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mix bus compression question Dynamics Plugins
Old 20th March 2010
  #1
mix bus compression question

I've done some searching around and haven't seen this question asked.

I never mix with a mix bus comp. Ever. However that is because I still like what I mix to have nice dynamics so I really never even thought of it. But what I have read doesn't seem like it would take too much of the dynamics away, only reducing 2-3dB max.

So, my question is not about settings, it's purely a "what is the point?" question. I've seen some people add it at the end and others mix through it from the beginning.
I read that it's what "glues" together mixes. Could someone explain why that is? I would think that a mix would glue itself
together by your level/comp/EQ settings. (At least that's what I learned). I've got some free time so I wouldn't mind giving it a shot,
but I would just like to know what a mix comp actually allows one to do differently.

Something tells me if I put a comp on the master in PT though that I'm going to have to take it pretty slow to get used to it and
probably A/B a lot, yes?

Old 20th March 2010
  #2
Gear Head
 
gakmuzak's Avatar
 

Hi. I'm not a PT user (Sonar) but a mix bus compression can help to indeed glue the mix together. Most times, you'll have individual comps on channels, but say, for instance with a complex mix, there seems to be a disjointedness(?) to the mix that you just can't seem to correct going through channel by channel. By applying a mix bus compression, you can help even out that disjointed sound with the end result being a more cohesive sound. A gentle compression might possibly be the fix. YMMV.
Old 20th March 2010
  #3
Gear Nut
 
ChampionAudio's Avatar
 

Probably the best way to find your answer is to try it! A lot of talk by people who think that their particular gear is the greatest doesn't really convey enough about how it effects the sound.

For me, I prefer to have a mostly completed mix before I put the mix bus compressor on, then make some final tweaks after it's set. I have Waves SSL and PSP vintage warmer, I mostly end up with the PSP on my master fader. And yes, I realize what I said above, I'm just giving an example of what works for me.

Good luck
Old 20th March 2010
  #4
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Jeezo's Avatar
sonar user here , the terminology glue means that the compressor does its job : control the dynamics , for a bus compressor , glueing means that no instruments is out of the rest of instrumenst dynamics , witch mean that , no isntruments is "out of the mix " if i can say that

of course you gotta understand what a compressor does .....

most of the time the attack is not quick on a bus compressor (ecept if you really need it"

10 ms is good start , ratio max on 4.1 , play with threshold , gain reduction no more than 6 db , depênds on the plugin ....

who you have a starting point here
Old 20th March 2010
  #5
Gear Nut
Hi,
I'm a cubase user and I like to put a comp on the mix buss halve way through the mix. For me this compressor kind of pastes all sounds together in a pleasing way. The comp acts differently when put on the master buss with all the sounds interacting then when put on a single source. This is just like when compressing all drums together instead of (or in addition to) compressing each drum sound separately.

To know for yourself just try it......
You'll notice the difference and whether you like it or not
Old 20th March 2010
  #6
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Mr.HOLMES's Avatar
Even using just 0.5 db compression on the mix bus can make it sound different to me. Depends on the music if it is slow I also love to take some opto compression it rounds the edges of.

Rock and Roll up front I love the Waves SSL mix bus compressor it makes the mix jumping into my face.... I mean try it we live in a great time and the software counterparts are not too bad ... you can hear differences in the tools you use....
Old 20th March 2010
  #7
Gear Addict
 
David Watts's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeezo View Post
sonar user here , the terminology glue means that the compressor does its job : control the dynamics , for a bus compressor , glueing means that no instruments is out of the rest of instrumenst dynamics , witch mean that , no isntruments is "out of the mix " if i can say that

of course you gotta understand what a compressor does .....

most of the time the attack is not quick on a bus compressor (ecept if you really need it"

10 ms is good start , ratio max on 4.1 , play with threshold , gain reduction no more than 6 db , depênds on the plugin ....

who you have a starting point here
6db reduction on a mix bus?! whaat?! I'd say no more than 3 at the MOST!
Old 20th March 2010
  #8
Welp, all I can do is try it out, so I will try it and see what happens.
Old 20th March 2010
  #9
Gear Guru
 
u b k's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chickenlunch View Post
6db reduction on a mix bus?! whaat?! I'd say no more than 3 at the MOST!

