Old 10-11-2019, 10:58 PM   #121
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[*]You can make adjustments to your recordings right on the timeline in Reaper, for example you could select just the first few notes of a chorus that are too quiet and bump them up. People working with tape didn't have the luxury of being able to "look" at the result and make edits - so compression was a brute force way to make sure everything sat it where it needed to - not too loud and not too quiet.
That's what I was trying to describe earlier. Or - being able to just see the waveforms on the timeline - you see that you only have 1 or 2 largish peaks that you don't consider part of any natural dynamic range and want to zap. Instead of vetting compressor settings to not detect where it doesn't need to and dull anything - that kind of shit - you just adjust those spot peaks and then bump the whole section up.

This is in no way any kind of snobby "I'm too good for compressors" bs! Perhaps this scenario is what OP was thinking about too? I like compression. Sometimes you need to squash something and then make a parallel track of it, high pass that, and squash that even more and mix it back in. Then subgroup all that and put a compressor on the bus. Then a limiter at the end. But other times you just need to catch a couple spots and then simply turn the gain up.
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Old 10-12-2019, 05:12 AM   #122
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Yeah, I have nothing against compression, I just have never had good results with it as far as taming bass and vocals that are too dynamic or even gluing my mix together.

I get way more better results with either the tri leveler Plug-In or by automating the volume and with regards to gluing the track, the gullfoss plugin is better than anything I've ever heard with the easiest interface ever. So I have nothing against compression but in spite of understanding all of the parameters about how attack, response, threshold, knee, etc... work I just don't hear what I'm looking for after using it typically.
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Old 10-12-2019, 05:15 AM   #123
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Yeah, I have nothing against compression, I just have never had good results with it as far as taming bass and vocals that are too dynamic or even gluing my mix together.

I get way more better results with either the tri leveler Plug-In or by automating the volume and with regards to gluing the track, the gullfoss plugin is better than anything I've ever heard with the easiest interface ever. So I have nothing against compression but in spite of understanding all of the parameters about how attack, response, threshold, knee, etc... work I just don't hear what I'm looking for after using it typically.
Tri-leveller is 3 stages of compression, so maybe you like compression more than you think?

Putting a few compressors in series is a common trick. 1176 to catch peaks and LA-2A to shape broader dynamics being the classic.
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Old 10-12-2019, 05:50 AM   #124
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Tri-leveller is 3 stages of compression, so maybe you like compression more than you think?

Putting a few compressors in series is a common trick. 1176 to catch peaks and LA-2A to shape broader dynamics being the classic.
The Bruce swedien techniques are generally about preserving lots of transients and dynamics. The Off The Wall album and Thriller album are fantastic examples for me of the kind of liveliness I like to get in a mix. If a compressor does it for me I'm happy to use it. I will use any tool that gets the job done but in the past compressors have not done it for me.

I have no doubt it's due to a lack of knowledge and skill about how their Voodoo works but for me being able to drag one slider in the tri leveler and have it do exactly what I want is extremely useful so I use it. The same with volume automation. It's very easy for me to loop over a section and run latch or touch Automation and get exactly what I want and then snap it back into read mode and be done with it. I will use any tool if it does what I need but I have tried the entire range of compressor plugins but none of them have become a tool I regularly use.
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Old 10-12-2019, 05:59 AM   #125
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The Bruce swedien techniques are generally about preserving lots of transients and dynamics. The Off The Wall album and Thriller album are fantastic examples for me of the kind of liveliness I like to get in a mix. If a compressor does it for me I'm happy to use it. I will use any tool that gets the job done but in the past compressors have not done it for me.

I have no doubt it's due to a lack of knowledge and skill about how their Voodoo works but for me being able to drag one slider in the tri leveler and have it do exactly what I want is extremely useful so I use it. The same with volume automation. It's very easy for me to loop over a section and run latch or touch Automation and get exactly what I want and then snap it back into read mode and be done with it. I will use any tool if it does what I need but I have tried the entire range of compressor plugins but none of them have become a tool I regularly use.
Hey, if you've got tools that work for you, then there's no reason to try and hammer a square peg into a round hole. Run with it and make music.

