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Author Topic: Stereo Comp on the 2-Buss?  (Read 9983 times)

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.

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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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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.

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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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Ronny

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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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Fibes

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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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Ronny

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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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