It all completely depends on the mix, the compressor, and how it's set up. 6db on the Phoenix can be a thing of beauty. 6db on a 2500 can be a dream or a nightmare, depends on how you're achieving that 6db.

OP, the idea of 'glue' is that the compressor makes all of the various energies of the spectrum more interactive, and when done right it literally pulls the elements together into a more coherent whole. The weight of the low end can cause the entire mix to breathe in time with the music, overtly or subtly. Riffing electric guitars can swallow up sounds when they play and spit them back out when they go quiet.

Without compression, a kick drum (e.g.) doesn't have any effect on the movement or placement of the rest of the mix. You can have it balanced beautifully, you can automate it to be where it needs to be throughout the song, but you can never get it's motion to impact anything else. Once you slap a compressor on the mix, everything changes, everything is now a potential influence on the tone, level, and dynamics envelope of everything else.

Different comps react differently to different frequency ranges and degrees of energy, and the things they do in response are just as varied. Experiment, and expect to screw things up. Compression is difficult to master, mix compression is the hardest of the hard.

Not every mix or mixer needs it or benefits from it, so keep an open mind. Just because you have a tool doesn't mean you need to use it; if you hit bypass and like what you hear more, leave it bypassed.


Gregory Scott - ubk
Old 20th March 2010
  #10
I suppose the last question I have on the subject is if the comp is doing it's job properly, the mix could be a little hotter as well, couldn't it? I'm used to recording hot to achieve a good S/N ratio and in mixing I'll use the trim plug in PT to bring the individual levels around -18-12dB depending on stuff.

So I'm thinking if that 2-3dB of comp is on there that i would be able to mix a little hotter and still achieve a nice sound. Fact or fiction? lol.
Old 20th March 2010
  #11
Gear Nut
 
ChampionAudio's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by u b k View Post
OP, the idea of 'glue' is that the compressor makes all of the various energies of the spectrum more interactive, and when done right it literally pulls the elements together into a more coherent whole. The weight of the low end can cause the entire mix to breathe in time with the music, overtly or subtly. Riffing electric guitars can swallow up sounds when they play and spit them back out when they go quiet.

Without compression, a kick drum (e.g.) doesn't have any effect on the movement or placement of the rest of the mix. You can have it balanced beautifully, you can automate it to be where it needs to be throughout the song, but you can never get it's motion to impact anything else. Once you slap a compressor on the mix, everything changes, everything is now a potential influence on the tone, level, and dynamics envelope of everything else.

Different comps react differently to different frequency ranges and degrees of energy, and the things they do in response are just as varied. Experiment, and expect to screw things up. Compression is difficult to master, mix compression is the hardest of the hard.

Not every mix or mixer needs it or benefits from it, so keep an open mind. Just because you have a tool doesn't mean you need to use it; if you hit bypass and like what you hear more, leave it bypassed.
I stand corrected... I think that must be the best, most useful explanation of an audio concept without samples to listen to that I've read on gearslutz! Thanks Greg!
Old 20th March 2010
  #12
Lives for gear
 
Farshad's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by u b k View Post
It all completely depends on the mix, the compressor, and how it's set up. 6db on the Phoenix can be a thing of beauty. 6db on a 2500 can be a dream or a nightmare, depends on how you're achieving that 6db.

OP, the idea of 'glue' is that the compressor makes all of the various energies of the spectrum more interactive, and when done right it literally pulls the elements together into a more coherent whole. The weight of the low end can cause the entire mix to breathe in time with the music, overtly or subtly. Riffing electric guitars can swallow up sounds when they play and spit them back out when they go quiet.

Without compression, a kick drum (e.g.) doesn't have any effect on the movement or placement of the rest of the mix. You can have it balanced beautifully, you can automate it to be where it needs to be throughout the song, but you can never get it's motion to impact anything else. Once you slap a compressor on the mix, everything changes, everything is now a potential influence on the tone, level, and dynamics envelope of everything else.

Different comps react differently to different frequency ranges and degrees of energy, and the things they do in response are just as varied. Experiment, and expect to screw things up. Compression is difficult to master, mix compression is the hardest of the hard.

Not every mix or mixer needs it or benefits from it, so keep an open mind. Just because you have a tool doesn't mean you need to use it; if you hit bypass and like what you hear more, leave it bypassed.


Gregory Scott - ubk
Excellent and very informative.