There are plenty of top class engineers who disagree vehemently about microphones, preamps, compressors, techniques etc. etc. There are no definitive right or wrong ways of going about mixing.
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Old 10-12-2019, 06:03 AM   #126
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...and there is definitely something to be said for the "less is more" approach.

Lord knows how many times I've had a great sounding static balance with a touch of EQ and compression, then lost myself down a rabbit hole of processing only to come out the other side and realise I've just made it sound like shit.
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Old 10-12-2019, 06:10 AM   #127
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...and there is definitely something to be said for the "less is more" approach.

Lord knows how many times I've had a great sounding static balance with a touch of EQ and compression, then lost myself down a rabbit hole of processing only to come out the other side and realise I've just made it sound like shit.
lol I used to do that many years ago when I used to smoke weed - I'd have a decent song recorded and decide, after a hit or two, I was going to have a big mix session. Was incredibly enjoyable but didn't improve the track.
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Old 10-12-2019, 06:22 AM   #128
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Lord knows how many times I've had a great sounding static balance with a touch of EQ and compression, then lost myself down a rabbit hole of processing only to come out the other side and realise I've just made it sound like shit.
You know I did that not long ago, 4 hours later I was totally upset as to the time wasted and destruction I had done with tweak after tweak after tweak - I decided to render the result and compare it to the render from the night before... Couldn't really tell which was which.
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Old 10-12-2019, 06:37 AM   #129
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Some Engineers use a speaker as a microphone for a kick drum. And wasn't it the Van Halen albums or one of them where the whole drum set was miced with sm57s? And let's not forget

"BILLIE JEAN” WAS MIXED 91 TIMES.
Quincy Jones then requested, "'Let's go back and listen to mix number two,'" recording engineer Bruce Swedien said. "And we did, and it blew us all away! I had overmixed that song right into the pooper, so the mix that went onto the record was mix number two."
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Old 10-12-2019, 06:43 AM   #130
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Some Engineers use a speaker as a microphone for a kick drum.
Most.

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"BILLIE JEAN” WAS MIXED 91 TIMES.
Quincy Jones then requested, "'Let's go back and listen to mix number two,'" recording engineer Bruce Swedien said. "And we did, and it blew us all away! I had overmixed that song right into the pooper, so the mix that went onto the record was mix number two."
It might make for a romantic story and fun to imagine the magic of it all...

but if a week later someone shuffled the order of the mixes and gave them to Quincy and said "pick out that number 2 mix" - would he be able to pick it out? I very much doubt it.
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Old 10-12-2019, 06:50 AM   #131
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Most.



It might make for a romantic story and fun to imagine the magic of it all...

but if a week later someone shuffled the order of the mixes and gave them to Quincy and said "pick out that number 2 mix" - would he be able to pick it out? I very much doubt it.
Maybe maybe not. Those dudes have pretty amazing ears but I definitely see your point. Sometimes it's just one thing that's sticking out in a mix
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Old 10-12-2019, 07:22 AM   #132
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Maybe maybe not. Those dudes have pretty amazing ears but I definitely see your point. Sometimes it's just one thing that's sticking out in a mix
It's practically a ubiquitous phenomenon in the audio world - some top mixer will say they sat and compared AD converters and found that some expensive model genuinely was the best. Then people go "wow that's some golden ears".

All that means is that while they were comparing, they thought they were hearing one sounding better.

If they then did a double blind test and were actually able to pick that same converter out then that's proof that it is actually better.

It's almost never the case though, people seem to generally believe that what they think they're hearing is what's actually coming out of the system.
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Old 10-12-2019, 07:39 AM   #133
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It's also not always bias. As many times I've done what I described above and it was obviously different - it can be as bad to assume almost everything is perception bias and little isn't.
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Old 10-12-2019, 08:26 AM   #134
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It's also not always bias. As many times I've done what I described above and it was obviously different - it can be as bad to assume almost everything is perception bias and little isn't.
How is that as bad? Surely no one just always assumes every audible difference is always just bias, do they?

I suppose it depends what you're doing with the assumption. If you listen to 2 pieces of gear, for example, and one clearly seems better but you decide to go for the cheaper option because you assume it can only be bias. In that situation you could be doing yourself out of a better sound.

