When I first heard that Gavin Lurssen, Reuben Cohen and a team of engineers at Lurssen Mastering are teaming up and putting together a plugin that would be modeled after the mastering console from the Lurssen Mastering studio in Burbank California, my first reaction was hmm really? But if you were to have one Mastering Engineer in the entire world to learn from, it would have to be Gavin Lurssen. His multi Grammy awards, his industry awards, and his client list are just absolutely amazing. So when Gavin says that his plugin will revolutionize the mastering industry you have to take a listen. My first thought was that his claim to simplify the process much like Steve Jobs did with a one-button mentality approach is absolute lunacy. But looking at the pedigree here I could not resist giving it a try. So here is my review of the Lurssen Mastering Console.
It is formatted for both Mac and PC in AU, VST 2, VST 3, AAX, and there is a stand-alone version for the iPad as well set up to be able to master from your iPad. The first question I had was why an iPad version? The answer for the iPad application was that if you decide to take your iPad into say your car for example to audition your master it is now possible to make adjustments to your master while your still in your car! This is very innovated approach, kudos to the Lurssen team on that bold move. Now comes the question, how good does it sound? I studied Mastering at Berklee College of Music. I am very familiar with the mastering techniques and I have to say that the best way to really tell if the Lurssen Mastering Console is doing its job is to try out a handful of pre-mastered songs on it and then compare them to the mastered ones that I did using a much more complex chain of plugins. So how did it do?
Using the presets to get me in the right direction was easy, then tweaking the very limited (but powerful) knobs and sliders got great results fast and easy. There are only four bands of EQ and very basic threshold sliders for the compression to use, but it was indeed very effective and powerful. The PUSH knob is really a cool idea, when using it in conjunction with automation you can get a bit more intensity out of your chorus and other key moments of the song you are mastering. The processing is at 88.2/96kHz DSP for pristine sound quality and it really does sound great. But, I do believe that in order to properly master you do need to know what to listen for so that is a major point to be made. However if you can A B your master with similar genres and artists songs that are already professionally mastered, it is possible to produce awesome masters with it. When I master I was taught to use reference tracks to compare my end product to and I recommend doing it that way. Also I would recommend having a good set of speakers in a room that is treated for acoustic abnormalities. You don’t have to spend tons of money, but it is important to have a least the basics covered, a few bass traps can go a long way. The plugin is good not God but using your car as an additional reference is always a good idea, since you probably spend a lot of time listening to music in your car and you know the sound system.
So in the end I found that at times if I put my trusted FabFilter Pro-Q 2 equalizer plugin set at natural phase before the Lurssen Mastering Console, that it gave me the precision that I need for certain situations. But second in the chain is the Lurssen and that in combination with the FabFilter Pro-Q 2 or really any high quality EQ will knock it out of the park, I like to do some Mid/Side processing at times. However, even without the natural phase EQ on the chain I got great results fast, simple and most important of all I got a very high quality master. My masters came out remarkably clear and without artificial pumping and at a pro level of .1 dBFS which is great. I also use a product by Sample Magic called AB 2 placed last in the signal chain so that I can conveniently reference other tracks to my master as I make my adjustments. I give the Lurssen Mastering Console my full recommendation and with an introductory cost of $200.00 USD and list of $300.00 USD it is a great buy, especially for a musician who doesn’t have a lot of audio engineering experience, I am very impressed with value, however my mastering chain still persists using a Fabfilter Pro Q-2, Fabfilter Pro C-2, Ozone 7 Advanced, Sample Magic A/B Waves NX, then lastly Sonarworks Headphone Calibration Reference 3.
4 out of 5 stars
Drew Puzia is a multi-award winning Mix Engineer at SoundBurst Studios in Las Vegas. Drew is certified in Audio Engineering from the world renowned Berklee College of Music. His experience spans over three decades in the music industry and he has recorded and mixed countless musicians in many genres of music.