Compression – Compressing the Mix Buss
Every mixing engineer uses compression for individual tracks, but on the same way we put compressor on the mix bus to affect the entire mix. This way of using compression came out as solution when artists began to ask why their record sounded different in the studio from what they heard on the radio or on the vinyl record.
Mixing engineers found out that the difference was the compression that was added in both mastering and broadcast. As a simulation to the sound on the broadcast and record, mixing engineers ware adding dB or two by compressing the mix buss. This become a problem, because everyone liked it, so the engineers across the planet have started using the mix bus compression, despite the fact that it will be recompressed at mastering and on the radio or television broadcast.
Which Compressor is good Mix Buss Compressor
Not every good compressor for individual tracks is good enough to be a mix bus compressor, because only 2-3dB of compression is all that we need on the mix bus, but the mix bus compressor adds an intangible sonic quality.
Current favorites are:
API 2500 mix buss compressor , Fairchild 670, Manley Vari-Mu, Neve 33609 and SSL Mix buss Compressor.
The SSL Mix Buss Compressor
The sound of almost all of the records in ‘80s and ‘90s comes from the sound of the built-in mix buss compressor on a SSL Console. This is an aggressive compressor with distinctive sonic signature. This compressor has IN button (meaning in the signal path) and some have gone so far that they called this button the “good” button because it makes everything to sound better.
Typical SSL Bus Compressor Settings
Attack: All the way slow
Release: All the way fast
Threshold: To Taste
REMEMBER: The purpose of the mix buss compressor is not the compression alone, but sonic quality, punchiness, coloring, transparency and smoothness that mix buss compressor has in it. Everyone can crank up the volume, but the color is achieved only by choosing right tool for the right song. So pay attention on the sonic quality of the mix buss compressor. Good Mix bus compressor for one song, may be a bad choice for other song. Use your ears, that is the only true meter and analyzer.