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Do I need 2 bus compression?
Old 30th June 2005
  #1
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Dor's Avatar
 

Do I need 2 bus compression?

hello there. I've been reading many threads about master bus compression and was wondering how critical it is to the final tone of a song. I was always told that I should leave the compression to the mastering engineer.

what reasons do you guys have for adding compression to the 2 bus. Wouldn't 2 bus compression limit your options in mastering?

Thanks in advance.
Old 30th June 2005
  #2
If the mix needs it, go for it. My line is drawn when compression goes from "adding flavor" or "holding the mix together a bit" to "sheer volume enhancement."

A dB or two can make quite a difference in the feel of a mix - If it feels right, give it a shot. Of course, if it's "cooked" it will limit what the M.E. can do. If there are noises, monitor whine, hiss, etc. that are in the mix that go from steady to "moving" due to the compression, those are going to be harder to deal with later. But if the signal is clean and it's what works with the mix...

And like usual, "you can always make another copy" for the M.E.
Old 30th June 2005
  #3
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Drumsound's Avatar
I use 2-mix compression for glue and tone. I think it helps make the mix sound like a record. I don't want to need the ME to "make" the mix. I want him to enhance it.
Old 30th June 2005
  #4
Gear Maniac
 
Hammer v2's Avatar
go for the 2bus compression..It's great.....BUT ONLY IF YOU HAVE A GREAT 2BUS COMPRESSOR!!!! If you're mixing completely in da box....leave it to the ME.
Old 30th June 2005
  #5
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RoundBadge's Avatar
I'm learning to use it more for a certian color or texture,not too really slam stuff..
Same with EQ sometimes..sometimes no comp or eq at all..just depends on certian things..how it was tracked..vibe..whatever
when 2 buss processing is used,I also try to use stuff that my mastering engineer doesn't have so the flavor isn't redundant...in my case I use capitol mastering here in LA a lot and know what my ME has and uses..I talk to him about certian things i might use on the Mixbuss in conjuction with what he might use on the mastering end. for instance he doesn't use a manley MP or pultecs[which i do]He might use a Weiss M6000 or sontec,Neve mastering EQ's, etc.
Or with certian other comps I use ,like the thermionic Phoenix,neves etc ... he might use a C2[which I have ,but I'll use it on drums, etc] or a manley comp, which I don't have.I'm still learning to use my ears as to when and when not to use stuff.. sometimes trial and error.I'm still learning a lot about "less is more" or "too much of a good thing" and "don't overdo it".It's a neverending process for me!
but I did use the "Crush" mode on the C2 recently on some Hives type punk rock things..
It just felt "Right" at the moment ..so we said f*ck it,and it worked!
Old 30th June 2005
  #6
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Just be sure to mix thru the 2bus comp, meaning that you should put it there from the start of the mixing process.

In a PT LE world, I pretty much always have the DUY Valve plug-in (set to Mix) on the master bus. It really helps bringing the mix together. A few times I even have used the Digi LoFi plug-in (set to almost no effect) on the 2bus.

I think it's also important knowing what the ME will do, like Badge pointed out above.
It's a fine line: you want to finish the mix as much as possible but a good ME will have superior tools so I pretty much refrain from 2bus processing except the DUY Valve plug that will be there from the beginning.

I used DUY Wide for a while too but I realized that while it often sounded 'better' when heard in the PT session, it lacked something when I checked the mix on reference systems and was messing with the bass response.

For me, the main benefit of mastering is making an album out of a bunch of individual mixes. Sort of like you balance the individual tracks in a mix, only that for the ME, the individual 'tracks' are the mixes of the songs and the 'final mix' will be a CD that works as a whole sonically.
Just leave plenty of headroom for the ME, there's no need to max out the level at the mixing stage.

Andi

www.doorknocker.ch
Old 30th June 2005
  #7
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Anderson's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MASSIVE Master
And like usual, "you can always make another copy" for the M.E.
Tha'ts a good move, because the M.E. usually has more high-end gear to choose from for that matter, so if he thinks another type of comp would suit your mix better, that's always worth a try! heh

I'm not so sure about mixing through a buss Comp from the start...

Cheers
Old 30th June 2005
  #8
Gear Head
 
fatcat's Avatar
 

Get your mix really happening, i.e....almost done. Then put a nice 2buss on the mix and re-adjust a couple of things, like snare volume, maybe vocals. A few db's of 2buss comp can do wonders for the mix. Gives it a tightness and musicality. If you mix with the 2buss from the start you will probably want to push it too hard.
Old 30th June 2005
  #9
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doorknocker's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by fatcat
Get your mix really happening, i.e....almost done. Then put a nice 2buss on the mix and re-adjust a couple of things, like snare volume, maybe vocals. A few db's of 2buss comp can do wonders for the mix.
That's mastering. I'l leave that to the ME.


