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DETAILER

Mastering Plug-in
User’s Guide

Version 1.0

Mac

Windows

VST / Audio Units / RTAS


End User License Agreement

Please read this carefully. This Agreement is a contract between you, either individual or single entity, and Elemental Audio, Inc.
and Roger Nichols Digital, Inc., a Florida corporation. Your installation and use of the accompanying software indicates your
agreement to be bound by the terms and conditions of this Agreement.

The software products, associated media, printed materials and electronic documentation accompanying this license (collectively,
“Software”) is owned by Elemental Audio, Inc. and Roger Nichols Digital, Inc.. This Software is not sold, but may be used only by
persons or entities that have been granted a License to use the program (“Licensee”). Such grant of License is conditional upon
payment of applicable license fees and agreement to the License terms stated herein.

In consideration for your payment of the applicable license fees, Elemental Audio, Inc. and Roger Nichols Digital, Inc. grants you
the following rights:

1. Evaluation Software. Copies of this Software designated "DEMO", "BETA", or "TRIAL" on the information screen may, in some
cases, be provided by the Licensor for no payment or a payment that is only a small percent of the normal licensing fee. Such
Software is intended to give you the opportunity to evaluate the Software and may incorporate time or data size limits. Evaluation
Software may be transferred, unmodified, provided it is accompanied by this license, all of the original Software’s proprietary
notices, and any other documentation that originally accompanied the Evaluation Software. Elemental Audio, Inc. and Roger Nichols
Digital, Inc. DISCLAIMS ALL WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, OF THE EVALUATION SOFTWARE, INCLUDING WITHOUT
LIMITATION WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND OF FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. THE EVALUATION SOFTWARE IS
PROVIDED “AS IS.”
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shall be bound by the terms outlined in Commercial or Institutional License.
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registered in the name of an individual person for the sole use of that individual. Software used by more than one individual shall be
considered Commercial or Institutional. The following provisions shall apply to Commercial or Institutional Licenses:
(a) One copy of the Software may be installed on a single computer;
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the original Software's proprietary notices. The number of copies on the packing slip(s), invoice(s), electronic confirmation(s), or
Certificate(s) of Authenticity is the total number of copies that may be made for all platforms.
4. Restrictions.
(a) This software contains trade secrets and as such, may not be modified, translated, reverse engineered, decompiled, or
disassembled. You may not create derivative works based on the Software.
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(c) The Software is licensed, not sold. Title to and copyright in the software, and in any copies you are permitted to make, are owned
by Elemental Audio, Inc. and Roger Nichols Digital, Inc.. You may not, without the express written consent of Elemental Audio,
Inc. and Roger Nichols Digital, Inc., copy or reproduce any part of the Software except as specified above.
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Roger Nichols Digital, Inc. may terminate the License if you fail to comply with the terms of this agreement. You may terminate the
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Nichols Digital, Inc., or destroy, the software and all copies and extracts.
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ADEQUATELY PREDICT WITH CERTAINTY THE PERFORMANCE OF THE PRODUCT. AS SUCH, ELEMENTAL AUDIO, INC. AND ROGER
NICHOLS DIGITAL, INC. DOES NOT WARRANT THAT THIS PRODUCT WILL OPERATE-ERROR FREE OR OPERATE WITHOUT
INTERRUPTION, THIS SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED “AS-IS.” TO THE MAXIMUM EXTENT PERMITTED BY APPLICABLE LAW, IN NO EVENT
SHALL ELEMENTAL AUDIO, INC. AND ROGER NICHOLS DIGITAL, INC. OR ITS SUPPLIERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY SPECIAL,
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OF BUSINESS PROFITS, BUSINESS INTERRUPTION, LOSS OF BUSINESS INFORMATION, OR ANY OTHER PECUNIARY LOSS) ARISING
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NICHOLS DIGITAL, INC.’ ENTIRE LIABILITY UNDER ANY PROVISION OF THIS EULA SHALL BE LIMITED TO THE GREATER OF THE
AMOUNT ACTUALLY PAID BY YOU FOR THE SOFTWARE PRODUCT OR U.S.$5.00.

