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COMPRESSING SUBMIX's OR BUSSES Consoles
Old 20th May 2003
  #1
The Distressor's "daddy"
 
Dave Derr's Avatar
 

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COMPRESSING SUBMIX's OR BUSSES

I have heard some wacky things done with buss compression and submix compression. For instance, thousands of people will take the drum submix and compress the whole thing to make it have it's own size and to fit together cohesively.

One of my incredibly talented mixdown engineer friends, Michael Brauer, even built his own "Submix Matrix" Rig so he can manipulate wierd combinations of instruments through eqs and compressors. (Michael won a Grammy for the huge COLD PLAY album he mixed).

What other submix compressor tricks, like with background vocals, or the guitar/keybard submix etc, have you all heard about or tried with great success?

Also I'm very interested in cases where you mix a compressed signal back up under the original signal, like the trick John Paterno wrote about when mixing vocals. And John, I'd love to hear more of your tricks with busses and signal conditioning (and tricks you've seen with Tchad Blake and Mitchel Froom etc.)
Old 20th May 2003
  #2
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What great topic, considering i've recently been discovering submixing tricks for the first time myself.

I'm hoping some of the more notable engineers (at least those who's work some of us are familiar with) will contribute, but here are some things i've discovered:

Drum bus: send the drums off to their own stereo bus and the rest of your mix off to another, then compress drum bus seperately from rest of mix. I've found something like a DBX 162 or SSL FXG384 to work great for this.

Drum bus stereo submix: a little different than above, instead of sending all drum tracks to seperate bus, you would send them to main stereo bus AND another pair of bus outs, which feed a pair of compressors such as EL8s set to "Nuke" or Alan Smart C2 set to "Crush", completely destroy the drums in a musical and rythmic manner, and return just a bit of the compressor outputs back into the main stereo bus. Fun fun fun! I've done this with just kick and snare, for a more solid "center" to the drum sound, and also on stereo toms. Can get wierd on overheads/cymbals.

Mono submix: send anything that could use a stronger "center", such as kick, snare, or bass, into a nice big fat comp of some sort... did this with a Fairchild 660 when I had the privalege, beautiful. Can add tremendously to the sound without EQ or phase artifacts.

Vocals: Mult off the lead vocal track into a somewhat aggressive, "character" box... birng in more compressed track behind original track when needed... kinda like automating a compressor. I've done this with one vocal going through my Manley ElOp for a more smooth compression, and a mult feeding my EL8 on a more aggressive setting (usually 10:1 with an attack of 7, release of 3-4, and a hell of a lot of gain reduction... adds some extra character to "opto mode"). Can give a vocal some extra balls without messing with what already exists too much.

Hmm, that's about all I can think of off the top of my head... can't wait to hear more!!!
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Old 20th May 2003
  #3
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Quote:
Originally posted by jpaudio


Drum bus stereo submix: a little different than above, instead of sending all drum tracks to seperate bus, you would send them to main stereo bus AND another pair of bus outs, which feed a pair of compressors such as EL8s set to "Nuke" or Alan Smart C2 set to "Crush", completely destroy the drums in a musical and rythmic manner, and return just a bit of the compressor outputs back into the main stereo bus. Fun fun fun! I've done this with just kick and snare, for a more solid "center" to the drum sound, and also on stereo toms. Can get wierd on overheads/cymbals.
I do a variant of this with drums; they go to two busses; one (the clean drum buss) goes through a Drawmer 1969, while the other, with all tracks except the kick drum, gets nuked. The nuke bus is just to add a little flavor.

I mixed a project a week or so back where lead vocals were bussed to two tracks; one with a little gentle compression with a CL1B, and the other smashed fairly hard through an 1176. Nice effect, and I'll be doing it more...

Neither of these are new or exciting, but I wanted to chime in somehow.
Old 20th May 2003
  #4
Gear addict
 

sub mixing

Hi Dave, Thanks for the kind words. I did a two part interview for Tape-Op in which I discuss my approach to mixing using stereo subs. It is a condensed version because I think the original interview was about 12 pages. But I think it will open up some new avenues for those that are looking for a way to compress different parts of the mix without effecting each other. The idea came to me as a result of when I was mixing Freeway of Love for Aretha Franklin and Narada, the producer kept asking for more bottom. The stereo compressor would just squash everything else that I had sounding great. The SSL 6000 had just come out and I began experimenting with the 3 busses until I came up with a way to process the bottom, mid and the top of record separately from each other. The result was better dynamics and a bigger sound. I didn’t always have access to an SSL 6000 so I had Sony Studios build me a matrix(that david refers to and was my one and only patent) to address my need for 3 stereo busses summing into one with a few bells and whistles added. Eventually I chose to only mix on a 6000 then 8000 and now the SSL 9000 J. It has 4 stereo busses and the main stereo making it 5 st. busses for me to combine and manipulate. I'll be at the tape-op convention on the Compression Panel(of course). Hopefully I'll be able to elaborate more on the subject. Thanks, michael
Old 20th May 2003
  #5
The Distressor's "daddy"
 
Dave Derr's Avatar
 

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Heyee Michael Brauer!

