The History of 2 Bus/Stereo Bus Compression & How you're using it today

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by ChrisH, Feb 7, 2017.

  1. ChrisH

    ChrisH Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2011
    Location:
    Iowa
    Hey everyone,
    Hope your mix week is well.

    I found this article on subject and thought I would share:
    http://brownbagazine.blogspot.com/2010/11/compressor-history.html

    Which got me thinking and searching (with no luck) "who the first mixing engineer was to successfully use mix/stereo/mono/2 bus compression , what year that was, and which compressor they were using?"

    Following that, who was the first to mix-into a mix bus compressor?

    Total guess but possibly the first application of using a compressor during mixing WAS to strap it over the entire mix because they maybe only had one compressor to use, and that's what the radio stations were doing.


    Thought this was interesting and I'm interested in you guys chiming in .
     
    audiokid likes this.
  2. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2012
    Location:
    Akron/Cleveland, OH
    Home Page:
    As far as my own research has shown, Chris.... the method of strapping a compressor/limiter to the 2-Bus on a console came about as a way for the engineer to give the client (often the client was the producer) a "general" idea of how the piece would end up sounding after it had been mastered and/or played on the radio.

    The original intention of this method wasn't to leave it on the master bus, or to print it to the 2-track tape deck ( the 1/2" or 1/4" mix-master reel), but this little trick rapidly became a more common part of the mixing process, after it was discovered that the sonics could "glue together" in a very pleasing way when it was limited to some degree -and adding its own sonic vibe, in addition to the already-existing inherent color/character of tape (and console) saturation.

    Mastering engineers used what they had at the time; which would have been Tube, Opto and FET limiters ( Neumann, Fairchild, RCA, and later, Urei's and LA's ) as a part of the mastering process and the craft of "cutting the master" for vinyl LP reproduction.

    Radio stations often added their own limiting during their broadcasts, too. At first, the broadcast engineer would actually manually ride the levels, attempting to anticipate large changes or peaks in the broadcast content. Eventually, "automatic" peak-limiters were added, and early variations of limiting during transmission would have been gain/peak reduction devices made by RCA, Western Electric and GE - not necessarily to follow regulations, because at the time, regulations were kinda non existent- but instead this was used to actually protect the station's transmitter from overload, which could temporarily knock the station off line, or in some extreme cases, could actually damage the transmitters.

    As the years passed, these devices changed, and there were even some FM receivers that implemented a type of gain reduction in their circuitry as well.

    Many of those early limiters were originally designed for equipment "protection" - but ended up being used in studios, because engineers liked how they made the audio sound. There were times, early on in my career ( as an assistant engineer), that I saw that some head engineers would strap a tube or opto limiter to the master bus - but at unity gain - (for those new people who don't know what this is, this means that the engineers wouldn't even activate the device's limiter function, but would simply pass audio through it with no gain reduction engaged), because they liked the sonic "character" that certain GR devices added because of its circuitry.

    I don't know who the "first" (documented) engineer was who first mixed into gain reduction on the master bus. While it's quite common now, there had to be someone who got the ball rolling on that. It may have even been in mono.
    If I had to guess, the first cookers who come to mind would be someone like Tom Dowd, or Bill Putnam, or, maybe one of the guys from Western, Capitol or Goldstar (?)...for all we know, it may have originated as a British thing, with someone like Geoff Emerick or Ken Townsend first doing it...

    It's a fun question to try and find the answer to, though. ;)

    -d.
     
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