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audio Working with a compressor on the master buss/aux

Discussion in 'Fix This MIX!' started by pcrecord, Oct 14, 2014.

  1. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    Hi guys,

    We've already discussed what people put or don't put on their master bus while mixing.
    I personnaly don't put anything and I'm use to kind of blind guessing what the mastering process will do to my mix.

    To keep an open mind, I want to try to mix with a compressor on the master bus, just to see if my mix will be different or at least if it's gonna help me.

    My question is, how do you work it ? Do you constantly monitor the GR while mixing or do you just listen and react when your dynamics are not right ? Do you play a full premix of the tracks with volumes and pans to adjust the compressor at the beginning and then make sure you don't add volume to the individual tracks while completing the mix ?

    I intend to use a fairly low ratio 2:1 and also attack/release to fit the song. (need to test with the song for the numbers) My target to the masterbus, after compression will be to peak at maximum -6db with a maximum of -3db or -4db of gain reduction.
  2. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    I just read this article on the subject : http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/may08/articles/mixcompression.htm
    interesting !!
    Kurt Foster likes this.
  3. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    It's a very sensibly written article which I hadn't seen before. Thanks for linking it, pc.
  4. Josh Conley

    Josh Conley Active Member

    set it to the drum track if thats what you do first.
    if it starts crushing new elements, youll know, then back it off.
    after awhile youll just know where to start off.
  5. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    I'll try that Josh, tx !
  6. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Generally, I don't strap anything across the 2-bus, because I want to allow the ME the room to work that they need.

    For songs that won't see a mastering house, I've started - just recently - working with Samplitude's Ammunition; which is a very intensive 2 stage GR. Actually, it's 3 stage - if you count MS mode, which allows you to compress the Middle independently from the Sides, and then Limit the whole shabang.

    It has independent HPF for both stages, as well as separate attack, release, ratio, and threshold.

    But, as I mentioned, it's pretty intense... I'm still wrapping my head around it. ;)
  7. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    I think most engineers doing it have an aim of 3-4 db of GR. Nothing to get a mad ME.
    I read it is different to mix TO a compressor than mix without.
    I too normally don't use anything, but I'm all about getting better and experimenting those days ..
    So I'm gonna a try to see if it I like it.
  8. Josh Conley

    Josh Conley Active Member

    couple dbs cant hurt :)
    what you goona go with?
  9. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Since 0 of my project ever see a true mastering house I don't have to care what they think, but just in case I always play it safe. Let me preface this by saying I do 80%. Rock/pop

    I've been using a bus compressor for about 4 years. I started by just adding in the last 10 minutes but for a while I've been instantiating it as soon as all the energy has gotten in the mix. So once evrything is up and has a decent rough balance, including some basic compression, and drums and buses. I bring it in. Usually it some ssl pluggin, it used to be a dsp drawmer comp/lim, and I start by default w the slowest attack and fastest release. after a while of messing and watching other people, this is what I do in general. This allows the compressor to let maximum punch and bass thru, and I try to keep the GR around 3 or less, usually anything above four is audible in the waves ssl g plug which is my usual. Some comps are super heavy handed and I go 1.5:1 others like the waves seems to sound ballsier @ 4:1. I'll mess w the settings a bit but that's usually about it. then I'll do more final balances and only check the bus if I can 'hear' it. I'll also check my mixes w a limiter to hear what happens. 90% of the time my snare goes away the gtrs come up the high does too, and the bottom gets bigger, so I wanna make sure my mids and highs are in check.

    Lately I've been leaving the limiter on and not hitting it very hard about 1-3db GR tops and that's about it. I get my final balances done and there's paractially nothing to do at mastering. Since most stuff doesn't get really mastered anyway, itsan insurance policy to to get my mix super mashed up by someone else ( not a lot of headroom). But usually it's just me throwing another stage of possible comp eq limiting as a finalizing or masterring. Often the eq and come don't even get used and the limiter barely moves. Right or wrong that's what I've been doing. I don't think my mixes have hyper or even over compression in them because I don't really use compression very heavily on any given instrument or bus. I almost never set it so its obviosly audibly messing w the gain it's usually tonal and more often to hammer some consistency out of kicks bassists singers, snares, lol.