When you say compress the top, middle, and bottom seperately, I think you mean grouping the instruments into top middle bottom as opposed to an actual 3 way crossover? I.E. the "bottom" instruments would be the Kick drum and bass, and maybe the toms?

Also Im wondering if you plan to sell your Matrix submixer?
Old 20th May 2003
  #6
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plexi's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Dave Derr
Heyee Michael Brauer!

Also Im wondering if you plan to sell your Matrix submixer?
Why not build something like that with buildt-in Distressors!
Old 20th May 2003
  #7
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Or throw in M-S matrices. Good lord, we're starting to get geometrically complex, aren't we?

Bear
Old 21st May 2003
  #8
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Re: COMPRESSING SUBMIX's OR BUSSES

Quote:
Originally posted by Dave Derr

What other submix compressor tricks, like with background vocals, or the guitar/keybard submix etc, have you all heard about or tried with great success?

Also I'm very interested in cases where you mix a compressed signal back up under the original signal, like the trick John Paterno wrote about when mixing vocals. And John, I'd love to hear more of your tricks with busses and signal conditioning (and tricks you've seen with Tchad Blake and Mitchel Froom etc.)
Hey Dave --

For me, it really depends on a few things: Am I mixing tracks that I've recorded or someone else's, and what i'm trying to achieve with the end result. I tend to commit to things during the tracking process (like recording a pumping 'Distressed' drum track along with the rest of the kit), so i find that in the end i do less processing of this kind when it comes time to mix. This was probably my greatest lesson from the Tchad and Mitchell years! Usually it is some kind of effect that I run a few things through -- like BG vocals bussed to an ElectroHarmonix Small Stone and panned off to one side.

When I get other people's tracks, or if someone does some programming against some tracks I've already recorded, it kinda becomes an 'anything goes' situation. With programmed stuff, I've had success running that stuff through compressors or EQ's with some 'character'. Most of the time, all I'm doing is pulling the signal out of the stereo buss, assigning it to the appropriate piece of gear and returning it so I'm hearing it through that piece of gear and the 'special goodness' it is adding to the tone. Depending on what i'm after, i have a few options to choose from. I'll sometimes set up a stereo compressor as an effects return and buss as many things as I want to it -- some things end up in parallel, and some things are exclusively sent through the compressor. This is not exactly the parallel idea, but it does seem to fit in a bit with Michael's approach.

The degree to which i do this ultimately depends on what i'm trying to accomplish in the end...

Cheers,
John
Old 21st May 2003
  #9
Cool topic,


Here is the "Jules sex pistols / Nirvana / Smashing Pumpkins trick"

Can be done on a DAW or mixing desk.

Route most distorted gtrs & bass to 2 stereo groups that contribute to the mix buss

Group 1 = uncompressed gtr group

Group 2 = compressed gtr group

How to do "the trick"

Place a stereo compressor with a "key input" across the 2nd group, dedicate a send to this key input, send mostly kick drum and perhaps experiment with sending a little Snare & toms to the key input.

So the kick drum "smacks down" the guitars.... This gives the effect of a PA or car stereo on the verge off blowing up or a Sex Pistols record at full blast....

Set up the compressor at say .. 10-1 ratio fastest release and experiment with the attack to get the 'surging' sound just freaked out right..

Get the 2nd group sounding INSANELY OVER DONE.. then you simply blend the two groups to taste....

Chorus dist gtrs benefit greatly by this.



NOTE - on a DAW you must make the 1st group (Aux) have the same sample delay (use Time Adjuster plug in) as the 2nd..

NOTE - you take a MASSIVE risk in scaring the act / client, if you set this up while they are in the room, it HAS to sound freaky while you set it up, then you blend the freak with the nature...

Freak - EE - deekie!