On the other hand, someone who is unaware of the limits of perception and believes that the one that seemed better must actually be better could be wasting a lot of money on something that turned out to be no better in reality.

Going back to the example of Quincy believing one certain mix was the best - the only downside would be a tiny bit longer studio time in recalling that mix but it's almost nothing compared to the budgets involved in that record.

That's how the top guys' success isn't hindered despite them having the same biases as the rest of us - it doesn't matter whether that subtle bit of tape saturation is really audibly better or not (for example), it wouldn't affect the sales of the record, wouldn't affect the producer's decision to okay the mix etc.

So people think "he's so successful, if he thinks this subtle processing makes a difference he must be right" it's really just that it has no effect on his success. It might have an effect on an amateur who spends a lot of money trying to copy it though - it's the amateur who's really affected by whether or not it made a difference.
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Old 10-12-2019, 08:47 AM   #135
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I disagree. One of Quincy Jones many talents along with Bruce sSedien are their great mixing skills. Every little bit can change the trickle-down to the public. Maybe a different mix would have changed the popularity of the song or maybe it wouldn't but we will never know. But every step of the way it's the accumulation of the talents of these guys that bring the end result and to leave any step out as unimportant I think is incorrect.
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Old 10-12-2019, 08:53 AM   #136
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I disagree. One of Quincy Jones many talents along with Bruce sSedien are their great mixing skills. Every little bit can change the trickle-down to the public. Maybe a different mix would have changed the popularity of the song or maybe it wouldn't but we will never know. But every step of the way it's the accumulation of the talents of these guys that bring the end result and to leave any step out as unimportant I think is incorrect.
Let's just say it's a modern day hit (as I don't know much about the gear or methods used on this) that's just as big a hit. Bruno Mars or something.

Do you think something like the mixer adding a tiny bit of tape emulation or using a Neve pre over an API pre to power the vocal mic could possibly affect how the song is taken by the public?
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Old 10-12-2019, 08:56 AM   #137
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Surely no one just always assumes every audible difference is always just bias, do they?
Maybe I mistook your statement...

Quote:
"It's almost never the case though, people seem to generally believe that what they think they're hearing is what's actually coming out of the system."

Being an audiophile thinking magic rocks improve the sound is bad because it is inaccurate assumption, assuming most everything anyone mentions about subtlety as if they were biased is also bad because both are making assumptions. You may not be saying that but I wanted to be clear because the rightful audiophile backlash sometimes bleeds into legitimate things unintentionally.

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So people think "he's so successful, if he thinks this subtle processing makes a difference he must be right" it's really just that it has no effect on his success. It might have an effect on an amateur who spends a lot of money trying to copy it though - it's the amateur who's really affected by whether or not it made a difference.
Maybe he/she is successful because they pay attention to thousands of subtleties and those add up to a successful result unique to them. I've always thought isolating some single thing and trying to argue that thing didn't make them successful, and is thusly irrelevant to the whole was shortsighted.
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Old 10-12-2019, 09:20 AM   #138
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Let's just say it's a modern day hit (as I don't know much about the gear or methods used on this) that's just as big a hit. Bruno Mars or something.

Do you think something like the mixer adding a tiny bit of tape emulation or using a Neve pre over an API pre to power the vocal mic could possibly affect how the song is taken by the public?
I agree it would not make any difference but I don't know how different the mixes were in the Michael Jackson sessions. They may have had a totally different drum set. I simply don't know
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Old 10-12-2019, 09:26 AM   #139
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I agree it would not make any difference but I don't know how different the mixes were in the Michael Jackson sessions. They may have had a totally different drum set. I simply don't know
But if they recalled mix 2 and liked it better, that can absolutely be true and valid and not require debates about minutia to be true. Not only that but I think many of us who have done this for decades are comfortable with the idea, 200 tries in can often be not as good as try #2.
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Old 10-12-2019, 09:35 AM   #140
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The quality of the recording is but one aspect of recorded music, and music is the more important of the two. I'd rather listen to a sub-par recording with a great song vs the other way around. I don't think this has any compression, and David Crosby borrowed the hook to stick right in front of Long Time Gone.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-vdDGV_6Ueo
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Old 10-12-2019, 09:44 AM   #141
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Production/sonic presentation vs songwriting/performance should typically be kept separate because people will conflate them and miss the point. I know of some GREAT songs that sonically sound very shitty and vice versa - so, if I'm discussing sonics, how good the song is, is irrelevant except...