8. Miscellaneous. This License represents the entire Agreement between the Licensee and Elemental Audio, Inc.
and Roger Nichols Digital, Inc.. If any provision of this License is held to be unenforceable, that provision will be
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remain in full force. The terms of this Agreement shall be construed under the laws of the State of Florida.
Table of Contents
Installation ...................................................................................................................... 7
Uninstalling DETAILER......................................................................................... 8
About This Guide ........................................................................................................... 9
Detailer......................................................................................................................... 10
About Detailer .......................................................................................................... 10
Navigating Detailer ................................................................................................... 10
INPUT GAIN AND LEVEL METERS (1)............................................................ 10
+8dB Metering ...................................................................................................... 11
BAND LEVELS (2).............................................................................................. 11
DETAIL Settings (3)............................................................................................. 12
DETAIL Display (4) ............................................................................................. 13
THREE BAND LIMITER (5) ............................................................................... 14
OUTPUT METERS (6)......................................................................................... 15
CEILING CONTROL (7)...................................................................................... 15
WORKSPACE (8) ................................................................................................ 16
LOAD SAVE (9) .................................................................................................. 16
METER HOLD (10) ............................................................................................. 17
DITHER (11) ........................................................................................................ 17
Detailer Work Flow ...................................................................................................... 19
Launch Detailer......................................................................................................... 19
Details First .............................................................................................................. 20
Individual Detail Control........................................................................................... 21
Advanced Detail Control........................................................................................... 21
Detail Display ........................................................................................................... 22
Input Level Control and Metering ............................................................................. 23
Limiter Settings ........................................................................................................ 24
Drive..................................................................................................................... 24
Bias....................................................................................................................... 25
Release.................................................................................................................. 25
Knee ..................................................................................................................... 25
Compression Editorial........................................................................................... 25
Dither Type............................................................................................................... 26
Ceiling Control ......................................................................................................... 27
Output Meter............................................................................................................. 27
Output and Input Meter Scale.................................................................................... 28
Using Workspaces .................................................................................................... 30
Load and Save........................................................................................................... 30
Conclusion.................................................................................................................... 31
Roger Nichols Digital, Inc. is committed to bringing you superior audio production
software. We produce software that is rich in functionality, aesthetically pleasing
and easy to use. We want you to enjoy using our products. Drop us a note at
feedback@RNDigital.com to let us know what you think. We are always
interested to know how our users are benefiting from our products.

Be sure to visit our website for updates and current information on this or any of
our other products.

Web: www.rogernicholsdigital.com
Feedback: feedback@RNDigital.com
Support: support@RNDigital.com

Roger Nichols Digital, Inc.


1213 Sunset Drive
Clearwater, FL 33755 USA
Welcome to DETAILER
Congratulations! You have purchased Roger Nichols Digital’s latest Mastering
plug-in, DETAILER. Since DETAILER is a plug-in, you gain access to its
functionality via your favorite audio processing or editing software. Once properly
installed, both mono and stereo versions of DETAILER will be accessible via the
appropriate menu item, often labeled Plug-Ins or Effects, in your chosen software
application.

DETAILER is an amazingly flexible mix enhancer and 3-band Limiter that allows
you to increase the quality of your mix beyond that of any other plug-in. Improves
the sound of any mix, and allows you to turn up the loudness while maintaining
the dynamics you spent so much time capturing during the recording.

DETAILER’s versatility will enhance any mixing situation. It will help you balance
the Left / Right stereo spread, increase the detail in the center of the mix, and
pump up the level without squashing the high frequency content in your mix.

Two workspaces allow you to create and compare changes to your parameters
to zero in on the ideal settings for your mix. Boost the mix detail and watch the
results on the unique Detail display. See the levels change in each band as the
Limiter kicks up the volume setting a new Hi Fi benchmark for others to try to
attain. Save and load settings that will be available to you in any host.
DETAILER supports sampling rates up to 192 kHz. No other Plug-in on the
market offers this level of freedom and versatility. DETAILER truly puts you in
charge of your final mix.

Enjoy!

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About DETAILER
In 1992 Roger Nichols came up with the algorithms for the DETAILER. They
looked good on paper, but there was no readily available computer with the DSP
power to turn what was on paper into a reality.

Roger coded the algorithms using Motorola 56000 assembler making sure every
clock cycle counted. He then burned the compiled code onto a ROM chip and
installed it in a hardware box that handled the digital audio I/O. After some trial
and error, it worked. It worked better than expected.

First Roger used it on Mastering projects. It was subtle but powerful. Soon clients
started asking for the device to help their projects. It was working so well, roger
started using the DETAILER while mixing. It became very easy to hear what the
final master should sound like. Roger has used it on every Mastering and mixing
project he has worked on since then.

Now the DETAILER has been turned into a plug-in that can be used on any DAW
system that can use VST, Audio Units, or RTAS plug-ins.

DETAILER adjusts to each user’s needs and styles – however varied they may
be. That’s mixing your way – every time.

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Installation
Minimum System Requirements
Check the installation instructions below for system requirements specific to the
plug-in format(s) you will be using.

Installing DETAILER is quick and painless. Read the section below for the
version of DETAILER you would like to install.

If you downloaded your version of DETAILER and it is in a compressed format


(“.sit”, “.hqx”, “.tgz”, “.zip”) you must first decompress the file using the
appropriate utility. If a disk image file (“.img”, or “.dmg”) is included in the
package, double click the file to mount the disk image then proceed to the
appropriate section below.

AudioUnit
System Requirements: PowerPC G4 or higher processor
Mac OS X v10.2 or higher, required
Audio Unit compatible host application

By default, the Audio Unit will be installed to the ~/Library/Audio/Plug-


Ins/Components folder (under your home directory). Documentation is installed
to the Roger Nichols Digital folder in your home folder (~/Roger Nichols Digital).

VST.

Mac OS X
System Requirements: PowerPC G4 or higher processor
Mac OS X v10.1 or higher, required
VST compatible host application

By default, the VST plug-in will be installed to the ~/Library/Audio/Plug-Ins/VST


folder (under your home directory). Documentation is installed to the Roger
Nichols Digital folder in your home folder (~/Roger Nichols Digital).

Windows
System Requirements: Pentium 3 or similar processor
Windows 98/ME, 2000,XP
VST compatible host application

Double click the installer and follow the prompts to complete installation of the full
version.