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Old 21st May 2003
  #10
Gear addict
 

That's right david I was referring to Bottom-drums,Perc bass/Middle-Gtrs/Middle 2 - keys, synths, strings/ top- vocals . I also have a stereo send going to a couple 1176's assigned to the uncompressed stereo bus. If I need more punch from the bass drum when everthing is full on, I can additionally send it to the stereo buss and adjust the level or if i'm looking for a more aggressive sound I'll send it to the 1176's. It always gives me that extra level or sound I need. If you ever find yourself up against the wall and you can't get the bass drum or other instrument to punch out, this technique works like a charm. I really like Jule's keyed stereo gtr trick. I'm going to have to try that out. What keyed compressor works well for that nasty sound?Distressors I assume but since I've never used them in that way I can't remember if they have a keyed input.
Old 21st May 2003
  #11
The Distressor's "daddy"
 
Dave Derr's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Michael
Probably can't use them that way cuz of the unusual topology.
(I love hiding shortcomings behind enigmatic explanations)
Old 21st May 2003
  #12
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jazzius's Avatar
 

A cool trick i discovered was to split the (hiphop) song into 3 sub-busses.....

kick/snare

vocals

everything else

I patched a comp over the "everything" buss, and sent the kick/snare into the sidechain (via aux sends) along with the "everything" signal.........so the sidechain is getting some of both, but only the "everything" buss is getting compressed.......then, you can turn up the kick/snare (aux send) madly loud to get the instrumental pumping insanely (with a fast release) , but you won't be compressing the kick/snare at all, keeping the (k/s) sounding massive...........

.............then i dropped the vox on top of this soup and just kissed it lightly with another comp to connect al the sounds.......worked a treat.
Old 21st May 2003
  #13
"I really like Jule's keyed stereo gtr trick. I'm going to have to try that out. What keyed compressor works well for that nasty sound?

(its the rock version of Jazzius's tip)

Good compressors are

Drawmer (231??) stereo compressor (has 2 x key inputs ??, try a jack half out if it doesent work normally)
BSS 402 stereo compressor

In Pro Tools -

Sony Dynamics
Waves C1
McDSP compressor

Old 21st May 2003
  #14
I recently mixed a record on an API Legacy that had two stereo busses. I applied this little trick (admittedly nothing that out of the ordinary):

Stereo Buss A: everything except...

Stereo Buss B: Manley Vari-Mu patched in, Backing Vox with EMT verb or drums (minus kick), or bass/kick.

What worked great for me is that by leaving the Manley on the B buss, I could quickly route anything I wanted over to it on a song by song basis. Routing the Backing Vox and verb to it was SWEEEEEET!

Nothing that extreme but exactly what was needed.

Shawn
Old 22nd May 2003
  #15
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Michael, I LOVE!!!!! the sound of that Coldplay album. Would you mind sharing with us which compressors you used in what subgroups of the mix. Any other tricks that contributed to the gorgeous sound of that record? Wow, this forum rules!!!!
Old 22nd May 2003
  #16
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Hey Jules, this is kinda off the submix topic but i've done something very similar to your guitar trick in the past... sometimes when i want a little extra something from the guitars in a chrous or build or whatever, i'll put up an extra mic (or mult off one of the main guitar mics), usually something like a 414 a few feet off the cab, and Nuke it to death with an EL8, 1176, whatever is free and explosive... then gate that track during mixdown and trigger it from a kick or snare during the given section of the song. I especially like it gated from the snare, maybe a combo of your trick on kicks and mine on snares might help out the next Nirvana!
Old 23rd May 2003
  #17
The Distressor's "daddy"
 
Dave Derr's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Speaking of Nirvana, Andy Wallace kicks glutomous maximus. He mixed Nirvana's Nevermind, by the way. In my mind he is one of the best "HEAVY" mixers anywhere. Boy would I love to sit in on one of his mixdowns. Hes gotta have a zillion tricks, and I bet some wild buss compression magic.

Hes got all these hits out right now, I forget most. System of a Down, Puddle of Mudd, hmmmm... and quite a few others. If any of you have spent hours mixing HEAVY HEAVY stuff, you know how hard it is to get things clear and punchy, without being harsh and messy. What ears! Even the screamy vocal sounds are smooth somehow. Hats off to you Andy. Im jealous.
Old 23rd May 2003
  #18
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A less famous but really amazing Andy Wallace mix is Shudder to Think's "Pony Express Record."

STT was (is?) a really artsy DC indie rock band that got signed during the Great Alt-Rock Signing Frenzy of the early 90's. It's a little jarring to hear their sort of material mixed AW-style, but it's very effective.

