There’s nothing like the ears and expertise of a mastering engineer to finish off a project, but when that’s just not in the budget, you have to do it yourself. It’s true that a ton of mastering tools are on the market, and many of them do the job very well, but none are as easy to use as the Lurssen Mastering Console from IK Multimedia.
The Lurssen Mastering Console is the brainchild of mastering engineer Gavin Lurssen (Foo Fighters, Ben Harper, Queens Of The Stone Age, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, Eric Clapton, Miranda Lambert, and Elvis Costello, among many others) and Ruben Cohen, and is based on the same setup and signal path that they use at Lurssen Mastering studio. It actually comes in a plugin version and as a standalone, with a free iPhone or iPad app available so you can tweak your tracks from the privacy of your car.
The Console consists of an Input Drive control, a 5 band EQ, and a unique Push control, that’s particularly important because it lets you subtly nudge the EQs all at once so you can “ride” the flow of the song, just like Gavin does when he works. You can also automate the ride of the Push control (as well as the Input Drive control) so that your settings can be tweaked with the dynamics of the song. There are also two VU meters, a master bypass switch, and a stereo/mono monitoring switch.
Another thing that’s unique are the presets in that they control the number of processors, the type of processors, and their location in the signal path, as well as the typical Drive, EQ and Push settings for the genre of music. For instance, some presets use a sold state limiter or compressor, while others use a tube-style model, again based on the hardware signal path that Gavin uses.
The stand-alone version of the console adds a waveform display with automation overlay, and transport controls (including a useful loop function). There’s also a Digital Delivery Mastering option that ensures that files processed through the Console meet the exacting specification of Apple’s Mastered for iTunes program when they’re exported.
The Lurssen Mastering Console is extremely easy to use and makes your master sound better almost instantly. I even took some tracks that were mastered by a famous top mastering engineer that already sounded great, and the Console made them sound better. And it works really well on a drum buss and is ideal as the main part of a New York City parallel compression setup.
The IK Multimedia Lurssen Mastering Console normally costs $159, but is now on special at $119. It’s available for all plugin platforms on Mac and PC. You can find more info on the IK dedicated page here, and in the video below.