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Mix bus compression for techno?
Old 13th March 2018
  #1
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Mix bus compression for techno?

Whatever I do, mix bus compression kills the vibe and punch. Shaping individual sounds carefully to build groove is no problem, neither is using automation to build tension and “slam” after the break. But bus compression hates my techno. Saturation and limiter mostly works on my 2bus, but program compressor - get out of here. Am I the only one? Do you mix into 2bus compressor or what?
Old 13th March 2018
  #2
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Realizing I posed similar questions on a while ago I felt a bit ashamed “nagging” on this matter. So googling a bit I found this resource on subsekt that explains techno compression quite well. Perhaps it can be of interest:
subsekt techno production forum, blog & online network
Old 13th March 2018
  #3
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You mixing into plugin mix comps? That would explain it to me. Indeed a win some - lose some game.

EDIT: Just had a look at the link. I'd have to disagree with him about when to put the mix comp on. You want to get a good gain structure and balance without it first, then put it on and mix into it from there.
Old 13th March 2018
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Karloff70 View Post
You mixing into plugin mix comps? That would explain it to me. Indeed a win some - lose some game.
Nah, I find doing that easily kills the vibe. On the other hand I sometimes find adding program compression at mix down time screws up the balance.
Old 13th March 2018
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Karloff70 View Post

EDIT: Just had a look at the link. I'd have to disagree with him about when to put the mix comp on. You want to get a good gain structure and balance without it first, then put it on and mix into it from there.
Didn’t he essentially say that? Build a groove first then adding light compression with the kick as guide?
Old 13th March 2018
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mr jkn View Post
Nah, I find doing that easily kills the vibe. On the other hand I sometimes find adding program compression at mix down time screws up the balance.
I meant specifically plugin as opposed to hardware. But putting a comp on at the end never makes much sense to me as it will indeed shift things to where you didn't choose them to be.

His statement was put it on from the beginning. To me the (important) beginning is building a good gain structure and balance that works without comp first in broad strokes. Importantly including some bass boosting where you will have it boosted (kick/bass probably at least), as to not make the gain change upwards too much after the comp is put on, as otherwise once you do add the bass boosts later things shrink into a mess inside the comp quite easily.

I suppose it may be semantics on what you call 'the beginning'.
Old 13th March 2018
  #7
never mixed into a comp on the bus.
Material-dependant/mastering phase, if at all.
10:1 the first 2-3 dbs, but like was said, low end inevitably gets notched somewhere and it feels like a fishing expedition.
Just can't get around good sound choices and mixing skills.
esp. when recording to 2 tracks.
Old 13th March 2018
  #8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Karloff70 View Post
...as otherwise once you do add the bass boosts later things shrink into a mess inside the comp quite easily.
...
I find myself adding some bass (uncompressed) and mix that in with the compressed whole mix (after mixing into the compressor). Just a little bit. You have to be careful that it doesn't cancel each other out. Sometimes a little reverb too.

Also, results really depends what kind of bus compressor you use.
IMO the SSL VCA type is more suitable for slamming snares or a percussion mix.
YMMV of course
Old 13th March 2018
  #9
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Interesting thread this. I think that the final mixdown is something that I really need to work on in my music so this is good stuff to digest. Thanks guys
Old 13th March 2018
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reptil View Post
I find myself adding some bass (uncompressed) and mix that in with the compressed whole mix (after mixing into the compressor). Just a little bit. You have to be careful that it doesn't cancel each other out. Sometimes a little reverb too.