Quote:
Originally Posted by fatcat
If you mix with the 2buss from the start you will probably want to push it too hard.
There's no need to push it too hard. A 2bus comp will affect all mix decisions, so putting it on early is essential. This has been done for ages in the analog world, like say mixing thru a Fairchild or a pair of 1176s strapped across the 2bus. Mostly this is done for sonic reasons and less for actual compression/limiting, though the resulting 'rounding off' of the transients IS compression in a way.

The same can be done in the DAW world but more often than not, I'll leave the 2bus alone (except for the DUY Valve which isn't a comp but a tube emulation plug-in).

Andi

www.doorknocker.ch
Old 30th June 2005
  #10
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fatcat's Avatar
 

Here's the thing, if you start the mix with the 2buss compressing a little, you will use less compression on individual channels, and probably run each channel a little hotter. O'K. for an analog mix, but touchy ITB. Many guys are fine with that, I will do it sometimes on a hard rock mix. I don't use the 2buss as a colorizer, as much as I use it as a mix compressor. I put color on indivual tracks. There's something about putting a mostly transparent 3 db's of comp on the whole mix that makes the instruments all 'hit' together better.

I feel sorry for ME's these days. The last few projects I got back from Masterdisc sounded better before I sent them. And I know it's not Howie's fault that he has to make albums as loud as possible these days. His job is to squish the crap out of the audio now, destroying the subtle 2 or 3 db dynamics that we all love about music.

Anyway, try mixing both ways.
Old 30th June 2005
  #11
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~ufo~'s Avatar
I have never used 2bus compression to date and don't really miss it.
In fact, I don't use a lot of bus compression period.

Things that need compressing, I will compress individually.

For drums, if need be I'll use either paralel compressing or squash the the ROOMS or so. On rare occasions I'll compress the Overheads, cos I often don't like how it can make the ride wobbly.... Even though I nearly always close mic the ride too.

Actually, I'll use bus compression more for a few dBs of ducking.... like making room for a vocal in a wall of guitars.

I just dunno about 2bus comporession, it freaks me out a bit.
When I get my hands on a really good 2bus compressor I think I'll sooner try and paralel compress the mix.

Perhaps I have too much respect for audio.....

Old 30th June 2005
  #12
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[QUOTE=~ufo~]I have never used 2bus compression to date and don't really miss it.


Can't miss something you haven't tried? heh

As far as the ME, leave him enough headroom and I like to give him notes on my 2 buss compression so he knows immediately what has already been done. No double dip that way.

Try it, love it, hate it...it's all like the bellybutton
Old 12th August 2005
  #13
Gear Head
 

Hello? 2 mix compression totally rules, what are we smoking?

Geez did we all stop compressing because we're going to live longer? Squish that mother down! Mastering is for mastering guys to do with utmost care or it's called remixing and the place is no longer a mastering house. adamaudio.
Old 12th August 2005
  #14
84K
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A lot of great points from everyone... the big thing regarding compression in general (not just limited to mix buss; track compression, aux, buss, etc.) It is all in how you use it. It has to match the sound. Most people (including myself) usually prefer compression that you don't hear working. When you use compression in a good way, it can make thing rounder, and tighter without sounding like it is pumping. Sometimes (like RB said earlier), you may want a more aggressive compression, but that is a rare occasion. If you use it right it can be a beautiful thing. If you do it in a classy way, it only makes the ME's job easier. It will glue the mix closer to the final product you are going for.... after all, it is your mix!!!

On a side note: I do not compress much when I record (unless I am going for some specific sound I am ready to marry). Usually, I barely compress in tracking. It is more a mix thing for me.

I use:

Pendulum Audio 6386
SSL
Atomic Squeezebox
DBX 162
or
33609

depending on what I think it needs.
Old 12th August 2005
  #15
Gear Guru
 
RoundBadge's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by 84K
On a side note: I do not compress much when I record (unless I am going for some specific sound I am ready to marry). Usually, I barely compress in tracking. It is more a mix thing for me.

Me too lately.
more flexible in the mix
Unless it's for a certain thing..Slam a room mic..etc
Old 12th August 2005
  #16
Moderator
 
Tim Farrant's Avatar
 

I like mixing into a compressor, but the ratio is always low. I agree that you should patch it in before starting the mix. Set it for 2 to 1 ratio, gentle, soft knee, release fast enough so as not to pump, but not too fast which will distort the bass freqs - and only 3-4 db reduction at max.