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RTAS

Mac OS X
System Requirements: PowerPC G4
Mac OS X v10.2 or higher, required
Pro Tools 6 and Digidesign approved system

Double click the installer and follow the prompts to complete installation of the full
version.

Windows
System Requirements: Windows XP
Pro Tools 6.1 and Digidesign approved system

Double click the installer and follow the prompts to complete installation of the full
version.

UNINSTALLING DETAILER
AudioUnit (Mac OS X only)
Use the uninstall pull-down in the installer after the license agreement.

VST
Mac OS X
Use the uninstall pull-down in the installer after the license agreement.

Windows
Use Add/Remove Programs under the Windows Control Panel to uninstall
DETAILER.

RTAS
Mac OS X
Use the uninstall pull-down in the installer after the license agreement.

Windows
Use Add/Remove Programs under the Windows Control Panel to uninstall
DETAILER.

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About This Guide

This User’s Guide is designed to get you up and running quickly with your
software - providing all you need to know about how to use your plug-in.
Navigating Around DETAILER, gives you a thorough tour of the DETAILER
interface. Here you will become familiar with all of the tools that make up
DETAILER and the functionality each tool provides. The sections that follow give
you the detail you need to realize the full potential of DETAILER. While
DETAILER is designed to be very intuitive to use, we suggest you read this entire
guide to ensure you are utilizing DETAILER to its fullest.

This guide is written for both Macintosh and Windows versions of DETAILER.
Where a difference in functionality exists between the two operating systems, the
following notation applies: MAC [WIN]. That is, the Windows specific command
or function is placed in brackets and follows the Macintosh specific command.
For example, if you gain access to certain functionality by pressing the Command
(CMD) key on the Macintosh and the Control (CTRL) key on Windows, this would
be written as CMD [CTRL]. A list of all modifier keys used appears near the end
of this guide.

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Detailer

About Detailer
Detailer is primarily used for mastering. Detailer is placed on the master fader
AFTER compressors. Detailer provides the final stage in the mix chain. Detail
enhancement, three band intelligent limiting, and dithering to lower bit depths, if
needed.

Navigating Detailer
The display panel for DETAILER is very straight forward. There are ten parts to
the display that will allow you to display and change settings within DETAILER.

INPUT GAIN AND LEVEL METERS (1)


This is the input level control. 99% of the time it will be left at its default position
of 0.00dB. Most of the level control will be done either by mix levels or a
compressor inserted before the DETAILER. Input gain adjustments may be

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needed if there is no level control before the DETAILER, or if DETAILER is used
on string tracks or STEMS in the mix rather than on the MASTER FADER.

Adjustments can be made via the slider, or for small changes, by clicking on the
right/left arrows next to the slider, or by double-clicking the numeric display and
typing in the exact value you want.

The INPUT LEVEL METERS will display both PEAK and RMS levels present at
the input of the DETAILER. The color BAR GRAPH shows the peak levels in real
time. The BLACK TICK MARKS within the BAR GRAPH shows the RMS level of
the input. The colored TICK MARKS to the right of the BAR GRAPH are PEAK
HOLD indicators. To the right of the meter are two windows that display the
ABSOLUTE HEADROOM of the LEFT and RIGHT channels, indicating how
much room you have before clipping occurs. A negative value shows how far
OVER clipping your peak level is. Peak hold and ABSOLUTE HEADROOM
LEVEL indication remains for the length of time set in METER HOLD (10).

+8dB Metering
Notice that the INPUT and OUTPUT METERS do not stop at ZERO dB like all
other digital meters. This metering technique will be discussed in depth later.
ZERO is still FULL SCALE outside the DETAILER Plug-in. Inside DETAILER
more headroom is provided to ensure the highest quality in the processed signal.

BAND LEVELS (2)


The three green bars below the INPUT LEVEL METERS is where the incoming
signal is split into distinct frequency bands.

The frequencies used for the split are labeled X OVER FREQUENCY. The
default settings are the suggested starting place for experimenting. Roger
Nichols has been using the DETAILER since 1992 and has found no reason to
change the default settings after he arrived at these presets. The adjustments
have been made available to those who wish to experiment further. Spend time

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learning how the adjustments affect your audio before you start changing the X
OVER FREQUENCY settings.

To make changes to the band splits, double-click the text window, enter the
desired frequency, and press enter to set the new X OVER FREQUENCY.

The three green bars show a graphic representation of how the frequency bands
are divided up, as well as level indication of the contents of each frequency band.

DETAIL Settings (3)


There are four settings that control the amount of detail added to the incoming
signal.

The top two sliders control the MID BAND DETAIL. You can add detail to only
the left, or only the right, but for normal circumstances, both settings should
remain the same.

The bottom two sliders control the HI BAND DETAIL. You can add detail to only
the left, or only the right, but for normal circumstances, both settings should
remain the same.

In most cases all four sliders will be set at the same value.

The default value for all four settings is 3. This is the setting that provides the
most pleasing results 99% of the time.

As you are learning what DETAILER is doing, you may want to turn up the values
so that the process is exaggerated. This is the main reason for values above 5,
so you can over-crank the process to get an idea of how powerful it is, then put it
back down to 3 or 4 for your actual mix.

