Academy Dashboard Forum Production Mixing Can we talk about the master bus chain, please? Reply To: Can we talk about the master bus chain, please?

James Gorman

    Oops, thought I posted this this morning....

    > The master chain is used to simulate what a mastering engineer would do.

    It's probably worth me noting that my Master chain isn't for this. At least until I need to loudify it. Since I have Ozone as the last plugin, if I want 'mastered' I'll use the multiband (maybe) and the limiter to louden it up (next time a mix comp comes up that feels like it demands excitement I might add some of the tricks Warren talks about to this too). Until I do this I have a loud, but not squared off, mix. But it's horses for courses, and you have to do what feels right for you and the music (and listen to your ME!).

    > Everything is going great until I try to make it louder

    I was having a similar problem - when I pushed the limiter post mix it would distort before it got loud. I often stick a tape emulator, clipper or limiter on loud, highly transient elements (snare, kick, bass are some prime offenders). Either this or changing the way I chain my compressors seems to have given me a lot more volume.

    > Also finally found the courage to put my fake synth strings into an otherwise analog project, because he said what I've been thinking but afraid to ask: if you made it sound the way you wanted it to start with, do you still need to process it when you mix it? No.

    I've only done two electronic projects in the wild. One the producer knew what he wanted but couldn't quite get the sound, so I had a bit of work to do; the other new his sound but had too much going on so most of the work was going through with him to thin out the mix. The Furch mix is next on my list, so doing something that requires very little work is going to be interesting 🙂

    > I wanted to ask Mark Needham, how many compressors in a row do you need? Imagined him replying, "I don't know, how many are there?"

    Approve of this philosophy. My vocal chain will have 3-4 compressors on the lead parts before master. Not doing very much mind, and a some of them on lead + backing. I haven't looked at this yet, but it'll be the next one after I'm done with Richard Furch's.

    > So, you're not really doing anything MORE, just using two plug ins to give a little of the right stuff rather than one big dose of something that might not work so well.

    It's one part that - it's creating an EQ curve that no single EQ can do (at least not without losing the subtle harmonic changes) - and one part laziness - I could try to fold the sound back into a single EQ but it'd take a while to do (Warren's talked about this with why sometimes he ends up with long plugin chains - it's easier to keep going than try to make everything perfect and succinct).

    > And it also makes sense to not have the eq's on til you've done the rest of the work. Engage it as it's needed, right? And in the case of "of this I'm sure" it was completely about the song you were working on.

    Yep, I started poking at Get Over It and it has a much less saturated SSL based chain on the master. Though I don't run off a template, so I pick things as I need them. _But_ I do have things organised so I can quickly find the things I need. I'm actually about to reorganise my plugin folders to be even more descriptive.

    > How do you handle volume automation on busses when you are mixing into a compressor on your mixbus?

    Reaper has a nice trim mode, so I can automate and trim independently. I'll usually gain stage against the loudest section, then pull back parts I want quieter (I'll usually want less saturation on the quieter parts anyway).

    I also set up up a VCA on my four final busses so I can change the volume of everything going in to the Master (Drums, Bass, Music, Vocals. Sometimes I might split out Music, but it's whatever I've got. Each of these is fed from other busses. I'm using Reaper so this set up using folders). Could also use a trim as the first Master Plugin, but I like having volume things on faders so I can turn off all my master effects with no volume change.

    Between the two it lets me push just the right level into my master effects.