    I've really been fav inmates w filling or mixes and attacks/sustainsw different layers of sounds and blending things, instead of just straight ahead dynamics processing. But still I use a lot of compression. Gradually from the way in to busing to master bus and mastering. Pretty much anything I know I'm gonna hit w a compression pluggin I'm gonna hit w a hardware one on the way in. no rules, but aware not to leave negative artifacts. Sometimes it eliminates the need all together for dsp on that track and that's a good thing. I've been processing on the way in since I started so I haven't changed that much, except I have more than an mxr rack delay to mess w ;)

    What im funding is that stances of compression and busing can make a huge diff especially in Digital. People complain about the sound of digital busing, but I'm find that using busing is allowing me far puncher mixes. It's nothing new to the world but new to me and I like it. I'll set up Kik snare rythm vocal bv and effects buses, I can run eq and comps on them and limit even further the amount of dsp processing used. It just seems punchier, probably because the sounds are being more gently compressed retaining punch, and being compressed tighter in groups or layers as I've been picturing mixes lately. I won't go as far as to say this is true, but I think what it is doing is in a way what a console would do where it buses stuff and signals get processed in together and are more slowly "cooked down" if u will

    I think people are just catching on to just how many transductions Classic sounding recordings went thru compared to what they do in Itb setup. I think perhaps simulations some of these other stages and adding processing at different points, might sort of bring some of these transductions characterijstics back. It's mor than just a golden channel on the way in, or some special summing mixer.
    pcrecord likes this.
  10. Makzimia

    Makzimia Active Member

    I will preface anything I say with, I have less hands on, hours of experience overall, than a LOT of people here I am sure. That aside, I do have a long history of using recording gear. Where I began determined how I approached, and still do, to some extent, my live recording. When I began on a 4 track Tascam, and even into the Roland VS days, I used effects on the way in usually. When I initially self mastered I used a octave EQ and a DBX Quantum on the way out and into a DAT.

    If you do not have the luxury of an ME on call (or budget problems), putting some work into the final 2-bus is very doable these days, and you can still leave some wriggle, in case you ever can afford the services of an ME. I never write my master bus in stone anyway. As kmetal observes, what went into a track as it was recorded was much of the character. I am sure all of us agree, and have done, it's still what does come in that counts. If you get a golden recording, player/singer does a great job, most of your work is done. Previous statement being true if you captured that properly obviously, right mic/placement etc.

    I have overdone things plenty of times, and some times I have fluked a good setup. I always use AUX sends with COMP for say Drums, VOX etc in groups. Sometimes I mix it in using Aux send with live, other times I use AUX instead of to master bus.

    Thanks to being on here, and advice I have seen, I am entering ( or reverting?), to using outboard gear again (mostly) it's going to be very interesting I am sure.
  11. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    Thanks guys for explaining your process
    I must say that my idea was to learn more about, not how to make the mix louder, but how to use a comp as a mixing tool.
    I'm gonna test that myself soon, but my idea is that since the mastering engineer will use a ton of compression. Why not using a bit of comp to mix with.
    I think it could help to have a better perspective while mixing and at the end, you can remove the compressor before sending it to the ME.
    See, I often go back to my mix after testing a pseudo mastering. (with ozone now a day)
    I feel that when I hit the mastering step, some of my mix are transformed and the balance is changed. For exemple, I often mix the guitar nicely but they get a big presence boost from the mastering plugin. I know I shouldn't call what I do mastering because the real thing is not done with Ozone. But still.
    (I usually align all the songs in a sonar session and compare them while I use Ozone to pseudo master them)

    So is any of you use a comp in that maner ? mix against it to get a better balance and glue ?
  12. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    I bring it in around the halfway mark or before to avoid having to to fight against it. If you make the perfect mix then add a heavy dose of bus comp, there goes the mix.

    I always try to do mastering in a different room, just to get perspective. It seems counterintuitive to master in the same room, if the mastering is much more than slight nudges.
  13. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    Makes sens Kmetal, thanks
  14. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Its looking like Ammunition is basically all I need as well ;)

    I'm trying to eliminate gear all the time. If I can emulate hardware and do it better, ITB, I will because 2-bus compression ITB has better imaging.
    There is no doubt Samplitude's compressors are all better than all the analog comps I have and have sold off. BUT, there are a few things I haven't completely emulated yet.

    Even though I'm not "mastering" I always mix into a master which is achieved when you think like an ME and use a second DAW to mixdown to. The ME I looked up to years back where taking our tracks and mixing them through a hybrid chain of some kind into Sequoia. So, I include a ME setup into my chain which is really just a step further into how we stage our summing. Thus, hybrid or not, I still use two DAW's. I choose analog gear sometimes and sometimes I go from one DAW to the next without gear. But, I always uncoupled the DAW's.
    This is where I find great secrets. Or, the best steps that seem to do the most of what I want, with ease.
    Summing/ mixing down to a second uncoupled DAW is by far superior. Before I did that, I was guessing. Most of the gear people rave about, I have now sold off. I trust I am really hearing what it doesn't do lol.
  15. Tommy osuna

    Tommy osuna Active Member

    I like your method also I've been using the nail by a designs and have found great luck with using it that way it really holds the mix together in such a musical way there's others that you can use but I love this way since I've came across the nail

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