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Sometimes there are special circumstances where you might find different
settings for each of the four adjustments works the best on your project. This is
why there are four separate adjustments.

DETAIL Display (4)


Here is where you can see what you are hearing.

View the display as a stage that fills the space between your left and right
speaker. The meter only shows the additional detail that is being injected into the
audio. If all of the DETAIL sliders are set to ZERO, then nothing will show on this
meter.

As you add more DETAIL, you will see RED (RIGHT) and BLUE (LEFT) lines
moving up from the stage floor. When the amount of DETAIL injection is low, you
will see most of the activity near the center of the stage, with occasional activity
toward the RIGHT or LEFT portions of the stage.

Now, there is indeed detail being added to the information toward the left and
toward the right, but the level of the DETAIL is proportional to the level of the
audio content and falls below the threshold of the display.

As you move the DETAIL sliders more toward the right incrementing the
numbers, you will see more detail on the display spreading out toward the left
and right edges of the stage.

The height of the lines in the display depicts the amount of DETAIL enhancement
at that position on the stage. The position of the lines depicts where in the stereo
spread the DETAIL enhancement is located.

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THREE BAND LIMITER (5)
The greatest number of controls are associated with the LIMITER section of the
DETAILER.

At this point the signal is still divided into three frequency bands. The display
window is blank because thee is no activity in the LIMITER section until you turn
up the DRIVE slider.

As with any limiter, over-limiting can cause nasty sounding side effects. If you
wish to maintain high quality in your mix, then try not to limit more than 3-4 dB.

Turn up the DRIVE slider until it reads 4.0dB. You will see the red bars start to
move indicating that the three limiters are working. Listen to the audio and decide
on the amount of limiting that fits your project.

Below the DRIVE slider are three parameters labeled BIAS. These adjustments
change the DRIVE LEVEL of each FREQUENCY BAND separately.

If the DRIVE LEVEL is set at 3dB and each BIAS is set at 1dB, the amount of
limiting would be the same as setting the DRIVE LEVEL at 4dB and all three
BIAS controls to 0dB.

Where BIAS comes in is when you want one band to be louder or softer than the
other bands. If you just want to make he overall mix just a little brighter, then set
the BIAS over the HI FREQUENCY BAND to 1dB and everything above the MID-
HI X OVER FREQUENCY will be 1dB louder. It is like having a final EQ tweak as
a touch-up.

The RELEASE slider sets the release time of the LIMITER section. A good
default setting should be about 28ms. Listen to the limiter and set the RELEASE
slider as desired.

There are three KNEE adjustments. One for each of the three FREQUENCY
BANDS. These settings adjust how soft or hard the limiting is. Sometimes it is

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desirable to limit the MID FREQUENCY BAND with a harder attack than the HI
FREQUENCY BAND. Thus, a separate control for each band.

OUTPUT METERS (6)


The OUTPUT LEVEL METERS will display both PEAK and RMS levels present
at the output of the DETAILER. The color BAR GRAPH shows the peak levels in
real time. The BLACK TICK MARKS within the BAR GRAPH shows the RMS
level of the output. The colored TICK MARKS to the right of the BAR GRAPH are
PEAK HOLD indicators. To the right of the meter are two windows that display
the ABSOLUTE HEADROOM of the LEFT and RIGHT channels, indicating how
much room you have before clipping occurs. A negative value shows how far
OVER clipping your peak level is. Peak hold and ABSOLUTE HEADROOM
LEVEL indication remains for the length of time set in METER HOLD (10).

CEILING CONTROL (7)


CEILING is the absolute highest level that is allowed by the signal leaving the
DETAILER. The default level is 0dB, but can be adjusted as needed by the
slider, up/down increment arrows, or direct input by double clicking the text area,
entering the numeric value, and pressing enter.

Sometimes it may be necessary to set the CEILING level to 0.1dB so that OVER
indicators do not illuminate on subsequent devices playing your mix.

For a video post house they may want to set the CEILING control to -10dB or
some other DO BOT EXCEED value.

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WORKSPACE (8)
The WORKSPACE area allows you to build two different settings, store them
separately, and compare them by switching back and forth between them.

The highlighted WORKSPACE, A or B is the one in which you are working. All
parameters set on the front panel are saved and recalled in this WORKSPACE.

CPY copies all settings from the current WORKSPACE into the other
WORKSPACE, replacing anything that was in the other WORKSPACE.

This works well if you have settings you like but want to try something else before
you decide, and you don’t want to loose what you have. If you are working in
WORKSPACE A, press CPY and all your settings will be copied to
WORKSPACE B. Press B, which makes B your current Workspace. Make any
additional changes you want to the settings. When you press A, all of the settings
revert back to what they were when you were working in WORKSPACE A.

You can click back and forth between WORKSPACE A and B to compare
settings. If you decide you like the settings in B better, you can select B, press
CPY to copy those settings back to A. Now your preferred settings are in
WORKSPACE A and you can perform further experiments in WORKSPACE B,
compare them, and continue until you have the perfect settings.

CLR clears all settings in the highlighted WORKSPACE to factory defaults. If


things get totally out of control, press CLR and you will be back at square one.

LOAD SAVE (9)


DETAILER has its own LOAD and SAVE buttons, independent of any LOAD or
SAVE functions provided by the host application.

