Professional Sound - June 2022 - Page 23

Steinberg Wavelab Pro 11 Mastering Software

By Dajaun Martineau

Wavelab Pro 11 is the latest version of Steinberg ’ s flagship mastering software . Many of you might be thinking why do I need a dedicated mastering software , I just do my mastering in the same DAW that I mix in ? While , yes , you can apply mastering-style processing in any DAW , having a dedicated software for mastering can really elevate the quality of your work , and streamline your mastering process . I started using mastering software to help with track sequencing in projects that have overlapping audio files ; where there may not be any silence between songs , but there is so much more than just placing track markers that a proper mastering software can do for you .

Batch processes are one of the key features in Wavelab Pro 11 , and the ability to build plug-in chains and process entire sets of audio files with the same plug-ins automatically is a huge timesaver . An example could be mastering engineers who are looking to normalize mixes from multiple mixers in preparation for an analog mastering chain . The loudness normalizer preset that comes with Wavelab 11 does exactly that — allowing you to set a target loudness for the software to automatically normalize all files in the batch .
Where I found myself using the software the most was the “ audio montage ” project type . Montages are an ideal workflow for sequencing all your audio to blend together into one fluid project . Once you have your project sequenced you can have the software automatically place track markers and then you can apply processing in multiple ways . The most common way to apply a process in any DAW is to add a plug-in to a track ; multiple audio files can live on each track so this is an easy way to get similar songs in the project to have similar sonic values . The second way you can apply processing in Wavelab is by inserting plug-ins in the master section , which will be applied last in the chain . I find processing on the master section ideal for any final limiting or any broad strokes tones you want to make to the overall project . The third and most interesting way I found to apply processing was by putting plug-ins directly on the clips . This means no matter where that clip ends up in the sequence , the sonic values you have sculpted will follow it . I found that applying processing directly to the clip was the best way for me to surgically manipulate the signal at the source . By equalizing or controlling dynamics on the clip , I was able to shape the clips to hit the track processes and the master processes more evenly . While mastering music projects in Wavelab , I found it beneficial to do different types of processing at each one of these stages to help unify the project into one consistent sound , even if the sources were drastically different .
“ Track lanes ” and “ track groups ” are new features that allow you to master from stem mixes in an incredibly efficient manner . Now that the developers have introduced track lanes , each track can have multiple lanes that will sum together . Individual clips can still have their own unique processing and any processing applied to the track will be applied to the sum of all the lanes in the track for traditional two-channel processing . Clips inside a track can be grouped together so that they all move as one within the lanes , allowing you to effortlessly rearrange songs without having to worry about re-aligning stems . Grouping tracks together with “ Track groups ” gives you even more options when you have your clips on separate tracks . By grouping tracks , you can have different “ group processes ” to create different masters automatically . For example , you could group sets of tracks to create instrumental , TV , and acapella masters from stems and then when it comes time to render the software , you can automatically output all variations of the master required for delivery .
Also available now in Wavelab 11 is multi-channel support up to 22.2 surround and Ambisonics files , so now you can process and master spatial audio files as easily as you would a stereo audio file . Wavelab now includes a series of new and updated VST plug-ins to add to the tonal diversity of your project .
DeReverb helps control any reverberant content in a track using a parametrically generated impulse response . Frequency 2 is an update on the original Frequency plug-
in that has a plethora of new features including the addition of dynamic EQ , which I have found incredibly useful to help control tracks without unnecessarily changing the colour . But if your intent is to colour the track , then Squasher is an incredibly colourful compressor that includes upward compression for added dynamic options . Imager is a multiband stereo processor that allows you to control width and depth of field in each individual frequency range . Finally , Quadrafuzz 2 is a multiband distortion that lets you choose between adding girth , cream , sheen , or sparkle to your track .
For third-party plug-ins there are also some really cool features built into Wavelab . The software allows you to choose how the plug-in is integrated into the mix , be it serial or parallel processing and gives you MS options for added spatial control .
Overall , Wavelab Pro 11 has elevated my mastering workflow in countless ways . Being able to use one instance of a given plug-in to affect multiple sources while still having the ability to affect each source individually allows me to efficiently address issues within tracks while still unifying all the sources into a cohesive project . Now that Wavelab Pro 11 incorporates multicore processing and with the improvements in workflow , I find that I can work more efficiently while working my system significantly less hard .
Dajaun Martineau is a gold-certified producer , songwriter , multi-instrumentalist , and mixer with multiple Juno-nominated projects . For more information , go to www . dajaun . com .