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Author Topic: Stereo Comp on the 2-Buss?  (Read 9984 times)

MedicineDog

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Stereo Comp on the 2-Buss?
« on: May 11, 2004, 01:35:50 pm »

How bad is it to use some light compression on mixes prior to mastering?  I know that a lot of MEs prefer straight tracks, but the producer of the current project we're working on really loves what happens when I strap a T-Racks tube comp across the mix buss and hit it about 1-2db.  He also loves what the "stereo enhance" function of the T-Racks comp does to the acoustic guitars.  There's no EQ or multi-band stuff happening, just the stereo tube comp (with no added gain).

Obviously, the compression can probably be handled better by the ME, but what about the "stereo enhance" aspect of it?  Is this something easily re-created as well?  My thought was to do bring both a straight mix and the comp mix of each song to the mastering session for comparison purposes.  Any thoughts on that?

I will be talking to the ME on the phone this week, so I'll definitely get his thoughts/wishes.  But I'm interested to know what you ME's normally prefer?

Thanks!
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jazzius

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Re: Stereo Comp on the 2-Buss?
« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2004, 02:41:10 pm »

T-racks sounds terrible.....don't do it

MASSIVE Mastering

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Re: Stereo Comp on the 2-Buss?
« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2004, 08:04:47 pm »

I agree - If you're using something nice, a couple dB is fine IF IT HELPS THE MIX.

Take a very close listen to those tracks that he likes "better" and see if they're just not "louder" than the original.

If in doubt, send the ME both of the mixes.  I get that a lot.  It's not bad - It gives me an idea of where they want it to go.
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jfrigo

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Re: Stereo Comp on the 2-Buss?
« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2004, 06:44:17 am »

I wouldn't advise using a crappy compressor - your whole mix is going through it after all. Don't overdo it, and don't agressively limit or worry about level, but don't feel that you can't compress during mixing. If you are doing it for a reason, not just because "that's what  I think everyone does so it must be right," then go for it. It can be a integral part of the sound you are after and an important tool for your creative expression. Just try to use some reasonable judgement and you should be fine.

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MedicineDog

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Re: Stereo Comp on the 2-Buss?
« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2004, 12:14:00 pm »

Many thanks.

It's not a loudness thing (I'm very careful about matching levels due to the "louder always sounds better" trap).  What the producer likes is the "stereo enhance" feature on the compressor.  I don't know what it does technically-speaking, but it does "widen" the stereo field, particularly with the acoustic guitars (very heavily acoustic-oriented project).  Just curious if this is something easily recreated in the mastering session or if it's something specific to the T-Racks comp (Acuma's Final Mix does something similar).

As for crappy compressors, yeah, T-Racks is not the best in my arsenal, but it does what the producer likes.  I have UAD-1 stuff (Fairchild, LA2A, etc.) plus Waves Master Bundle when I do stuff in-house.

I'll be attending the mastering session and will take along the mixes both ways.  As the ME told me, "No problem, it's just hard disk space.  Bring along whatever you think will work."

Thanks again,
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jfrigo

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Re: Stereo Comp on the 2-Buss?
« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2004, 05:15:11 pm »

If nothing else, having the T-Racks widened & compressed version along with the unprocessed version will allow the mastering engineer to get a feel for what the producer wanted by referencing the T-Racks version, and then accomplishing the goal with his tools on the unprocessed mix. Then again, the processed one may sound great, and if that's the way the producer liked it, it may be the one to roll with. It's a decision you can both make in the mastering room after you're able to listen to both versions with fresh ears on a good system.
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MedicineDog

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Re: Stereo Comp on the 2-Buss?
« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2004, 11:41:53 am »

Thanks, Jay - Sounds like a solid plan.
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Mixerman

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Re: Stereo Comp on the 2-Buss?
« Reply #7 on: May 14, 2004, 03:48:00 am »

Medicine Dog,

Never ask mastering engineers whether you should put a compressor on your mix. 99 times out of 100, they'll give you the wrong answer.

Sorry boys. But it's true.

Look, I understand why so many MEs think this is good advice, particularly when consulting neophytes to stereo compression. But really! At least tell the guy the whole truth of the matter. Here's the truth MedecineDog:

If the mastering engineer puts the compression on later, then your balances are going to change. If you want your balances to remain relatively the same, then you need to compress the mix. If you can't live with your balances changing (I know I can't), then do NOT let the mastering engineer compress the mix. Take matters into your own hands. Compress your own mix.

Good compressor, bad compressor, it makes no difference to me what you use. If it's helping the mix then use it. If it's hindering the mix then don't use it. It's that simple.

Personally, I choose what I put on the stereo bus VERY carefully. But how is a Mastering Engineer qualified to determine BEFORE the fact that a stereo compressor isn't right for your mix? No one can possibly make that judgement, aside from the people present at the mix! How do you as MEs know that the guy can't compensate for the compressor? How do you know the mix isn't just calling for cheap compression? You don't know any of that, yet you're advising that he not use a compressor on his mix?

It's not an your judgement as MEs because you're not there to be MAKING the judgements. With all due respect, your role is to prepare the mix for it's final destination. If you (as a mastering engineer) can make the mix a little louder with some limiting (which will not change the mix balnaces nearly as much as compression will), and if you can make it pop a little more with EQ, great! Those subtle balance changes are usually for the better. But you're not mixers, so stop acting like mixers by advising engineers to allow you to mix their record for them.

