Glue Your Mix Together
Well, I'm glad you guys air here. Um, everyone is having a good time. Hopefully, we're demystifying compression a little bit, so it's not this mystical thing that we're afraid of. I want you to finish these sessions and feel confident and have more fun mixing because you're gonna get more results if you understand compression. So I always I like the philosophical understanding, the compression because I want to know why I'm doing what I'm doing. So don't blindly turned knobs. And we did a little bit of that in the last session, so hopefully we're a little more familiar. And if you missed the last session, you know, hopefully, you know, at this point, all the compressor is is an automated volume controller is just gonna automatically turn down the volume of things and give you control of tracks of the not peaking. And then we learned how we could in turn everything back up a little bit, and we can bring up the quiet parts. We did a little bit on a vocal. I use compression and every mix.
And when I was thinking about the most common uses of compression that I've used, I boil it down to pretty much five things that I find myself doing. Every single mix, almost that I thought would be very tangible practical examples to show what you can do with the compressor. Very different things. OK? You may not do all these things in every mix. I'm not saying you should. I'm just showing you want to show you my five favorite things. I can use a compressor four to give you some variety. Um, and then I would love for these sessions because I'm gonna break him into this session and the next Teoh get as many questions from you all from the chat room as well. I want to able to answer those questions because a lot of this is more opinion oriented how I like to use it. And so you are confused about it. We have a question about it would be a great place to interrupt me at any point. The 1st 1 I'm gonna talk about, which I think is really, really cool is what I call mix bus compression, master bus compression compression on your master fader. So both in the chat room in here Are there any in your experience? Is there any preconceived notions you have about, if any, you're supposed to use any plug ins on the master fader. Yes or no? Do you like to put things on your master fader? What have you guys heard? What do you guys currently doing? I like to play around with it. I usually kind of feel like I have a tendency to move further away from what I was intending. Sonically, I suppose sometimes I kind of feel like it just kind of brings everything a little more together. Makes everything a little bit tighter. Cool, Jorge always gonna share them. Ah, back then, I was when they present to mix in him. I used to put everything born at everything but most of it in the mix. I mean, in the Muster Master Fader. But it turns out that Ah, I mean, for my experience. E wasn't really how I wanted it to sound because having no nothing, nobody. So pretty much the the music itself. He came like really flat. Yeah, eso I saw Stop using it. And you That's may experience on that. Yeah, I've been there. I've thrown plug ins on that master fader, and it's just ruined everything. You know, there's a lot of opinions on. So a menu of the Master Fader is your final track. In this case, um, I'm gonna hide this track because it's not really my master Fader in this session, this this channel, I've got labeled mixed bus a mixed bus to bus Master Fader. All the same thing, different names for the same thing. It's that final channel that all your audio goes through. So you can about your kick drum, your guitars, your vocals they all have to funnel through one final stereo output that goes to your speaker, since that's what we're hearing. So that's what we're talking about. This in the section is Do you or don't you put plug ins on that track? Because, in essence, if you throw plug ins on this track, it's affecting everything in your mix, because everything flows through this track. Right? So for a while I felt like I was told never to put anything on the master fader, But I end up. Do we get anyway? Yeah. I mean, yeah, I heard that I was taught that a lot of places. Um, I've put things on the Master Fader and messed up a mix. And so that combination leads you to just avoid it, you know, which is fine. Um, there's nothing wrong with not putting anything on your master fader. There's no right or wrong, but this is, you know, my class. I'm going give you sort of my take on things, and I feel like I'm a fan of simplicity. I'm a fan of doing as little as possible to get a great sounding mix. I don't want to have 100 plug ins if I could get the same result in right? And so the way I see it is, if you do something on the master Fader and it affects the whole mix, I might be able to get more bang for my buck. I might be able to do one little move on the Master fader and get a massive result on the whole mix right in. One thing I've grown to love is putting compression on the master fader or the mixed bus, so I'll call it mixed bus compression. Um, and I'm compressing the entire mixed with one plug in on the master fader. So what? I want to do is explain to you why I'm doing this. Show you what I'm doing it let you hear what I'm doing. And the answer questions about this because I feel like this gets very confusing for people. A lot of questions about this topic. This is a great topic, and there's no real wrong questions. So as they come in, feel free