Old 01-22-2020, 02:05 PM   #1
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Default Glue Compressor?

What are glue compressors? Are they different from standard compressors, or is there something special about them? Or is it just the particular settings on a standard compressor that make it a glue compressor? TIA!
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Old 01-22-2020, 02:25 PM   #2
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One of the most popular 'glue compressors' is likely the SSL buss compressor. It's a VCA style comp. It's the behavior and response of music through the comp that makes it have the gluing sound. ReaComp can be used for this fairly well.

Try this link from Jon for an idea on this: https://reaperblog.net/2013/01/reaco...ressor-engine/

So is it the comp? not exactly, but certain compressors do have a good history of working well for gluing.

Settings along the lines of: 2-4:1 with a medium to slow attack and a fast to medium release can get you close. It's so program dependent though. I hate to throw out any numbers for fear of them being thought of a "truth". Do what works for your music. Have fun!
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Old 01-22-2020, 04:31 PM   #3
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Any compressor can be a "glue" compressor. If you compress your stereo mix, it starts moving everything together with the compression action,, and so "glues" the parts more.

The SSL bus compressor just became known as the "glue" because it was the first console with a bus compressor, so engineers started using it when mixing. That was not something usually done before then.
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Old 01-22-2020, 04:43 PM   #4
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Yeah it's just a compressor that's used on the master, usually around 0-2 dB of compression. Sometimes it's just on there and the needle barely moves but it still has an effect. I think the glue part comes from the fact that it makes all the attack envelopes more similar, this one is pretty good
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Old 01-22-2020, 05:12 PM   #5
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I think a glue compressor grabs the spectrum in a uniform pattern where some non "glue" compressors seem to grab lows or low mids way too much and kind of aren't great on a master buss in general. Obviously like said before...the SSL is the glue compressor everything is kind of based on but there are others that do it very well or better. I imagine the SSL being a VCA helps it being smoother too and doesn't add a lot of tube warmth and generally keeps it punchy. I think you can trial Cytomic's Glue compressor for a direct SSL type or get Kotelnikov for free which is supposed to be good for a master buss. Then you can compare it to the Cytomic which definitely is a good SSL type comp.
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Old 01-23-2020, 02:28 AM   #6
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I think a glue compressor grabs the spectrum in a uniform pattern where some non "glue" compressors seem to grab lows or low mids way too much and kind of aren't great on a master buss in general.
All compressors will be affected more by the higher-energy lows unless they have an internal side chain high-pass filter, no?
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Old 01-23-2020, 03:45 AM   #7
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My impression is some people just feel/experience certain types of compression as "glue" for some reason. I don't, and I don't find it a very useful term for describing compression. I like to think of livelyness contra smoothness, plus how the compressor affects transients, give them different qualities and such.
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Old 01-23-2020, 10:50 AM   #8
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I struck a comparison test on the web a couple of days ago.
The test was for Buss compressor vst's.
The grooviest sounds were made by the compressors which made the mix
gel friendly and had all the sounds in the mix ooze at the same rate.
These where in the minority.
Sorry I have not the web address no doubt "Buss vst compressor test" would get you there.

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Old 01-23-2020, 12:36 PM   #9
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Hmmm...AFAIK it's not "just a compressor." A normal compressor operates purely on the volume of the source (when input gets louder than x, output gets squashed at a fixed ratio). It doesn't care whether the peaks are high or low frequency, they get crushed if they exceed the threshold.

Whereas "glue" compressors have internally variable parameters which fluctuate in accordance with shifting frequency content and also tend to produce distortion, adding some "color."

But you could just as well use tape or a tape simulation to get a similar glue effect, since tape also compresses in a non-linear way.

Basically that's the difference I believe; glue compressors are non-linear, unlike traditional compressors, producing smoother dynamic response across the spectrum. No?
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Old 01-23-2020, 01:47 PM   #10
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I've always understood it to be the final "sheen" on a multi-tracked mix/master -- something that binds together all the elements. I think of it in a similar way to using a hall reverb relatively low down to "glue" the various instruments of virtual orchestra (each having their own reverb to give early reflections and place them on the stage).

