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question about bus compression / mastering

How to do this, that and the other. Share, learn, teach. How did X do that? How can I sound like Y?

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rosko12
KVRist
 
35 posts since 21 Sep, 2012

Postby rosko12; Mon Jun 17, 2013 7:45 pm question about bus compression / mastering

Hey so I'm making electronic music and I don't think of myself as a complete noob.

Generally I think there's way too much fetishisizing and obsessing about compression (can I get a second on this?). Sometimes I will use a bit of parallell compression on the drums but my preference of late has been to leave off compression altogether and just roll with a fairly heavy limiter on the master channel (waves L1 set to about 7db threshold). I like the mild crunch you get out of it.

The downside of this approach though seems to be that if there's any moment in the track where everything drops out except for one channel - ie a vocal sample or some kind of sweep, then that sound seems to be disproportionately loud compared to the rest of the mix. It seems that a bit of bus compression is therefore needed, ie routing treble, bass and drums into separate busses with a couble of dbs compression in order to roughly keep the levels of different channels in place before the final squashing of the master channel.

Does this sound like a logical approach to you guys or am I just compressing the same audio that I am already limiting.

PS: I am really hating myself for starting yet another compressor thread. OMG I will never forgive myself.
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codec_spurt
KVRAF
 
3417 posts since 20 Sep, 2005

Postby codec_spurt; Fri Jun 21, 2013 5:22 pm

rosko12 wrote:Hey so I'm making electronic music and I don't think of myself as a complete noob.



Well, that's just the two of us and a million others on here, so here goes..




rosko12 wrote:
Generally I think there's way too much fetishisizing and obsessing about compression (can I get a second on this?). Sometimes I will use a bit of parallell compression on the drums but my preference of late has been to leave off compression altogether and just roll with a fairly heavy limiter on the master channel (waves L1 set to about 7db threshold). I like the mild crunch you get out of it.




I like the mild crunch I get out of whacking my g/f's legs with a baseball bat. But I try not to do it every day. I suggest you display the same restraint. Or are you the Charles Saatchi of Compression?





rosko12 wrote:
The downside of this approach though seems to be that if there's any moment in the track where everything drops out except for one channel - ie a vocal sample or some kind of sweep, then that sound seems to be disproportionately loud compared to the rest of the mix. It seems that a bit of bus compression is therefore needed, ie routing treble, bass and drums into separate busses with a couble of dbs compression in order to roughly keep the levels of different channels in place before the final squashing of the master channel.

Does this sound like a logical approach to you guys or am I just compressing the same audio that I am already limiting.



Unless you post examples, we are all whistling down the Swannee. But then again, if you did post examples, most of us would be already so far down the Swannee already, that we would be very hard to catch.

It sounds to me as if you have a good grip on things. Keep Compressing and Carry on!

:)
You'll be pleased to know, I'm knocking it all on the head.
kritikon
KVRAF
 
5071 posts since 23 May, 2002, from Tutukaka, New Zealand

Postby kritikon; Fri Jun 21, 2013 6:10 pm

Generally I think there's way too much fetishisizing and obsessing about compression (can I get a second on this?). Sometimes I will use a bit of parallell compression on the drums but my preference of late has been to leave off compression altogether and just roll with a fairly heavy limiter on the master channel (waves L1 set to about 7db threshold). I like the mild crunch you get out of it.


Firstly, yes, web forums create silly obsessions and fads. Foe general purposes a comp is a comp. Some have different characters, but most compressors only display obvious character when you hit them hard anyway. I use h/w comps, and the times I do is only when I'm going to want 6 or more dB of compression or even higher for special FX. General compression, I can't hear much difference (in a mix) with light compression between my h/w and most s/w ones. If some people can hear that difference every day on every tune, then basically they're overdoing it already.

Don't get me started on buss compressors - it's a web fad. For general buss compression, almost any compressor available can and will do the job. H/w or s/w doesn't matter. Again - hit it hard and it matters. But for compressing most busses it's going to be relatively subtle compression anyway. I will except drum busses - even I occasionally want to heavily compress them, so the compressor can matter.

As for limiting rather than compression - if you like it for the crunch, then do it. As long as you know it's for the crunch. Noobs tend to overlimit and then wonder why on earth their track sounds distorted and lifeless. But if it's intentional - carry on.

The downside of this approach though seems to be that if there's any moment in the track where everything drops out except for one channel - ie a vocal sample or some kind of sweep, then that sound seems to be disproportionately loud compared to the rest of the mix. It seems that a bit of bus compression is therefore needed, ie routing treble, bass and drums into separate busses with a couble of dbs compression in order to roughly keep the levels of different channels in place before the final squashing of the master channel.

Does this sound like a logical approach to you guys or am I just compressing the same audio that I am already limiting.


