Very nice all-in-one package
I've been working very hard at "mastering" the mastering thing for about four years now and have gained enough ability to get some of my stuff passed on to national pro sound libraries. After slowly learning the basics of the trade using a wide variety of high quality (e.g., Waves) and some not-so-high quality plug-ins, I want to say that I'm very pleased with T-RackS3 Deluxe. I'm finding it very easy especially to get crystal clear, very clean masters that have a nice pro polish while avoiding being overdone. The metering is very accurate and the opto-compressor and limiter in the Deluxe version perform beautifully for squeezing a couple of extra dB out of a mix without introducing the common distortions and squashing that I find very objectionable in a lot of modern Pop.
Being able to work with mid-side mode is very useful-both for mastering and working on stereo width for individual tracks at earlier mix-down. However, this thing is a CPU hog (as of early 2009 computer technology), so for now, I use it mostly in stand-alone mode on stereo mix-downs.
I can not overemphasize that the overall quality and usefulness of this product is light years ahead of the T-Racks 2. I don't even think of them as related products. The old version of T-Racks (version 2) was one of the first mastering products that I had, and I'm afraid that my naive use of the presets in that version helped lead me to horrible rookie errors in both mixing and mastering engineering. I'm not sure that a few of those old over-the-top presets (or their immediate descendent's) aren't still lurking somewhere in the menus- so it is important to study the topic of mastering seriously, cultivate some good taste, ears, and judgment, and then use them. (A lot of very talented people have devoted their whole careers to becoming very good at just this one aspect of the recording professions.)
I'm not willing to say that you can get any and every possible sounding final recording out of this one product. It would also still be very easy to abuse and make a total hash of things if you don't know what you're doing. The Fairchild compression and the upgraded components carried over from T-Racks 2 certainly can impart a variety of colors on a mix, but for more idiosyncratic or personalized sounds, I'm still relying on my collection of mostly Waves and Sony-Oxford plug-ins. However, I've spent a lot of time evaluating those and getting to know their interactions and just what nuances they can impart. (I also paid a heck of a lot for them, so I'm biased against accepting that some of them may not be as useful to me as they once were.) Chaining together these other products and tweaking their interactions just right is a lot more difficult though, even with a fair amount of experience, so when I need a great sounding, clean, neutral to slightly bright master, it is now a no brainier for me to go straight to (and exclusively through) T-RackS3-Deluxe.