Also, results really depends what kind of bus compressor you use.
IMO the SSL VCA type is more suitable for slamming snares or a percussion mix.
YMMV of course
I like mixing little bit of bass into the drum bus. Lean into the drum rubber band a little bit for interaction. Same deal with the phase nonsense of course......that part I hate in the box. Mix bus comp doesn't do much, just a little licking.
Old 13th March 2018
  #11
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Funny thing is though, my techno likes 2bus comp better if I mix with my old boombox. That would suggest that perceived oomph and slam is a midrange thing as much as a bass thing. It’s not only hard to get techno bass right but also techno midrange
Old 13th March 2018
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mr jkn View Post
Funny thing is though, my techno likes 2bus comp better if I mix with my old boombox. That would suggest that perceived oomph and slam is a midrange thing as much as a bass thing. It’s not only hard to get techno bass right but also techno midrange
Its all hard isnt it.
Old 13th March 2018
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ctothej123 View Post
Its all hard isnt it.
It’s a hard life trying to make good techno.
Old 13th March 2018
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mr jkn View Post
It’s a hard life trying to make good techno.
That’s a signature right there if ever I saw one.
Old 13th March 2018
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reptil View Post
I find myself adding some bass (uncompressed) and mix that in with the compressed whole mix (after mixing into the compressor). Just a little bit. You have to be careful that it doesn't cancel each other out. Sometimes a little reverb too.

Also, results really depends what kind of bus compressor you use.
IMO the SSL VCA type is more suitable for slamming snares or a percussion mix.
YMMV of course
Interesting idea. What type of compressor do you suggest?
Old 13th March 2018
  #16
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No vibe should be killed if you have set your compressor up properly. The compressor should be welding it all together into a lovely gooey mess. Are you slamming it? I have a comp on the 2-bus permanently, set to about 2:1 and never hit it more than 1 or 2dB, max. Any more than that and things are going to be out of whack.
Old 13th March 2018
  #17
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Many different approaches. Here's my current philosophy:

* Get each element as loud as possible, on its own track. This removes the need to use mix compression to add any loudness.

* If I want more aggressive slamming for vibe, I do that on the drum bus compressor.

.... This all means you can go much more gently on the final mix bus.

My mix bus runs:
Software EQ
Saturator (Analog Heat)
Drawmer analogue compressor
Real tape
Software limiter

* Analog Heat > saturation mode > bump it until it's too much, then dial it back a touch.

* To set the compressor......
- Set to max ratio; shortest attack, long release, threshold so it's triggered by the kick peaks.
- Gradually raise the attack until you get the transients you want.
- Gradually shorten the release until it's giving you the magical pump.
- Now reduce the ratio until you can hardly tell the compressor is doing anything.... BUT when you switch it in and out, it's giving you that extra vibey energy..... It's really just just giving the dynamics a delicate kiss.

* Through the tape (if you wish)

* Now add an oscilloscope (smexoscope is great) at the end of the chain and lower the threshold on the limiter until you are zapping any wild spikes and just clipping the tops of the kicks. Adjust until you get the magic point where the track is as loud as possible while still retaining the bounce.

In summary: Gently does it with my approach to mix bus compression and limiter.
Old 13th March 2018
  #18
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One of my current favorites, Ansome, says he uses parallel compression/distortion.



You can easily try it by sending some of the channels to mixer aux sends and to a unit like Analog Heat and back to the main mix.
Old 14th March 2018
  #19
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I can't say that I KNOW exactly but I get the impression that classic techno is pretty uncompressed - it seems the mix is is in-your-face and somewhat compressed by running an analog mixer hot. If the compressor is killing the mix the ratio is too high / threshold is too low, or possibly just a bad device / plug-in. A well produced techno track should just get more chunky if you give it a gentle dose of something like an API 2500. If this is a problem then perhaps the mix isn't very solid in the first place.
Old 14th March 2018
  #20
HSi
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Are you using a nice big highpass filter on the internal sidechain? Then maybe before or after some saturation? You really don't want a techno kick to be triggering too many dbs of reduction imo.

A long time ago I'd say this was a bit of a struggle in software tbh. But now you could just use something like UBK-1 on glue to bring up the level, Dent 2 or trash 2 to distort/saturate just a tiny bit, then either something like arouser or zip to catch the rest. Just a small bit on each.

Pretty much what I do is get the more percussive drum elements of the track playing, set the levels, then add something like the above, then get that right. Then mix into that chain a little bit and then maybe use some multiband stuff like ozone if needed, if needed.

I'd really suggest you take a look at ubk1, its really good for techno, its works a bit different. Little by little.