Well played, well written, well orchestrated is often sonically better.
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Old 10-12-2019, 09:58 AM   #142
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Maybe I mistook your statement...


Being an audiophile thinking magic rocks improve the sound is bad because it is inaccurate assumption, assuming most everything anyone mentions about subtlety as if they were biased is also bad because both are making assumptions. You may not be saying that but I wanted to be clear because the rightful audiophile backlash sometimes bleeds into legitimate things unintentionally.



Maybe he/she is successful because they pay attention to thousands of subtleties and those add up to a successful result unique to them. I've always thought isolating some single thing and trying to argue that thing didn't make them successful, and is thusly irrelevant to the whole was shortsighted.
I'm not saying to assume the difference isn't there, I'm saying be aware that it's quite possibly not so take the statement with a pinch of salt.

I genuinely believe that hit records are liked by the public for the song and performance and nothing to do with any of the subtle audio treatments.

I'm not saying I don't care about them or that anyone else making music shouldn't, just that most people don't.
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Old 10-12-2019, 09:59 AM   #143
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Production/sonic presentation vs songwriting/performance should typically be kept separate because people will conflate them and miss the point. I know of some GREAT songs that sonically sound very shitty and vice versa - so, if I'm discussing sonics, how good the song is, is irrelevant except...

Well played, well written, well orchestrated is often sonically better.
I think what I was getting at was earlier someone posted that a great song with a great production audio would be received by the public equally with or without some single item or technique.
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Old 10-12-2019, 08:33 PM   #144
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Production/sonic presentation vs songwriting/performance should typically be kept separate because people will conflate them and miss the point. I know of some GREAT songs that sonically sound very shitty and vice versa - so, if I'm discussing sonics, how good the song is, is irrelevant except...

Well played, well written, well orchestrated is often sonically better.
Hear, hear! Differentiating each instrument in the sonic palate BEFORE you start mixing makes a tremendous difference in the end product. When it all boils down, EQ and compression are destrictive processes. Trying to "force" a bunch of poorly-recorded, poorly-performed, sonically-inferior instruments living in the same spectral range, while doable, will inevitably lead to a phasey, disjointed mess. Take the same song, well played, with an arrangement that makes a hole for each instrument, and it will practically mix itself, and preserve the intention of the artist in the process.

Quote:
I think what I was getting at was earlier someone posted that a great song with a great production audio would be received by the public equally with or without some single item or technique.
Yes, and no. It still has to conform to the general paradigms of the genre that it lives in. Take a smash hip-hop track, filter all information below 200Hz, and see how many punters wind up dancing to it in "da club." Or take a death-metal track and re-record the guitars with ES335's clean, and see how much headbanging happens.

Whether we (as engineers or engineer/producers) like it or not, there are certain genre-specific "standards" that we have to meet. That's not to say that we can't experiment with pushing the boundaries, but if the song/genre calls for a specific technique or piece of hardware (or software emulation), then we would be remiss in refusing to use it because it offends our sensibilities in some fashion. Specifically, with the compression discussion, if you're working on a hip-hop track, and DON'T compress the living hell out of the bass synths, you'll get no level on the final, and no bass energy means no moving hips, and THAT translates to "failure." Now that's not to say that you can't avoid compression the snare sample, or skip limiting the hi-hat track, as long as it fits within the context of the song. That's also not to say that you can't apply your individual "style" to a mix, either, but if you want to be successful, there are those broad strokes that you need to paint first, before you start filling in the details with your "signature" colour.

I mentioned Chris Lord-Alge previously in this thread, and while I may not particularly care for his "signature" guitar sound, when you listen to one of his mixes, you can immediately identify it as a mainstream (rock/alt-rock/modern-country/etc) song, and you can as easily tell that yes, CLA mixed it. By any possible standard, he is successful.

To me, all the tricks, techniques, applications of hardware/software, etc., are just tools in your box. Some you reach for more often than others, but as the saying goes, if the only tool you have is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail.

