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Mix Bus Processing TV Commercials
Old 3 weeks ago
Here for the gear

Mix Bus Processing TV Commercials

I would be interested to know most common compressor settings and approaches on the mix bus in post production. I would be using attack settings between 10-30ms in music with fast release, but wondered if the concepts are the same for an SFX heavy piece of audio post production.

Cheers in advance guys!
Old 3 weeks ago
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I don't use a compressor on the 'master' in post. I need my stems to sum to the master so...
Old 3 weeks ago
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Led's Avatar
I use a little bit on TV commercials when I'm not required to provide stems. Not much though, a couple of db on a mutliband and a couple of db peak shaving with a limiter. I don't use it the way you would with music, I'm not looking to glue and shape the mix, or add character or snap like a VCA buss comp would, just reduce the dynamic range a tiny bit because it will generally be played back on tiny speakers in a lounge room while someone is yelling to the kids to do their homework. But I don't want it to sound compressed.
Sound effects and music stepping on the voice I'll deal with mainly by automating faders around the spots, sometimes a little ducking a couple of db on each of their sub busses keyed off the voice if it is a really full mix. Quick attack and release as quick as I can get away with, without hearing it.
The thing we have to deal with that music doesn't have is broadcast loudness specs, so if you compress the mix too much you'll end up with a mix that is broadcast at the same loudness as everything else, but all your transients will just sound squashed, and because of the reduced dynamic range the mix will read louder, therefore need to be pulled back more to meet spec, resulting in the voice feeling quieter than less compressed spots on either side, and phone calls from the client..
When I am using them on the mix I have them in from the get go, mix the voice to a level of -24LUFS (our broadcast spec here OP59) and fit everything else around it.
I use templates I've made, and it's set so -24 on the dialogue bus it just hitting the multiband and limiter around a db or 2 then once I mix in the music and fx and automate them around the voice it is usually about right. I can usually hear the multiband which is first in the chain working if I've gone too far and will back things down rather than start changing thresholds.
Old 3 weeks ago
Here for the gear

Thanks for the reply, this is really helpful! What sort of content are you mixing typically? Is this your approach for both hard hitting sports promos and more voiceover orientated commercials?
Old 3 weeks ago
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Led's Avatar
Pretty much a wide range of stuff, probably 70% is voice driven and the rest are more your eccentric sound design/music combos with a short VO tag at the end where you wonder what the ad was actually for. I don't do promos, they are all done in house by the respective networks here. My main client is doing all the mixing for one production company here and they do a lot of tv commercials but a lot of radio and online as well, and those are different ball games.

I probably hit the online stuff the hardest as far as compression but that's going to be generally played back on the worst speakers and noisiest environments, and generally won't go through more limiting up stream of me, other than normalisation in some cases, and the physical limitations of the speakers it's heard on. I have a small set of speakers that sound pretty much like Macbook speakers I make decisions on for that stuff, because they will react differently to bigger ones.

Radio I do around the same as tv, not much because the station broadcast chain is going to level all the spots out anyway, and it will just sound crushed and smeary. (is that a word?)
With TV and radio is't good to keep in mind that whatever dynamic processing you have on the mix won't be last of it's kind in the chain, the broadcasters will have at it after you.

When I have something with a lot of impact sfx I am using limiting or compression on the fx but more on an individual channel basis, and that's where I use them more in a way to shape the sound or add character rather than just level control.

In my world the voice is generally king, so I try to level that out to a workable dynamic range as possible with clip gain before any compression. I find the voice will cut more on air the less compression you use, so you can get other things like music up more without swallowing the voice.

I'd be keen to know what others are doing for tv ads, particularly what they are hitting as TP Max and LRA with spots of theirs they think sound good on air, just out of curiosity. We don't get to chat at gigs like music mixers do.

Last edited by Led; 3 weeks ago at 12:45 AM..
Old 3 weeks ago
Gear Guru
Brent Hahn's Avatar

Originally Posted by sgcsound View Post
Is this your approach for both hard hitting sports promos and more voiceover orientated commercials?
The promos I do are usually for sitcoms, but the same idea. In your face. The norm for those (meaning not just me) is a lot more bus limiting than "normal" commercials. Not having the stems add up isn't really an issue, because those clients usually want their stems undipped anyway.
Old 3 weeks ago
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bgood's Avatar
Are you talking about music beds or the whole production... VO over the music bed...?

If it’s just for music beds, I’d have a version that has very light (or no) master buss compression and a second version with enough compression to where the overall dynamics are pretty static...

If you’re doing post-prod on a finished spot, I don’t have current expertise on best practices; however, in the olden days we’d try to leave just enough dynamics in the audio so that it didn’t sound ridiculously squashed and there was still a little room left for the various stages of broadcast limiters the spot would hit downrange...
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