Anyone who has worked in pro studios have seen TC Electronic units. Our recently purchased TC Electronic System 6000 is the flagship unit of the company. It has the best sound and the best, most complex algorithms of all the companies' units. The TC 6000 is a "mainframe" computer, i.e., an outboard unit and therefore, like our other digital units (both Weiss units, the K-Stereo Processor and the Waves L2), operates at full capacity without depending on the power of the computer which runs our audio program.
Due to lack of available computing power, TC Electronic has not been able to release their full complement of software in the recently released versions for Powercore and Pro Tools. So, although the environment for plug-ins is gradually improving, our outboard processors can handle more functions while consistently sounding better than plug-ins!
The TC Electronic Mastering was the 2005 TEC Award winner for "Signal Processing Technology/Hardware". TEC is short for "Technical Excellent & Creative Award" and is presented yearly by MIX Magazine at the AES Show in New York.
.Mastering 6000 contains the new MD4, a 5-band dynamics processor with phase linear reconstruction that can operate in dual mono, stereo and MS modes, and has DXP low level detail enhancement capability. Additional processing includes BrickWall Limiter 2 to prevent distortion and listening fatigue.
The above algorithms offer a superb 5 band multi-band compressor, eq, expander and transparent brick wall limiter. These algorithms work in stereo and M/S stereo. The latter is a most useful tool in perfecting stereo mixes during the mastering process
The M/S stereo mode provides a way to be able to adjust certain elements in the stereo field, almost like having access to the individual tracks, but working from a different angle. An M/S device will convert the stereo field into two channels. I.e., one channel being everything mixed at 12 o'clock on the pan pot (called M or middle) and the other being the combination of everything mixed to the right and left (called S or sides). Although not as discrete as an individual channel, the elements are usually separated enough to able to effectively alter the mix. Imagine being able to equalize, compress or adjust the volume on either of those "channels" on any frequency spectrum. Obviously not as good as having the individual tracks to adjust, but a real problem solver when you don't have time to remix and you need, for example, the lead vocal louder, M, and the cymbals softened a bit, S.
Another use of M/S is to alter the stereo field to make the image bigger (or smaller, in rare cases). Previously, we could only do that globally with our K-Stereo Processor but now, there are selective options available. A recent example was a track that was too monophonic sounding for the rest of the album. Fortunately, there were some stereo acoustic guitars panned slightly to the side. The fix was to find the frequency where they were most prominent and raise the level of the sides at that point. The result was almost the same as going back to the mix and moving the pan pots of the guitars out a bit, a subtle but useful addition to the sound of that track.
As the TC System 6000 is a standalone system, it offers several optional licenses (i.e., reverb, dynamics, surround, etc) in order to allow studios to configure it optimally to suit their own needs. We brought in the unit to demo the mastering features but when it was noticed that the famous TC reverbs were also available to try, well, who could resist!
The mixing engineers started using them immediately in their mixes to great effect. TC Electronic and Lexicon have absolutely the best reverbs on the market and the TC 6000 reverbs are the best algorithms that the company has to offer. Even though we had heard they were great, we were still surprised how much better they sounded compared to our best plug-in reverbs.
Although reverb is not exactly a staple of the mastering world, we do use it for the following reasons. Sometimes the end of an audio file gets cut off by the mix engineer. So we smooth the fade and automate some reverb to give it length. Once in awhile a mix will be too dry for the context of an album and adding a tiny bit of reverb overall will do the trick. Once again, the TC beat the Altiverb plug-in that we had been previously using for this purpose.
Needless to say, we had to purchase this licence and so OnlineMastering.net has graduated from plug-in reverbs to TC Electronic 6000 reverbs and as a result, our reverbs and delays are equal to the best studios in the world, at any cost!