TC Electronic Finalizer 96: IT'S NOT JUST FOR MASTERING

Dec 1, 1999 12:00 PM, Ross Pallone

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ombining a host of processing functions in a single-rackspace package, TC Electronic's Finalizer 96 has more to offer than any unit I have ever used. Features include EQ, analog emulation, stereo width adjustment, de-essing, normalization, expansion, sample rate conversion, compression and limiting. So whether you need to fix or enhance sounds, track, mix or master, the Finalizer 96 can provide excellent results. Here are some suggestions for getting the most out of your unit.

CLIP CONTROL I typically route my mixes through two Tube-Tech CL-1A tube compressors via the Finalizer's insert points and send the digital out to DAT. I then can use the Tube-Techs or the Finalizer for compression-or I can use both. A very useful tool in the Finalizer 96 is the "soft clipper," which is found in the Limiter section and in the Normalizer. The soft clipper is helpful for controlling percussion peaks that would normally send your mix into the "over" range on the digital meters. Also in the Limiter section, a Digital Ceiling parameter lets you achieve the optimum digital output without worrying about digital overloads.

ON THE LEVEL The peak meter in Finalizer 96's Tools section affords a way to keep an eye on levels, but this is also a good way to get the maximum level to tape. You can also send a tone from the console to the Finalizer and ensure that its left and right channels are equal. If the balance is off, and you cannot adjust at the console, you can adjust the balance at the Finalizer's In page to compensate.

PUT THOSE CONVERTERS TO WORK! When TC builds a machine, the company continues to support it. Owners of the original Finalizer could upgrade to the Plus version, and now TC offers an upgrade from the Plus to the 96. When mixing, use the Finalizer 96 as your A/D converter and your mixes will sound better, even with the Finalizer 96 set on the Neutral (processing bypassed) preset. When the 96 was released, I was mixing a project for a client at Sony Studios and was using the Plus as my A/D converter mixing to DAT. Depending on the song, I was adding compression, some soft clipping and 1.5 to 2 dB at 17 kHz using the 5-band parametric EQ. Curious about the outcome, I set up an A/B comparison between the Plus and the 96. Using the same parameters on both units, I could not believe the improvement: The high end on the 96 was clear, smooth, and I no longer wanted to add any highs to the mix. I also found that in most cases you can use the 3-band compressor instead of EQ.

AUTOMATIC SAMPLE RATE CONVERSION With all the Finalizer's other features, it's easy to forget about the unit's utility functions, such as sample rate conversion, which can be useful even on projects that don't require other DSP tweaking. I recently had to assemble a DAT master from various DATs of different sampling rates. No problem. The Finalizer handles sample rate conversion automatically-all you have to do is set the desired destination output rate. And the sample rate conversion sounded great.

PERFECT FADES EVERY TIME On some consoles, the master faders will clip the tail of your fade, shift the balance as it gets to the bottom or actually thin out the sound of the mix as the fader gets to the bottom half. You can avoid all that with Finalizer's Digital Fader feature. Your fades will be perfect, maintaining quality sound top to bottom with absolutely no left-right shift. Another way to fade your mix with the Finalizer is to use the Auto Fade function found on the Out page. Pick from the two types of fades (I wish there were more!), set the duration of the fade, move the cursor to the down arrow and spin the knob counterclockwise to activate the fade. This is especially convenient when working on non-automated consoles. Just rehearse your fade by starting the fade at a SMPTE address you've selected, and adjust the duration and the "fade start time" until it is exactly how you want it.






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