Today’s featured question is:
I’ve heard that some engineers run their mix though a stereo pre-amp before using mix bus compression. What do you think about this approach?
I love this question because it opens up so much discussion!
In a case like this, there are no pitfalls to using some high quality hardware. You could definitely use it to add some coloration and some warmth. The question I would ask, though, is: Why? What problem are you trying to solve?
While I highly recommend a high quality preamp, you should use them all across your recording. If you are a mixer and you get something really “digital” sounding, or really brittle, and you’re trying every trick in the book to round off some of those transients, it could help. But I wouldn’t do it just on my master bus!
If I was going to do what you are talking about, and you’re only mixing and not tracking, I would probably run everything through it individually. If you want to use this idea of running it back through analog equipment, then do multiples. Once you have your drum bus, run that through; once you’ve got your guitars in a stereo mix, sum that through it. I think that would give you a lot more control.
If you are tracking, then take your preamp and use it on everything! If you use it on all the sources, then you are less likely to need to use it on the end, because you already have that sound everywhere else along the chain.
If you don’t have hardware, and are mixing entirely in-the-box, there are some fantastic plugins out there that will give you this analog sound as well! I know tons of mastering and mixing engineers that are totally in-the-box, who use these types of plugins, and make some incredible music!
Watch the video below to see the full answer to this question and the answers to other great FAQ Friday questions!