to just Chatham in. Um, I want to get to that as best I can. So let me show you what I have going on so far. And then we can kind of do it from scratch. Also, Um, this is a compressor from waves emulating the SSO master bus compressor, which is a famous compressor on a solid state logic mixing console. And so they've got this looks kind of like this. And it was, I mean, it's It's what I grew up mixing on in college and in studios where it became a fun thing for people toe turn it on a little bit and run the whole mix through it a little bit, and it does something really, really cool to sound. I'm using this because it's one that I really enjoy, but we'll show you how to do it with stock compressors. Well, you know the exact same thing. Take a listen to the mix with the comm pressure compressing impression on and then with it off and we'll see what it's doing. Let's get to a course here. All right, So the compression is on, and then I'm gonna bypass it, and you can hear it. Kick it on and off. It's gonna be pretty subtle, but take a listen to, um, take a listen to the kick drum, if you can. That might help you zero in on it. Could you hear that a little bit? Tame the base a little bit. This is pretty subtle stuff. So if you don't hear a ton that there's nothing wrong with you. Um, for me, what I'm hearing and we'll explain it a little bit. Twos. I'm hearing the kick drum pop out a little bit more in the mix, it seems to emphasize the kick drum. It squeezes the base a little bit, which I think is a really cool thing. There's a little bit of an apparent volume increase because think about what we've been doing with the compressor in the first session. This looks different if the exact same thing is the other compressor. It's got a threshold snob here, which it's set to in this case, 7.8. I don't really know or care what that is, but I'm not really paying attention to that. On I said it. I was looking at this this meter, which is the gain reduction meter. It looks like a V you meter. But if the same thing is digital one in the pro tools compressor, it's all this guy's doing is turning down my whole mix when certain parts of the mix cross the threshold. So again, even though it's on my mixed bus, compressing my entire mix, it's not squeezing everything out of my Knicks. Remember it on Lee compresses what crosses the threshold. So the whole notion of all I don't want to put a compressor on my master fate. I'm afraid I'm gonna ruin my mix. You can, because you're not compressing everything unless you set the threshold of really low. If we set this threshold, is that 7.8? If we said it way, low way destroyed our mix because just about everything is crossing that threshold So it's saying, Please squash everything, but that's not what we're doing. Remember, we learned that, you know, if the fear compression cause you get to control how much gets turned down and we're telling the little guy inside this compressor on Lee turned down stuff that crosses whatever this number is here, um and I haven't set to a 10 millisecond attack, which is pretty slow, and I'll show you why in a second this one has an auto release. I said it to that because I try to be lazy as possible. When I'm mixing and just move on with my life, it's set to a 4 to 1 ratio. But none of these numbers really matter because all that matters is this meter. And in this case, I'm watching how much it's kissing on the audio. Two d b, maybe three. Right. And what do you think of the loudest parts of this mix? The biggest transients. What? What would you say? Drums, snare drum, kick drum, maybe a base, Maybe the lead vocal if it's loud. So really, those are probably the only things in the mix that are crossing this threshold. Um, and you can see it happening like you watch the meter. It's moving with the drums, most of kick and snare. It's almost following that pattern. Needle, needle, needle, needle, needle like it's following the kick in the snare. And so that gives us a clue that what we're doing is just turning down the kick and the snare hits 1.5 2 db But then I have some makeup gain 1.3 db Remember that knob we're turning up the whole mix so we're turning down. So if the snare in the kick drum on the whole mix are gonna be the loudest peaks were squeezing that a little bit. So if you looked at away form of my entire mix, for example, if, uh, see show you another window here, every locations this session we're gonna look at tomorrow This is a track that's mixed, is the final mix and just got all those peaks all condensed into a stereo track. This is almost like what the Master Fader is hearing. It's hearing everything is one and that mixed bus compressors taking these little peaks, which are probably the kick in the snare, and it's turning those down a little bit right, So it's going to squeeze those peaks down a little bit and with a makeup game is gonna turn up the rest of the mix a little bit to have ah, less pointy looking with audio file. You have amore smooth looking. The extreme example of this would be have a fat sausage looking audiophile. It's just flat. It has no dynamics, right? That's not what we're doing here, because all we're doing is knocking off like one db of audio and Onley win the kick in the snare hit. But in essence, that's visually what's happening. Turning down those peaks of the mix to bring up everything else closer together and the result? This sort of this you knew you mentioned glue. I has a word we like to use, I guess, an