I know for bigger projects a person should let the experts master. But it's alright I think to play around with getting the best sound possible for smaller projects that you don't plan on sending to the mastering experts. In Pro Tools, you get to put a master track which is the summation of all the active tracks at once. If you're sending it to an expert to master, you shouldn't put any effects on this one. But if you decide to play around with it, what do you put on this track, and in what order?
I've been putting a compressor, brick wall limiter, and EQ, on. Having never taken lessons on mastering, I know I should try to listen to the music as much as I go thru the motions. Does anybody else want to share their techniques here? I'm sure I could learn a lot.
this is how I do it ... because mastering is the art of taking several tunes and making them sound the best in an album order.
I take all of the mixed tunes into 1 protools session, and put each tune in it's own track (stereo for instance), in the order of the tracks on the CD (or project).
tune 1 - stereo track first position
tune 2 - stereo track second position
and so on ...
then I put an EQ, then compressor ... or a multiband compressor on each track, with a or maximizer in the final position on each track.
that way I can change EQ, compression amount and overall level for each track ... until I get a balance where each tune flows evenly into the next ... and the vocals sound at the same level from track to track.
I make sure to check the flow from the last tune to the first as well .... to make sure I haven't gotten louder or over compressed and EQ'd from beginning to end.
note: ... don't over do it on any adjustment ... just make things even and good sounding.
after I am satisfied, I do "bounces" of each tune and burn to a CD master .... then I listen on as many different types of devices and systems as I can, while comparing to CD masters that I know very well.
p.s. a set of monitors that you trust is the best piece of gear in the studio.
Wouldn't it be easier to put all of the tunes in order on a single stereo pair and apply the plugs to that track? It seems that it would be much easier to hop between regions (individual tunes) along the entire project to A-B what the final output would sound like. Small changes needed tune to tune could be done before that particular individual region was rendered to a finished (mastered) version. All of those plugs on individual tracks seems like it would be difficult to work with. Maybe I'm misunderstanding your post, though.