Work into it, at low ratio your mix dynamics should still be apparent. Of course, if the tracks are already heavily compressed then this will be a waste of time!

Opticals are good in this application because the attack time will vary with program and the release varies as well. This is inherent within the L.D.R. element. The LA3 in Compress mode was always quite good in this application IMHO.

Tim
Old 12th August 2005
  #17
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TedF's Avatar
 

ESSENTIAL!!

ESSENTIAL!!

Even if it's only to get a fresh perspective on the mix... and then not use it; but nine times out of ten you will.

Yes Opticals are the way; learn to use it so that it does what YOU want it to do, not what some clever smarty-pants designer says you need.

Bus compression not only 'glues', it tightens and invigourates as well.

Ted Fletcher
www.tfpro.com
Old 12th August 2005
  #18
Gear Maniac
 

I almost always use compression on the 2-bus, but do so in varying amounts and with different pieces. I've done a lot of stuff with the RennComp on the bus, but if I'm working at all OTB, I'll usually use a Focusrite Red, Drawmer 1969, Avalon 747, SSL Comp, Alan Smart, or something similar to a Fairchild(only worked with the real thing once. Pure heaven). I never take more than 2-3db off the signal, and am constantly playing around with the attack and release to get it feeling just right. I always start with the compressor on, and mix into it. If I have an extra, nice EQ available(Massive Passive, Ibis, 8200, 2055, Pultec, etc.), I'll throw that on as well, giving me a little extra 1-2db of air, and maybe a little nudge in the bass(really depends on the track). I've found that if I compress and eq the 2-bus, I'll compress and eq the individual tracks less, which, to me, is a good thing.
Old 12th August 2005
  #19
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T_R_S's Avatar
The 2 buss compression is for sure the glue that holds it together. Use an good analog outboard comp. I stay away form PI on important comps Vocals, Drum sub, Gtr. Sub. 2 Buss always an outboard analog comp.
As always YMMV.
Old 19th August 2005
  #20
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Tom Sigmond's Avatar
 

I hear a lot of people use the Smart C2 on the 2-bus and mixing towards it.

I'm into dance-music and it doesn't work.
The kick is very loud and is the sound that triggers the C2 making the whole mix duck everytime the kick comes in.
Even with very low ratio like the 1,5 setting the kick is still triggering the C2.
I also mis a bit of the low end of the kick when running thru the C2.

Am I doing something wrong or is it indeed this kick/dance thing which is the problem?
I guess the kick in rock-music isn't that loud and deep as in dance-music so the C2 is there probably a good 2-bus compressor.



grtz. Tom
Old 19th August 2005
  #21
Quote:
Originally Posted by MASSIVE Master
If the mix needs it, go for it. My line is drawn when compression goes from "adding flavor" or "holding the mix together a bit" to "sheer volume enhancement."

A dB or two can make quite a difference in the feel of a mix - If it feels right, give it a shot. Of course, if it's "cooked" it will limit what the M.E. can do. If there are noises, monitor whine, hiss, etc. that are in the mix that go from steady to "moving" due to the compression, those are going to be harder to deal with later. But if the signal is clean and it's what works with the mix...

And like usual, "you can always make another copy" for the M.E.
That seems like a fair division of labor, to me.

I do have to say that the place to fix noises in tracks is in the production/mix phase. We put a lot of "court of last resort" weight on ME's and some of them are very good at working miracles with 2 tracks of already mixed material, but ME's (good ones, anyhow) are expensive enough, generally, to fix the appropriate things in the production/mix phase and let the ME concentrate on his primary intended functions.
Old 19th August 2005
  #22
Jai guru deva om
 
warhead's Avatar
 

I don't bother with 2 buss comp until pretty late in the mix. For rock stuff, I find the guitars just don't reach out as much without squeezing the dynamic range of the mix somewhat.

Not so much "glue" but like a vacuum bringing things towards the surface.

As far as limiting your options in mastering, I don't think you should hit it hard for loudness etc as much as maybe "even-ness". Leave loudness etc up to mastering. Most stuff I do around here ends up "mastered" by me so I kind of know what's coming.

