m going to continue and show you how to correct for this in case you are not close enough to be satisfied in your own mix. In our example, we are at -2.9dB of attenuation and are shooting for -3.0dB. The difference is -0.1dB so we take that off the Threshold setting to give us -8.0 (Figure 26). Playing back your whole mix again should give you your target attenuation (Figure 27). If you got closer but not quite there, just figure out the new difference and add it to the Threshold again.

80s mastering figure 22
Figure 22
80s mastering figure 23
Figure 23
80s mastering figure 24
Figure 24
80s mastering figure 25
Figure 25
80s mastering figure 26
Figure 26
80s mastering figure 27
Figure 27

You are finished mastering your mix

That is all there is to it. Sit back and enjoy your mix. It is ready for putting on discs or to be compressed for digital distribution.

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Sample Songs

You can hear samples of this mastering by listening to the tracks the technique was used on. The project was for the Jasper Mountain bluegrass band. The track is called Cold Rain And Snow and you can listen to the full track at the band’s myspace page.