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What do you leave on the master bus before mastering
Old 22nd March 2015
  #1
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
What do you leave on the master bus before mastering

Whenever I give a mix to a client for approval, I always add compression on the master bus, along with some 'pre-mastering' EQ, and I boost the volume with a limiter so that it doesn't sound too quiet. As you know, sometimes mixes don't sound right when they are not loud enough, haha.

Anyways, while I am inclined to leave the EQ and some compression on the mix before I send it off to be mastered, I feel I should remove the limiter so as to give the mastering engineer as much to work with as possible in terms of limiting. So I am wondering if this instinct is correct, as well as what else I should leave off the master bus on a mix before I send it to mastering.

Thanks!
Old 22nd March 2015
  #2
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
Same here. Before sending a mix I'm boosting it, but when it comes to mastering, I turn all limiter/maximizer stuff off. But EQ + Comp staying on the master bus. My master bus comp only has a small gain reduction amount, never more than 4-5 dB compression anyway.
Old 22nd March 2015
  #3
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
Same here. I use the SSL master comp and it's only reducing like 4 db or so on average. Just to kind of glue things together, also I like how it affects/colors the mix ever so slightly.
Old 22nd March 2015
  #4
Gear Nut
 
🎧 10 years
Usually everything except limiting and dithering is left on.
Old 22nd March 2015
  #5
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
You should keep everything and only remove brickwall limiting
2bus processing is not mastering, is mixing
Old 22nd March 2015 | Show parent
  #6
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Waltz Mastering's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by NPursuitOfPrfxn ➑️
Usually everything except limiting and dithering is left on.
I think that's the best bet. Leave anything else on,.. specially if it's mixed into, . It becomes part of the sound.. ..unless you're unsure, which in that case, you could send one with and without.
Old 23rd March 2015
  #7
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
Ok that's kind of what I was thinking. I never put dithering for a mix, but that's a good reminder. Appreciate it.
Old 23rd March 2015
  #8
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rumimusic's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Make sure your mix has plenty of headroom to work with so the ME has flexibility to process. If mix buss compression is essential you can leave it but i would suggest getting your balance how you like it and leave room for the ME to work.
Old 24th March 2015
  #9
Here for the gear
 
Alex Sanford's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Yeah, I agree with what people are saying here. Leave your master bus compression, EQ, and other master bus effects on there. But remove any limiting or maximizing you might be doing. Your mastering engineer will thank you

This is also something to consider when mixing. It's best to set up your master bus compressor, and even compression on your tracks, such that things aren't getting too squashed. It depends on the tracks of course, but it's possible to overcompress your mix without using a limiter, and there's not much you can do in mastering to fix that.

I like using the TT Dynamic Range Meter (or something like it) to be sure I'm not crushing things too badly. Often I use it for mastering, but it can be helpful in mixing too, to be sure that I'm not crushing things too much.
Old 24th March 2015
  #10
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Sotsirc's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I hear you talking about 5 dB of gain reduction on the master as being little compression. To me that's quite a lot (maybe we're talking different genres here). I'd say 2-3 dB is what most people tend to compress their master bus.
Old 25th March 2015
  #11
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
Seriously? I always assumed the #1 rule is to have an empty master buss
Old 25th March 2015
  #12
Here for the gear
 
Alex Sanford's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
The #1 rule is to make your mix sounds as good as you can. Whether that involves putting plugins on your master bus or not.

There are various schools of thought, but really as long as you don't go overboard, there's no reason why you shouldn't use master bus processing. There are a few rules that I live by:

1. I like to do my master bus processing first. Then I'm mixing through it te whole time, rather than slapping on effects at the end.

2. I mix through a compressor, but only knocking off 2-4dB of gain at the loudest parts.

3. At the end of my mix, I will put an EQ on the master bus while comparing to a reference. But I keep the EQ moves subtle. Usually less than 2 or 3 dB.