Therefore, there's nothing special about "glue" compressors in my book at least. Simply a gentle use of mixbus compression (RMS vs peak, perhaps with low ratio and low-ish threshold) that fills in the cracks and adds a certain sense of cohesion. I'm talking 1-3 dB of reduction. Harrison's Mixbus is excellent at this without touching a single dial as each mixbus has tape saturation by default (plus any channel compression) feeding into the master bus which also has its own saturation (in addition to compressor/limiter etc).
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Old 01-23-2020, 02:36 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by foxAsteria View Post
Hmmm...AFAIK it's not "just a compressor." A normal compressor operates purely on the volume of the source (when input gets louder than x, output gets squashed at a fixed ratio). It doesn't care whether the peaks are high or low frequency, they get crushed if they exceed the threshold.

Whereas "glue" compressors have internally variable parameters which fluctuate in accordance with shifting frequency content and also tend to produce distortion, adding some "color."

But you could just as well use tape or a tape simulation to get a similar glue effect, since tape also compresses in a non-linear way.

Basically that's the difference I believe; glue compressors are non-linear, unlike traditional compressors, producing smoother dynamic response across the spectrum. No?
Um, I don't think so.

All compressors distort and are non-linear. Some have extra distortion from valves, transformers or whatever in the input and output stages.
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Old 01-23-2020, 02:39 PM   #12
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All compressors distort and are non-linear.
I assumed we were talking about plugins, which can be perfectly linear, yes?
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Old 01-23-2020, 02:52 PM   #13
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I assumed we were talking about plugins, which can be perfectly linear, yes?
No; dynamic range compression is a non-linear operation.
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Old 01-23-2020, 02:58 PM   #14
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Here's some maths I don't understand, along with some text that I do, to explain it: https://ccrma.stanford.edu/~jos/filt...mpression.html
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Old 01-23-2020, 03:02 PM   #15
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My impression is some people just feel/experience certain types of compression as "glue" for some reason. I don't, and I don't find it a very useful term for describing compression. I like to think of livelyness contra smoothness, plus how the compressor affects transients, give them different qualities and such.
Do you never find that compressing groups of tracks (or even all the tracks) together gives them a sense of cohesion?
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Old 01-23-2020, 07:03 PM   #16
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Do you never find that compressing groups of tracks (or even all the tracks) together gives them a sense of cohesion?
Bus compression is trash. I've never understood how anyone could like it. You're compressing, modulating the overall volume, of a group of signals based on the dynamics of the loudest element at the moment. That means the volume of elements that may be perfectly steady and need no compression get pushed down along with the whole. To the detriment of the mix. It's a silly premise.

Extreme example. Listen to the cymbals:


I think people who praise "1-2 dB" of bus compression are really enjoying other side effects of the plugin they're using e.g. EQ and saturation. Hence why they keep the actual compression so minimal.
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Old 01-23-2020, 07:14 PM   #17
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Bus compression is trash.
Errr, no. Methinks you are misunderstanding how compression acts. How is "compressing, modulating the overall volume, of a group of signals based on the dynamics of the loudest element at the moment" any different from adding compression to a live stereo track with similar groups of signals?

The point is that bus compression aka "glue" is one unifying compressor that works gently but A-B'ing shows a "je ne sais quoi". I use the idea of a glue reverb again -- it's not there to stand out, but you notice when it isn't there. To make another connection, it is like if room tone suddenly disappears from a live recording. You don't notice until it's gone. In classical, the same goes for manual gain riding or gentle 1:1.25 parallel compression. It is transparent but gives the music an overall impact (as well as aid playback in noisier environments).

Don't say something is "trash" when many many professional engineers use it to great effect!
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Old 01-23-2020, 08:05 PM   #18
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Errr, no. Methinks you are misunderstanding how compression acts.
How so? Bus compression acts on a group of signals after they’ve been summed. A component signal that is well below the compressor threshold will be affected in volume by a component signal that has exceeded the threshold. I'm arguing for compressing tracks individually.

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How is "compressing, modulating the overall volume, of a group of signals based on the dynamics of the loudest element at the moment" any different from adding compression to a live stereo track with similar groups of signals?
It’s not. But if all you have available is a summed mix, then obviously bus compression is your only option.

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I use the idea of a glue reverb again -- it's not there to stand out, but you notice when it isn't there. To make another connection, it is like if room tone suddenly disappears from a live recording.
But reverb is a linear process. There's no situation in which the reverb properties of one track are affected by a different track.