audio like it's It's taking these things that are all over the place and kind of bringing them together. So the more cohesive I feel like the kick drum gets. It sounds bigger. For some reason, based sounds a little bigger. It's a very subtle thing. This isn't I mean, you heard it. We'll listen to it again. This is not life or death on your mix, and that's something I hope that over these two days we take away, and all these sessions is none of these moves. There's no one single move that's gonna all of a sudden give you a great mix. That's just something I think we would like to believe. And I think a lot of times we're almost sold that and whether it's through good marketing or through, you know, Internet forums where people swear by a certain piece of gear or certain mixed technique that would transform everything. We're almost giving too much credit toe. One move as if it could make your mix great when really a great mix is a bunch of little teeny, simple things that add up to massive results in compression and eq you most of your mix. So to go back to the main session, all I'm doing with this mix bus compressor is a little bit of compression. Select the whole course here, it's bypass again and listen to what disappears you could almost take or leave it. You know it's not transforming my mix, but I for me, what I like to do is I like to do this at the very beginning of the mix, so I will literally have no plug ins and I will start mixing. I'll get all my favors set up the way I like, get a good balance. You can sort of see it like I've got. The Fader is kind of close to where I probably initially set them in the mix. And the very first plug and I'll insert will generally be a compressor on the next bus so I could hear what it's doing to the raw audio. So let's let's do this with, um, this factory default this and let's actually turn this makeup gained. Zero This is something to keep in mind, too, Depending on your plug ins. Watch out for this. Look at what happens on this plugging in particular factory default. It has a makeup gain of three D. B. So the zeroed out setting on this compressor is already turning things up. I'm not a fan of that. I don't want to hear it already turning up my mix. I want to be in control of that because then you get confused and trick. You think Okay? No, no compression compression, and it could be a little bit louder. And if it's louder, you're going to say, Hey, that sounds better because it's been proven Humans like louder things. I mean, literally, you can take to mixes that are identical. And then you turn one up by 1/2 a DB and you play a B them for someone to listen, to say, which makes you think is mixed better, and they will pick the one that's just louder. Oh, that one sounds like a better mix. It's because it's louder and louder means it's more exciting. Our ears pick up on things that sound louder than being brighter, more energetic. We just like louder and not only the listeners like louder we is mixtures like louder. So if you just put on a plug in and by default that turns up the makeup gain, you gotta watch for that learning your plug ins because this one does, that's gonna trick. You automatically think you made a good move when all you did was to turn it up. Yeah, but when I used same thing, pick up, pick out the presets. Five different choices for master for mastering or for mix presets and they all do that? Yeah, it's a bad idea. I'm not a plug in designer. I don't know anything about how to do that. But if I were going to design one, I would make sure that the factor default would never add any gain to start off, because it always have to zero it out anyway. So just watch out for that, depending on what your compressor is. So I turned the makeup gain back to zero. Um, and what I like to do is by default. It's got some attacks setting already got some released setting, and this is what a default comes with. If you press play, it's already gonna be compressing. And what I would tell you with the mixed bus compression, the way this works well is think slow attack and just one Teoh two db of gain reduction. As a rule of thumb, we don't want to squash your mix here. We don't want to ruin your mix from the get the get go. That's not what we're trying to do. We want to do such a subtle amount of compression that just from the beginning seems to squeeze things in a little bit. push the kick drum in this near maybe out, a little bit of musical way. Maybe the base gets a little bigger sounding. It's gonna be a real subtle move. So, like by default, this is to me a very fast attack, one millisecond. So I always say, Watch if you feel like mixed bus compression sounds bad to you, it's probably because you have to fast of an attack setting. I have some friends that are really, really talented people on getting into mixing. Maybe they're more of a musician to get in the mixing that like I when I'm in studio that see guys using expressed compression. So I slapped this on and it's squashing my mix and they show me their settings of this in a jpeg of the settings. I could look at it and say, Man, you know, your your attacks setting is really fast. Remember what a fast attack that means the guy, the invisible man inside the box is quickly turning down the volume. You don't want to do that. That's gonna ruin your transience. It's gonna squash your mix like like a really fast attack, squeezing it versus a slow attack. More musical more natural. So just if it sounds