How To Use The Mastering Assistant In Logic ProNov 27, 2023
Apple recently released the 10.8 update of its popular digital audio workstation (DAW), Logic Pro. During the years, one of the primary factors that put Logic Pro among the world’s most famous DAWs was its vast array of stock plugins, features, and sound library.
Apple keeps adding new powerful features to Logic with each major new update, and the 10.8 version is no exception. Among the new tools in Logic, one of them takes the spotlight, which is the Mastering Assistant plugin.
The art of mastering a song takes a lot of delicacy and an extremely tuned pair of ears. If you’ve tried mastering projects in Logic Pro, you’ve probably faced this scenario: the mix sounds crisp and ready on your monitoring speakers, but when you switch to a car stereo or phone speaker, it’s far from ideal.
Apple claims that the Mastering Assistant plugin helps you get a final mix that sounds great across any playback device. This plugin uses a pallet of advanced and intuitive sound-shaping tools that fine-tune the dynamics and frequencies of your mix. With no further ado, let’s take a look at how you can take advantage of this new feature for releasing better music.
Getting Familiar With The Mastering Assistant Plugin’s Interface
First and foremost, let’s see how we can open the Mastering Assistant plugin in a Logic session. You can either press “I” on your keyboard to open the Inspector menu or press “X” to open the mixer window.
Either way, you’d want to navigate to the “Stereo Out” channel strip. At the bottom of this channel strip’s effects slot, you’ll find a plugin called “Mastering.” Click it to activate Logic’s Mastering Assistant.
Once turned on, this plugin automatically analyzes your mix and makes adjustments accordingly. You can open the plugin by clicking it from the effects slot. Once you open it, you’ll see a bunch of knobs, faders, and buttons that control different parameters. Let’s dive in to see what each of them does.
The first thing you’ll notice is the Character menu (1) in the top-left corner of the plugin’s interface. It allows you to switch between four different characters of the processing applied to your project: Clean, Valve, Punch, and Transparent. These presets change the sonic qualities of parameters inspired by hardware mastering chains used professionally.
Clean gives you transparent yet punchy results. Typically, you’d want to use this character for EDM, acoustic music, or anything that needs a clean yet punchy sound.
Next, Valve has an algorithm that emulates using tubes to deliver a deeper low end and a more refined high end. It is useful for acoustic and hip-hop music.
Punch has an aggressive characteristic that puts emphasis on the mid-range frequencies, which is ideal for rock music.
Lastly, Transparent allows you to utilize an algorithm inspired by modern and tight-sounding compressors. It’s a safe bet that suits almost any genre of music.
Note: Choosing a different characteristic is only available for Macs with Apple Silicon chips. If you have an intel-based Mac or you’re opening Logic using Rosetta, you’ll only have access to “Clean.”
Beneath the Character menu, you have the Auto EQ slider (2). After analyzing the project, the plugin applies a frequency curve based on its algorithms to improve the sound of your project. You can use this slider to adjust how much of this frequency curve is applied to your Stereo Out channel.
Moreover, you have three dots on the main graph to customize low, mid, and high frequencies. You can toggle custom EQ on and off with its dedicated button (3).
The Loudness Compensation feature (4) in the bottom-right corner of the Mastering Assistant plugin allows you to match the volume of the processed audio with that of the original. This helps you listen to the differences in terms of dynamics and frequencies when you bypass the plugin without being influenced by differences in loudness. Make sure to turn it off before you export or bounce your project.
Above that, you have the Spread section. The Width knob allows you to increase or decrease the width of your mix.
Moreover, you have a Correlation meter (5) that displays the phase relationship of a stereo signal. Your project should be above 0 to ensure it has mono compatibility. If it shows any value lower than 0, it means that some materials in your song are out of phase, causing phase cancellations if the stereo signal is combined into a monaural signal.
Lastly, you have the Dynamics section that comes with a Loudness knob, an Excite button, and a few meters. The Excite button saturates upper-mid range frequencies for adding a richer and crispier character to your mix.
Also, you have a Start/Pause button that activates the loudness meter on the LU Range field.
How To Approach Using The Mastering Assistant In Logic
The Mastering Assistant does a pretty good job at executing what Apple claims it can do. However, it cannot turn a fundamentally bad song into a radio hit.
So, before you even begin using this tool, make sure your production stage is complete. Then, you’d want to mix your project in Logic, ensuring everything sounds balanced and dynamically consistent. You should leave enough headroom to ensure your project doesn’t clip.
When you’re done with the mix, you can go ahead and add the Mastering Assistant plugin to your Stereo Out channel strip. Let it analyze your project and make the automatic adjustment based on its algorithms.
Then, listen to your processed track a couple of times and take notes on areas you want to change manually. Although this plugin does a really clean job, I still recommend listening to your mix on different sound systems (headphones, studio monitors, crappy BlueTooth speakers, etc.) to better find parameters that you can address for an improved final track.
Once everything sounds as it should, go ahead and bounce your track out. Now, your track should be ready for distribution on streaming services. Getting your music out there might be daunting at first. Click here to learn everything about how to upload music to Spotify the right way.
For more music production, mixing, and mastering lessons, check out my Free 6 Pillars To Learn Logic Pro Faster guidebook.