Medicine, if you let a Mastering Engineer compress your mix, you're essentially letting him mix your record. I can assure you that the ME will not even take 1/100th of the time mixing the record that you did on the first go around. Why would you allow that?

Compression is a mix decision. Please do not advise people to put off yet ANOTHER decision in the record making process.

I'll let you fella's chew on that for a moment. But you know as well as I do, that I'M RIGHT! You should not be telling a mixer what he should be doing without ever hearing what he's ACTUALLY doing!

If you don't believe me, mix for a while without the compressor, then strap it on when you're fairly happy with the balnces. See what I mean?

Our of curiosity, what ratio are you using?

Mixerman

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Mixerman

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Re: Stereo Comp on the 2-Buss?
« Reply #8 on: May 14, 2004, 04:00:40 am »

Oh, yeah. One last thing.

Medicine Dog,

A suggestion: If the Producer likes something on the stereo bus, then keep it on the stereo bus until such time that you can clearly demonstrate to the Producer why the mix is worse with it there. I'm even going to tell you WHY you should do this.

Producers will hire you. Mastering Engineers are hoping you will hire them.

Mixerman
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jfrigo

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Re: Stereo Comp on the 2-Buss?
« Reply #9 on: May 14, 2004, 05:03:51 am »

The masked man is ranting about certain MEs, but luckily I don't see the offending advice given by the regulars on this board very often, and not in this thread. One can't make generalities that imply that all or most MEs give the advice to avoid compression. Most of the ones I know who are worth their salt (including several on the board) would never say such a thing.

I'd rather not need to compress in mastering, unless it's just barely tickling it more for a desired color than a dynamic adjustment. The better a song is and the less I have to do to it, the better. Then I can concentrate on the fine details that really make a song or a mix exceptional instead of putting band-aids on a problem child. Apart from going for sheer level, get the mix as close to what you want as possible.

One other caution about these stereo wideners: if you want the acoustic guitars to be wider, mix them so they'll be wider, or just put the effect on the guitars. Often these spreaders just hurt center, punch, impact, and any specific stereo imaging you've crafted in exchange for a first impression of greater spaciousness. Sometimes it's right, and if it sounds great and serves the song, go for it. But be honest with yourself when deciding if it does, and be aware of the tradeoffs. Make sure you're gaining more than you're losing.

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Mixerman

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Re: Stereo Comp on the 2-Buss?
« Reply #10 on: May 14, 2004, 12:23:06 pm »

jfrigo wrote on Fri, 14 May 2004 02:03

One can't make generalities that imply that all or most MEs give the advice to avoid compression. Most of the ones I know who are worth their salt (including several on the board) would never say such a thing.



I'm not making generalities that haven't already occurred in other threads, on other Mastering Boards, discussing this identical subject matter. There are three ME's on this board giving advice not to use a compressor on the stereo bus, purely from the perspective of elitism. To this moment, there are no MEs refuting these recommendations. And in my experience on these threads, there rarely ever are. I'd say that is a fair generalization considering these facts. Even after my post last night, STILL not one mastering engineer has posted to agree with this perspective.

Apparently, the 3 of you that DID supply an answer don't approve of his choice of compressor, so you automatically assume it would not be good for the stereo bus. In this particular case, with this particular engineer, it just might be the perfect compressor. Mixing isn't mastering. A good mix has little to do with a good signal path. Yes, a good signal path can make mixing easier, that's for sure, but there are often times, for creative reasons, that a poor signal path is desired.

I addressed this whole board in general because of the silent majority. You call it generalizations. I call it experience on this subject with MEs, and I call it recognizing a lack of willingness to give the entire story. I see a whole lot of MEs that come to this board giving the easy answer. In most of those cases, that's no answer at all.

Like I said last night. I GET recommending using high quality compressors on the stereo bus. In fact, I don't really have a problem with your particular recommendations, Jay. What I don't get is the fact that no other ME had anything to say about this other than tacit approval to these suggestions. I also don't get the prevalence of this odd little mothering of mix engineers by telling them they should leave stereo compression up to the ME. I suggest that rather than attempting to cause a dependence on you as MEs to do his job for him, you should perhaps encourage him to fuck up a few records and learn how to mix it on his own.

Hope you're well Jay,

Mixerman
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bblackwood

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Re: Stereo Comp on the 2-Buss?
« Reply #11 on: May 14, 2004, 12:36:14 pm »

Wow, my first post in a week here. I really gotta get to my own forum more often...

As most everyone who has read my parts of these discussions knows, I agree whole-heartedly with Mixerman. Buss compression changes the balances of the instrumentation of the mix. I will say it again - buss compression changes the balances of the mix. Balances are a mix decision, not a mastering one.

That doesn't mean that there is no place for compression in the mastering room, but if a track is made better through the use of buss compression (not all are), it should be addressed at the mix level. What good is it to send a mix to mastering that you've slaved over to get the balances just right only to have it changed when buss compression is applied?

And I don't by the whole 'newbie that can't hear how they are destroying it' routine, either. That's how you learn - you screw up and hear it later and it focuses your hearing.

I've said this for a long time and stick to it - do anything you want while mixing as long as your motivation isn't level...
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Brad Blackwood
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MedicineDog

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Re: Stereo Comp on the 2-Buss?
« Reply #12 on: May 14, 2004, 12:44:41 pm »

Okay, that was an interesting turn-in-thread.  I always appreciate another point of view.