Thanks Greg!
Old 21st March 2010
  #13
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David Watts's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Farshad View Post
Excellent and very informative.

Thanks Greg!
tru dat - great post!
Old 21st March 2010
  #14
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Unclenny's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by u b k View Post
Experiment, and expect to screw things up.
Experiment......and screw things up purposefully.

Then you'll see what a powerful tool you have in your hands.

On my last tune I kept the comp off the master track........stuck it on a parallel track instead. Lots of dynamics with some squash to mix in to taste. Made me smile.
Old 21st March 2010
  #15
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Jeezo's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by chickenlunch View Post
6db reduction on a mix bus?! whaat?! I'd say no more than 3 at the MOST!
if you read the rest of my post i say : it depends of the plugin :

ssl duende bus comp attack 30 ms , ratio 4 , 6-8db of gain reduction : magic !!

same with waves sll and you kill your track !!


so it really depends

i usually stick with 4 db of gain reduction on the max , but this for a mix with well controlled dynamic , if the op don't do pre processing on channels and buses , this is not crazy !!
Just keep in mind that a compressor reduces the differences between high db sound and lows so if the reduction is too big : you can denature your sound and kill your 3 D and imaging placement (on your volume stages ...a good mix must have at least (all subjective but commonly admitted) 3 levels stages !!)

also some do mix with a bus comp already on the master ...safe way here to try ...
Old 21st March 2010
  #16
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SkunkWorks's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chickenlunch View Post
6db reduction on a mix bus?! whaat?! I'd say no more than 3 at the MOST!
I know of some top dogs right now mixing modern alt stuff that are hitting the mix bus with 8 -12db with the SSL or API... sounds great to me. There are no rules.
Old 21st March 2010
  #17
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Old Goat's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Unclenny View Post
On my last tune I kept the comp off the master track........stuck it on a parallel track instead. Lots of dynamics with some squash to mix in to taste. Made me smile.
Old 21st March 2010
  #18
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Without mixbuss compression, sounds simply coexist. With mixbuss compression, sounds interact. Interaction is what causes the "glue."

One might note that while the above is absolutely true in digital mixing, there are some analog anomalies which might muddle the issue a bit since the entire signal may not be purely "summed" upon mixdown, but may also be subject to a variety of analog goodies which distort the total sound in other ways as it is being summed.
Old 21st March 2010
  #19
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UBK nailed it in the explanation above.

when we compress the mix it becomes interactive. everything starts to affect everything else.

sometimes that interaction is fairly predictable and other times rather chaotic. both can be either super-cool or not-cool-at-all.

take a loud/heavy instrumental section in a song and jack it up into the bus compressor. it's a totally different effect compared to just turning the volume up.

also it bears mentioning- to get the desired amount of squeeze/glue/interaction without screwing up the softer parts of your mix, you may very well have to automate the soft parts to be even softer.
Old 21st March 2010
  #20
Well, I'm still learning so I've been doing some research on things and it seems people also put an EQ on the mix bus also.
Another thing I never thought of or tried because to me, that's almost doing mastering to your track...or might I be
thinking about it in the wrong context?
Old 21st March 2010
  #21
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Yeah, I don't really get the point of digital eq on master buss for my itb mixes anyway.

I may have an antique take on this, but doesn't eq on the master in the mix stage mean parts weren't eq'd properly on way in? Do you really believe that EVERY element in the mix needs the exact same boost or cut at a particular frequency when you as the mixer can be much more specific about each individual element?

Analog eq as part of mastering process, however might serve several purposes... and may cause a bit of "blending" of it's own among other things.

I'm sure some will disagree with this philosophy, however.
Old 21st March 2010
  #22
I understand what you're saying and that's how I feel about it as well.

Why EQ on the master like that when you've got the individual tracks there?
It really sounds like pre-mastering to me from my POV about it. Just seems
pointless, I guess if you have an idea of what you'd like your end result
to be you could show the mastering engineer or something, but why leave
it otherwise?
Old 21st March 2010
  #23
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Unclenny's Avatar
When I'm 'finishing' one of my tunes anything goes.

Quite often I'll have an EQ for that last little cut down in the mud room or just a shade of a boost way up top. Just like with the comp, when everything gets processed together (judiciously) it does something musical to the mix.
Old 21st March 2010
  #24
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChampionAudio View Post
Probably the best way to find your answer is to try it! A lot of talk by people who think that their particular gear is the greatest doesn't really convey enough about how it effects the sound.