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Don't say something is "trash" when many many professional engineers use it to great effect!
I don't find this argument very compelling. A lot of people do a lot of things without really knowing what they're doing. When you're compressing at the minuscule levels that are usually recommended, I find it more likely the compression itself is not the “glue” magic being perceived. If you can show me a before/after example where I’ll clearly hear something missing in the uncompressed track, I’ll give it a serious listen. Not an analog-modeled compressor. Not a compressor with any EQ or saturation effects. A straightforward digital compressor. When the effect becomes so small that it can't be objectively demonstrated, we’re getting into snake oil and psycho-acoustic delusion territory.
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Old 01-23-2020, 08:42 PM   #19
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Buss compression is magic, particularly on drums. I stopped doing tons of other things when I realized this was getting me most of the way to where I wanted in a fraction of the time. It's best in parallel though, so you don't actually lose any dynamics, but can bring up the detail of the quiet bits and add some mojo.

I definitely use them mostly for color (so always analog-modeled compressors) but I'm also generally driving them pretty hard too.

I think he 1-2dB "rule" kinda expects that you will be hitting a series of compressors at various stages, so they all can't be working too hard. Otherwise, there's little point.

It's just the easiest way I've seen to take a group of different instruments and make them sound like they're working in tandem.
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Old 01-23-2020, 08:49 PM   #20
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I think people who praise "1-2 dB" of bus compression are really enjoying other side effects of the plugin they're using e.g. EQ and saturation. Hence why they keep the actual compression so minimal.
It's true that the analog emulations of bus compressors do have these nice side effects, but there is a cohesive effect to making the volume envelopes of all signals more similar to eachother. You don't need more than 1-2 dB to accomplish that
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Old 01-23-2020, 10:58 PM   #21
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Do you never find that compressing groups of tracks (or even all the tracks) together gives them a sense of cohesion?
Sure. But I never think of it as "glue".
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Old 01-23-2020, 11:19 PM   #22
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When the effect becomes so small that it can't be objectively demonstrated, we’re getting into snake oil and psycho-acoustic delusion territory.
By your logic, mastering engineers would be out of job. It's standard practice to apply subtle amounts of EQ, compression, limiting, reverb etc to a stereo mixdown of a multi-track project. Are their dark arts simply snake oil or do they actually succeed in sculpting a cohesive whole not only within a single song but across an entire album?

In a live concert, there will be natural EQ, compression and reverb happening due to the room characteristics. Clearly this is all happening to whole mix of components! It's the most natural state of things. Even a single channel's output is a sum of component waveforms but, of course, you know that.

When you compress at low ratios with low thresholds across the whole mix, you are achieving a lot of small things: "glue"/cohesion, achieving a target LUFS, "warmth/presence" through bringing up the noise floor a little, side-effects of the compressor model, and pleasant consequence of reducing a song or sequence of songs to a smaller dynamic range for more satisfying playback in living rooms and cars etc. Multiple stages of compression and/or saturation were typical in the analog days when multi-track tape was mixed down to a stereo master tape.

Let me ask: does a singer work only at creating a pleasant sound for each individual note or does he or she also think about the beauty of the whole phrase? Is a classical engineer unprofessional for running the master output through a Junger Accent if there was the natural compression of the concert hall even though the final product is sonically more appealing and connects the listener emotionally giving them the feeling of being in the room?

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Old 01-23-2020, 11:27 PM   #23
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Sure. But I never think of it as "glue".
What would you call it? Adhesive is pretty close to cohesive, glue is just a shorthand way to say the compressor is being used in that context. Compressors are usually used to tamp down volume swings so an instrument can fit in the mix, but on the master bus it's more for giving all the tracks a uniform dynamic envelope
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Old 01-24-2020, 12:11 AM   #24
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There is a very real effect when you get a Compressor that sits well on the buss
For me my goose pimples come and the vibe gets cohesive.
I think if the effect is working well the music becomes more infective!
In this case a "very good infection of feeling in the groove" loose playing can become more satisfactory.
I do not harbour illusions.....or delusions....

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Old 01-24-2020, 12:27 AM   #25
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What would you call it? Adhesive is pretty close to cohesive, glue is just a shorthand way to say the compressor is being used in that context. Compressors are usually used to tamp down volume swings so an instrument can fit in the mix, but on the master bus it's more for giving all the tracks a uniform dynamic envelope
If I use compression on a bus in order to give all tracks feeding into the bus a uniform/cohesive/pleasant dynamic envelope, that's what I think of. Not "glue".
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Old 01-24-2020, 02:22 AM   #26
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Bus compression is trash.
That's as dumb as saying "dance music is trash", or "Stravinsky is trash". It's a subjective call without a correct or incorrect answer.