Mixerman - to answer your question, ratio is 2:1.  Again, very light 1-2db comp.  And, you're right, the comp definitely will change the balances.

Jay - WRT to "wideners", you're right as well, they do seem to scoop out the middle quite a bit if you go too far with them.  All the acoustics on this album are recorded in stereo (neck and body miced).  The neck mics are used as the main mic with the body mics used to fill-in the sound as needed.  The panning is generally neck mic hard L or R with the body mic panned in from that (say, 9:00 or 3:00 or so).  For whatever reason, the "Stereo Enhance" feature on this T-Racks comp adds a "sparkle" to the guitars that I can't recreate with EQ.  That, combined with the perceived wider stereo field is what the producer is liking so much.

I guess what I'm getting from this thread is that a) I should make the mixes sound the way I want them to with whatever tools I need to use to do that and, b) don't get carried away with the tools I use.  Is that a fair summation?

Oh, and Mixerman - Thanks for the "neophyte" comment.  I feel like a kid again  Laughing
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jfrigo

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Re: Stereo Comp on the 2-Buss?
« Reply #13 on: May 14, 2004, 05:59:12 pm »

Mixerman wrote on Fri, 14 May 2004 09:23



I'm not making generalities that haven't already occurred in other threads, on other Mastering Boards, discussing this identical subject matter. There are three ME's on this board giving advice not to use a compressor on the stereo bus, purely from the perspective of elitism. To this moment, there are no MEs refuting these recommendations.


Usually when this question comes up (often), at least myself, Brad, DC, and a couple others tell them to use compression if it helps. The only caution, which is a fair one, is not to limit purely for level, and not to compress just because you think you are supposed to. Go ahead and use it if there's a reason and don't feel like you're not supposed to. That's what I said in my post, and in all the other posts when this comes up on a multitude of boards, so I disagree that nobody has said it.

Of course I've seen the other guys on the other boards saying it, and like you, though I may understand (not necessarily agree, but understand) why they give the advice to beginners, I certainly don't think those beginners will ever learn how to do it right if they don't practice.

Quote:

Apparently, the 3 of you that DID supply an answer don't approve of his choice of compressor, so you automatically assume it would not be good for the stereo bus. In this particular case, with this particular engineer, it just might be the perfect compressor./


Somebody said that - I just told him to remember that his whole mix goes through it, so be honest with himself when he listens, and avoid crappy ones, meaning in general. Apart from that, I said clearly that if it works, or if the producer loves it, keep it. Just make sure to think before you jump. I'm thinking I'm agreeing with you - just offering the reasonable caveats that have nothing to do with whether it's going to mastering or not. If that's been lost in translation, let me quote myself again:
"don't feel that you can't compress during mixing."
"It can be a integral part of the sound you are after and an important tool for your creative expression."
"the processed one may sound great, and if that's the way the producer liked it, it may be the one to roll with"
(even if it's not the sexiest comp and it has stereo wideners - if it works, it works. Just make sure it really does, then don't look back)

Quote:

I addressed this whole board in general because of the silent majority. You call it generalizations. I call it experience on this subject with MEs, and I call it recognizing a lack of willingness to give the entire story. I see a whole lot of MEs that come to this board giving the easy answer.
(SNIP)
you should perhaps encourage him to fuck up a few records and learn how to mix it on his own.

Hope you're well Jay,

Mixerman


Thanks MM, I am, and hope you are also. I'm all for your post and your perspective. You indeed need to screw up a few times to learn, and indeed should be handling the mix during the mix and not expecting your job to be done for you in mastering. The mix should be finished by then. We're in agreement with that.

What I resist is letting those few guys you refer to as giving bad advice for elitest reasons be the ones that our whole profession is judged by, because there's a whole big pile of us that don't agree with the elitest point of view. You warn 'em aout all the bad ones, and I'll remind 'em that there are some good ones out there too.

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tito

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Re: Stereo Comp on the 2-Buss?
« Reply #14 on: May 14, 2004, 11:19:51 pm »

jazzius wrote on Tue, 11 May 2004 14:41

T-racks sounds terrible.....don't do it


I'm a newbie, although I'm pretty happy with what I've learned on my own over the last year.  Check my tunes for a taste of my mixing and psudo mastering accomplishments (if you are bored).  My weakest link in knowledge at this point is limiting and compression.  I get it, but I haven't had enough experience to hear a mix and say it needs x amount of whatever.  I just twist the nobs until it sound the way I want it to.

Sorry to bring down the level of this thread a bit and go a little OT but what the hell is so crappy about T-Racks or digi-rack compressors?  Can somebody break it down?  

What would you recommend for a hardware compressor for someone w/ no budget?

Did I mention that I love mixing AND mastering?  It's great fun. Razz


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Mixerman

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Re: Stereo Comp on the 2-Buss?
« Reply #15 on: May 15, 2004, 04:10:02 am »

tito wrote on Fri, 14 May 2004 20:19

I just twist the nobs until it sound the way I want it to.



Me too! No, really. I'm serious. Me too.

Mixerman
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bblackwood

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Re: Stereo Comp on the 2-Buss?
« Reply #16 on: May 15, 2004, 08:20:47 am »

tito wrote on Fri, 14 May 2004 22:19

what the hell is so crappy about T-Racks or digi-rack compressors?  Can somebody break it down?