Highly recommended, if you can find it. It sold really poorly, so I'm not sure if it's still in print.
Old 23rd May 2003
  #19
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one thing i'd love to get my hands on is a compression matrix....

......imagine a matrix with, say, 24 stereo inputs.........this should be enuff to accomadate the main elements of a mix.......kick, snare, BV's, guitars etc etc up to...... 24

each (stereo) channel has a built in Distressor heh

after the Distressor heh, each channel has a stereo output

each channel has 23 send knobs!

each send goes to the sidechain input of each channel's Distressor heh

the idea is that you could set up layers of compression with certain sounds being given priority or space via the ducking of other sounds.......

......as an example, you could have lead vox ducking BV's, but BV's would duck guitars, while kick ducks BV's and guitars etc etc........

pure fantasy that this would ever be built..........maybe in software?

waddayallreckon?.........useful or overkill?
Old 23rd May 2003
  #20
Gear addict
 

Thanks, coldplay was a special record. To begin with it was well played,well recorded and it was well arranged so that I had room to play with delays and space. Very little compression is going on most of the time on this record."yellow" is the only exception.I sent the drums to an outboard waves L2 and just turned it into the dynamics of tone and then brought that back under the regular sound of the uncompressed drums. the snare as a result has a kind of strange phase to it that worked in giving the song that haunting feel. To try and break down the 4 busses would do no good without explaining what went to them and that would take a couple pages and I don't want to bore you with it, not to mention I don't remember exactly. The article coming out this month in tape-op should describe in depth what I use across those busses and how it works. I also went into detail on how someone with a small non ssl desk can apply my approach with the same results. I have a Q&A and article section on my site that addressed some coldplay questions from a couple years ago when it was hot off the press.iT may give you some ideas to try. the site is www.mbrauer.com When I get a copy of the article, I'll put in on the site.
Old 23rd May 2003
  #21
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Thanks Michael, I'll check it out.
Sean
Old 23rd May 2003
  #22
The Distressor's "daddy"
 
Dave Derr's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
The Coldplay album lived in our car for a long time! An unusual thing about that album was that it got played on a lot of hard rock stations along with MOR type top 40 radio. K-Rock here in NYC continually plays them even tho it has little to do with hard rock and screaming guitars. I think besides the great songs, the sound had a lot to do with that album. Congratulations Michael on the Grammy thats sittin on your shelf from mixing that album.

=============================================

Jazzius

Just a quick thought. On your matrix box, you suggested 24 channels with 23 sends. Counting each channels own volume, that is gonna be 576 knobs and pots. That be a mess O' knobs! Lets say you use medium quality pots and knobs at $4 each. That comes out to $2304 in just pots and knobs. Now lets add a chassis and some PC boards, connectors, power supply and paint, thats gonna be at least another $400 bringing us to $2700 in parts alone. Now lets give the manufacturer 30% on top of that, the distributor 15%, and the store another %30 for list price. That comes to $5247 list price. Add sales tax and the matrix mixer comes to $5562... and thats prolly on the low side if you use good parts. Keep in mind there is no EQ, nor Distressor for every channel, nor metering, and probably a 7 unit high 19 inch rack mount chassis that has to sit in a big rack somewhere.

Economics sucks, doesnt it?
Old 23rd May 2003
  #23
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Quote:
Originally posted by mdbeh
A less famous but really amazing Andy Wallace mix is Shudder to Think's "Pony Express Record."

STT was (is?) a really artsy DC indie rock band that got signed during the Great Alt-Rock Signing Frenzy of the early 90's. It's a little jarring to hear their sort of material mixed AW-style, but it's very effective.

Highly recommended, if you can find it. It sold really poorly, so I'm not sure if it's still in print.
YEAH! The first time I've EVER heard anyone else on these forums mention Shudder To Think or Pony Express.

What a great record. And what a great sounding record.

Strange and wildly wonderful music. Except for the fact that it's rock music, I wouldn't know how to describe it. It's pretty far out there.

I used that album as my engineering/production inspiration for quite a few years.

Until I lost it... grudge

And it's nigh on impossible to find. ANYWHERE.

R.
Old 23rd May 2003
  #24
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dave Derr
Speaking of Nirvana, Andy Wallace kicks glutomous maximus. He mixed Nirvana's Nevermind, by the way. In my mind he is one of the best "HEAVY" mixers anywhere. Boy would I love to sit in on one of his mixdowns. Hes gotta have a zillion tricks, and I bet some wild buss compression magic.

