Like many of you, I have a few thousand dollars tied into my software synths and sample libraries (Spectrasonics, NI, SI, EW) Lately I've been using one "main" output for Kontakt 2 and each softsynth used in a piece. No EQ, no compression... nothing! Reverb is all on-board convolution or conventional. When a theme is finished, I simply adjust volume levels and create a 24/96 .wav before sending it through a Waves mastering chain (LinEQ (low & broadband), LinMB, L2). To me, it sounds great but maybe this approach is inadequate? My question is this:
With today's sound technology, to what extent do you guys feel it necessary to compress, EQ or widen these instruments before hitting the mastering stage? Have any of you adopted this "less is more" approach to mixing? Could you share your techniques?
(btw, I monitor through a Blue Sky 2.1 ProDesk system if that matters? )
I find I rarely have to EQ well recorded samples much. You do have to adjust even the best instruments sometimes just to make them sit right in a mix. I do add compression on most things, and reverb definitely. And of course drum samples get the works. I am gradually getting used to using the built-in processing offered by Kontakt and GS3 and I must say I really like it. Especially the convolution reverbs. But it eats processing power fast so I still do a lot of traditional processing after I track. I still bounce everything to a VS-2480 to mix.
Using a sampler's onboard convolution reverb may or may not be a good thing--since you might have other tracks that need to sit in the same space, so sometimes having a dedicated convolution reverb as a send effects for multiple instruments/tracks is better than using onboard sampler effects. Using a mastering multi-band compressor or exciter can enhance the overall feel of your track, so that can also be a good idea. A good set of samples sometime needs to be eq'ed to sit in a track better among all the other instruments, so overall the "don't need to use any effects" mentality is too simplified for my taste. Anything you can do to make your music sound better--you should.