The processor that revolutionised home mastering is at last available in software form.
TC Electronic first introduced digital multiband compression in their M5000 hardware back in 1994, but the concept really took off with the launch of their Finalizer in 1996: the music industry would never sound the same again! This was a?powerful tool, but its relatively accessible pricing, combined with the automatic loudness compensation and the lack of an overview of what really was happening to the music, made it all too easy to overdo the processing. So it’s fair to say it’s a processor that divided?opinion.
Nearly a?quarter of a?century, and a?DAW revolution, later, TC have released a?standalone software version of the Finalizer. But while the algorithms have been ported from the company’s System 6000 hardware into this software, this is not a?simple clone of the old hardware. Indeed, the manufacturers suggest the algorithms have been ‘enhanced’, and the software’s new one?window interface is a?lot more useful, not least because it does so much to address the aforementioned lack of overview.
On the left of the GUI, you’ll find TC’s brand new Spectro Lab metering section, with full track analysis in the form of a?Spectral Dynamic Contour and Average Spectral Curve, as well as Real Time Spectrum metering; more on this later. The middle shows the chain of processing modules you’ve selected, along with their settings. To the right is a?module library, and the right?most section hosts the monitoring section and output metering. The bottom of the screen shows the waveform of the processed audio or chosen reference track. One window, many possibilities.
Today, the workflow for many musicians and laptop producers involves having some mastering plug?ins on the stereo bus, to help render a?‘finished’ sound. Having to move mixes into the Finalizer software could be seen as a?limitation, but I’d argue that it’s a?better approach: switching software and being limited to performing processing on the stereo mix forces you to take off your mixing cap and look through the mastering monocle. It shifts your focus from doing small changes in the mix to considering the whole song as a single entity, while comparing the processing result with reference tracks.