The Case For Mixing With EQ And Compression On Your Mix Buss

| Audio Example, Mixing, Plugins, Tips, Video

If there were a way to get a better mix in less time, with less effort, all while boosting your confidence, would you be interested?

You better believe you would! And yet so many people still don’t take advantage of this powerful and simple concept.

By simply beginning each mix with an EQ and compressor on your mix buss (and mixing through them) you can dramatically take your flat mix to the next level in minutes and set the rest of your mix up for success.

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53 Responses to “The Case For Mixing With EQ And Compression On Your Mix Buss”

  1. Luke from the UK

    Hi Graham,

    Thanks for another amazing video. If you’re adding a HPF on the mix bus – would you typically also add a HPF to all the individual tracks after (maybe excluding the bass frequency instruments)?

    At the end of the month I’ll be joining your Dualling Mixes course – can’t wait! 🙂

    Reply
    • Travis

      You should still add HPF to the instruments that don’t need low frequencies because you need to make space for the ones that do. This is just a HPF for the mix as a whole.

      Reply
  2. Adam Snyder

    Great advice Graham! Very simple indeed – this really does work, I’ve done this with music and sound design – very effective and helpful. Thanks for this!

    Reply
  3. Casey

    I have never used mix bus compression or EQ during any mix, but my understanding is that you should either not do it at all, or do it at the very beginning of the mix and always have it on, because it’s affecting every decision you make subsequently in the mix, so I think that’s important to emphasize. I appreciate your perspective and also telling people to be subtle with it. Since I also do a lot of mastering my personal feeling about bus processing is this – I so often get mixes that are too smashed and too hyped to begin with, so that I often end up actually having to try and undo what people have done to their mixes. From the perspective of a mastering engineer between having people over-compress and over-EQ on the mix bus or do nothing at all, I would take the second option! If you’re going to do it, I think it’s a good guideline as Graham is saying that you shouldn’t so much “hear” the effects as “feel” them.

    Reply
    • Tom Lukas

      Thank you for re-emphasizing the importance of using mix-bus EQ/Compression sparingly. I’m afraid that when some technique proves to make an improvement to the mix I tend to overuse it and ruin what was working in the first place.

      It seems like tweaking a mix is a bit (loose analogy) like tuning a guitar. Hearing when to stop when it’s tuned is the goal. Granted, mixing is a bigger challenge than tuning a guitar but it still comes down to hearing when it’s right.

      Reply
      • sleeyo

        ,,,hi there,,I liked your thought but there’s just one thing,,,,lf you haven’t got a tuner it won’t be easier at all tuning a guitar ,, you gotta have a trained ear,,,,so your analogy is not right but true,,I Had never thought about that,,and I liked it,,,that’s why I took the time to reply,,,peace yall

        Reply
  4. Douglas M

    Yo Graham,

    Hi dee ho…as always great stuff my friend! I’ve been using the mix bus eq/compression trick for years on analog and in the digital world. It’s a lot of fun and gives you a better picture of the overall project sound. Thank you. God Bless!

    🙂

    Reply
  5. BigFuzzz™

    I’ve watched you become great,… awesome advise, been doing it with analog gear for over 20+ years. #salute

    Reply
  6. Nathan Iversen

    Totally. Klangelm MJUC practically lives on my 2buss. That Red Eq hangs out there frequently as well.

    Reply
    • Jerry M

      I can also endorse the Klanghelm MJUC – great software and super affordable! I would recommend to anyone to download the free version(s) to check them out! The pay version has 3 different vintage compressors and costs $26 US. You can’t touch that.

      Reply
  7. Errol

    I will try that on my next mix. I do use mix bus processing but I normally do it at the end of my mix.

