Academy Dashboard Forum Production Mixing Master Bus - Limiter or comp first?


  • This topic has 9 replies, 8 voices, and was last updated 7 years ago by Jonathan Parker.
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    Tim Morris

      I havent been taking much time to understand the best order for FX on the master bus, whats your general template for master FX ?

      Arthur Labus

        First - no Inserts on Master Bus while/after mixing.
        Second - while mastering: compressor (first) and limiter always at the end, except metering stuff.
        Thats my way on the highway to hell 😉

        Maurice Beekman

          - I use a seperate AUX bus as a submaster. On this submaster i like to use some plugins durin mixing for a overall analog sound. I use Slate VBC rack but without setting any EX, COMP, etc. Just to let the sound go through the emulated analog stuff as sort of an effect.
          - When mastering i also always endup with a limiter afert compression.
          - The masterbus i use only for e.g. samplemagic AB (reference) and metering.
          That's my way to go at this moment.

          Patrick Schindler

            The usual way would be to have things like console emulation, EQ, compression, widening and tape emulation first and if at all (especially brick wall) limiting at the very end of the chain.

            If anybody runs a separate mastering session to get the mix to compete with what's out there, it may be best to leave the brick wall limiter off, leave at least a couple dB headroom and export / print as 32 bit FP file, to avoid clipping the master at all. Reason being that limiters may cause pumping, distortion, suck the life out of a mix and what not, making the mastering session harder.

            Some people suggest using a limiter right before master bus compressors, trying to catch peaks more transparently and keeping the compressor from pumping here and there. The idea makes some sense to me, but this would still affect the whole stereo mix somehow. Having limiters on very dynamic instruments to catch the odd peak, usually sounds a lot more transparent, because it only affects that track.

            So, on the master bus I would put the limiter as the last processor, if at all, but make sure stray peaks have already been taking care of by limiting on the track and / or group track (instrument bus) level.

            Andrew Mckenzie

              Yep I would agree with the other comments in that the limiter should be the last thing in the chain except for your loudness meter. I can't really see a point in compressing an already limited signal?

              Personally I use the virtual SSL master bus compressor lightly on the track and then into a mastering grade compressor before hitting the limiter, that way I can experiment with hitting the limiter at different incoming levels.


              Tim Morris

                Excellent, thank you !

                Michael Hordorwich

                  Man arthur I wish I could take your advice and have my 2 bus empty but I'm so used to working with a chain on there that I really need to try to use less of as I think it's hurting at times at this point. I have the best plugs for the stereo bus but I guess I will try to leave it alone and see what happens! This is one of the biggest things I want to work on! I'd like everyone's opinions on it if possible! Some of my plugs just sound so darn good and in my control room on my diff sets of monitors they sound great! Again this is one of my biggest things I want to work on. Thanks, mike

                  Arthur Labus

                    This is originally Warren's advice and my humble experience.
                    Warren said some words about - keep master bus "clean" - so you can mix better and there is no interference between plugins - possible interferences.
                    At least you are fooling yourself with tons of plugins on 2bus 🙂
                    I had to make that experience too - attempt of quick "mastering" via 2bus gone wrong. Compressor plugin caused additional reverb - not nice !
                    Since that happened, i am always mixing with clean 2bus and do extra step with "cheap" mastering on printed mix.
                    That 5 minutes for create new project or change the DAW - It is worth it !

                    Len Baird

                      I've been using the SSL bus compressor, and/or the puigchild compressor and I leave the puigchild threshhold set for no little or no compression, it adds a little fatness like this. Then I use the l2 limiter as the final limiter.

                      • This reply was modified 7 years ago by Len Baird.
                      Jonathan Parker

                        I typically have the Slate VBC rack with only one of the comps turned on. I'm still switching between them to see if I can find one I like best. The last few mixes were with the RED. I start with it around 2:1, not super fast attack, and auto release. I run the HPF up as high as it will go, and dial the mix knob back to 60% - 80%. No make-up gain. I only let it take 1-3db off the signal. And I use this as kind of a reference for what is happening, meaning, if the snare is the only thing pinging the compressor, I might go look at what I'm doing with the snare. I like to see the vocal and some snare triggering the comp.

                        Then I run into Ozone 7. And I'll do all manner of things in there for volume sake. I don't turn this plugin on until the very end and it's just to give it some "hack mastering" for volume. I disable it if it's going to real mastering.

                        After that I have the Studio One Limiter. Set to K-12 scale, and I'll push the mix into it till I'm getting little 1-2db catches.

                        Oh yeah, then I'll put the Fabfilter ProQ in last just because I like to use the RTA on it. It's easier to look at than the ones in Ozone. That's just to give me an idea of the overall freq response. I don't EQ with it at that point. Or I'll use it to some band passing and A/B-ing type stuff. It's just used as a utility and then disabled.

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