Pumping mix compression, as in your example, is an effect that mimics the natural compression of our hearing when listening to very loud music. It is a way to make it sound exciting and loud at low levels... or to make it sound like trash if you don't like it (sorry to be the one to let you know, but not all music is made for you personally).

Some successful engineers hate it, some love it, most are in-between and appreciate a subtle amount to enhance the groove. Others, such as Michael Brauer, never got it to work for them so they instead have mixbus compression on groups of elements such as bass & drums, guitars and keyboards, and vocals.
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Old 01-24-2020, 02:23 AM   #27
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If I use compression on a bus in order to give all tracks feeding into the bus a uniform/cohesive/pleasant dynamic envelope, that's what I think of. Not "glue".
Potato/potato.

This argument is semantic rather than aural.
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Old 01-24-2020, 03:17 AM   #28
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Potato/potato.

This argument is semantic rather than aural.
Well. My argument has been semantic, more or less, from the beginning. I just don't experience sound as "glued" and I don't find the term terribly useful. I honestly don't care if others do, I'm just voicing an opinion about the term "glue compression".
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Old 01-24-2020, 03:23 AM   #29
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Well. My argument has been semantic, more or less, from the beginning. I just don't experience sound as "glued" and I don't find the term terribly useful. I honestly don't care if others do, I'm just voicing an opinion about the term "glue compression".
Fair enough.

For what it's worth, I don't really find that term a useful descriptor either, but I know what it is referring to.

I think of it more as everything grooving or bouncing together, bringing up low level detail etc... but glue is a quick way of saying something that most people get.

I guess "gel" would be closer for me... but it doesn't really matter.
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Old 01-24-2020, 09:44 AM   #30
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One thing that may have not been mentioned thus far, but it worth saying: when applying buss compression for glue, it is important to mix into the compressor from the beginning. This will help the sound of the compressor and the action that being achieved in GR be uniform throughout the mix process. Conversely, once the mix is in a good place, it may be too late to throw on a compressor as the elements aren't balanced for that new behavior properly.

I have to add, that I enjoy light compression on the mix buss most of the time. I do check mixes with and without and if the comp is bypassed and the song works better, then by all means... go for it.

Pro tip: think about automation. What if you automate the compression for certain sections, such as changing the comp for the chorus of a pop song? Or... switching which comp is handling buss duties for different sections of the song. We have lots of ITB options these days. Did I mention M/S ideas... Use them well and have fun!
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Old 01-24-2020, 10:04 AM   #31
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One thing that may have not been mentioned thus far, but it worth saying: when applying buss compression for glue, it is important to mix into the compressor from the beginning.
I think it largely depends on the genre. I personally never mix into a compressor. I'm very careful about applying any effects to the master bus as, again, I consider that to be mainly the job of the mastering engineer. It's much better in my opinion to present the most dynamic well-balanced stems or stereo mixdown you can and let the mastering engineer do their job with the best "raw" material.

That said, if you are doing it all in-house you can throw all the rules out of the window and see it as a creative exercise. Just don't expect anyone to be pleased if later down the road you decide you want it professionally mastered and only have the stereo mixdown to hand. Removing glue is really difficult

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Old 01-24-2020, 12:36 PM   #32
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Hang on, when you guys say "bus compression," do you actually mean the compression on the master? I think if it mostly in terms of instrument groups.

I tend to always buss instruments I want to work as a unit and do parallel compression on those busses, which is what I thought everyone was talking about...
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Old 01-24-2020, 12:43 PM   #33
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Yes, perhaps this is the issue? I'm personally referring to the very last bit of compression to glue everything together on the master bus. Yes, non-master bus compression has a similar effect but you'd still want some extra glue covering everything. That is the part I say should be left to the mastering engineer.
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Old 01-24-2020, 12:53 PM   #34
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That is the part I say should be left to the mastering engineer.
I agree. I generally have Slate VBC on there for a bit of that "pro-sheen" right out the gates. Ratios are all 1:1 tho, so it's never a problem to remove it if necessary.