SAVE allows you to SAVE the current status of DETAILER into the DETAILER
PRESET folder on your computer. Allowing you to SAVE PRESTS in DETAILER
format allows you to move these PRESETS to other systems. PRESETS saved

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in a Pro Tools session can be LOADED in a Digital Performer session, for
instance.

When SAVING a PRESET, a dialog window opens allowing you to name the
PRESET and choose the folder in which to SAVE the PRESET.

LOAD provides the reverse feature. Any DETAILER PRESET can be LOADED
into the current WORKSPACE. A dialog window is presented allowing you to
select the folder and PRESET you wish to LOAD.

You can LOAD one PRESET into WORKSPACE A and another PRESET into
WORKSPACE B and compare them by switching back and forth between the
WORKSPACES.

METER HOLD (10)


METER HOLD allows you to change the hold time for all METERING available in
DETAILER. This includes PEAK LEVEL TICK MARKS in the INPUT METER and
the OUTPUT METER, as well as the ABSOLUTE HEADROOM INDICATOR to
the right of those METERS.

The choices are NONE, 3s (3 seconds) and INFINITE.

DITHER (11)
The output DITHER section controls the bit depth of the audio signal leaving
DETAILER. You can choose the BIT DEPTH of 16, 18, 20, 22, or 24 bits,
DITHER TYPE of I, II, or III, and whether DITHER is ON or OFF. The highlighted
buttons confirm your choice.

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DITHER always improves the apparent resolution of audio when reducing bit
depth. Tests have shown that when 24bit audio is reduced to 16bits with
DITHER, the results sound the same as 18bit audio.

Remember; don’t DITHER to lower bit depth until the final step. If you are going
to master the songs after mixing, leave the mixes at 24bit and perform the
DITHER operation during the final mastering step.

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Detailer Work Flow
Detailer is designed primarily as the last plug-in of the project. Placed on the
master fader after all mixing plug-ins and compressors. Detailer includes the final
limiter and dithering to produce the final CD master of your songs.

This does not mean that the master fader is the only place you can use Detailer.
You can use it on sub-mixes such as drums, string sections, guitars, background
vocals, horn sections, or other pre-mixed content that you need to control.

Because Detailer includes a three-band limiter, you can use just the limiting
section by moving all four of the DETAIL controls to 1, effectively bypassing the
DETAIL section.

If you are going to use the DETAILER on the master fader, then do not use the
DETAIL section on the sub-mix unless you are absolutely sure what you are
trying to achieve. The DETAIL effects are cumulative, meaning that any detail
that you add here will be changed if you add them again at the master fader.

The limiter section can be used in as many places as you need, but the DETAIL
section should be saved for the master fader.

Launch Detailer
When DETAILER is launched, the initial settings are default settings. These
settings are the ones used most often and are a good starting place for your
personal adjustments.

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Upon inserting the DETAILER on the master fader and listening to the result, you
may be pleased with the results and not have to make adjustments at all.

Details First
Since this is the DETAILER, we should start with the details, right?

If this is your first time using DETAILER, then you should do some experimenting
to get the feel of the controls. For this comparison we are going to use the two
WORKSPACES A and B instead of using the bypass button.

When you first launch DETAILER, the WORKSPACE is set to A. The A will be
highlighted down near the bottom of the DETAILER faceplate.

The default setting on the DETAIL controls is 3. Move all four of the controls to 1.
Click on WORKSPACE B. Move all four DETAIL controls to 6. Now listen to the
center of the mix. Listen to it for a minute or more until you get used to the sound.
Now, while still listening to the song, click WORKSPACE A. Do you hear the
center collapse a little? This is your song without the detail enhancement.

Listen to this un-DETAILED playback for a while and then switch to


WORKSPACE B. Does the mix sound fuller, more three dimensional, clearer,
and more detailed? DO this comparison a few times until you get used to the
difference.

After you have become accustomed to the difference between DETAIL and no
DETAIL, go back to WORKSPACE B and adjust the DETAIL levels down to 3.
Now go back and forth between WORKSPACE A and WORKSPACE B and
listen to the difference. You can still hear a difference, but the difference is less
pronounced. This is the default setting and the recommended setting if you do
not want to spend the time fine-tuning the DETAIL enhancement.

DETAIL works like reverb. It always sounds better when you use a lot of reverb
or a lot of DETAIL. Care should be exercised not to over react and add too much
detail. Just like reverb, it is sometimes not a good idea to use too much of a good
thing.

That said, the adjustments go from 1 to 11, and ultimately you are the master of
your domain, so you can do whatever you want. Just be careful.

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Individual Detail Control
You have noticed that there are four DETAIL controls. DETAIL in the midrange
has a slightly different effect than DETAIL in the high frequency range. You can
add detail on one side more than on the other if you wish.

Everything that Roger has mixed with DETAILER has had all four controls set at
the same number. This is overall the most pleasing effect.

There are occasions when instrument placement in the pan, or some special
effect that you have added changes slightly when you add DETAIL to that side of
the mix. The controls allow you to use more DETAIL on one side and less
DETAIL on the other side.

Using the controls in a non-standard configuration requires some experience with


DETAILER, which comes from using DETAILER frequently, and getting “tuned
in” to what DETAILER is doing. From that point, just listen to your mix and make
the adjustments as you see fit.