Not a thing if it pleases you and your clients.
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Brad Blackwood
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Ronny

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Re: Stereo Comp on the 2-Buss?
« Reply #17 on: May 15, 2004, 12:02:50 pm »


Quote:

What would you recommend for a hardware compressor for someone w/ no budget?



Many budget folks like the FMR RNC. I don't own any, but hear a lot of talk about them being one of the best bang for buck compressors.

I'll restate my view. Nothing wrong with judicious two buss compression and yes you've correctly identifed the problem. It lies not so much with the experienced mix engineers, but with the newbies that have software hard limiters available to them these days. What the deal is in some cases, is they use a post mastered commercial cd as their reference for their level on the two buss mix. I hear the question on my newsgroups all of the time "why doesn't my mix sound as loud as X commercial cd?" When the pancaked mix makes it to mastering, there is little dynamic range left to perform effective mastering processing. Perceived gain leveling as Brad points out is beneficial as a final process. I think the confusion lies in two buss compression, being lower ratio compression and limiting which uses high or infinity ratio's. Both are compressors, so it's not the use of the compressor on the two buss, but the abuse of overlimiting it and expecting the ME to achieve effective results. The L2 and many final leveling processors recommend that you use their products last in the chain and just before word reduction. There is a reason for this and it's reconstituted artifacts that may occur from over processing.
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rlnyc

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Re: Stereo Comp on the 2-Buss?
« Reply #18 on: May 16, 2004, 12:36:02 am »

hello everybody:

i am firmly with mixerman and blackwood on this one...

a couple of projects ago, i was changing mastering engineers.  so i decided not to compress the mixes so i could leave that to the ME so that they would have something to do.  when i got to the mastering house (and a very expensive and well known house), guess what?  i didn't like the compressor that they put over the mix, and i had to tell them to take it off.  i didn't like the high end eq that they added (to be competitive), and i had to ask them to take it off.  fer christ's sake, I LIKED THE MIXES I HAD BROUGHT THEM.  otherwise i would still have been mixing them!

i hated the level they handed back to me (which made me NEVER want to hear the damn thing again), so i made them turn it down.  all the while they were agreeing with me about my opinions about the hot levels on records i couldn't stand hearing more than once which have no dynamics and while they were feeding me this line they were advising me to let them "just bring it to a level where it could compete in today's marketplace". which basically meant cramming the signal to the ceiling.  

i went back to my studio, and i went back to compressing the damn mixes myself.  i made sure i liked what i heard, listened to the mixes all over town and then went back to the ME and had them even out levels and print the fucking PQ.  everybody was happy, but i had a headache. i won't let that happen again. it's like taking your girlfriend to somebody and having THEM screw her, because they are supposed to be a better lover.

of course if you a newbie or a fucking idiot, you better get some help and you'd better get somebody to do your thinking for you.  but if you know what you want to hear, mix the damn thing yourself till you absolutely don't want ANYTHING to change. if that means buss compression, then compress the damn thing. if it doesn't, it doesn't. then go to the ME.

what are mastering houses for?  they are for two things really: one, to even out the levels on various mixes so your album sounds like an album, and songs don't disappear or jump out at you and bite you.  TO MATCH LEVELS.  the second reason for a mastering engineer is to spot check your eq and phasing and discern any problems which may have arisen by the flawed acoustics in your mixing room or monitors.  their job is to make sure your mixes will sound like they did when you fell in love with them when you were finished mixing them, and that they will sound like that everywhere.  sometimes that requires some surgery.  but i defy any mastering engineer reading this to say that it is something else. the mastering engineer's job is NOT "to apply compression and eq and raise levels".  it is to PROTECT THE INTEGRITY OF THE MIXING ENGINEER.

do i hear otherwise?  i didn't think so.

best regards,
rlnyc
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duaneadam

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Re: Stereo Comp on the 2-Buss?
« Reply #19 on: May 16, 2004, 02:02:55 pm »

Another satisfied customer.

Duaneadam
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Tracker

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Re: Stereo Comp on the 2-Buss?
« Reply #20 on: May 16, 2004, 03:46:36 pm »

rlnyc wrote on Sun, 16 May 2004 00:36

hello everybody:
.......
.....
-what are mastering houses for?  they are for two things really: one, to even out the levels on various mixes so your album sounds like an album, and songs don't disappear or jump out at you and bite you.  TO MATCH LEVELS.  the second reason for a mastering engineer is to spot check your eq and phasing and discern any problems which may have arisen by the flawed acoustics in your mixing room or monitors.  their job is to make sure your mixes will sound like they did when you fell in love with them when you were finished mixing them, and that they will sound like that everywhere.  sometimes that requires some surgery.  but i defy any mastering engineer reading this to say that it is something else. the mastering engineer's job is NOT "to apply compression and eq and raise levels".  it is to PROTECT THE INTEGRITY OF THE MIXING ENGINEER.

do i hear otherwise?  i didn't think so.