4. Whatever you do, don't crush the dynamics. Leave lots of headroom for the mastering engineer.

I never leave a limiter or maximizer on the bus. There is just simply no reason if the track is going to be mastered. But as long as you don't go overboard, other processing is fine.
Old 25th March 2015
  #13
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
There is a mastering sub forum for beginners
If you ask this question over there then they definately will tell you to keep your master bus empty
Old 25th March 2015 | Show parent
  #14
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sotsirc ➑️
I hear you talking about 5 dB of gain reduction on the master as being little compression. To me that's quite a lot (maybe we're talking different genres here). I'd say 2-3 dB is what most people tend to compress their master bus.
I think it's genre-specific. For a dance or hip hop stuff 4-5 dB of gain reduction works fine IMO and I said never more than 4-5 . Yes, 2-3 dB tends to be used in general.

Quote:
Originally Posted by EMU10K1 ➑️
There is a mastering sub forum for beginners
If you ask this question over there then they definately will tell you to keep your master bus empty
The best solution might be the sending of two tracks. One including master bus processing, one not.
But if a mix leaks at 100 Hz and I'm boosting +2 dB via an eq in this area, a mastering engineer would be doing the same, if I don't.
Old 25th March 2015 | Show parent
  #15
Here for the gear
 
Alex Sanford's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by EMU10K1 ➑️
There is a mastering sub forum for beginners
If you ask this question over there then they definately will tell you to keep your master bus empty
I looked through some similar topics over there and as I expected, it depends on who you ask. Some say that you should leave your mix bus clean, and others say that some processing is ok.

The problem is when mix engineers overdo it. At that point, it can't be fixed my the mastering engineer. Here's a great article from an experienced mastering engineer discussing the problem with mix bus compression specifically, and why he would tell a mix engineer to leave the mix bus clean on many occasions. I think many of his points can applied to other mix bus processing as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by T.O.B.I. ➑️
The best solution might be the sending of two tracks. One including master bus processing, one not.
But if a mix leaks at 100 Hz and I'm boosting +2 dB via an eq in this area, a mastering engineer would be doing the same, if I don't.
I like this idea. Seems like the best of both worlds. I would also say, talk to your mastering engineer, and ask what he or she would prefer.
Old 25th March 2015
  #16
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by T.O.B.I. ➑️
I think it's genre-specific. For a dance or hip hop stuff 4-5 dB of gain reduction works fine IMO and I said never more than 4-5 . Yes, 2-3 dB tends to be used in general.
Sure depends on the styles and what you're looking for. However, 4/5 db is a big amount imo.
I use to set a compressor on the loudest part of the song and in order to have a reduction of 2 db maximum because I want it to be the more transparent possible.
But here, same rules : I don't apply a compressor on my master bus everytime because sometimes it's counter productive.

The better judgment to have is to listen with and without the effect at the same volume. Does it add something or not ? Does it sound better ?
Purely subjective and different according to each people tastes.

On the other hand, if you think it sounds better with 4/5 less db of gain reduction, then you're right, so do it


Quote:
Originally Posted by T.O.B.I. ➑️
The best solution might be the sending of two tracks. One including master bus processing, one not.
Yes, in case of doubt, it would be the best solution to do.




Quote:
Originally Posted by T.O.B.I. ➑️
But if a mix leaks at 100 Hz and I'm boosting +2 dB via an eq in this area, a mastering engineer would be doing the same, if I don't.

Well, I think you take the wrong path in this case. I'd rather go back to the tracks where it lack of lows than adding 2 db on the master EQ.
The ME could effectively do the same but 99% most of the time, you use subtractive EQ in mastering to remove annoying frequencies which will cut through the mix once they'll pass through the limiter. Rarely the contrary.

EG : You set an EQ during your mastering session.
First you add a low cut to remove subs that won't translate in some types of diffusions. You don't EQ the same for streaming or for clubs... The speakers don't have the same restitution of the bands. Makes sense ?
The same for the high cut : depends on the types of diffusions.
Then for example, you find something nasty around 186 hz. You cut it by 1 to 3db with a Q you think fits well. Then you hear the bass and the kick sounding a bit thin with this treatment. You can use a shelve EQ to add a boost in the sub to balance.

