Importance of Compressing Each Mono Track Individually

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by ClarkJaman, Jun 25, 2012.

  1. ClarkJaman

    ClarkJaman Active Member

    Hey everyone,

    I am a rookie producer/engineer who has mixed and edited a couple albums, but I have never mastered a full length project. Usually when I master I just compress, limit, and dither the stereo track. But I have been hearing of people mastering each mono track individually. Is this necessary?

  2. acorneau

    acorneau Active Member

    Mastering is done on the finished 2-track mix, anything else is mixing.
  3. ClarkJaman

    ClarkJaman Active Member

    Well, that is good to know. Lol thanks. :)
  4. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    and keep in mind, compression on every track could lead to a really dead sounding song, especially if you are using compressor plug-ins.
  5. sachit

    sachit Active Member

    I've heard this before, and there's no doubting the validity of that advice; but if you feel a majority of the tracks in your mix require compression, are you doing something wrong then? I've got compressors on more than half my tracks and still a lot of dynamics and headroom for mastering.
  6. godchuanz

    godchuanz Active Member

    Personally, I feel that most of my individually recorded tracks need some form of compression, especially vocals and bass (in Rock arrangements).

    Depending on the feel of the song, the drums may not require that much compression. If used, it's meant to put in more bite or bring up certain harmonics in a particular drum in the kit. I usually use a fast release setting. For a modern rock sound, some compression on the drums is almost non-negotiable.

    As long as the tracks are not over-compressed till the point of deadness, the main bus should still contain lot of dynamics for the mastering engineer to work on.
  7. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    No, we do what we do, there are no rules but sometime we overdo things too.

    But impossible to answer as this is a very subjective question. If something is really spiky, a limiter or compression is the ticket. If you have really nice hardware, a compressor like an 1176 can add some flavour just using it in the chain. I'd love to have 16 of them lol.
    If you are doing a dance track (or Pop music because that's what pop music sounds like today... ), a lot of compression sounds glorious on drums and bass. I love a transient designer on drums. Check that out.
    What ever it takes to get kick ass bass makes us happy so I tend to use a lot of compression of drums. But I don't like drums sounding like "real " drums in pop music/.
    But we often hear people using compression to help a poor mix so that is a reg flag, all it does is turn things into a wall of gray boring mix. So, depending on what your tracks and style of music is, it could be a good thing or too much. It is my opinion, the more plug-ins you use in a song, the worse it sounds.
    Each to his own.
    I listen to music for tonal quality and love transients. But I also have a very serious system that doesn't wimp out when I push the transients. My converter sound like silk, I have tons of headroom and space so I don't need to choke my mix to get level or control irritating pain or muddy bass.
    Many people today use compression to achieve level when a hpf or better recording or clever eqing to carve out a spot might be better. Thus, keeping the life of a song beating.

    If you really want to find out what we all think, post some tracks that you think sound right on with all your compression and see what we think.

    Thats the best advice I can offer.
  8. sachit

    sachit Active Member

    Thanks for the really good reply, audiokid.This was quite a while ago, and this weighed on my mind for a while. I did some crazy stuff the next few times I sat on my computer mixing. I understand the whole 'compress for loudness thing', so now I pull down the faders for headroom, raise my monitor level, and HP/BP most of my tracks. It's almost unbelievable how just this helps. And compression? Now I find myself compressing for the sound. I want that guitar to be 'in your face', so there, 5 dB down every time you breach -12. And then many of my tracks are compressor-free. But I find compression a total necessity for drums, vocals and sometimes guitar/bass.Thanks for the invitation, I'm working on an album right now. When I complete mixing a few tracks I will definitely post them up here. :)
  9. SASman

    SASman Active Member

    It is very important to know what compressors actually do to audio in order to find an application for them. there needs to be both a vision and in depth understanding of what they are capable of. A synergy between gola and known qualities of any given compressor. It is why it discussed at such depth on internet forums. In many cases a compressor can add qualities without any gain reduction, imparting a tone on the signal before any actual dynamic range control is dialed in.


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  10. Red Mastering

    Red Mastering Active Member

    I would like to disagree with the second part,
    if you know how to use plugins, you can achieve great effect,
    although the OP seems to do not know, I presume after reading his post,
    so I advise to all my clients making first steps - if you don't know how to use compressor - don't use it
    on the other hand, if you don't use it you never learn....
    so it's a catch 22:)
  11. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    If anyone recommends compression on every track, I wouldn't be using their services anytime soon. Compression is not a benefit to my ears, it is a lot of times a solution to bad recording or problems and is why most music today sounds like ass ( dead and boring). But compression can sometimes add vibe that is a nice thing as an effect, too, but again, not on every track. Less is more, even if you assume your transparent plug-ins are the best thing going. Just because we have all these tools does not mean we need to use them.

  12. ClarkJaman

    ClarkJaman Active Member

    Thanks. :)
  13. Red Mastering

    Red Mastering Active Member

    it seems you didn't read my post correctly,
    I don't advice to use compression on every track,
    sometimes I don't use compression at all, and many times - just for a vibe
    it really depends on recording/material.

    what I was trying to say, is it is not a digital versus analog problem,
    many folks use compression and they don't know what they dial with knobs....
    I know very well established engineers who use only plugins (mixing and/or mastering)
    with great effect

    btw, music sounds bad today, not because of too much compression,
    but rather because of lack of talent,

  14. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    no problem :) not trying to get into anything with you. I totally agree with all you said, including doing mix or mastering ITB 100%. I have done excellent recording all ITB and know a huge percentage of everything in this business is all done ITB.

    I don't agree with this now lol. Talent isn't the question IMHO. Compression on individual tracks and the use or over-use of compression to me is not something that I agree on. Plain and simple. Others disagree and thats cool.
    Personally I feel the more you add to the original track, the more of something occurs. That something seems to be a lot of plug-ins because they are in abundance and one of them is compression lol. People with common sense should be able to read between the lines on this.
    Compression and the over use of it is the route of what's happening to our industry's sound. Thats my take on it.

    And because of the digital revolution, we seem to need it more to get volume and it all goes down from there.

  15. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Here is all I'm saying. Even low levels of compression, that may not be audible because of a weak monitoring system, poor room acoustics, low end gear/plug-ins/DAW or (lack of knowing a better way) etc etc, its still compression and compression does this. Many great engineers don't even use compression. But I personally love it more for flavour than compressing itself, except for pop drums, I love it on that most of all:

    specifically at 16:20


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