best regards,
rlnyc



Wow, I really can't agree here. This is way over the top bro.
Seems to me that most of the time a ME will need to do (or should do) WAY more than you are suggesting.
Yea, if less is more on a given project, and the ME goes too far away from the mixer/producer or whoever's original intention of the mix, then I guess you just found a ME that just isn't any good. Or, perhaps he just couldn't read the clients mind. I really don't see how anyone can perceive how "the mixing engineer"  heard it when he "fell in love with the the mix when it was finished?? With great communication you might get pretty close, maybe.
Of course, every service oriented profession in the music business has "experts" that suck. I'd like to believe that most people know this already.
But, god knows that for every one ME that doesn't have a clue there must be a thousand mixing engineers who THINK they know what they're doing.
Lighten up, I think you and the masked man have made your simple point about compression.
BTW, I'm not a ME, I'm just a simple fool who's been in the music business for over 35 years. My only success in music has been to put a smile on peoples faces when they hear my work, in the end, how that happens is almost always irrelevant. As long as I can pay my bills I'm happy.
FWIW, perhaps reading something like Bob Katz' book might help a little in understanding better what a mastering engineer should or shouldn't do..
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jfrigo

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Re: Stereo Comp on the 2-Buss?
« Reply #21 on: May 16, 2004, 04:42:13 pm »

rlnyc wrote on Sat, 15 May 2004 21:36


i am firmly with mixerman and blackwood on this one...



Guess I must be talking too quietly... did nobody hear me say this?

Quote:


what are mastering houses for?  they are for two things really: one, to even out the levels
(SNIP) to spot check your eq and phasing and discern any problems which may have arisen by the flawed acoustics
(SNIP) the mastering engineer's job is NOT "to apply compression and eq and raise levels".  it is to PROTECT THE INTEGRITY OF THE MIXING ENGINEER.



And in addition to evening out levels, it is sometimes making songs that are done at different times, places, and by different engineers hang together as an album, and this often includes EQ, not just level matching. Each song can still have it's own vibe, but it's not helpful have a thick, muffled one next to a thin, piercing one.

The perception of mastering simply being EQ, compression, and level is one we've been fighting for a while now. But telling people it's that simple is how those one box mastering wonders are sold. There are so many other little mundane yet important details that go into professional mastering and the processing aspect really is just one part among many.

As much as "protecting the integrity of the mixing engineer" and "not to [simply] apply compression and eq and raise levels" is what we strive for and prefer, reality often intrudes. What percentage of clients in today's market care nothing for raising levels in mastering? A very small one. How long are you going to stay in business if all masters you give back are as quiet as when they came in? We may not want it to be, but it's been forced upon us that our job usually is to raise the level to some degree - hopefully not to "stun".

The other limitation with your ideal is that different clients ask for different things. You want (correctly in my opinion) to have the mastering engineer stay true to your mix. In your case, that's what you should get, and the mastering engineer should not automatically try to asault your project without your asking him to. However, there are several clients that want a major change in the mix when it comes to mastering. Sure, we could turn down all of those jobs and tell them to remix and keep trying until they get good enough to deliver us a mix that we feel is worth preserving, but that's a pretty arrogant view, not to mention the bills won't get paid if you run your business like that.

It's not always the novices that want radical changes. I had a big time engineer with several current hits on the charts send something in and I returned something quite true to the original mix, yet with a reasonable nod to current style with a little bit of treble and a few dB extra level. It was nice. Of course it got sent back to me for an extra 6 dB of top and a painful amount of additional level. He also wanted the snare drum to stand out like in another current hit by another mixer, but of course it was a different snare and it just wasn't mixed up front that way. I couldn't imagine why such a pro mixer would have had this mix so far off from where he apparently wanted it to be.

Granted - this aggressive treatment is what you do only when the client asks for it, not just as a default, but at the end of the day, we're here to serve the artistic vision of the client. It would be nice if the world were simple and one thing always worked, but it's not simple. That's why the "loud CD" preset on the latest mastering wizard box doesn't work any better than the "true to the mix" preset.

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Re: Stereo Comp on the 2-Buss?
« Reply #22 on: May 16, 2004, 11:17:37 pm »

That was a good post Jay and pretty much sums up the way that I feel, but I'd like to add a few more personal opinion points.

1. I would have asked for my money back if the ME screwed with the dynamics when I told him not to. That's the cue to take it to someone else.

2. The typical client hires the ME, because they feel that he knows better than they how to prep the cd for market. Some trust needs to be assigned to the ME in this regard. Who needs an ME if you negate every one of the processes that he feels will improve the chances of profit. You may have better results mastering the material yourself.

3. I've never had a client say turn it down, it's always can you make the ref a little hotter and still retain the dynamics. The answer is, only to a certain point. I'd love for it to be different but unfortunately it's not.

4. Why can't I get clients like rinyc? If leveling is all that the client wants, piece of cake.

5. It's a shame that some ME's are nilly willy pancaking the material. Perhaps they are so used to working at high RMS levels, that their ears have become accustomed to the pancaking. Squash is relative to individual perception and that's why it's no pleasant thought that artists in their 20's have been listening to hypercompressed material since their pre-teens and accept it as the norm. Some do not understand dynamics and the ruining of them at the "mix" or mastering stage. That brings up the point, why this is such a delicate issue. One man's noise is another man's music and we all have our own perception of what draws the line between over limiting, or the point where dynamics stay reasonably intact, while at the same time making the master hot enough to stand with the market level cd's. It's no easy task, but the bottom line is that we must keep trying to reach people and restore the music industry to the dynamic state that it was before the 90's.
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rlnyc

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Re: Stereo Comp on the 2-Buss?
« Reply #23 on: May 17, 2004, 12:33:10 am »

jay --

i agree with you.  i agree with you. i agree with you, and i would have included your name in my first post but i was typing fast and in a hurry. i had a lot of fun writing that one, because i am not always so "brusk" (well maybe i am), but i thought it would liven up the thread to put in a few "fletcherisms".  