Advanced Detail Control


On the right side of the DETAIL faceplate is the X-Over section with three green
meters.

Earlier, we talked about the difference between mid-range DETAIL and high
frequency DETAIL. As you get more comfortable with DETAILER, you may want

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to change the split point between the mid-range and the high frequency DETAIL
processing.

Also, there is no DETAIL enhancement for the low frequencies. This is because
the information used by DETAILER is in the mid and high end of the spectrum.
So, there is a Low-Mid split point. Nothing is done to the frequencies below this
split point.

You can change the Low-Mid, and the Mid-Hi split points for special
circumstance. Mind you, these settings should be reserved for the advanced user
after you have become well aware of what the DETAILER is doing in your mix.

By moving the Low-Mid point higher, you are using LESS of the mid-range
frequencies in the DETAIL enhancement. By moving the Mid-High point higher,
more of the high frequencies are being processed by the mid-range processor.

This has little effect if all four of the DETAIL settings are at the same setting. The
Mid-High split point does have an effect if you have the Hi settings higher or
lower than the Mid settings. The very experienced user may find times when it is
advantageous to change the split.

As an example, lets say that the Mid settings are set at 3 for Left and Right. The
experienced user has set the Hi settings at 7 for left and right. Upon careful
listening, the user determines that the extra enhancement to the Hi frequencies
should include a slightly lower frequency because of the musical content of the
song. The user is trying to enhance the string section of an orchestra more than
the rhythm section of the band. At the preset split, the detail of the violas is not
being enhanced as much as the violins. The user determines that he should
lower the Mid-Hi split point so the Hi detail includes these lower voiced
instruments. He moves the Mid-Hi split point down to 1500.

Because this setting is not changed very frequently, it is a text box only
adjustment. To make the change in the Mid-Hi X-Over frequency split, double-
click in the M-H window, type the new number, and hit ENTER. The new split will
be active and the three green meters will change to reflect the new setting.

Detail Display
The DETAIL DISPLAY is quite different from the displays you are familiar with.
You have to look at the display as if it was a stage where your mix is being

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performed. The Blue is the Left side and the Red is the Right side of your mix.
You can visualize the vertical moving as the DETAIL being enhanced in your mix.

When all four controls are set at 1, the nothing is showing up on the meter. This
is because the output of the DETAIL section is the same as the input to the
DETAIL section. The display shows the difference between what goes in and
what comes out, thus showing the added detail, and where it is showing up in the
panorama of your mix.

As you change the DETAIL settings to higher values, you will notice DETAIL
increase in the middle of the stage. This is primarily because that is where most
of the music is located, and the highest of the volume levels in the mix.

Move the DETAIL settings higher and you will see additional detail being added
to content closer to the sides of the mix panorama. As a tambourine is hit toward
the right side of the mix, you will see a Red line move vertically in the same
relative position on the STAGE.

This Display gives you a pretty good visual image of what is happening to your
mix.

The best settings are when the display has an even spread Left to Right, and
tapers off from the Center toward the Sides of the stage.

If you have a lot of DETAIL Display information toward the Left and Right sides of
the stage, I would suggest lowering the DETAIL settings.

Input Level Control and Metering


Since DETAILER is the LAST device in the signal chain, this is the best place to
get your levels up to the maximum allowable levels. If your levels are already
correct when the signal reaches DETAILER, then you should leave the input gain
settings at 0.0dB. If the levels entering DETAILER are low and need to be
brought up, then watch the input level meter and adjust the IN GAIN until the
peak indicator just touches 0.0dB. You can also watch the HEADROOM
INDICATORS just to the right of the input level meter. These displays should
come as close to 0.0dB without going over 0.0dB. If the indicators have a +
value, then your level is a little too high, and should be reduced until they read
0.0dB or a negative value that is close to 0.0dB

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Limiter Settings
You’ve got the DEATAIL section set up just the way you like it, now it is time to
make your mix louder.

A LIMITER is just what it says; it LIMITS the level of the signal. If the signal
LEVEL is going to be above the THRESHOLD, the limiter CLAMPS the level and
does not let it exceed the THRESHOLD LEVEL, period!

The LIMITER is the last stage of signal level control. For overall loudness control
of your mix, it is best to use a compressor first to get the level up to where you
want it, and then insert the LIMITER after the compressor.

The major part of the mix level is located 6dB to 18dB below ABSOLUTE ZERO
or the digital clipping level. It is the sporadic PEAK levels that you see on the
digital meters. These PEAKS are from the loud attack of things like snare drum,
kick drum, percussion instruments, guitar attacks, and other instruments with lots
of dynamics.

These PEAKS only last a few milliseconds to announce the beginning of the
sonic event. The balance of the note is at a much lower level. In most cases you
can reduce or chop off the PEAK at the front of an instrument without adversely
affecting the sound very much.

After you have the mix as loud as you can get it with compressors, you can get
another 3dB to 4dB of additional apparent level by using a limiter to take 3DB or
4dB off of the PEAKS and then turn up the level by that much.

Drive
DRIVE performs the same task as INPUT GAIN would, but it is AFTER the
DETAIL section. DRIVE increases the level that hits the LIMITER. If you want to
LIMIT more, then increase the DRIVE level.