War
Old 19th August 2005
  #23
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TinderArts's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Sigmond
The kick is very loud and is the sound that triggers the C2 making the whole mix duck everytime the kick comes in.
Even with very low ratio like the 1,5 setting the kick is still triggering the C2.
I also mis a bit of the low end of the kick when running thru the C2.



grtz. Tom
Try an API 2500 with the "thrust" filter. It's basically a tilt eq in the rms detector path that keeps low freqs from hitting the comp as hard.
Old 19th August 2005
  #24
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I'm with doorknocker. I always mix thru it and monitor the output through my console. I use an Alan Smart C1. Once you get the lowend in check, you can start building up from there. The C1 has a very famialr sound to it. That why I use it. If I didn't have that particular comp or something comparable, I wouldn't even bother. In other words, I wouldn't use a software comp. Compression is more about the tone for me. Good luck.
Old 19th August 2005
  #25
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proxy's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Sigmond
The kick is very loud and is the sound that triggers the C2 making the whole mix duck everytime the kick comes in.
Am I doing something wrong or is it indeed this kick/dance thing which is the problem?
I'm pretty sure the C2 can trigger off of sidechain, so if you feed the sidechain with a high-passed version of your mix (eliminating below 100hz about) it will not trigger off of your sub or low end stuff. Still feed the full mix through the comp though of course. And/or you could emulate the 'thrust' factor my manipulating your sidechain signal like the API by sending a hi-end emphasized signal to it instead of the "flat" one.

Hope that's helpful,

- proxy
Old 19th August 2005
  #26
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Every compressor has some sort of sound. For mastering, I use a combo - TC 6000 as needed, Vari Mu for old school (needles bouncing in time) followed by a Massivo and usually a Blue 230 for sheen and tightness. Everything used in small increments.
Sometimes the Cranesong STC-8 will beat out the Blue.
For mixing - anything goes but I usually use subgroups sent to a variety of comps. via the Dangerous 2 buss. That way, if I need pristeen, I can use the Blue on a shiny sub group. If I want personality, I can pop the vox through a SLAM, use an old Joe Meek on acoustics (for grit) and send drums to to some Distressors (maybe kik and snr to a transient designer). Use the tools your ears tell you to use and don't be afraid to overdo it and then back it off.
cheers,
chap
Old 19th August 2005
  #27
Gear Maniac
 
Tom Sigmond's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by proxy
I'm pretty sure the C2 can trigger off of sidechain, so if you feed the sidechain with a high-passed version of your mix (eliminating below 100hz about) it will not trigger off of your sub or low end stuff. Still feed the full mix through the comp though of course. And/or you could emulate the 'thrust' factor my manipulating your sidechain signal like the API by sending a hi-end emphasized signal to it instead of the "flat" one.

Hope that's helpful,

- proxy

Hello proxy,

Thanks for youre replie.
I was asking this one in another thread and they gave me the same solution.
I know sidechain but did'nt use it this way. (always feeding one sound to trigger compression)

No I only have to figger out how I'm gonna do that with only 6 outs on my Lynx B Two card where my whole original mix comes out to my console.
The sidechain loks like XLR but could it be triggert by AES? The manual unfortunately doesn't say anything about this. A well, I can give it a try.


Thanks!



gr. Tom

p.s. So for the original poster, the C2 can still be an option on the 2-bus heh
Old 19th August 2005
  #28
Here for the gear
 

Leave this work to the mastering engeneer. He uses multiband compression, parallel comrpession, ms-matrix compression and most important thing, good compression gear to do a better work. 1-2 db on the bus aren't so critical but a good engeneer can do a little better work without this kind of compression.
You can instead do a separate compression prototype for him to show your taste on the final result the project must have.
Old 19th August 2005
  #29
Mastering Moderator
 
Riccardo's Avatar
A means to an end.
We should use compression to:

limit the dynamic range (for whatever reason/s the mixer might have in mind...)

change the envelope of sound (creative reasons)

impart a sonic signature (from the type of device, optical, VCA, delta-mu, used to control the compression)

impart a sonic flavour (the sound of a unit, i.e. transformers, tubes, etc)

We should not use compression:

just because we have read on mags or forums that many top engineers do that (and we do not have a clue)

to achieve loudness (that's - unfortunately and sadly - the M.E.'s job)

Old 19th August 2005
  #30
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Quote:
The kick is very loud and is the sound that triggers the C2 making the whole mix duck everytime the kick comes in.
No help to your C2, but the "Big" switch is one of the really nice features of the Drawmer 1968/69 for that problem. 100 Hz bypass so doesn't affect the compression. I leave the 1968 on the mix bus with Big engaged from the start. I like the way the recording opens up with a really good sounding compressor like this, I usually use less channel EQ and get a clearer sound.

Steve
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