of course, people need to have more done to stuff than just leveling and checking the phasing etc...

once apon a time albums were done one song here and one song there, in different studios, different engineers, and so on, and OF COURSE this requires a hell of a job to master so it all stays in one place.  i thought i had said that.  and you WILL get kids who want you to finish their mixes for them, by making their record sound like something they have liked but don't know how to get.  that's like going to a barber shop and asking for a haircut from the pictures in a magazine.  but thank goodness there are MEs that can do all that.  otherwise there would be a hell of a lot more crud out there, posing as records.

me, i have been doing records in one place, that i know, using monitors that translate, and i don't follow ANY of the rules, so i end up with loud mixes BEFORE arriving at the ME.  i've had MEs tell me that i didn't HAVE to bring them stuff that hot, but my whole signal chain is glowing from abuse anyway. plus i have trust issues.  i don't want to depend on mastering to fix my work.  when i go to mastering my mixes already sound 99% like finished records. i need the ME for 2 reasons -- to catch anomalies i might have missed somehow, and to standardise the level against the ridiculous levels being crammed into CDs.  luckily, i don't need too much more than that.  i know that is an ideal which cannot be found often, and everybody else's milage may vary.  but i would think that it would be common sense to get your mixes to sound exactly as you want them to before calling in the doctor, if you have the right equiptment and most importantly, ears.

but all that having been said, and even if i give someone mixes that everybody says are loud enough and already sound like records, i still read them the riot act, telling them that they better take it to a good mastering house.  it's the last port of call before it goes into the world, and you can't get it back after that.

best regards,
rlnyc
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jfrigo

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Re: Stereo Comp on the 2-Buss?
« Reply #24 on: May 17, 2004, 06:31:20 am »

rlnyc wrote on Sun, 16 May 2004 21:33

jay --

i agree with you.  i agree with you. i agree with you, and i would have included your name in my first post but i was typing fast and in a hurry. i had a lot of fun writing that one, because i am not always so "brusk" (well maybe i am), but i thought it would liven up the thread to put in a few "fletcherisms".  
rlnyc


Thanks. I thought I was spittin' into the wind for a moment... Your "fletcherisms" are welcome and message understood. I think everybody's on pretty much on the same page here which is a good thing.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go add 10 dB at 5k to this classical project before smashing it to bits with the finalizer program on the system 6000...  (KIDDING!)

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OTR-jkl

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Re: Stereo Comp on the 2-Buss?
« Reply #25 on: May 17, 2004, 01:13:46 pm »

Wouldn't you guys agree that Mastering is really another important ingredient in the creation of a great tune? Every person involved in any particular project has there own influence on that project's outcome and, hopefully, they all work together to create something great.

In that light, it wouldn't be a fair statement to say that a tune is "finished" once the mixing engineer is satisfied with his work. There is still one more step to go - one more ingredient to add. True, different MEs will add different ingredients and some may change the flavor too much. That's why you want to find the right ME for the job. It's like the hired gun musicians who are sought for a particular project because the producer knows they will add the kind of stuff that will take the project in the direction they envision it going.

Personally, I think its wrong for any one entity in a given project to take an elitist view so far as to say "this thing just didn't work because so-and-so screwed it up...". All parts work together for the good of the body. All are important and all contribute.
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Ross Hogarth

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Re: Stereo Comp on the 2-Buss?
« Reply #26 on: May 18, 2004, 01:20:30 am »

Wow, I had to throw my 2 cents in here since this is such a fired up thread.
I absolutely believe that if you want some compression on a mix, then put it on.
I also absolutely believe that 2 mix compression is WAY overused and if way overused incorrectly can suck all the life out of a mix to the point that a ME has his hands completely tied when trying to do anything to it.
Also, 2 mix compression is not like adding salt to spaghetti sauce.
Say you are on an SSL. the quad compressor has probably a thousand variables to choose from to compress with. ?Fast attack fast release ?Slow attack fast release ? medium attack auto release?
2/1 ?4/1? 10/1?
every single change changes your mix .... so choose your setting wisely.
If you change your setting in the middle of the mix, your whole mix will change ..sooo in all this yes it is ok to fuckup BUT if you want to play it safe and that is the real answer ..if you want to play it safe and make sure you do not ruin your mix ..compress and limit it later if you are UNSURE of your setting. In mastering , if you are in a good studio with an engineer of cred with good gear and good ears ..hopefully you have a good set of ears ... you can make your compression choices there ...
again not my style now that I am more self assured but I wasn't always so ...
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Re: Stereo Comp on the 2-Buss?
« Reply #27 on: May 18, 2004, 01:07:32 pm »

Great thread y'all.


Compression and Limiting can change balances, mixing in the box can hurt you in this regard. backing down the master fader in a DAW is much different than on an analog board. i've found a little more compression to be helpful getting DAW mixes to translate better after mastering. There are trade offs and it's not always a happy ending but the real goal is to get the mixes the way you want them (without thinking level) and let the ME do the most important part of the process; dressing them up for the red carpet. Some people need tuxes, others need nothing at all... The ME needs to know as much about nudity as fine fashion and when and where to implement them.
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Re: Stereo Comp on the 2-Buss?
« Reply #28 on: May 18, 2004, 05:52:46 pm »



I love mastering in the nude. I can feel the lows better.  Very Happy
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Mixerman

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Re: Stereo Comp on the 2-Buss?
« Reply #29 on: May 19, 2004, 04:50:49 am »

Ross Hogarth wrote on Mon, 17 May 2004 22:20



I also absolutely believe that 2 mix compression is WAY overused and if way overused incorrectly can suck all the life out of a mix to the point that a ME has his hands completely tied when trying to do anything to it.