Check Zip as well, nothing else can do the sort of stuff it can. It's a bit mindblowing.
Old 14th March 2018
  #21
HSi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shreddoggie View Post
I can't say that I KNOW exactly but I get the impression that classic techno is pretty uncompressed - it seems the mix is is in-your-face and somewhat compressed by running an analog mixer hot. If the compressor is killing the mix the ratio is too high / threshold is too low, or possibly just a bad device / plug-in. A well produced techno track should just get more chunky if you give it a gentle dose of something like an API 2500. If this is a problem then perhaps the mix isn't very solid in the first place.
Some isn't much yeah. As you say, saturation and distortion. But then some is a lot, but it's how it's applied. You're going to be **** out out of luck if you're trying to make industrial techno with a SSL bus comp.
Old 14th March 2018
  #22
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Yeah it’s more likely to be an alesis 3630. Probably not over the 2 bus tho.

I used to see a lot of Joemeek gear in 90’s studios when I read magazine interviews.
Old 14th March 2018
  #23
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Great suggestions y’all!
Old 14th March 2018
  #24
HSi
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Just going to add don't forget about multi band compressors and dynamic eq too. Plus there are plenty of plug ins now that have internal envelope follower modulators. You could probably argue the only reason to use a compressor is for its particular action or tone, but I won't because I don't have the energy for huge internet arguments.

Some people seem to think of some of the above as cheating, lol. Mixing is all about "cheating" and little sly tricks.
Old 14th March 2018
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HSi View Post
there are plenty of plug ins now that have internal envelope follower modulators.
What's an internal envelope follower modulator?

Is that some sort of adaptive thing like waves Bass rider?
Old 14th March 2018
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by red tape View Post
What's an internal envelope follower modulator?

Is that some sort of adaptive thing like waves Bass rider?
Sort of yeah.

Basically it takes the audio input going into the IN of the plug in and then passes that graph/shape/signal on as modulation.

On zip you can use those to affect attack, release, ratio, threshold, the internal side chain filter and more that I can't explain because I haven't used it enough.


A lot of the fabfilter plug ins have them too.
Old 14th March 2018
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mr jkn View Post
Whatever I do, mix bus compression kills the vibe and punch. Shaping individual sounds carefully to build groove is no problem, neither is using automation to build tension and “slam” after the break. But bus compression hates my techno. Saturation and limiter mostly works on my 2bus, but program compressor - get out of here. Am I the only one? Do you mix into 2bus compressor or what?
IMO dance music compression is about a trade off between PA play and headphone/monitors play. So...

Are you mixing for dj/club play or for fun? Are you trying to sell music or just make it? If you are making music that is largely going to be played on a PA and not home listening, take into account PAs are weird and wild animals. If you are making music to "move units on beatport", well then its a compromise between what the Dj audience hears when they purchase it and how motivated they will be to come back when they play it at a gig.
Old 15th March 2018
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mr jkn View Post
It’s a hard life trying to make good techno.
It most certainly is...

Old 15th March 2018
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shreddoggie View Post
I can't say that I KNOW exactly but I get the impression that classic techno is pretty uncompressed - it seems the mix is is in-your-face and somewhat compressed by running an analog mixer hot. If the compressor is killing the mix the ratio is too high / threshold is too low, or possibly just a bad device / plug-in. A well produced techno track should just get more chunky if you give it a gentle dose of something like an API 2500. If this is a problem then perhaps the mix isn't very solid in the first place.
You are right, at least as far as a lot early-mid 90s stuff goes. Setups were very basic in those days as far as outboard goes and people weren't so concernced with the engineering side. A lot of people really just didn't have any compressors in their studios. When setups became more sophisticated and loop-tribal techno became popular around the turn of the millenium it became a thing to run the mix into cheap compressors like the Alesis 3630 though. And when you get to early/mid 2000s schranz/hard techno, things just started to become ridicously overcompressed.
Old 15th March 2018
  #30
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More sophisticated tribal techno era - pretty sure people already had some production chops and decent comps before that point actually.
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