I would never advocate using a compressor/limiter on your output as a quick and easy, do-it-yourself way to master your music. If placed there, something like the L2007 will be very effective at making your track sound louder and radio ready, but there are mastering engineers out there trained to make the most minute changes to make your music sound good across all platforms. You can imagine the L2007 to be a lot like the SSL Buss compressor, in the sense that it sounds beautiful on almost anything, but you can easily overuse it. When used tastefully, this mastering limiter can add new elements to your mixes that you had no idea were missing.
For those of you unfamiliar with Massey Plugins – you’ve been missing out. Steven Massey started making plug-ins and releasing them on his own after leaving Digidesign in 2006. His plug-ins have, and continue to be free to try out on any of your projects for an unlimited amount of time. The only really big restriction is the inability to save presets, so you’ve got to document your settings well. This is great for students and independent engineers that are looking to fully experiment with the software before buying. To make these plug-ins even more of a deal, they’re each available for purchase at a fraction of what other major manufacturers charge for similar products (and potentially sound 10x better.) The specific plug-in we’ll be looking at today costs $89 on Massey’s site, and includes some cool features beyond the demo version including restore functionality and automation.
Perhaps the most unique element of the L2007 is the mode knob, giving different coloration to whatever you’re limiting. With a four choices you can make the plugin work for almost any style. The loud setting can be perfect for anything that you just want to boost overall by a few dB, or cleanly trim down some of the loudest peaks. Mellow and smooth both work for a softer pop or R&B style than the previous setting. The vibrant setting I’ve used the least, but it can certainly brighten up your sound if you can’t do it with traditional EQing or multiband compression. The L2007’s various modes shines brightest when treated like older hardware: by pushing the levels.
Simplicity At Its Best
There’s something poetic about having two large knobs and letting the unit do the rest. Yes, you have slight control over release times, but with the L2007 you really have two main decisions: how much is going in and how much is coming out. When I’m mixing, I try to adhere to the “kissing” method with my output buss. When you are limiting and compressing your output, you’re in danger of chopping off all dynamic range that allows your song to breathe. By continuing to keep things simple by just kissing the limiter (reducing the peaks by 1 – 3 dB) allows an overall perceived loudness without completely changing your mix. Another way to avoid the limiter affecting your sound too much would be to apply the limiter before mixing and leave it on. With the Massey L2007, a little bit of limiting can go a long way to giving you a professional quality sound.
For The Master & Its Minions
As a mastering limiter, you’d think the plugin would be specialized to your output, but can be even more effective on individual tracks. Some modes such as loud can give an almost 1176 effect to a lead vocal or guitar, adding a warmer grit to the sound. In contrast, I’ve found the mellow setting to work well with a bass guitar and giving it a smooth boost in level. Even throwing the plug-in on an aux with a copy of the drums can be mixed in with your original drums to give them an added punch if needed. I’d really recommend trying the L2007 out on various instrumentation yourself. Experimenting is the best way to find your ideal sound with each plug-in and develop your own personal tastes.
If you’re interested in trying out the plug-in or are ready to purchase it now, be sure to head over to http://www.masseyplugins.com/