The approach that I take to any clean-sheet mix project (like this month's Reaper Contest) is to load it up, drop all the faders down to around -15dB to avoid overloading the mix buss, and then hit play and just listen. Get a feel for the song, the structure, and what elements are supporting and which are accentuating. Then, start fixing what pisses you off. If a track is jumping in and out of the mix, slap a comp on it, and get it settled. If there's too much low-mid on something, EQ it. After 5-6 passes through the song, you should have a reasonable static mix happening, and you only used what tricks/techniques/tools you had to. THEN you can start really refining the mix. Maybe tighten up or loosen up the compression you applied earlier, apply more or different EQ to things, start adding effects. Then, start automating to put the final touches on. As a process, that works for me, but it's all subservient to the song, and the material you have to work with. If the drums were poorly recorded or poorly performed, then that just means more work to get the end result that is needed for the song. If anybody want to really gain a solid understanding of a particular mix technique or tool, the best thing to do is to experiment with it on tracks both in AND out of your comfort zone. If you normally mix acoustic jazz, and HATE what compression does to your drum sounds, try mixing a death-metal track just to see what you can and can't accomplish with drum compression. Or if you're a rock guy, try mixing a hip-hop track where all of your drumkit tricks are useless. Get out of your normal paradigm, where something "has to sound a particular way." You might just find a trick that inspires you in some way and improves you in your normal genre...
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Old 10-13-2019, 12:58 AM   #145
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Hear, hear! Differentiating each instrument in the sonic palate BEFORE you start mixing makes a tremendous difference in the end product. When it all boils down, EQ and compression are destrictive processes. Trying to "force" a bunch of poorly-recorded, poorly-performed, sonically-inferior instruments living in the same spectral range, while doable, will inevitably lead to a phasey, disjointed mess. Take the same song, well played, with an arrangement that makes a hole for each instrument, and it will practically mix itself, and preserve the intention of the artist in the process.
That's what I'm usually preachin'.
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Old 10-13-2019, 01:00 AM   #146
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I have not taken a soundbite to heart. I have simply listened to music everyday for over 45 years and to my ears, "Off the Wall" and "Thriller" are two of the best sounding albums ever. I also put up the Mutt Lang produced Shania Twain albums, The Corrs (In Blue) and AC/DC.

The sound on the Bruce Swedien / Michael Jackson albums has bass, highs and dynamics unmatched on other albums to my ears. So it's not the interview that has me so interested but the end result albums. They sound better than anything else I have ever heard.

I'm just going to point out that some of the credit you are giving to Bruce Swedien absolutely should go to Bernie Grundman.

While he has had plenty of good things to say about Swedien's work, you are kidding yourself if you think that Grundman's know-how wasn't a big part of how that record(well, records) wound up sounding.
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Old 10-13-2019, 06:15 AM   #147
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I'm just going to point out that some of the credit you are giving to Bruce Swedien absolutely should go to Bernie Grundman.

While he has had plenty of good things to say about Swedien's work, you are kidding yourself if you think that Grundman's know-how wasn't a big part of how that record(well, records) wound up sounding.
Bernie says he didn't have to do much to thriller because is so good at anticipating his needs.

https://youtu.be/74-ljoqf-Po at 40 second mark
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Old Yesterday, 09:57 AM   #148
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Iirc Swedien only mentiones he doesn't use compression on the 2nd buss, I believe that there's compression on the individual channels plus there's tape compression that you should take into account as well
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Old Yesterday, 10:16 AM   #149
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Bruce Swedien is a fantastic mixer, and has a fantastic client roster including Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, and of course, Michael Jackson. Also of note, David Hasselhoff, as well.... ;-)

And yes, he hates compression. When you command the kind of $$ he did, you can certainly take the time to automate everything, and probably hire an assistant to get the rough done, allowing him to breeze in and put the final touches on the automation moves.

On the other side of the coin, we have somebody that LOVES compression. Chris Lord-Alge. HIS client roster is a virtual who's-who in the rock, pop and modern country genres, and he's well known for compressing everything in sight, and quite heavily at that, yet his mixes still move, breathe and pop.

Philosophically, compression is simply a tool, and in the end "if it sounds good, then it is good," no matter how you got there.