Of course, these days you can completely tie most ME's hands and they'll still try to make your record louder. All the while they'll be providing plenty of lip service on how records are just too loud. Yeah, right.

There are only a couple of exceptions to this rule that I personally know of. They hang out here on this board. Their initials are DC, and BB.

Quote:

 If you change your setting in the middle of the mix, your whole mix will change ..sooo in all this yes it is ok to fuckup BUT if you want to play it safe and that is the real answer ..if you want to play it safe and make sure you do not ruin your mix ..compress and limit it later if you are UNSURE of your setting.


I don't really understand this advice. If I change my compression in the middle of the mix then, as you say, my whole mix will change ... but if I want to play it safe, I can compress it later. But my mix is going to change just as it would have in the middle of the mix (as you pointed out). Only then there's not a damn thing I can do about it, other than pray. Oh, wait, I can recall it! But if I can recall it, then why the hell don't I just try compressing it in the first place, while I'm mixing?  

Personally, I wouldn't call leaving compression for later playing it safe. I'd call that living dangerously.

I'll tell you Ross, I think that we have a responsibility as mixers to encourage young and/or inexperienced recordists to commit. To commit to tracks; to commit to takes; to commit to an arrangement; to commit to mixes. I think we should encourage young recordists to not be afraid to fuck up. How the hell else are they going to learn how to compress the 2-bus if they don't fuck it up a couple of times? It's not like the client dies. And as I pointed out, they can recall the mix if they fuck up. Why should anybody leave the mix in the hands of a mastering engineer? The answer is, they shouldn't. No matter how good that mastering engineer is, he's still not a mixer.

The bottom line is this: If the levels are going to change from something that you want to do to the mix, then you'd better do it while you're mixing. NOT while you're mastering. If you wait until Mastering to put compression on the mix, then I contend, you didn't make a mix. You kind of put together some balances, and then hoped for the best. That's not mixing. In fact, that's the antithesis of mixing.

In Mixerman's 10 Steps to Better Mixing (catchy name, eh?) the first step on the list (it's not actually a step, but I can't figure out what the hell to call it) is as follows:

1. Mixing is an attitude.

Waiting like a pansy to see if someone else, who also has no clue how to mix, can somehow make the mix good with some compression is NOT an attitude. Quite the opposite really.

Number 8 on the list is  as follows:

8. Mixing can not be taught, it can only be learned.

One is certainly not going to learn how to mix from their most disabling Mastering Engineer, who will forever attempt to convince them that they should leave compression up to the "Profeskonals."

If you always tie your children's shoes for them, you run the risk of their never learning how to tie them on their own. Yes, these are not children, but when we are learning something new, we are very much like children in our lack of ability. Mixing must be learned by the person attempting to mix, and will only be learned in this manner.

Quote:

In mastering , if you are in a good studio with an engineer of cred with good gear and good ears ..hopefully you have a good set of ears ... you can make your compression choices there ...
again not my style now that I am more self assured but I wasn't always so ...  


Making compression choices after the fact is the equivalent to playing darts blindfolded. You can't possibly know what you're aiming for.

We're talking about a mix here. You can't even MIX the song if you're going to be compressing it later. All you can do is get some balances, and hope they're better after a compressor is strapped on. That's not mixing.

A mix is supposed to accentuate the song, production and arrangement; to help provide lift in all the right places, to push the listener forward through the song, to cause the proper physical reactions from the listener. Achieving all this with a mix requires much more than haphazardly setting levels. It requires attention to detail. A desire to complete a task.

I say don't let your Mastering Engineer compress your mix for you. You compress it. If you put too much compression on, well, fix it, Dear Henry, Dear Henry, Dear Henry, well fix it Dear Henry, Dear Henry well fix it!

Or just do better next time.

Mixerman
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Fibes

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Re: Stereo Comp on the 2-Buss?
« Reply #30 on: May 19, 2004, 10:16:27 am »

Mixerman,

I think if you read the last paragraph you quoted from Ross again, you might see that you are both on the same page. I agree about making those decisions early, hell, sometimes I start with the 2buss comp, there are times that, if used properly that's all you need. OTOH (like Ross was saying) if you are inexperienced and unsure, it MIGHT be a good idea to not fuck things up at the 2 buss.
Your arguement that mixing is an attitude makes sense and we've all made our fair share of mistakes getting to the level we are currently at. I take chances, get bit on the ass quite frequently. You've only heard one of my mixes "Blatchford" and it was louder than a cow pissing on a flat rock in Arizona. That method is not the normal lay of the land in my shop although Brad may state otherwise.
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Mixerman

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Re: Stereo Comp on the 2-Buss?
« Reply #31 on: May 19, 2004, 11:34:19 am »

Fibes wrote on Wed, 19 May 2004 07:16

Mixerman,

OTOH (like Ross was saying) if you are inexperienced and unsure, it MIGHT be a good idea to not fuck things up at the 2 buss.


If you're inexperienced and unsure, it DEFINITELY would be a good idea to fuck things up at the 2-bus, so that you can become experienced.