Hes got all these hits out right now, I forget most. System of a Down, Puddle of Mudd, hmmmm... and quite a few others. If any of you have spent hours mixing HEAVY HEAVY stuff, you know how hard it is to get things clear and punchy, without being harsh and messy. What ears! Even the screamy vocal sounds are smooth somehow. Hats off to you Andy. Im jealous.
I've always held Andy's work in the highest regard... i'd have to say my favorite album he's worked on is Jeff Buckley's Grace, which IIRC he produced, engineered, and mixed, a rare thing for him these days anyway. His mixes are powerful yet not nearly as overkill as some of the other mega-mixers in his league, and aside from it all sounding great.

I had the chance to speak with an assistant at Soundtracks NYC who worked with him once, i believe it was on some Limp Bizkit tracks, and the assistant told me that Andy used maybe 3 or 4 pieces of outboard gear and relied on his SSL 4000G+ (E series eqs) for just about everything.
Old 23rd May 2003
  #25
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I've been experiementing with Fatso on the 2-buss and so far so good. My setup is a Pro Tools LE system, so my mixes up until now have been digital to a MasterLinik.

But since Dave's here, no better time to try out tricks with Fatso, right? So I've tested two mixes, one a voiceover CD, the other a simple Americana ballad.

On the first test -- the proof set, I guess -- I ran the mixes from ProTools to the Apogee PSX-100 with UV22 into the MasterLink at 16-bit, 44.1. (Everything was originally recorded at 24-bit, 44.1 BTW).

The second mix ran from the Apogee D/A to the Fatso with the 2buss compression on to the MasterLink (and every final mix was 16-bit, 44.1). Then I tried it without the 2buss compression. Then I tried it with Spank, mostly for kicks.

Then I ran it through the Drawmer 1969 straight to the MasterLink. Then I tried combinations of the Drawmer and Fatso. I tried about 8 or so different combinations.

What I found is for both recordings, I preferred the Fatso with the 2buss compression, warmth at 2. I really didn't expect this and it was a blind listening test (all I have to do is wait two days before I completely forget what I've recorded. I've learned it's important to keep a list of what-is-what, though. Yeah, that's kind of key.)

I really expected to favor the digital to digital mixes, because I've always heard that once you enter the digital domain you should stay there. Or so I've heard. But I think Jules also runs a Fatso on the 2buss, if I'm not mistaken, so I don't think I'm alone on this.

Jasper
Old 23rd May 2003
  #26
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plexi's Avatar
 

Wow, Michael B is a total GEARSLUT , just look here:
Soundtower
Old 23rd May 2003
  #27
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jazzius's Avatar
 

Hand this man his honorary Gearslutz red stilettoe heels and black leather miniskirt.......those racks are insane ..... some of that **** looks like medical equipment or summink!

nice to see how the pesky RNC sneaked in there!
Old 23rd May 2003
  #28
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dave Derr
Economics sucks, doesnt it?
yes......still, if people are willing to pay 25 large for a Fairchild.............heh
Old 23rd May 2003
  #29
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mdbeh's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Ol' Betsey
YEAH! The first time I've EVER heard anyone else on these forums mention Shudder To Think or Pony Express.

What a great record. And what a great sounding record.

Strange and wildly wonderful music. Except for the fact that it's rock music, I wouldn't know how to describe it. It's pretty far out there.

I used that album as my engineering/production inspiration for quite a few years.

Until I lost it... grudge

And it's nigh on impossible to find. ANYWHERE.

R.
After posting, I checked around a bit.

There are actually a ton of people still trying to unload cutouts, nearly 10 years after it came out--ya gotta love the record industry.

People always say that cockroaches would survive a nuclear war; I think promo CDs need to be added to the list.

Here's Amazon's selection.

It is a damn good record, isn't it? I think a number of the melodies are based on 12 tone rows, but somehow it doesn't sound pretentious--it still rocks. It's amazing that they got signed to Sony, though. I would have loved to hear the pitch, "C'mon, all kids are into Serialism these days..."

Anyway, here's to great weird records...
Old 23rd May 2003
  #30
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Andy's room at Soundtracks is super minimal. Eventide 3000, Lex 480, spx 90, pcm 42. Very stock setups. A friend who has engineered for Andy a few times says it is all in a dat he carries around with a collection of drum samples he triggers from the 3000. They are ambiences, not direct mics, so the trigger delay doesn't matter as much. He finds a tone that blends and tunes the trigger delay time to sync up well. That why his kicks and snares feel like they are roomy but tight. No verb to cloud things up, just save them for special fx on gtrs and vox.
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