Practically, compression CAN be used for overall leveling (after all a leveling amp, like a Summit TLA-100, is really a compressor), it can ALSO be used to manipulate the envelope of a given instrument. Want more attack on a kick, but don't want to just peg the HF EQ? A comp with a medium-slow attack will do the trick. It won't (necessarily) increase the level of the kick, but it will allow the initial transient to poke out, and smack down the sustained body of the kick sound. Also, please note that Bruce worked primarily in the jazz genre, with Thriller being one of the few "rock records" in his discography. CLA, on the other hand, works in genres that lend themselves to the use of compression as an effect. He's not trying to maintain the purity of sound of an upright bass, he's got a 22-year old rock star in the booth banging away at a P-bass using a quarter for a pick...

As a purist, it's cool to say that "I don't use compression, I do automation instead!" That's all to the good, and I personally would salute anybody with that amount of patience (or an assistant engineer) who can sit down and automate the envelopes on a kick track of a 4-minute pop song. Personally, I'll just grab a comp and do essentially the same thing, only 200 times faster. From a pedagogical standpoint, I would advocate working on both, and see the benefits and drawbacks of each approach, to let you make an informed decision.

Then, we can get into the esoteric discussion of compressors as effects, rather than "engineering assistants." There is a "mojo" that comes from an LA-2A, and it's impossible to replicate any other way. Refusing to use it because it's a compressor and "I don't use compressors" simply takes a tool out of your box, and that's never a good thing. It may not be something you reach for often, or by default, but refusing to use it on principle is foolish.

Now, if you compress for effect, either for coloration or envelope control/modification, and then get down to phrase- and syllable-level automation as well, you might just have the best of both worlds.
Thanks for saving me from writing "essentially" the same thing. You're my compressor.

I fall more into the TLA camp. I was lucky enough to have him mix some stuff I did and he's such a generous guy that he told me all the settings he used. I played around with them but still went back to what I typically use.

Point is, we're all aiming at different targets. None of this stuff should get tribal or competitive. It's art. Create. Stop comparing tools as if a hammer is "better" than a screw-driver. Find what YOU like and do that for YOU.

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Old Yesterday, 01:15 PM   #150
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As one of those who doesn't really "hear" compression and therefore I have no idea where it's appropriate, never mind in what quantities and with what settings, this whole thread has been quite informative and interesting. I appreciate everyone's input.
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Old Yesterday, 01:18 PM   #151
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Iirc Swedien only mentiones he doesn't use compression on the 2nd buss, I believe that there's compression on the individual channels plus there's tape compression that you should take into account as well
Citation needed
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Old Yesterday, 02:19 PM   #152
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Citation needed
I interpreted what he says here, he doesn't mix with into a compressor and doesn't like an over compressed sound

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/q-a-...sion-kids.html

Then again, my masters never go below -6 RMS
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Old Yesterday, 02:26 PM   #153
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Also check this thread, there's a 1176, la2a and a dbx 160 in there

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/q-a-...-gear-mix.html
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Old Yesterday, 02:33 PM   #154
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I interpreted what he says here, he doesn't mix with into a compressor and doesn't like an over compressed sound

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/q-a-...sion-kids.html

Then again, my masters never go below -6 RMS
Yeah, he doesn't like to compress acoustic instruments during recording and he doesn't like over-compression.

In the article I posted he named two compressors he uses, so we know that he does.
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Old Yesterday, 09:18 PM   #155
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Fok me, anyone thought of just using their ears here?
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Old Today, 05:25 AM   #156
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Fok me, anyone thought of just using their ears here?
That's all I use. Everything else is a black box to me and either makes things sound better or worse. YouTube is still riddled with lousy videos though where the plug-in bypass is much quieter than when the plug-in is engaged making analysis of the plug-in next to impossible and making the videos all but useless
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Old Today, 05:44 AM   #157
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Fok me, anyone thought of just using their ears here?
I tried to use my ears but they keep folding when I push up the fader.
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Old Today, 06:57 AM   #158
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I tried to use my ears but they keep folding when I push up the fader.
I see the problem. You only have one ear and it seems you're standing on your head
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Old Today, 07:00 AM   #159
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I see the problem. You only have one ear and it seems you're standing on your head
Compression that makes it appear that way.
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