bad, it might be too fast of an attack. So I like 10 milliseconds is a rough starting point. It's fast enough to catch some of the transients, but it's going to be nice and musical. But then ratio. Some people swear by 2 to 1, that's a great starting point. This see this compressor only has three settings to four or 10. It's really simple. You don't get a lot of choice. You have, like low ratio, high ratio, I think, to the ones a great place for, ah, mixed bus compressor. If it's a heavy rock thing, you could do 4 to 1. But remember, Does this matter? No, because you it depends on what your threshold is. We could have a really heavy ratio, but a really high threshold, no compression happening because all the audio is underneath threshold. So there again that you use threshold and ratio together. That's what we talked about that in the first session is doesn't matter what the numbers are to use them together, and we can find watch the gain reduction meter in this case up here watched that to see a my starting to get one to maybe two db of gain reduction on the loudest hits and and see if if that helps. So all kind of just play without here. Now it's doing about the gain reduction I like. But the other thing to look out for is the release by default. This is a very slow released 1.2 seconds. If you think about this is your whole mix. You need this to release quickly. You need to turn down the peaks, but it needs to let go of the mix quickly. Otherwise, it's gonna keep the mixed school to school ozen, right? And that's not gonna give chance for your next train seems to come in. So set this to a pretty fast release on a mix bus. My case will do auto, or you could do you know 0. seconds or good 2.1. See that needle is resetting nice and quick. That's what you want so that the next hit, it's already reset. So the interesting things to watch out for and then all you're doing is just kind of making sure over compressing like this would be too much. I just lost all the dynamics that when we bypass it comes back. I don't want to do that. I just want to do a little bit to just squeeze it just a smidge right, which is a technical term smidge. I use it a lot at this point. We're almost done because I'm taming the peaks a bit, But still I'm turning down the mix. If I bypassing, the mix will get a little bit louder. So just made the mix quieter, which isn't the final result I wanted. Then use the makeup it's called Make Up Here on the other compressors called Gained because makeup gains the same phrase. Let's bring the mix back up to the volume where it waas. And so this compressor doesn't have, um, a separate meter toe look at the input and output like that other stock compressor did, which I like about that compressor cause I can see them visually. So what I like to just do is look at my This is my mixed bus. Look at where the volume is on the meter here, with the compressor bypassed. You know it's hanging around. It's averaging around minus 20. So if I compress it. It's a little bit under minus 20 again, go back with how much gain reduction you're doing. If we're doing 12 TB on the snare hits, bring it up one db and see if that gets the mixed kind of back to where it waas and with this plug, and I have to just use my ears so I will literally get it where I think it needs to be. And then I'll close my eyes and I will bypass the compressor and turn the compressor back on. And make sure that my dear doesn't really hear a noticeable volume change that I don't want to fool myself into just having turned up my mix. And I think I did something cool. They just want to be about the same volume. It's not gonna sound exactly the same because you are bringing up parts of the mix that were quieter before. Let's see if we got it close. Pretty close, but a bigger kick, bigger base. So we have some questions that have been coming in here, so I want to get to a few from our online community here. So this one comes from Time Max and they say? At what stage of the mix do you add? The mix bus compression. Do you mix it in from the start, or do you do it halfway through a great question? I would suggest if you're gonna play around with this, do it from the beginning. Um, because if you do a great mix and then you think in mammals adds a mixed bus compression at the end, you know it could undo all the work you've done because you've set your compressors and you've set your volumes based off of the way it sounds. And then all of a sudden you're squeezing all of that. It might make you change your mind about your original compression decisions. And so then you have to backtrack and undo all the work you did. Um, I I do. This is the very first effect. I'll do this at the very beginning, after I have a good balance without any plug ins called the No plug and Mix, I try to get it to sound as close to a mix as I can without any plug ins. I'll do this first, get that nice, subtle glue effect, and then forget that it's there and mix all the way through that from the from their own. So every decision making is based on how I hear it through that compressor. Do you do that Doesn't matter whether you're going to master the track yourself or send it to someone else. Great wash. You send it someone you tell them not to compress it again, or so great questions. This is where I get a lot of questions. Is yeah, isn't this kind of stuff supposed to be left for mastering? And the answer is yes and no. Um, you know we'll talk about mastering a little bit in