Well, that's what happens if you limit heavily. yes, 7dB of limiting is heavy limiting. You can get around it by automating some volume with the master track, but that's why so many go on about overlimiting. Because by doing it, you create problems. Then you fix thatr problem by doing something else extreme, and you create yet another problem. Personally I think you should compress more than you limit, but it's your choice. Limit heavily and you'll have to fix your mix - as you discovered. If you'd compressed sensibly instead of heavy limiting, you wouldn't even need to worry about dropouts sounding completely wrong, eh? :wink:

At the level you're limiting at, limiters are far more important than compressors. I.e. it makes a difference which one you use. Limiting = waveshaping = distortion. I do agree people obsess too much about compression, but at 7dB limiting, you will definitely hear a difference between limiters, because you're distorting at audible levels. Such is life if you choose to abuse limiters. I hate to say it, but if you compress rather than limit, A) the actual plugin isn't as important, because compression is gentler, in which case you're right about compression obsession, B) you won't have to dick around as much with dropout volume issues which weren't there until you overdid the limiting in the first place...


...it's the limiting which introduced all the problems, not the compression.
maxcor
KVRer
 
11 posts since 28 Jun, 2013, from Barcelona

Postby maxcor; Fri Jun 28, 2013 12:11 am

I would advise you not to use compressors and limiters on the mix bus, it is a bad practice. You should only do it to get an idea of how it will sound after mastering. When making the final rendering of your mix, you should disable all compressors and limiters from the mix bus. You must apply compression (no limitation) in the individual tracks in the mixing process. Leave the limitation for the mastering process. Try to level your mix is between -6dB and-3dB. Then in the process of mastering you will get the necessary commercial level.
greetings.
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For Independent Artists & Labels
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Loki Fuego
KVRian
 
758 posts since 30 Aug, 2011, from somewhere in universe

Postby Loki Fuego; Fri Jun 28, 2013 1:16 am

maxcor wrote:I would advise you not to use compressors and limiters on the mix bus, it is a bad practice.
Right now I'm doing exactly the opposite. When you work with compressor on from start you automatically compensate for the compression applied.
In EDM everyone goes for the squashed sound anyway.
Wonder whether my advice worth a penny? Check my music at Soundcloud and decide for yourself.
re:vibe and Loki Fuego @ Soundcloud
maxcor
KVRer
 
11 posts since 28 Jun, 2013, from Barcelona

Postby maxcor; Fri Jun 28, 2013 1:26 am

Well, it's your choice, obviousbly. But there is no need for it to get a good sound. Anyway, if you send a squashed mix to a mastering studio it will be rejected in most of them. There is no room to work there.
Best regards!
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For Independent Artists & Labels
http://www.splendourmastering.com
IIRs
KVRAF
 
6732 posts since 24 Mar, 2002, from sheffield, england

Postby IIRs; Fri Jun 28, 2013 1:53 am

rosko12 wrote:Does this sound like a logical approach to you guys or am I just compressing the same audio that I am already limiting.


The logical approach would be to simply turn down the bits that are too loud. A bit of volume automation would be easier than your suggestion above, and won't change the overall sound (as you say you are happy with the sound otherwise).

You will need the limiting on your master channel while mixing to judge this (sounds like you're doing this anyway?) but you could always bypass it before rendering if its due to be mastered in a separate step.

If, as you say, these bits are all in isolated breakdown sections, the problem may also be fixable with volume automation at the mastering stage, in case you still didn't quite get it right, or the mastering engineer chooses a different approach to the dynamics processing.
maxcor
KVRer
 
11 posts since 28 Jun, 2013, from Barcelona

Postby maxcor; Fri Jun 28, 2013 11:50 pm

IIRs wrote:You will need the limiting on your master channel while mixing to judge this (sounds like you're doing this anyway?) but you could always bypass it before rendering if its due to be mastered in a separate step.


Totally agree, this is how to do it correctly.

Best regards.
Professional, affordable online Audio Mastering
For Independent Artists & Labels
http://www.splendourmastering.com
sqz
KVRer
 
22 posts since 15 Sep, 2009

Postby sqz; Wed Jul 03, 2013 5:33 am

maxcor wrote:
I would advise you not to use compressors and limiters on the mix bus, it is a bad practice.
Right now I'm doing exactly the opposite. When you work with compressor on from start you automatically compensate for the compression applied.
In EDM everyone goes for the squashed sound anyway.


Ok, I have to admit that I was one the people who *was* obsessed by compression. Years ago I really thought it was a wholy grail.
Looking back, I can say I learned a lot about dynamics but I also wasted a lot of time on fiddling with many compressors to get *that* sound.
However, many times it turned out that I was looking in the wrong direction.

Example #1: I found out that producers which had *that* compressionsound in their beats turn out to be people who never used compression, instead they send their tracks as 3-6 wavs (drums,synths,verbs) to a masteringcompany. Also in other cases the beats were already preprocessed, ready-to-use loops from samplecds :)

Example #2: I realized that I ran into a lot of problems (cpurelated,trying to revive dynamics after squashing them, transients being destroyed, which track/group to (not) compress etc), while a producerfriend of mine was living an easier 'compression is for children'-life. He didnt use any compression on his tightbeats, only fiddling with Equalizers and manually handeditting dynamics. He was quite succesfull in this imho.

