How To Use EQ, Compression and Saturation on the Master Bus
There are multiple ways to start mixing and start balancing, but a great way to begin is to simply listen to the song and listen to what you hear with all faders up.
That way you notice immediately if anything is too loud or too quiet.
As you’re listening you can also watch the waveforms in the arrangement window so you can see the overall loudness of the tracks. Doing that helps you notice tracks that might be very important but are too low in level compared to the other tracks.
Getting a Static Fader Mix
When I do an initial balance I like to move all the faders down a few dB under unity gain so there’s more headroom to work with.
If certain tracks are too quiet or loud I can adjust the volume of each track without overloading the channels themselves and clipping the faders. You don’t want to be pushing the fader of one track all the way up when you can just lower the louder channels in comparison.
From there you simply massage the faders in place.
Don’t worry about the balance being absolutely perfect right away. You might find that certain instruments are too loud in the chorus compared to the verses, or vice versa.
Or maybe the vocal is very dynamic and you just can’t seem to find the right spot for it.
Don’t worry too much about that during the initial balance.
From Fader Mix to Top-Down Mix
Top-down mixing is when you start mixing your songs with plug-ins on the master fader.
After you’ve got a good static mix going, you’ll start by adding EQ, compression and other plug-ins that give your mix color (such as analog summing plug-ins or mild tape saturation).
It’s actually a great way of starting your mix because you’ll immediately get some big wins from tightening up your mix with compression, tweaking the overall EQ response and adding some secret sauce with saturation.
I’ve created a quick video for you to show you done.
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