Gaining Punch and Clarity via EQ and Compression
- [Voiceover] The master bus. I've made you wait long enough, I'm fearing, that you have been impatient and wanting to hear somethings about the master bus. So it's a topic that's much interest to most everyone I've ever spoken to about mixing, and I wanna get into mine here a little bit, but first I'm gonna explain that this plugin here is only instantiated for this course. To help with the rooting of all the places that we have to send this audio. So that is not usually part of my master bus scheme, and this plug in usually resides in this last spot, and where this plug in is, is an equalizer.
So with that out of the way, let's play a little bit of Allan Stone to get us acclimated. This is called Loose. ("Loose" by Allen Stone) I'm gonna open up windows as we go. ("Loose" by Allen Stone) I'm gonna go through these things one at a time and believe me, order is important, and I have a method to my madness here.
The first slot is occupied by Virtual Mix Rack. It's a kind of racking scheme by Slate Digital, and it allows you to fill up empty slots with EQ's you know you can just keep going and going and going. I'm never sort of seen the end of it. I don't know how many things you can do, but it just kinda lets you keep going and adding digital processing to. Did I just find out how many you can do? 'Cause I don't see how I get back to the first one.
So maybe I just discovered something I did not know before. Maybe it's four. Let's see, I could be wrong. No, I'm wrong. I think it just keeps going. Anyway, I want to go back to how I had it. So order is very important. The first thing you hit is a virtual mix bus plugin that assimilates or emulates or models, I should say, any one of these six master bus sections of a recording console.
I choose the trident most times. This is a trident a range model, but what's important about this video is this little thing I'm gonna say right now, and with the advent of modeling plugins. I've learned that I had liked to treat my mixes the way I would if i was in the analog world still, because just like a real analog mix bus, this bus can be hit too hard or not hard enough, and although we can get a lot more gain out of our final mix bus these days than when I was first starting to mix an analog.
I like to hit the first few devices the same way I would is if this was a large format analog console. Okay, after this mix bus something that is really a transient designer. I probably just called up this mix bus impact setting and left it. I'll show you in and out. ("Loose" by Allen Stone) Putting it in and out, in. ("Loose" by Allen Stone) Out.
("Loose" by Allen Stone) In. ("Loose" by Allen Stone) Subtle but I like it. Next in the chain. Let me go from verse two for some variety. ("Loose" by Allen Stone) This is a very typical deflection I would see from my SSL mix bus. Just kind of waiving in the wind a little bit. Just touching it. With a very fast release and a very attack.
That's followed by. ("Loose" by Allen Stone) Notice these levels. I'm not hitting this tape machine too hard, and notice the signal change. This is exactly how it would be in a large format console. So up until this point. Up until this point, up until the tape machine. This is where it ended before, and this is where I like it to be at the beginning of my mixed days. So I adjust all my levels to get into this mixed bus plug in and then into the SSL compressor and into this tape machine.
Exactly the same way I would if I was mixing in the analog world. It's after this tape machine that things get interesting. So I have the option of several different limiters and compressors and for this mix the next one I chose is this Shadow Hills Industries compressor. This is a very unique design because it really is two compressors in one. It's an optical limiter and it's a discrete limiter. So it's sort of like an LA2A combined with a DDX160, but it's neither.
("Loose" by Allen Stone) Ads girth. ("Loose" by Allen Stone) And grit. ("Loose" by Allen Stone) so if you notice a theme here, there's not a lot happening in terms of gain reduction. We're touching these things about a DB or so each time, but that allows you to add a DB or with each instantiation. Now from there, I hit the big boy, and this is where all the gain comes from.
Now you can see here that I've set the ceiling at minus 60 beat. That's strictly for purposes of these video courses. This ceiling would normally be set at minus .02 or three. Just whatever I land on first. ("Loose" by Allen Stone) But that's where it would sit, and that's what allows me to really get the levels that are competitive with people who are comparing their mix to what they have in their music library at home, and often times that just stays on all the way though the final mastering.
I turn into the mastering engineer. That level up version of my song, so he knows what has been approved by the client, and then I might send a second version to him without this vary last gain stage, and that last gain stage could be provided by this ML4000 or this Fabfilter Pro Limiter. I'mma show it to you. It's an interesting limiter because it sort of works in a different way. You force gain up into the threshold point, which is preset.
You've seen that before. Here I'll play it for you now. ("Loose" by Allen Stone) see how it's getting louder and louder? But the transience are getting whacked. There's some advanced settings you can use to change that. ("Loose" by Allen Stone) And then in this advanced tab you can adjust things like attack and release.
Look ahead, style, lots of parameters there, but I really use it just to kind of do a brick wall limiter. Get as much gain as I can when i use it. Now here's another compression rack. Actually I'm just using the red here in this setting. I probably had changed that. It's usually the virtual compressor rack, but in this case it is simply the red. This is an emulation of a focus red three that I used to use all the time in my mixes.
I stole it from my friend Tom Lordalge. I think stole it from his brother Chris Lordalge. ("Loose" by Allen Stone) There's even a Chris Lordalge setting in here. I wouldn't have it hit that hard. I would have it do something like this. ("Loose" by Allen Stone) It's actually quite a good limiter.
I did not choose to use it here, and then there's that inflator which we've seen in previous episodes, and then the piece that's missing, is the EQ that would normally be in this slot, and I'll show you what I use there. I usually use this, and this is for adjustments. EQS, I don't use it very often, but when I do I'm usually finding a magic frequency that either needs boosting or cutting. ("Loose" by Allen Stone) It's a very fine plugin this.
And that's a little bit about how I treat a master bus to get your mixes loud, competitive sounding. In case you're doing a shootout, and in the case of this ML4 really tailor the EQ of your mix by using these expansion modules. Watch how they work. ("Loose" by Allen Stone) I love this thing because what it does is it takes these expanders and forces signal up into this peak limiter. It's really a good button. Listen to the in and out. ("Loose" by Allen Stone) well, it's hard to tell in this instant because I'm taking level away, but trust me when I say this is the good switch.
This is the button you give to the producer and say hit that and your mix is gonna sound good. This is it. Okay, let's let it go for now. From the bridge out. Allan Stone, "Loose". ("Loose" by Allen Stone)
- Choosing the right reverb
- Adding digital delay
- Tuning your mix
- Phase shifting and flanging
- Increasing drum power and presence
- Driving home the groove with acoustic guitars
- Adding sheer volume to your mix
- Affecting the effects
- Making the chorus "pop"
- Knowing when your mix is done