    Reply
  8. marty

    Hi Graham,

    I appreciate all of your great coaching, I have learned and continue to learn a lot from your videos. This video and your most recent one – (what stands out in your mix that needs to be fixed) reminded me of a couple of sayings that go very well with mixing I think. 1) The first is something I first heard from (forgive me) Donald Trump who asks himself this question while examining a deal – “What am I pretending not to see?”. I think it is a brilliant question and probably wasn’t something Trump came up with, but it can be applied to anything. What I would suggest, is if we ask, “What am I pretending not to hear?” in the mix, then you can open up the whole mix for a truthful examination. 2) The second saying, also stolen from the business world can easily be applied to mixing and factors affecting productivity – “Better” is the mortal enemy of “good enough.” This is the reason I don’t get enough of my stuff published – too much endless tweaking.

    Hope you like these!

    marty

    Reply
    • Jerry M

      I would also balance that thought with ” Good is the mortal enemy of GREAT”.

      Reply
  9. Joe

    What are the names of the top engineers who put eq and compression on the mix bus from the start of each mix?

    Reply
  10. Norm Wolff

    I have been using this method for awhile now with pretty good results. However I’m never sure if it’s better to put the EQ before or after the light compression? When I do live sound usually the compression goes before the EQ in the chain and faster attack and slower release seems more desirable.
    Also, if a limiter is used on the mix bus (like Pro Tools Maxim for example) to help get the volume up to radio levels without clipping peaks. I presume it tends to go last in the plug-in chain? I welcome your thoughts.

    Reply
    • Nathan Iversen

      I usually put the eq after the compressor. Mostly to give a little of the treble back with a high shelf boost of 1-1.5db.

      Reply
  11. chuck thomas

    you are SO helpful! thank you so much brother for sharing your knowledge in a way lay people can understand! I would have NEVER figured out that Sapphire Pro40 without your incredible tutorial. Blessings to you and yours!

    Reply
  12. Sean Charteris

    Hello Graham, This is a fantastic video! I love videos such as these where I have to close my eyes, scrunch up my face, and put all my effort into hearing the finest details of how each element of the song changes. “What does the EQ do to the snare, what does it do to the vocal…?” I ask myself. “How does compression affect the interplay between the vocal and the guitars and the drums?” So many things to listen for. So much fun. Your videos are outstanding!

    Reply
  13. John Miker

    By any chance do you put a convolution reverb on the master bus with just a hint of reverb (Seriously, a super small amount) so the mix sounds like it was all recorded in the same room. That can add another level of polish to the entire mix before you jump right into the individual tracks.
    The Softube S73 is a multiband compressor “Mastering Processor” is what I’ve been mixing into recently (It’s only been out for a few weeks). Two in series actually, one for gently comp and one to add air and widen the entire mix a little.

    Reply
  14. Steve Fleming

    Hi Graham
    Great stuff, I’ve normally tweeted as I went, also got bogged down with plug ins, another lesson I’ve learnt from you, Is. (keep it simple)
    Thanks I’m doing one of your modules ATM, RE THink mixing…..cool
    So keep it rolling mate.
    Steve…..UK

    Reply
  15. Frank

    I would love to see another video like this one on mixing acoustic guitar. I record solo acoustic guitar and could use help with compression.

    Reply
  16. Rick Lear

    I learn something from every video Graham ! Good musicianship is one thing,… having the studio chops to back it up is another ! Thanks for all the years of passing on those skills ! Peace !

    Reply
  17. BustaBrowne

    I use this idea, but a different method! I use a SSL Mix buss compressor and make sure that needle jumps very little. For EQ I use izotope ozone and use the matching option to match the eq of the song I am referencing. It definitely glued everything together! Graham is right on this one! I just started using a eq with the compressor last year!

    Reply
  18. Leandro

    Hello Graham! tahnks a lot my friend. I’ve never done this before, now my mix sounds better even more fast by this tecnic! God bless you man.

    Reply
  19. The C.O.E.

    Subtle?

    Even on a cheap headset I can hear a tremendous improvement.

    Gotta copy and paste this trick during my next mixing session.

    Thanks, mate!

    Greetz from Germany,
    Sven

    Reply
  20. raul

    I’ve been following Graham for about 3 years now. I think he is best at callenging the status quo of mixing you hear elsewhere…simple things, affordable, mindset. 10/10.