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To make your mix louder, raise the DRIVE LEVEL Watch the GAIN REDUCTION
(Red) meters to regulate the amount of limiting. Try to keep the limiting around
3dB.

Bias
BIAS is a trim feature among the three bands. If you want your mix to have a little
more low-end punch, you can turn up the bias for the LOW frequency band. If
you want a brighter mix, raise the BIAS on the HI frequency band. Remember
that you still have to watch the Red meters to adjust the LIMITING levels.

Remember, BIAS is BEFORE the LIMITER. It is like EQing your mix a little just
before it hits the LIMITER.

Release
RELEASE is how fast the LIMITER returns the gain reduction to zero after each
peak. The DEFAULT serves most purposes, but for some projects it you may
want to experiment with the settings.

Usually, up-tempo dance, rock and polka work best with a short release time.
Slower tempo songs like ballads can benefit from longer release times. One
release setting affects all three bands.

Knee
The KNEE adjustment is kind of like ATTACK time, but not exactly. The KNEE is
the hardness or softness that the LIMITER jumps on the signal. As you increase
the KNEE setting, the overall level will have to be reduced by the same amount
because a softer attack lets some of the peak get through. Since the only way
these peaks can exceed the maximum limit is by turning the overall level down
by the same amount as the amount of peak that was let through.

If you want maximum loudness, then you want the BIAS to be set at 0.0dB.

Compression Editorial
The big trade-off is High Fidelity vs. Level. Real live music has dynamics, from
very soft to very loud. His is as much a part of the music listening experience as
the melody, the choice of instruments, or the sound of the instruments. If the
music is too compressed and limited, then one part of the equation that makes
the music pleasing is missing.

Some of the things, for reference, that are part of the equation are: musical
dynamics, instrument tuning, instruments out of time or sloppy tempo control,
vocal tuning, vocal performance, musical arrangement, instrument blend or mix,
tonal range and balance over the entire musical spectrum, surroundings or
recording space with unwanted reflections, extraneous noises such as car horns

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hums and buzzes, uncorrelated music like playing two songs at the same time,
and many other things, but you get the idea.

If all of the parameters fall correctly, then the song is the most pleasing to listen
to. As elements stray from the preferred settings, the overall enjoyment quotient
lessens. You can add an excess of one parameter at the expense of others, and
for some projects this is the best choice, but overall you must be aware of un-
seen consequences.

Dither Type
DITHER is a method by which very low level random noise is injected into the
signal to actually give you a higher bit resolution than the number of bits you
have.

For instance; if you compare three versions of the same audio file; 24bit, 20bit,
and 16bit, you will readily hear that the more bits there are, the better the
resolution and the better the mix sounds.

For the time being, CDs are still the biggest share of the market, so at some point
you have to take your 24bit master and convert it to 16bit for CD pressing. By
using DITHER when converting from 24bit to 16bit, you can make the 24bit
SOUND LIKE it is higher resolution than 16bit. The results is about the same as if
you had recorded at 18bits. DITHER is always a good idea when you convert to
a lower number of bits.

The DITHER controls allow you to select three different TYPES of DITHER.
There is no set rule for deciding on the type of DITHER. You have to listen to the
song and toggle among the choices until it sounds the best to you. You may
decide to use a different DITHER TYPE on each song, which is perfectly normal.
Sometimes you can find one DITHER TYPE that works with everything you do. It
is different for each project.

DITHER is CONTROLED NOISE added to the lowest level of the signal. The
TYPE of DITHER is basically the TYPE of NOISE being added. If you turn on
DITHER, set it to 16bits, and turn the IN GAIN all the way down, you can hear
the different NOISE FLOORS as you switch among TYPE I, TYPE II, and TYPE
III DITHER.

The BIT DEPTH is easy, just set it for the destination resolution. Most of the time
this will be 16bit if you are printing the final mix for CD. If you are printing a mix
and want to keep it 24bits set the BIT DEPTH at 24. Because the internal

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processing of DETAILER is much higher than the 24bit results, DITHERING to
2bits will actually make the mix sound like 26bits.

Ceiling Control
Under the OUTPUT METER you will find a small triangle. This triangle is the
CEILING, or highest level that is allowed to leave the DETAILER.

The DEFAULT setting is 0.0dB. Most OVER indicators light up red when a
sample reaches full level or 0.0dB. In this case, if you raised the level of your
song by using the LIMITER, then there will be many samples that just touch
0.0dB. Sometimes it is desirable to set the CEILING at -0.1dB or -0.5dB. This
difference in level is not audible, but it will prevent the OVER lights from coming
on during playback.

Other uses for CEILING are POST PRODUCTION houses where they use a
different reference for maximum audio levels. Some use -10dB as the absolute
maximum instead of 0.0dB to be compatible with video production levels.

Set what you want with the CEILING control by moving the slider, clicking the
left/right arrows, or type the number into the text window. The result will be
shown in the text window and by the triangle below the OUTPUT METER.

Output Meter
The OUTPUT METER shows five different parameters for each channel.

1) The Green/Yellow/Orange bars show the PEAK level of the audio.

2) The Orange TICK MARKS above the bars ate PEAK HOLD INDICATORS.
They remain at the point of highest PEAK for the amount of time selected in the
METER HOLD window. Click on the button to toggle through the choices.