this course, but this, for me is a mixed decision. It helps the mics sound good to me. A mastering engineer uses compression and limiting for different things, mostly to balance out volume from song to song on an album and then get the overall output volume loud enough to commercial standards. But that mastering engineer here she doesn't doesn't care. What we've done shouldn't care what we've done to the mix. If as long as the mix sounds good, because what I'm doing here is not like limiting, we'll show you that that's one of the moves I'm gonna show you. I'm not making this mixed super loud. I'm not destroying the dynamics. I'm just It's just like a compressor on a vocal. It's just a little bit of an effect that, to me makes the mics sound good. So I like to pretend like there's no mastering phase. I want the mix of sound as good as I possibly can without even if I'm gonna master it myself. And that means when it comes time to master, there's hardly anything for me to have to do because the mix already sounds great. So I like the sound of mixed bus compression. Not everybody does, but to me. I like it. So I'm gonna do it from the beginning and not worry about whether I'm mastering. If somebody else masters it to me, it's just part of the sound of the mix. I think like that because that question was in the chat room as soon as you asked that people were asking about about having the mastering expert to get in there. So we love that one more than I want to get to you right now on this one. Lots of people been voting on this one, but they want to know when using multiple mikes on an instrument like an acoustic guitar. Do you like to compress them together or separately? Ah, that's a great question. We're gonna Rhenish look acoustic guitar in the next session. Specifically, Um, sometimes I will compress a group of instruments like, um, if it's if it's a bunch of guitars that seem to be a similar dynamic level. I'll just put a compressor on a guitar group or Guitar Channel guitar bus, and it might just contain all the guitars a little bit at once. But more often than not with individual instruments. I'll do it on a track by track basis because one acoustic guitar might really have some crazy strums, and one might be more picking, and it's gonna listen to everything feeding that compressor to determine how much it compresses. And so you sort of lose some of that control. There's benefits to both, Um, but probably on a guitar basis. I'll do. I'll do each one individually 90% of the time. Great question. Real quick. Let me show you how to do this with the stock compressor. Just so you guys know it's not It's not. You don't have this SSL when this is one that I like and I'm used to, um, the exact same thing would happen if you had any compressor you would grab because some people ask, Do you need a specific kind of compressor for mixed bus compression? Um, and the answer is no. Ah, compressor to me is a compressor is a compressor is a compressor. We're gonna look at some different ones later in one of the leader sessions, but at its core, they're all doing the same thing. And so you can totally use your stock dolls compressor on your next bus. In fact, that's where I would ask you to start. You just have to think the exact same way we thought. We can recreate what we've done on the SSL with, um, the stock pro tools, one here or depending whatever Dodger and so same thing. We're gonna make sure that there's no gain here, and we're going to turn up the threshold little bit. So we're not squeezing it too much of the beginning. I'm gonna look at my tax settings. Here's a 10 millisecond. It's probably a good starting point. Um, I might speed up. The release will take a listen because I don't I wanna make sure it's releasing quick enough. 3 to 1 ratio is kind of in between those two settings on the SS. Elsa to the one could be fined 321 We could leave that and let's take a listen. Let's some watch. I'm gonna slowly pull the threshold down and watch the gain reduction meter and see when we're doing the same kind of Wanda to DB of gain reduction. We're getting about 1.5 2 db and my back it off a little bit and then I'll bring up the gain a little bit. Take it down a little bit. You go. What I just did there was try to balance the output to the input and let's bypass it and see what it's doing. So here is with the compression, and they will bypass the compressor. I'm kind of thing bringing in more weight. Weight is a word I like to use like substance down there, like the kick drum again seems a little bit bigger. Base a little bit bigger is a really subtle thing You know, some people are looking for more pizazz with mixed bus compression, but when someone says, or if I'm saying mixed bus compression, that's the type of difference we're talking about Really subtle. But it is a nice thing at the beginning to have all your tracks just glued together from day one. And in reality, we might need less compression on the individual tracks because the mix already has a little bit more thickness and weight to it for the beginning. But you could use any compressors. So we got a very similar sound with the stock compressor. Makes sense. Yeah, we have a couple more questions coming in here. So Statman and we had 16 people voting on this question, so very popular. One in the chat room. But they want to know what is a multi band compressor, and when might you use one over a traditional compressor? Great questions you think these guys