Nowadays I just use a upwards multiband compressor on my beats to get *that* sound on my beats, because I found out downward compression always messes up my drumtransient in the wrong way. Upwards compression on the contrary keeps my transients intact, will not introduce a click on my drumonsets, and if you boost the low-end a bit before- or after- (there are no rules) the compression, it will stretch the decay of the kicktail (so you get this subbass-kick 'oomf' which looks like a square wave in your waveview when looking at EDM tracks). Try the free OTT multiband expander: http://www.xferrecords.com/freeware/

the only thing what i sometimes wonder is how to effectively work with m/s compression (compress the sides of beats e.g.). I have a feeling that these commercial hugegui-compressors also create distinction between mid and side, but I have never really found any rules of thumb (or close to that). The only thing what I've discovered is that distorting the sides can 'brighten' up the hihats of the beats, and giving it a 'wide' sound. Anybody does manual/experimental things with m/s processing when it comes to beats or masterfx?
======================================
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thecontrolcentre
KVRAF
 
16637 posts since 27 Jul, 2005, from the wilds of wanny

Postby thecontrolcentre; Wed Jul 03, 2013 5:52 am

rosko12 wrote:The downside of this approach though seems to be that if there's any moment in the track where everything drops out except for one channel - ie a vocal sample or some kind of sweep, then that sound seems to be disproportionately loud compared to the rest of the mix.
You could fix the bits of the finished mix that are "too loud" by reducing their volume using a WAV editor.
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Aiynzahev
KVRAF
 
3128 posts since 29 Jun, 2011, from USA

Postby Aiynzahev; Wed Jul 03, 2013 6:22 am

Hi Rosko

I think I know what you're doing , I make dance music too and you can check my sig for examples of what I produce.

Limiting is like compression for me in that they are both ways of getting a "sound". I think it sounds awesome to "drive" the Pro-L. I get a really fat dense sound.

Anyway going back to your question you can just use limiters on busses instead of the master-buss. That way you won't get the huge volume swell when the kick stops for example.

So get that crunchiness on your drum buss and on some synths and whatever you want. Maybe you'll still wan't a little (1-2db) limiting on the master-buss.

And don't worry about compression vs limiting just do what the sounds good for the song & don't over think it.

Another thought, sometimes I just examine what is bringing the master limiter down the most. If you look at your mix in an analyser you'd find that in your mix and most everyone's too the bass is the loudest part, so in order to give yourself more headroom you need to consider the duration of very low bass frequencies.

In a heavily compressed or limited track this matters a lot, kick duration normally should be short and bass needs to be short unless it's a sustained bass, in that case consider hi-passing it a little until it sounds about right but has less very low freq bass content.

You can pay attention to the master limiters GR meter while your mix is playing and look for what is triggering it. If it seems to spike on a clap or some transient for example consider applying a bit of limiting to just that one sound. You wan't your master limiters response to be as even and predictable as possible, and not at all erratic.

Finally, check to make sure you've hi-passed everywhere you can, you want the bass region totally clean, with short and defined very low bass, and no long sustained bass sounds at very low frequencies, this will give you're limiter a lot more breathing space and you'll get better response and less volume swell when your kick mutes.
Aiynzahev-sounds
Resonance Sound
Sound Designer - Soundsets for Spire, Zebra2, Massive, DIVA, Sylenth and others
rosko12
KVRist
 
35 posts since 21 Sep, 2012

Postby rosko12; Sun Jul 14, 2013 2:28 am

thanks for the great responses! this is all super useful to where I'm at right now, plus some great ideas came up. very impressed!
rosko12
KVRist
 
35 posts since 21 Sep, 2012

Postby rosko12; Sat Mar 22, 2014 11:20 pm Re: question about bus compression / mastering

Well it's been most of a year and here I am thinking about mastering strategies again.

I ran some null tests to investigate the idea of using a gentle compressor followed by a heavy limiter. There is indeed a considerable effect on the audio even if it's hard to hear. Seems obvious in retrospect. A compressor is changing the dynamic envelope of the entire track depending on the attack and release settings. So the dynamics are altering in places that are well below the chopping range of the limiter. Also of course a lot of compressors are adding colour in the form of harmonics and saturation.

Then I started comparing the sound of heavy limiters to heavy compressors. I set the compressor to say a ratio of 4 with very short attack and release (a lot of compressors won't run fast enough to work but some of them do). I actually found the heavy compressor produced a better sounding track in terms of eq. There was more bass and a bit more detail. The limiter of course tends to boost the top end a bit giving the track a slightly artificial feel compared to the raw material.

I also started messing around with the ff pro-L . It's a bit to advanced for me as yet but it seems like it may be able to give me the sound I want without cutting too much bass.
rosko12
KVRist
 
35 posts since 21 Sep, 2012

Postby rosko12; Sun Mar 23, 2014 12:13 am Re: question about bus compression / mastering

Of course if I wanted to work on the eq I could go with a multiband limiter. Here I am talking to myself...
camsr
KVRAF
 
4761 posts since 16 Feb, 2005

Postby camsr; Sun Mar 23, 2014 8:08 pm Re: question about bus compression / mastering

Downward compression has it's limitations. It's not exactly transparent in mastering, and sometimes will accentuate previous mix track compression too much, leaving a large hole where the sound should be.
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