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> Q For Tony, Comp on Master buss
post Jan 15 2012, 02:53 PM
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Just a quick one Tony.

If I was mixing with the plan on sending the final mixes out for mastering, would it be best to add some general compression onto the Master buss to get an rough idea of the finished product and then remove it before rendering down to Stereo.

If so what sort of settings / plugins would you recommend

This post has been edited by PosterBoy: Jan 15 2012, 02:53 PM

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Ivan Milenkovic
post Jan 15 2012, 03:30 PM
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No doubt Tony will answer this right, but just giving my opinion while I'm on the topic: it depends on the type of production, for home production/semipro production, plugins can be added direclty on the main bus for mastering. The problem there is that summed up version will sound a little bit different then the one in the DAW, depending on the plugin. If this doesn't creates that big of a different for these purposes, then it's OK.

I've found one plugin that works very well for that purpose, it's PSP Vintage Warmer (there's version two now), and it can help you quickly glue the tracks together on the master bus for preview of what it will sound like. This all depends on other methods of mastering later on, and what compressors are used. Since I'm using PSP VW for mastering anyway, it can be great as a single "preview" compressor two. It's a dual band vintage-style compressor with brickwall limiter, with mix level, and couple of cool options.

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Saoirse O'Shea
post Jan 15 2012, 03:41 PM
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It can be good as it will give you some idea of what your mix might sound like after the ME has done the 2 bus compression (and possibly even limiting) and brought it up towards final volume levels. So it's generally fine but its worth asking the ME as some are happy to have some processing on the 2 bus btw but some will send it back to you and ask you to remove it. If it's acceptable for the ME it's still usually a good idea to provide two versions - one with and one without the comp and let the ME decide which s/he wants to use. The one with can give the ME some rough idea of where you were going with the mix.

I'm one who's happy if it's there also for the following:

1/ it's applied as there is a musical/creative decision as it either creatively colours the sound or helps glue the track together.

2/ It's used in a way so that it was part of the mixing process and not applied afterwards - i.e. it's integral to the mix and not an afterthought.

Anything you do on the 2 bus will affect the entire mix so you need something that can be reasonably subtle. The sort of comp that you might want to look towards would be one that won't add distortion or artefacts; that offers linked stereo channels; has good control/options for affecting ratio, threshold and attack and release times; possibly aims at being more a general rather than an instrument specific type of comp. A few options here would be an SSL G comp (or one of the many software clones - The Glue is a good one); an API (hardware); an Elysia (hardware); a Flux Solera (software). You could also look at a mastering comp, the hardware cost here is maybe too much but you might be able to hire one- if you can then a Prism Maselec, a Cranesong or an Elysia Alpha are all good mastering comps. If you can only go with one comp I'd probably go more for a good VCA based comp than say an Opto or Vari-mu. If you can though it can help to put a couple of comps in series and so there you could mix between a VCA and opt or vari.

Settings - can't really say as it depends on the actual track and what you're trying to achieve and the actual compressor/s. Generally though try starting with low (3:1 or 2:1) or even fractional ratios (i.e. lower than 2:1) with a low threshold, keep the gain reduction downand start with medium attack and release. This will mean you're doing subtle compression on most of the elements of the stereo main rather than just affecting the 'loud' impact stuff. If you need to do a lot of gain reduction (and here I mean more than 2dB) try to split it across two comps in series rather than all done by a single comp. You might get some pumping but you'll need to decide how much is acceptable.

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