It would also be practical to take a completed mix to a studio and run it through several of their hardware mix-bus compressors that you probably do not own. It is an exciting time for those without the means to purchase the analog compressor that was used in their recent favorite record. The loudest source signals in a mix will be the first cross the threshold of the mix-bus compressor. The first thing to ask yourself is what you want out of your mix bus compression? However, it could be very time efficient a to run a complete mix through many different classic bus compressors during a studio session and compare them later. If I’m mastering a single song I’ll master the mix at the end, using specific mastering processors. The reason for that is the increased gain reduction that takes place on the mix bus. Vocal bus, drum bus, strings bus). This allows for the referencing of several different mix-bus options. If I’m mixing a record that’ll be mastered together I’ll take the mastering processors off and let the mastering engineer do their own magic. Perhaps 6-8kHz is now sounding harsh. So, If you’ve got a mix bus compressor in your mixdown and it’s become an integral part of the sound of your mix, the mastering engineer might ask you to remove it. However, if you have the means to purchase the real thing, that is really cool too! This allows for the referencing of several different mix-bus options. If your ear is not keen to the effects of compression across complex signals, then you could very easily put yourself on a road to a worse mix without realizing it. As discussed earlier, most compression parameters are best left untouched on the mix bus after it has been set. Doing so will allow the engineer to mix through the compressor with intent. Or have I got the wrong end of the stick? For example, if a song tempo is at 100bpm then a 1/16. If I was needing to use that (without it being for an intended effect) then that would indicate to me that the balance wasn’t quite right in the mix itself. I want the songs to sound loud, cohesive and glued together like a record while they’re listening to the final mixes. In addition, these mix bus compression techniques can often translate into smaller busses and groups (ex. Give Me Six Weeks And You'll Never Doubt Your Mixing Skills Again, Here's My Perfect Solution for Taming Your Low-end, 3 Things You Must Do for Better Vocal Recordings, Why Persistence is More Important Than Talent in Music. That is, novice engineers will often instantiate a compressor after they achieve a balanced mix with fader positions and inserts. After the attack and release is set properly, the gain reduction meter should move in relation to the tempo and/or groove of the music. The ears are always the first line of defense, but keep your eyes on the gain reduction meter and pay attention to its overall push and pull. Potentially the search is for a compressor that sounds clean and detailed. At times mixing into a bus compressor can feel like the faders aren’t doing as much work when the louder elements are pushed. Start around 200ms and use your ears to set an appropriate release time! If your ear is not keen to the effects of compression across complex signals, then you could very easily put yourself on a road to a worse mix without realizing it. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. They’re just there for light glue and tightness overall. A world of compressors with unique variations regarding coloration, circuitry, and control parameters (or lack thereof) are available. Print and keep the ones you find sonically pleasing. Too long of a release time will flatten the mix by keeping the compressor engaged too long and not allowing it to ever reach unity gain. The first thing to do when setting a compressor on the mix bus is choose the ratio and threshold. Audio Issues believes in a society where people strive to understand each other better through the power of great sounding music. Although, you may find that compression makes your  mix sound different and not necessarily better, so be carefu. This is true in both the analog and digital realm, and the good news is that many of the highest quality digital plugins are aiming emulate the brilliant circuitry and components of classic analog hardware. He helps musicians and producers turn amateur demos into professionally produced records they can be proud to release. There are two essential numbers that an engineer must memorize to understand relative attack times. Using Too Much Gain Reduction. Gordon’s question is in response to a previous article about making things ready for mastering, where I say, “Don’t leave your Ozone mastering plug-ins and buss compressors on the master bus when you bounce your mix down to a stereo track. We help home studio musicians and project studio producers make a greater musical impact in their lives by teaching them the skills needed to grow their hobbies and careers. The auto-release parameter is especially ideal for music that has distinct sections with different instruments or grooves in each unique section. That way they won’t feel disappointed in my mixes if they play them next to something else they like. Imagine a mix engineer has left the studio and is referencing a mix in the car. Between those numbers are medium attack times. It will largely be dependent on project style and genre. We will discuss more on proper gain reduction below. Setting these two parameters is quick and straightforward for mix bus purposes. Contrary to “The Order” above… There are times when using a compressor on the mix bus after achieving a mix is acceptable if done strategically. Incorporate it into your mixing arsenal if it works for you. If you’d like to see my entire process of compression in action on a mix, along with how I use EQ, reverb, delay and saturation as well, I highly recommend jumping on the video course version of Step By Step Mixing called Mixing With 5 Plug-ins you can find on the same page. Using compression before mastering may or may not be a technique that fits your mix style. A great starting point when setting a release time on the mix bus is to use a medium release time.