OTOH, I've also found that mixing into harder compression can work as well. If I can get transients to pop through the muck in that situation, it will really come through when I remove it. At the most I have to do a bit of levels re-balancing.
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Old 01-24-2020, 01:34 PM   #35
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There is a very real effect when you get a Compressor that sits well on the buss
For me my goose pimples come and the vibe gets cohesive.
Please demonstrate. I want tha feels.
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Old 01-24-2020, 01:37 PM   #36
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Listen to any well-mixed/mastered pop song. There be "glue" that gives you that tingle, laddie.
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Old 01-24-2020, 01:37 PM   #37
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When I say compression, I'm referring to dynamic range compression by itself. Saturation and soft-clipping are a different story. There is value to using these across the whole mix. Some people even say they prefer saturation as their glue, so go figure. Running a mix through an analog compressor will have a lot of additional effects beyond the actual compression that contribute to the sound. And analog meters are not as quick and accurate as ones ITB to show exactly what's happening. Saturation can be happening with no indication to the user. That makes it hard to determine what is causing the actual gluing effect. If the compression itself is the gluing factor, it should be demonstrable with ReaComp. I'm arguing that if the actual compression is strong enough to be noticeable it is always detrimental to the mix, IMO. Post before/after examples if you feel otherwise.

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By your logic, mastering engineers would be out of job. It's standard practice to apply subtle amounts of EQ, compression, limiting, reverb etc to a stereo mixdown of a multi-track project.
In an ideal world, of what use is mastering? A good mix by a skilled engineer in a reliable monitoring environment shouldn’t need any mastering aside from soft-clipping to bring up the overall level. Especially not compression. If the dynamics were handled properly at the track level.

In the real-world I think if mastering is necessary it’s largely as damage control to correct problems in a less-than-ideal mix, while minimizing negative side effects (not always easy or possible). I don't think most people are sending their tracks in for a professional "gluing" procedure via dynamic range compression. This step can be easily left out, IMO. And why should a mastering engineer work upon the mixdown vs. stems or individual tracks? Certainly, the reason is because it’s quicker/cheaper. And traditional.

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/mast...ring-quot.html

Why should a final mix need to be EQ’ed as a whole? EQ(mix) = EQ(track1) + EQ(track2), etc... so I say do it at the mix level. Same for reverb.

I disagree with the premise of glue compression as a value-added process.

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In a live concert, there will be natural EQ, compression and reverb happening due to the room characteristics. Clearly this is all happening to whole mix of components! It's the most natural state of things.
And how wonderful those effects are in a good room! But room compression of sound pressure waves is nothing like a single-band compressor. The difference in physics between the two is unfathomable.

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When you compress at low ratios with low thresholds across the whole mix, you are achieving a lot of small things: "glue"/cohesion
Please demonstrate.

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Let me ask: does a singer work only at creating a pleasant sound for each individual note or does he or she also think about the beauty of the whole phrase?
Flawed analogy.
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Old 01-24-2020, 01:40 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by bachstudies View Post
Listen to any well-mixed/mastered pop song. There be "glue" that gives you that tingle, laddie.
Before/after or it didn't happen.

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Originally Posted by Judders View Post
That's as dumb as saying "dance music is trash", or "Stravinsky is trash". It's a subjective call without a correct or incorrect answer.
So your opinion is that my opinion is dumb? You should probably preface your statement with "In my opinion" so I know you're not declaring objective reality. (It's implied).
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Old 01-24-2020, 01:46 PM   #39
bachstudies
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Originally Posted by ErBird View Post
Flawed analogy.
I'm simply referring to the idea of hierarchy. You can make beautiful individual notes but if you do not combine them into a beautiful sense of phrase the emotional content is not optimal.

Likewise, compress at a track-level all you like but if you do not consider the overall gluing of dynamics at a bus level you are missing a trick.
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Old 01-24-2020, 02:58 PM   #40
Tomm
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https://www.musicianonamission.com/6...destroy-mixes/

summary: 1.5 ratio, 1-2db reduction, 100ms attack, release some fraction of the tempo but no less than 50ms

For release time, I've done this before where I crank the ratio/reduction to get an exxageratted pumping effect, then set release so it returns in time before the next big hit, then back down the ratio/reduction

MOST IMPORTANTLY, set the output gain so it matches the input, otherwise when you A/B the compression you might be tricking your ears into thinking the "louder" version is better. Let the volume increase later on in the mastering process. I know some engineers use a limiter during frickin tracking (on the monitors, not as an input before the recording), to get a sense of how it'll all end up sounding early on (mixing "into" the compressors+limiters) maybe Chris Lord-Alge does this, I forget, but I know some others do
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