Mix Buss Multi-Band Compression

Many mix engineers have a good handle on the individual tracks in their mix but are not as confident when it comes to master buss processing. Sometimes you just need the right tool for the job. In this post, we will look at the multi-band compressor and how it can be used on the master buss.

Fitting It into Your Signal Chain

An important decision to make with any kind of processing is where you’re placing your plug-ins in relation to one another. For instance, if you aggressively distort a sound and then EQ it, you’re going to get a different sound than what you would get if you EQ’d the sound before distorting it.

Using Multi-Band Compression After EQ, but Before Compression and Limiting

In the case of multi-band compression on your master buss, consider placing your multi-band compressor before your main master buss compressor. Additionally, you can experiment with placing it before or after your EQ, but whether you’ll hear a difference or not depends on how much work your EQ and multi-band compressor are doing.

Why do we suggest putting your multi-band compressor before your main master buss compressor? The reasoning behind this is that your multi-band compression may be taming transients and other peaks that are poking out of the mix too much. If this is the case, your master buss compressor, and master limiter will have a much easier time processing your mix after you’ve reigned in those dynamic inconsistencies.

Balance is Everything

A multi-band compressor on a master buss can reveal problems in the overall mix. If significantly more compression, as shown by the gain reduction meters, is occurring at certain spots during playback, isolate the source(s) of those issues. Maybe some individual track adjustment is required.

For example, if your entire mix has a slight amount of low-mid buildup that you find is coming from one source, such as a bass guitar, then adjusting that track individually before further dialing in your multi-band compressor is a good plan.

A Little Goes a Long Way

The most important takeaway from this post, as well as any of our other posts related to master buss processing, is that a little goes a long way. That’s why you’ll often see mastering engineers making EQ boosts or cuts of less than 2 dB and compressing with as little as 1 dB of gain reduction.

Making Small Moves on a Multi-Band Compressor

It makes a lot of sense that their moves are so small! After all, mastering engineers are affecting every element of a mix at once. That means that every move they make can significantly affect the overall vibe of the mix, even when they aren’t even making big changes.

If it sounds good then it is good, so don’t let us tell you what you can and can’t do! If you find that boosting 10 dB of 8 kHz on your master buss makes your mix sound a lot better, go for it! Does a multi-band compressor doing 12 dB of gain reduction in your low-end and low-mids make your mix sound better? No problem with that either, there are no rules!

The McDSP MC2000 Multi-Band Compressor Plug-In

If you’re looking for a great multi-band compressor that you can use on your master buss, look no further than the McDSP MC2000 Multi-Band Compressor plug-in!

The McDSP MC2000 Multi-Band Compressor Plug-In

The MC2000 is a high-end multi-band compressor plug-in that’s designed to emulate the sound of both vintage and modern compressors. It features a morphing knee control for morphing between famous compression curves, as well as a BITE (Bi-Directional Transient Enhancement) control for allowing parts of your source’s high-end to bypass the compression circuit.

Not only does the MC2000 sound great, but it can also integrate perfectly into any workflow! Use the Master control linking button to proportionately link and adjust parameters across multiple bands at once. Choose from the plug-in’s three available configurations (MC202 two-band, MC303 three-band, or MC404 four-band compression) to maximize efficiency.

Want to check out the MC2000 for yourself? Try out a free 14-day, fully functional MC2000 Multi-Band Compressor trial here.

As always, we hope you learned something new! Be sure to sign up for our newsletter below to stay up to date on all things McDSP. We’ll see you next time!