Observations on 2 Bus Gain Reduction


Mar 20, 2000
Nanaimo BC, Canada
Maybe the tracking stuff will get so good mixing will be just about volume an panning. More like electronic music.
Ha! I have been thinking about this for a while now but feared I would sound like an EM geek.:notworthy: But, when I say a good mix mixes itself, I see you get the drift too! And why I see mastering becoming less and less of a thing that requires a specialty.

I'm still on the fence with plugs for tracking. Personally, I think great pres and excellent mics with talented people is the whole deal. I do like an LA2A for tracking but I can live without it.

And samples, anyone that knows the magic of a great library knows what is really happening there. I'm not so bent on recreating the wheel when it can be had in a box. And if I think that, so will a millions others. Times are changing. We have so many ways to capture and create music. Some ways I don't agree are my thing, but its all there and its why the business is broke, yet growing insanely all over the map. We can do a lot of it, ITB.


Kyle P. Gushue
Well-Known Member
Jul 21, 2009
Boston, Massachusetts
The cool thing is the stuff they haven't made yet. The artifacts of digital audio data will be sussed out probably in about 15 years if I had to guess. With tools like spectral editing, and dynamic eqs (which I am experimenting with right now), I'm sure voice simulation isn't far off, all kinds of fun stuff. So maybe some things are going bye bye but the void is being filled with something else.

The thing is if you want it, people can just build you a clone of most coveted style stuff. So it's not like it's going extinct.


Well-Known Member
Nov 25, 2012
Akron/Cleveland, OH
Jeez, you guys are stiff. Compression is awesome when used properly. No amount of misuse or over-application changes that. One reason compression is a good thing is that it emulates the compression we have built into our own hearing apparatus.

Maybe I am stiff. Maybe it's because I am dog-tired of hearing over limited, over compressed, super-squashed noise, all for the sake of nothing more than to make things as LOUD as possible.

Are those that are striving for this using compression or limiting "properly"? I'd bet that the pro ME's who are doing this over-limiting know exactly what GR does and how to use it. So in that sense, their use is proper. You can certainly "properly" brick wall limit.

So, I don't think it's defined by being "proper" or not ... I think a more accurate description is tasteful. Gain reduction being used as a complimentary tool, and not as a vehicle to crush the living snot out of music to the point where the dynamic range is non-existent, and to where the music sounds harsh, brittle and distorted.

And nowhere in my post did I say that I'm against that tasteful use. It's not as if I've decided to never use GR again and have removed all my compression/limiting plugs from my VST folder. ;)

It's that I've made a conscious decision to make sure that from now on, when I do use it, it's because it really is warranted, or because it will be complimentary - instead of just automatically reaching for it, or simply always assuming that a certain track will need it.

ndeed! I love compression. Use it all the time but very tastefully. Love limiters too! Always use one on the master bus. ProL is amazing

There are times that I do, too... although I don't use limiters on the 2-bus anymore, because I'm not doing the pseudo-mastering that Chris is. I'm sending these mixes out to a pro M.E. where I'm assuming some limiting will be used as part of the process, so I don't see the need, benefit, or the point, for the audio content to be limited twice. I still add light amounts of compression on buses or on individual tracks, sometimes because it's needed to smooth out transients, some times because it gives a sense of "glue", sometimes for both, but it's never anything heavy, and always used to benefit the tracks and not "just because" I have the processors available. There was a time when I mixed that way. I came to the conclusion that this wasn't the right way to do things, and that with that older mindset, the mixes almost always suffered.

IMHO of course. ;)



Well-Known Member
Dec 10, 2001
Pacific NW
Within reason. All things within reason. Some things don't NEED to be compressed, they need some nice EQ to balance them in their spot in the mix. Some things get really SMALL when compressed. Some things need an upward expander AFTER they are compressed. SOME THINGS NEED NOTHING but are compressed any way because thats what we are used to doing. Sometimes before we even listen to the track in context.

How many set-up a mix like you've done 'forever' before you run the tracks? Maybe have certain things already with a pre-determined path because thats how you work? I'm all for having my chain already set up so I just push a button and then work the fader.....lazy.....

But thats not always what is best for the recording. My method goes something like this. On a genre of music I have familiarity with, I have a bunch of plugs and whatnot preset in a folder. The FIRST dry run through of a mix gets all these things in place and that session is worked on as an entity. Then I take the raw tracks and make a new session with NOTHING but the recorded sounds. I then mix this setup without compression, verb, delay, or eq...just volume and pan. It becomes very obvious after a few passes what works and what needs work. Its very very seldom one or the other.

One thing is for certain, I can crank the bloody hell out of the clean and clear version right up to the top of the master and never see a red light. I know then that my tracking techniques have been on solid ground.

Lately its all about stems for me. Sections. I will do what is needed within the confines of this instrument with multiple tracks or that instrument with multiple tracks. I will condense these similar instruments into their own sub mix with very little control across their prospective 2-bus....maybe a limiter but even that will be only as a level control before the master. These subs then get arranged to make the song flow as it should. Panning here is critical to the clarity and placement in the soundfield and volume brings it front and back. If I have treated each track appropriately then everything should sound like it belongs together in a separate way...