Audio, Reviews

Award-winning potential with IK Multimedia Lurssen Mastering Console

Suites for mastering audio exist in all shapes and forms. IK Multimedia developed a mastering suite together with Gavin Lurssen, the owner of a multiple Grammy award winning mastering studio. It looks exactly like the real thing and is based on Lurssen’s studio equipment. The app annexe DAW plug-in incorporates the best practices of the studio.

The Lurssen Mastering Controls app can be used in stand-alone mode or as a plug-in to any DAW — these days even Propellerhead’s Reason. It uses an interface that reminisces the consoles as they would have been popular in master studios of the nineties, i.e. the entire thing has two large knobs and five EQ controls — rotating knobs as well.

IK Multimedia wasn’t looking to provide you with as many sliders, controls and buttons as possible when it designed the Lurssen Mastering Suite. Instead, it wanted to bring the unique sound of Lurssen’s award-winning mastering into the hands of everyone who wants to have the best in audio mastering — not necessarily the loudest. That means the app does not distract from the task that’s ahead of you. You have to listen carefully to what you’re doing and change the sound so that it becomes more pleasing or capable of changing the mood you’re in. The two UV meters are your guides.

The Lurssen Mastering Console is not for users who want to sound loud, loud, loud. It’s for the user who knows about loudness standards, recording audio properly and adding the right amount of EQ changes to make the whole sound better than its parts. The app supports this goal 110%, exactly because it’s almost an exact replica of Lurssen’s philosophy. The interface may look simple for lacking the numerous digital controls you’ll find in some other mastering suites, but it does support your needs fully. For example, Lurssen Mastering Console allows you to automate Input and Output gain for the left and right channels separately, using the initially hidden waveform and a familiar sound level envelope that you can draw manually with the knobs nicely following your moves at playtime, or vice versa.

The equipment chain — Compressors, Equalisers, etc. — can be made visible, but only three of them are for you to control. The others have a fixed influence which is said to be the secret sauce Lurssen is famous for.

There are numerous presets to choose from, including rock, pop and Americana. I was hoping Lurssen would have mastered classical music too and IK Multimedia would have included a preset for it, but that was the only disappointment I ran into.

With no presets for classical music, I experimented with a few of my favourite classical recordings, which, I imagine, have been mastered and mixed to perfection by Deutsche Grammofon. Nevertheless, I could improve some recordings that sound muffled in my room and with my set of speakers to a level that made the music easier listening. I also took to mastering a sound clip for a video intro I made and some subtle changes made it sound more to my liking, with details that sounded drowned easily brought to the front stage.

If you know what you’re doing, you can use this app to improve your listening experience as well, provided you use an audiophile player that supports AU plug-ins, like Audirvana Plus. I tried it to compensate the lack of bass I experience due to the location of my speakers. I tried the same before using NUGEN Audio’s excellent SEQ equaliser but never managed to get exactly what I wanted, because it offers a “prosumer” like myself too many options to choose from. The Lurssen app just gave me enough control to make it work — although it’s not meant to be used like this.

As the changes are never extreme, it’s not even very difficult to make things better — with or without presets. As for making things Grammy award winning, that is an entirely different matter, of course.

Lurssen Mastering Console costs €193.59, which isn’t cheap, but I doubt you could do better.