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3) The Black TICK MARKS in the middle of the bars shows the RMS or average
level of the signal. The difference between the RMS level and the PEAK level is a
good indication of Dynamic Range. As you compress and limit more, the distance
between these TICK MARKS becomes less and less.

4) At the right of the bar meters is a window for each channel that shows
REMAINING HEAD ROOM. This is the amount of room you have between the
actual PEAK level of your audio and 0.0dB, the absolute highest level possible
with digital audio.

5) The triangle below the LEVEL METER displays the CEILING set point
adjusted by the CEILING CONTROL.

Output and Input Meter Scale


You have learned here and other places that the highest level available in digital
audio is 0.0dB. This is true. The meters everywhere show this by stopping at
0.0dB.

As you turn up the level of a track, or your mix, the meter indications move higher
and higher. Just be for you reach 0.0dB, the OVER light start to blink, then come
on solid. You now have audio that is being clipped off because it is trying to go
louder than is possible with digital audio.

If you are just a little bit too loud, you can probably get away with it. You listen
closely and don’t hear anything wrong, so you decide to leave things alone and
let the track slam the meters.

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But, you wonder just how much louder that zero you are. Can you always plan on
turning up your mix this much in the future without problems? How much UP is
this? You have no way of telling because the meters turn OFF at 0.0dB.

The METERS on DETAILER and many other RogerNicholsDigital plug-ins are


scaled differently. Notice the meter does not stop at 0.0dB, it continues up to
+8dB. How is this possible? By scaling.

As the audio enters the plug-in it is scaled down by 2bits. This does not mean we
shave 2bits off of the audio, we move the audio to a different position in the bits
available.

Let’s say we have 56bits to work with. The 24bit audio comes in and takes up
bits 1-24. Bits 25 -56 are empty. We move the audio down 2bits so it now resides
in bit 3-26. It is still 24bits of audio.

Now if we turn up the level of the audio above 0.0dB (which is now -12dB) we
aren’t clipping anything. We have more room to work, do what we want with the
audio, and then move it back when we are done.

You have heard that whenever you change level or do anything to digital audio it
adds 1.25dB of noise. That is true. If we multiplied every sample to turn it down,
then we would be adding noise, but by just shifting all the bits over, we add no
noise. Zero noise. 0.0dB noise. Nada, zip… Get the picture?

Now if you are doing something and like the sound of it, you don’t have to start
over if you are over the 0.0dB limit. You can continue and the fix it just before the
audio comes out of the plug-in.

With the extra “Headroom” of the meters you can also see EXACTLY how much
above 0.0dB your signal actually is. The HEADROOM indicators will show +1.27
if you were 1.27dB over the 0.0dB limit.

All of this so you can make an informed decision about what you want to do
about your OVERS.

Remember that the extra level benefit only applies inside the DETAILER. If the
OUTPUT METER is reading +6dB, the top 6dB of the signal will be clipped off
when the signal exits DETAILER.

So make sure you look at the OUTPUT METER, and set the CEILING to 0.0dB,
which will scale down the output level to fit within the digital audio specs.

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Using Workspaces
We used workspaces earlier, but here we can focus on their use.

There are two WORKSPACES, A and B. It is exactly like having two identical
plug-ins side by side. You can adjust settings in WORKSPACE A, adjust the
settings differently in WORKSPACE B, and compare them to decide which one
you prefer.

If you have your best choice settings in WORKSPACE A and you just want to try
a few more things, then press the CPY button to copy all of your settings to
WORKSPACE B where the will be safe while you try a few more adjustments.

At any time while audio is playing you can flip back and forth between the two
WORKSPACES just by clicking A or B.

You can CLEAR the WORKSPACE showing back to its DEFAULT settings by
clicking on the CLR button. This gives you a fresh starting point to try something
completely different, without affecting the settings in the other WORKSPACE.

Load and Save


If you want to SAVE PRESETS for use in other projects, just bring the
WORKSPACE you want to SAVE to the front by clicking A or B, than the click
SAVE. A dialog box will appear asking for the location and name for the preset.
Select these and click SAVE.

To LOAD a SAVED PRESET, click the WORKSPACE A or B where you want the
PRSET to be LOADED. Click LOAD. A dialog box will appear asking which
PRESET you wish to LOAD. Select the PRESET file and click LOAD. The
PRESET will be loaded into the current WORKSPACE.

Now you can compare the LOADED PRESET with the settings in the other
WORKSPACE, or you can use the PRESET as a starting point and make
changes until the settings are right for the project you are working on.

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Conclusion
DETAILER is a powerful, proven tool for enhancing the sound of your mix. Spend
some time with DETAILER and get to know its nuances.

Detailer can enhance any mixing and mastering situation.

♦ Improve the quality of your final mix.


♦ Better sounding demos.
♦ Transferring old tapes.
♦ Re-mastering for new releases.
♦ Add detail in AAC or mp3 files.
♦ Make your mix louder.
♦ Hear mix details you have been missing.

Even if you don’t have time to play with all the settings, just use DETAILER with
the DEFAULT settings, then spend some time comparing the DETAILER mix
with the original mix. You will be pleasantly surprised.

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