For me, I prefer to have a mostly completed mix before I put the mix bus compressor on, then make some final tweaks after it's set. I have Waves SSL and PSP vintage warmer, I mostly end up with the PSP on my master fader. And yes, I realize what I said above, I'm just giving an example of what works for me.

Good luck

hmm... PSP over Waves SSl ? interesting, i found psp to be fatiguing & annoying after while even with subtle settings. thats just me : ) but i like it vox sometimes
Old 21st March 2010
  #25
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ChampionAudio's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cirrusboy7 View Post
hmm... PSP over Waves SSl ? interesting, i found psp to be fatiguing & annoying after while even with subtle settings. thats just me : ) but i like it vox sometimes

Lately I've been working on a lot of more sparse, melodic, less aggressive arrangements. It felt better to me to use a less aggressive(depending on settings of course) bus compressor with more options to tweak. The high and low shelf EQs can be nice to sweeten up your mix that extra little bit.
Old 21st March 2010
  #26
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChampionAudio View Post
Lately I've been working on a lot of more sparse, melodic, less aggressive arrangements. It felt better to me to use a less aggressive(depending on settings of course) bus compressor with more options to tweak. The high and low shelf EQs can be nice to sweeten up your mix that extra little bit.
yeah, you gotta mix it up..
hmm, funny, i always looked at psp VW as harsher.
adding harm dist etc
Old 21st March 2010
  #27
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Jeezo's Avatar
it's all taste here , been givin some mix to be mastered for a rnb singer : not one compressor used except for vocals !! even on the mix bus .....

not a good or bad mix , just the one you or the client enjoy ....this also when the treatment is not "commercial oriented" that you enlight your proper sound , i remeber that ,when the Neptunes came with a sound and a way to mix it , same for Beats by the pound and the NO limit sound ....

last example for me is Depeche Mode ...some time you could say , i would have not mixed it like that , but it was the artist way , and it rocks !!

So listen to your references and try to analyse the dynamic in mixes : just for those who don't remeber the dynamic of a final mis is the difference between peaks and the "AVERAGE" sound not the rms ....

so listen to some of your refernce in plugins like waves dorrough or brainworx TT dynamic range meter (free) , it can help decide where to start and stop !!
Old 21st March 2010
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CallMeAl View Post
Yeah, I don't really get the point of digital eq on master buss for my itb mixes anyway.

I may have an antique take on this, but doesn't eq on the master in the mix stage mean parts weren't eq'd properly on way in? Do you really believe that EVERY element in the mix needs the exact same boost or cut at a particular frequency when you as the mixer can be much more specific about each individual element?

Analog eq as part of mastering process, however might serve several purposes... and may cause a bit of "blending" of it's own among other things.

I'm sure some will disagree with this philosophy, however.
Well, for me, it's a bit like the EQ pre or post compression question: the two do different things. I rarely EQ on the master buss before a buss compressor, but happily tweak things afterwards where I reckon it's needed. Also, even with emulation plug-ins, it's worth seeing if the 'analogue' distortions flavour things in a pleasant way (just as they can with a comp even without gain reduction).
Old 21st March 2010
  #29
" I'm used to recording hot to achieve a good S/N ratio and in mixing I'll use the trim plug in PT to bring the individual levels around -18-12dB depending on stuff.

So I'm thinking if that 2-3dB of comp is on there that i would be able to mix a little hotter and still achieve a nice sound. Fact or fiction? lol."

Nobody has made any comments on that yet, anyone care to shed some
light for me? I like it when my topics get good info ^_^.
Old 22nd March 2010
  #30
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Surbitone's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by ImmortalGropher View Post
" I'm used to recording hot to achieve a good S/N ratio and in mixing I'll use the trim plug in PT to bring the individual levels around -18-12dB depending on stuff.

So I'm thinking if that 2-3dB of comp is on there that i would be able to mix a little hotter and still achieve a nice sound. Fact or fiction? lol."

Nobody has made any comments on that yet, anyone care to shed some
light for me? I like it when my topics get good info ^_^.
Yeah, your RMS will be increased slightly, and therefore the program material (theoretically & depending on settings) will have a greater perceived loudness
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