    Reply
  21. Forde Tapsell

    The EQ you used wrecked the top frequencies. You either need new ears or new monitors, I suspect you need new monitors, not new ears. The same problem keeps manifesting itself every time you use the high-frequency EQ as a demo to us.
    In this track, after you added the EQ, the top-end got clicky and poppy, kink kink kinky, sticking-out, popping metallic kink kink kink, wrecked the mix. Maybe adjust the frequency-band to 5000kHz instead. Stop being so obsessed with the top-end, it doesn’t have to sound bright, trust me, that’s just brainwashed new-wave modern mentality. All the songs from the 70s and 80s weren’t obsessed with brightness, and those songs ‘always’ sounded good, feel me? Bright is good, but as long as it’s mostly smooth ‘air’ and with a slight juicy treble, not a harsh metallic popping bite. I’ve got super neutral monitors, I can hear accurately every change you make. If 5000kHz doesn’t work, then try 12000kHz to just find the ‘air’, just to get that air without the metallic pop pop popping metallic high-frequency-tone, ugly pop/kink, not the figurative “Pop” we refer to when saying it’s got pop, that’s different. You’ll have trouble getting air if you keep oversaturating the mix too, dial-back the amount of saturation from tape and Tube emulation, keep it translucent warm, not oversaturated warm.

    Cheers brother Graham.

    Jesus doesn’t oversaturate us, he keeps it translucent lol

    Warning to the atheists…

    1 John 2:23 “Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father” < the Father, the source of all life.

    1 John 3:36 " He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

    Luke 9:26 "For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels."

    Reply
  22. Edward Halterman

    Graham, I don’t know a lot about compressing a mix bus, but with that being said, I would rather Compress individual tracks and EQ where needed, but try to keep the mix free of Compression and EQ. It seems to me if you compress the mix bus and then the mastering engineer does it again and limits isn’t it then being squashed twice? I am just a novice, but to me, if you get it right at the source, you shouldn’t have to do to much… right? Than ks for all you do, I really appreciate it. Sorry I missed you and Joe when you were out here in California… I really wanted to go, but I had to work. Take care.

    Reply
    • Sam Sharples

      Edward,
      You have a valid concern, but a good mastering engineer will only compress a song as much as it needs to be compressed. So if it needs less compression because the mix engineer already applied some, no big deal. But if the mixbus compression is overdone or done incorrectly, that is when problems arise.
      Hope this helps.

      Reply
    • Mike

      As long as it’s not screwed-up I’m happy mastering mixes done with bus compression. If it was screwed-up, I’d ask you for a bypassed rendering and documentation of the compressor settings. When mastering I might add more compression but only if needed and even then would probably be applying it in different ways – the word compression covers an awful lot of techniques!

      Personally I mix through compression and sometimes EQ though I’d leave the presence boost and highs till mastering because detail enhancement affects the highs so I’d hate to have to apply cuts to offset an ill-advised mix-time boost. Every bit of processing subtly degrades the sound so avoidable processing makes me an unhappy mastering engineer.

      Reply
  23. KB

    I sort of agree with Forde Tapsell in this case. The 7K boost probably wasn’t necessary.

    But I use those 2 plugins, especially the compressor, not necessarily on the stereo bus.

    Reply
  24. Kevin

    I have never tried this before but I will try it today. Hopefully I get a great outcome from it.

    Reply
  25. Well AsCop

    I have so long always used a HP filter on the master bus while mixing, but avoided any further EQing and compression during the process in order to challenge me make my mixes sound as best as possible without any “mastering”. But I will definitely give it a shot! Thx for the tip!
    One question though: when u send ur mix to a mastering engineer, will u do this with or without EQ and compressor?

    Reply
  26. Rudy Maybell

    Hey Graham,

    Is this possible to achieve in Reason 8? I utilize the Master Buss Compressor that Propellerhead provides, however the EQ option of the master fader only allows one to see the graph, but not make subtle EQ adjustments.

    Reply

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