Parallel compression is mixing a dry uncompressed signal in with a heavily compressed signal. Different compressors have different ways to do this, but mainly you can use both separate knobs Dry (for uncompressed signal) or Wet (for compressed signal) and combined knob Mix (or Dry/Wet) which controls the signal ratio.
The purpose of parallel compressing is to add more weight and volume to the mix.
This kind of compression is placed after the EQing and multi band compressor because you need to ensure sounds balanced before you start adding any more weight to the track.
To set up the compressor for master bus parallel compression you need to:
- Turn the Dry/Wet knob to around 10-20%;
- Set the Ratio to around 3 to 1;
- Set a fast attack time, preferably 0-1 ms, so the entire signal gets compressed not missing possible peaks;
- Set a long Release to around 400 ms, so the compressor never recovers and the entire signal remains processed;
- Set the Threshold, to obtain 4-8 dB of signal gain reduction.
Same as for EQing, we recommend to use FabFilter Pro C-2 plugins and iZotope Ozone compressor. These virtual appliances have all necessary functions described above. "Glue" compression
The next in the master bus chain is also compressor, only this time it will be a normal compression.
This compressor's purpose is to make the track sound more cohesive and tame the smallest peaks that you may still have in your mix.
To "glue" your mix you need to:
- Set a slow attack time of around 0.3 ms;
- Set the Release around 0.7 ms so you don't destroy the transients of your mix;
- Set the Ratio to around 2 to 1;
- Set the Threshold so you reduce the signal to not more than 1 dB.
Here we recommend Cytomic The Glue compressors or Waves G-Master Buss. Initial limiting
Many producers and sound engineers use just one limiter on the master bus, but using multiple limiters allows you to get a cleaner and louder master.
The purpose of the first limiter is to reduce the workload on the second limiter by taming the highest peaks in the mix. This will allow to push the second limiter harder as the biggest peaks are already taken under control.
Set down the threshold until you see 1-2 dB of gain reduction.
We recommend to use Fab Filter Pro-L or iZotope Ozone limiter. Maximizing
The last plugin on the chain is limiter-maximizer.
Up to this point, we have made the track ready to be brought up to commercial loudness. When using this limiter, we should aim for around 3-4dB of gain reduction.
If the track starts to distort before you reach the commercial loudness you are after, then you need to go back to the multi band compressing and EQing stages to find out which set of frequencies are causing the limiters to distort.
We recommend to use Fab Filter Pro-L or iZotope Ozone maximizer.
Before exporting the track, it is important to compare your track to the unmastered version of your track and the reference track.
Check you made all the necessary enhancements to your track that you wanted to. Don't be afraid to start over if you are not happy with the result. None of the job is done in vain and gets to the treasury of valuable experience.
We recommend to use SampleMagic Magic AB plugin to compare your track to the premaster and reference tracks. It is an indispensable tool for a quick comparison of the material. It should be the last on the mastering chain.
In this article, we went over the basic set for electronic track mastering. Mastering requires a great deal of practice to train your ears to recognize what needs to be adjusted. In fact, there are a lot of instruments you can use on the master bus. For example, stereo expanders or saturators. But you always have to keep in mind that the main job is to be done at the stage of mixing. Because mastering can enhance the mix, rather than turn a bad mix into a good one.
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. We wish you loud and clear tracks,