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Summing processing with Stems Dynamics Plugins
Old 25th July 2006
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Summing processing with Stems

When running splits for a session and there is processing on the master bus like Limiting, compression, saturation, etc., won't the individual tracks when played together multiply the effect? In other words, if each track is getting that processing then it will be multiplied when the splits are imported to another session.

When I write (and win!) and job for TV, we are asked to take off any limiting so another mixing engineer can properly mix it for TV. I assume this is also because of the multiple effect.

Hopefully I explained this well enough and there's quite a learning curve when you have to be composer, mixer, engineer and player!

Old 25th July 2006
Lives for gear
Compressing and limiting on the master bus will change its effect completely once you start muting instruments. Therefore, once all your stems are brought back together, it will sound nothing like it did before, since all your stems are now compressed differently than they were when they were originally summed.

Don't use dynamics processing on the master bus if you are getting it mastered after the fact.
Old 25th July 2006
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Thread Starter
That makes

no compression
no limiting
no Oxford inflator
no Antares Tube


EQ is ok
Reverb is ok
Modulation is ok
Old 25th July 2006
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Thread Starter
oh I forgot to mention..

The problem I seem to have is when I mix 'into' a Ren Comp or some kind of multiband comp, I mix according that so that, when I take off the Comp or Limiter, the mix falls there another way I should be approaching this?

Old 25th July 2006
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Led's Avatar
OK - from my experience the main reason the mix engineer wants uncompressed stems is because :
a) he's usually a post production engineer and doesn't feel comfortable mixing the whole track, or doesn't have time in the session.
b) he can't uncompress things, so this way he can add the "suitable" amount of compression at his end once the voice and effects are in.
c) The voice is the most important thing in TV mixing , no room for debate, the agency will tell you so. The voice pretty much fills up the 1 - 4 K area, so simply pulling back the stem with the most energy in this are can clear things up and make room for the voice without having to pull all the mids out of a full mix.

As far as your approach, the post production mix engineer is unlikely to compress all your stems individually, he will most likely buss them all to a stereo group and compress that. You could work this way by routing to your subgroups then bussing them out the main stereo out and using a light compressor over the whole mix for monitoring the effect it has.
As you become more confident/proficient at mixing the other way you could do it is to get a file of the voice over and run it in your project as you mix. This way you'll hear where it sits and be able to eq around it. Then mute it and mix a stereo master of your track, and don't supply stems.

As I say, it's up to you to be confident enough to take this approach. I don't supply stems because no post engineer is going to have my perspective on how the music should be mixed. It also leaves you open to having your music edited without prejudice by some moron who's not a musician, be it post guy, director, agency producer. "Hey that sounds really cool with the bass taken out and the drums moved out of time...let's go with that one". I had a full symphony score for a film that had a few cues absolutely butchered by the director in the final sound mix because I was out of town on a job and couldn't be there. I didn't know about it till the preview in a big cinema and I wanted to die. To them it was just background.

Having said all that, if you have to mix stems use the compressor across the stereo sum of the stems and mix it so all the faders of the stems are flat, all set at unity. At least a f&ckin monkey could get it right then. Well most of the time.
Old 25th July 2006
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Thread Starter
Some good thoughts....

Basically what happens is that I get a VO (voice over) and a Quicktime and I compose according to that. I send the music out to its own submix and the VO straight to the master bus. That way, when I print a Movie (w/ Vo), I can lower the music and crank the VO so it satisfies the client. I also print an Aif (w/o VO) for the library of the music house I work for. I add compression and limiting to make the track 'hot' and give it some volume and punch (to sell it!). This has to be taken off if I print splits to be sent
to a post prod mixer who only mixes the tracks to fit nice and snug with the VO, but he/she never edits anything! If there are any further edits needed, that's my responsibility.

The point here is how will the splits mix sound without any Comp or Limiting...
Old 25th July 2006
Gear Guru
Kenny Gioia's Avatar

If you make a second set of outputs on each channel, (buss 3 & 4) set to the same level as your mix, you could sidechain compress the stems from your entire mix when only each stem is playing.
Old 25th July 2006
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Thread Starter
Originally Posted by Produceher
If you make a second set of outputs on each channel, (buss 3 & 4) set to the same level as your mix, you could sidechain compress the stems from your entire mix when only each stem is playing.
Could you explain this in a little more detail?

Thank You...
Old 25th July 2006
Gear Guru
u b k's Avatar

try this: mult each stem and slap your mix comp on each one, set up exactly the same as the mix comp that's on the whole mix. then, use the entire (precompression) mix as the sidechain for those comps, and in theory your individual stems will be compressed as if they were in the whole mix. when recombined at unity, the summed stems will in theory sound very similar, perhaps identical, to the original, compressed mix.

note the repeated use of the caveat "in theory"; i've never done this, i've no idea how well it'll work, if at all. it may sound terrible, it may sound perfect, it probably falls somewhere in between. but what the hell, it can't hurt to try.

Old 25th July 2006
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Thread Starter
Sidechaining is still a mystery to me. I still have a lot to learn as far as dynamic processing goes. Could someone explain sidechaining a little more?
Old 25th July 2006
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