Mixing Through Bus Compressor/Headroom

Wanted to get some clarity on a production technique.

When sending out mixes out for mastering, Many/If not all places recommend leaving 3-6db for headroom; which makes sense. Now I usually always mix through a master bus compressor trying to get around 3-5db of gain reduction with everything playing together, but watched many videos at Sonic Academy where the compressor gets added on the end of the mix after all elements are done.

What do you guys recommend? Slapping on the master bus coumpressor from the start and ending the mix with 3-6db of headroom or leaving it till the end to add it on.

normally, you shouldn’t mix to a compressor. Just leave your master alone unless you have master fx’s etc and mix without a compressor.

also if you are mixing or mastering at the same time as some peopl do it.

I agree with the above. If you are sending stuff to get professionally mastered then leave it to the mastering engineer to compress your track, that’s what they get paid to do :slight_smile:

I think Phil and the guys producing the videos here tend to use a mix gel compressor and a limiter on the Master simply to do that - gel the parts together when composing/mixing.br
If you’re sending it off to be mastered though I’d definitely remove compressors from the master and mix to leave enough headroom for the mastering engineer.

Agree with the above. br
Eq all tracks to perfection and you shouldn’t need any compression at all ;)br
In addition, you probably have some compression applied on some of the tracks already (drum group, bass group, percussion group, etc.). br
If you then apply the right EQ settings on those groups and make sure that there’s some sidechain compression is going on as well, then mixing it down without compression on the master will give you a clean result for the master engineer to work with.

Thank you guys for the advice!!!

A compressor on the master bus, i think, is kind of like putting icing on a cake. It is the final touch that brings the tracks together. You cannot put icing on and then make the cake, can you? br
See for me, at least, all compressors must be carefully adjusted to whatever they are compressing. br
They determine the final sound of whatever you are compressing, if you see what i am saying. So there really isn’t a compressor, in my opinion, that you can just slap on something and ignore…the compressor is the final part of the sound, you know. so that is why they put it on at the end. If you put it on in the beginning it can cause some things to sound like crap maybe, and you would never know…or it could make something sound pretty good and then you wouldnt know.br
Also if you ever you take off the compressor or change it after maybe half your tracks or made, it could ruin your whole song or completely change the sound of half of it.br
so this is the reason why i do not like to mix with a compressor on the master is because, for me at lease.br
Maybe this helps, br

I recently watched one of the ‘5 minutes to a better mix’ tutorials on YouTube and the guy said one of the first things he does when mixing a track is put a compressor onto the master so any decisions you make from that point on are based on how the master sounds. Admittedly if you are sending tracks off to be mastered professionally this does not count, usually Mastering Engineer’s ask for no compression/mastering tools on the master at all, but the difference in opinion on here is interesting!br
(Video here for anyone interested! - 5 Minutes To A Better Mix: Mix Bus Compression - TheRecordingRevolution.com - YouTube)

I’ve been taught that anything above 0dB in the Digital Realm will have Clipping on your tracks fyi.br
If you’re doing everything yourself though, learn as much as you can and teach yourself about the audio engineering aspect of it. Lucky for me that’s what my school is doing :pbr
I would personally leave the master output alone until the very end. br
When doing the mastering section yourself just tweak every track to the best of your ability, don’t let it hit above 0dB on the master output and you’ll be fine.

in general you could do with never putting it on. It will just suck a lot of the headroom out of the mix, and give you a false image of the mix.br
Let the master engineer do there job. By adding a compresser to the master channel of your mix this makes it hard for them to bring this energy back