Mixerman
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Re: Stereo Comp on the 2-Buss?
« Reply #32 on: May 19, 2004, 12:02:41 pm »

I hope I don't muddy this up too much. Ive read a good portion of both sides of the 2 bus compression here and the other places mixerman alluded to. I believe that the issue has become clouded because people react to the worst case scenarios where "maximizing" and "limiting" have occurred as a default setting rather than listening to see what the mix needs from the mixers perspective. I see alot of newbies who are looking for cookie cutter preset answers and once advice has been given it spreads like wildfire. As soon as a "maximized setting" is noted in an article in MIX or Home Recording Mag by a popular mixer or producer then the newbie forgets each song and each phrase has specific needs and not global presets. As Ive developed or refined mixing over the last couple of years Ive absorbed alot of people thoughts and opinions and my earlier dogmatism slowly erroded away. Dogmatisms from when I interned because I did not understand that I was being taught suggestions and not hardlined rules. Recently Joe Chiccarelli said the samething Mixerman did about mixing and I believe it goes right to the heart of the problem. People are afraid to commit because that lack confidence in what they are doing. Will it meet the expectations of their peers? People are afraid to fail and so the safe route seems best. Fletcher basically shattered me at the Artispro site in regards to guitar tone and trying to satisfy what "other" thought. It simply liberated me and allowed me to have an attitude.
It was the turning point for me where I believe the idea translates into every aspect or recording, mixing and mastering.

If your not happy with it whats the point of asking other people?

Twist the knobs until you like the result. If it works for you then great. If you don't like it then solicit folks for help.


Peace,
Dennis



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Fibes

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Re: Stereo Comp on the 2-Buss?
« Reply #33 on: May 19, 2004, 12:22:45 pm »

Mixerman wrote on Wed, 19 May 2004 11:34

Fibes wrote on Wed, 19 May 2004 07:16

Mixerman,

OTOH (like Ross was saying) if you are inexperienced and unsure, it MIGHT be a good idea to not fuck things up at the 2 buss.


If you're inexperienced and unsure, it DEFINITELY would be a good idea to fuck things up at the 2-bus, so that you can become experienced.

Mixerman



I wouldn't leave it solely to the inexperienced and unsure, there are plenty of old pros who do it as well. Their odds of success are a hell of a lot better...

We do need to keep limiting and compression in different camps.

The project i'm working on currently is a bit of an experiment, I'm taking three approaches: ITB, ITB with stems and 2 buss compression in the analog realm and mixing stems and mults on my less than stellar board with 2 buss compression as required. This is an entirely different debate at first glance but to be honest, the three methods take drastically different approaches at the 2 buss.
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Re: Stereo Comp on the 2-Buss?
« Reply #34 on: May 19, 2004, 02:19:09 pm »

threads like this kind of surprise me. the general consensus seems to be "you're better off compressing the mix than letting the ME do it because your recording will come back sounding very different". ok, i'm not an ME, but it seems to me that the first thing a decent ME would want to avoid was altering the mix radically.. ok, so why then are we encouraged to mix 'defensively'? what if you don't like the SOUND of buss compression period, should you (i) just be assuming the ME is gonna compress it by default?? i mean, subtle dynamic control is one thing because good places have equipment that can probably do that pretty transparently, but the point of this tread keeps saying "it'll come back quite different if you don't do it".. what the heck? are these people taking INTENTIONALLY uncompressed mixes that the band/engineer are happy with and running it through a Fatso or something? just seems odd to me
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Re: Stereo Comp on the 2-Buss?
« Reply #35 on: May 20, 2004, 11:52:23 am »

If you want to compress the 2buss then do it!!! live and learn...


Isn't funny how many new Mastering studio's are popping up everywhere including this site which all know what's best for your project Laughing  I agree with "Mixerman" on the point that most Master engineers want to remix the mix and not just get correct levels and fix certain frequency problems. Rolling Eyes

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thestudio

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Re: Stereo Comp on the 2-Buss?
« Reply #36 on: May 20, 2004, 12:06:48 pm »

Mixerman,

"Mixing is an attitude.

Waiting like a pansy to see if someone else, who also has no clue how to mix, can somehow make the mix good with some compression is NOT an attitude. Quite the opposite really."

Dead nuts on target!!!!


I think most New Mastering studio's are people who have the money to purchase all the "Political Correct" equipment and feel they have the knowledge to master gold records. These Master engineers use the site to get business and to get deals on equipment and always says " I couldn't live without this piece of gear" just watch the people suck it up......... Razz

 
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bblackwood

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Re: Stereo Comp on the 2-Buss?
« Reply #37 on: May 20, 2004, 12:35:13 pm »

thestudio wrote on Thu, 20 May 2004 10:52

Isn't funny how many new Mastering studio's are popping up everywhere including this site which all know what's best for your project. I agree with "Mixerman" on the point that most Master engineers want to remix the mix and not just get correct levels and fix certain frequency problems.  

It's not just the new guys, either. Many guys who have been around a while will tell the mixer to leave the commpression to them. I don't get it - you'd think everyone knows that the best possible outcome of mastering is when the mastering engineer has to do nothing!
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Fibes

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Re: Stereo Comp on the 2-Buss?
« Reply #38 on: May 20, 2004, 02:04:06 pm »

Quote:

I don't get it - you'd think everyone knows that the best possible outcome of mastering is when the mastering engineer has to do nothing!


Yep.


I suppose the real problem is when the ME should do something and is bound by too much limiting.
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