are. I'm really impressed. Chat Room is really bringing the quality questions today. The multi band compressor is really I mean, this is how far we've come have come from. We need someone to automatically control the volumes. We don't blow up our equipment, a k of someone events a compressor to. Then someone figures out. Could we have a compressor than Onley? Compresses certain frequencies of the track instead of if the bass guitar cross the threshold, it turns the whole base down. We have a compressive Onley, turns down the low end or only turns down the high frequencies. So a compressor, a multi band compressor, is literally like four compressors in 11 is tied to the low frequencies once tied to the high frequencies. And so it gets really complex. And that's one of those effects that I misused for so long in mastering out. See people using multi band compressors and I would try to use one, and it would just ruin my mixes. So my grams rule is when When you do understand it, don't use it, you know, because you only make it worse. But in essence, and we're not gonna do any multi band compression in this class, because again, I think 90% of time you don't need it, but is a super helpful tool because what I could do in mastering, let's say, is let's say someone gave me a mix and I don't I can't turn up the bass by itself. Um, I could use a compressor on just the low end inside a multi van compressors to turn down the base. Peaks and makeup gain the whole base. So the whole low end of the mixed sounds louder now. But I'm not compressing the high end. I'm not compressing the vocals because it's just tied to a certain frequency range. If that makes sense, it's like an e Q and A compressor in one. It's very first specific, so it is a very powerful tool. I I will sometimes use it in mixing. It's more more of a helpful tool in mastering, but sometimes I will use it mixing. Um, but more often than not, I think most of us were fine without it. All right, Good. Uh, what? We could do One more compression question. Here we have a viewer who wants to know. Is there any advantage to compressing left and right master channels separately? Weird. I would not play with that. Um, but, you know, don't tell that to the Beatles because they did some really interesting stuff with left in the right. I mean, at its simplest. You want to think of your master. Fader has one output. It's a stereo. Generally, it's a stereo tracks. It's technically two channels, but think of it as is one output that people are going to hear. So this case, everything that comes out of the speakers together, so treated as one source and put a stereo compressor on their in most of your software. If you insert a compressor, it's gonna make it stereo because it's on a stereo track, so you don't have to think about. Is it a stereo version? Is that a mono version? It will do that for you Look like one plug in. But it really is applying the exact same settings to both the left and the right. And that's probably what you want to do, because you want to think of the left and the right really is one thing. It just allows you to hear things in stereo, but it's one mix going through one compressor, so I would do thank you. How do you have a question? I wouldn't go back to the multi band compression. Um, I think maybe it's popular because of the lot of people are using the ozone. Yeah, and I think that has has that. Ana. I was considering getting one, but I read it on a lot of forms. Many people said It just ruins a lot of mixes, and again, it doesn't ruin mixes. It's the people that don't know how to use right. People's people are including me for a long, long time. So I bought ozone from isotope years ago, and it's like multiple plug ins and one So you're using a couple of other plug ins and you see that has this multi band compressor built in your level. I wonder what that does, you know, and a lot of the presets use a preset. It'll turn it on, and it's doing something it so it can be so confusing. So, yes, people are right. It can ruin a mix because think about how we easily ruined. You know this mix by turning the threshold way down and turning the compress Ron killing our mix because everything is going through it. A multi band compressor is just that, but even weirder. You could kill just the high frequencies by doing that like or kill just the base, and that's getting squashed so it can make your mix weird really fast. And I would say, for 95% of your mixes, you won't need a multi band compressor because you're only using it to do things that you couldn't do if you didn't have control of the individual tracks. If you need more low and you go turn up your base, you know if if the high end is too bright, you could turn it down a little bit. But not nothing you shouldn't use in mixing. Just saying it's if you think of it just as a compressor on Lee certain frequency president compressor than chances are, the mix is just not good. You should fix it within the mix. Yeah, that's what I would say, but but that you know, I have used them in mixes before. Um, but generally, the reason you reach for a multi band compressor is to do things that you couldn't do, like in mastering the like. I don't have the basis on a fader after it was given a stereo file. Okay, so I have to use something clever like a multi band compressors to turn up the bass when I can't grab a base Vater. So I would say most of time mixing over. Good. You don't need it. Yeah, that's a great question.