We have to keep in mind that the frequency balance is very very fragile, so everytime you add or remove something with the EQ will have an effect of the rest of the bands.
Old 25th March 2015 | Show parent
  #17
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Noisy Lingus ➑️
Sure depends on the styles and what you're looking for. However, 4/5 db is a big amount imo.
I use to set a compressor on the loudest part of the song and in order to have a reduction of 2 db maximum because I want it to be the more transparent possible.
But here, same rules : I don't apply a compressor on my master bus everytime because sometimes it's counter productive.
Most time I start mixing through a bus compressor.
Can you explain, in what specific cases the usage could be counter productive? I thought as long as it's not impairing the stereo image or smacking off too much, it's ok.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Noisy Lingus ➑️
The better judgment to have is to listen with and without the effect at the same volume. Does it add something or not ? Does it sound better ?
That's a really good point. Always make it better, not just louder.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Noisy Lingus ➑️
Well, I think you take the wrong path in this case. I'd rather go back to the tracks where it lack of lows than adding 2 db on the master EQ.
You're right. Taking a step back and going to the tracks again is definitely a better option. I shouldn't become too lazy.
Old 25th March 2015 | Show parent
  #18
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Well, this is what I said later on my post.

"Does it sound better ? Does it add something ?"

It's proper to everyone tastes. Mainly, I do the same as you by using a comp on my mix bus. However, before adding this tool, I start removing all the lows and highs frequencies I don't need and set my gains to a proper level for each tracks in order to have a lot of headroom before applying any process.

Then I start adding a comp on my bus with a soft gain reduction 1 or 2 db on the loud part of the song.

I remember it didn't work on a couple of songs I've mixed months ago. It took the breath of the songs. Even with 1 db of reduction, I wasn't happy with the results.
Maybe also because it was more intimate songs performed by a duo : guitar/singing and double bass : it could be one reason.
But same here, it's purely subjective and it's my own opinion about those tracks.

As you can read everywhere : there are 2 schools about this topic. Some do and some don't. I tend to do both, depends on the song lol.
The rule for me is : "there's no rules as long as it sounds good"
Old 25th March 2015
  #19
Lives for gear
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
You should only take off your limiter and leave on everything else (compression, etc.). HOWEVER, there's a big asterisk on that. IT MUST SOUND GOOD. If you screw it up, well, you're screwed. If you aren't dang skippy sure about your buss processing (other than the aforementioned limiter), then you should send a separate version with that stuff taken off. This is one of those times where you really have to be objective about your own talents. Most people overestimate their ability to get those things sounding good and screw themselves. Don't be one of those people...
Old 26th March 2015 | Show parent
  #20
Gear Maniac
 
Paschalis I.'s Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by EMU10K1 ➑️
Seriously? I always assumed the #1 rule is to have an empty master buss
I think this statement is true about lots of process like EQs and hard limiting that can really affect your sound.

I see nothing wrong to use a compressor to glue things up
(SSL type of compressor for example with slow attack to let the transients go through), small ratio , GR no more than 2-4.

You can mix through it, but yes nothing else should be added at the master bus, but a bit of glue , why not
What you can also use is a tape or console emulation plugin to emulate the warm colors of a console to our cold digital DAWs.

Nothing critical, of course, just a bit of color.

Check out steven slate digital, google it, you will fall in love with his plugins,
it's really hard to distinguish his processors from the real analog ones.
Old 28th March 2015
  #21
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rumimusic's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
There is no rule here. To say it's better to Eq individual track rather than the master is as subjective as eq'ing your tracks rather than the aux they are routed to. If you are guessing with your eq'ing or compression, you probably need to learn more and develop your ears. If you know what you're doing, you'll know that cutting 9 DB of a certain frequency on the master may be just what the track needs to satisfy you tonally. I do agree that there is no case where leaving a maximizer on the master before sending to a ME is beneficial in my opinion. But aside from leaving headroom, there is no rule besides making sure the elements of your multitrack are in phase and well balanced. I prefer to do most mastering moves myself, and suggest that if you send stuff out too a mastering engineer and like the results that you A/B it with your mix and try to achieve what they did. It's not for everybody, but I've saved myself a ton of grief this way and trained my ears to hear for specific things so that now I'm planning for the mastering process throughout the entire process. I'll often turn on my mastering chain at different points in a production or a mix to see how the kick or snare or reverb reacts to the hard limiting or EQ moves I find myself going to repeatedly. There is no voodoo here it's all about developing your ears and furthering your understanding of what it takes to get to a finished product. An accurate listening environment with mains that go down to 30HZ doesn't hurt of course There are however, a ton of commercial masters that were created in less than ideal environments and range from serviceable to downright impressive.
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