Today’s featured FAQ Friday question is: How do mixing and mastering engineers get productions so loud?
When I first started mixing I felt the exact same way! I didn’t know how people got their productions to sound loud without them really starting to pump.
The first thing I will say, is that it is not all on the master bus. Mastering engineers often get blamed for making things too loud, but the reality is that mastering engineers spend half their lives trying to get life out of a mix. This is because many of us are guilty of is compressing so much along the way, that by the time it gets to the master bus it has just folded in on itself.
Compression is essentially how you get a mix to sound loud, but you have to be careful in how you apply it. The energy in the track comes from the individual elements, and the compression applied on those elements.
Take your drum group, for instance. Assign everything to a drum group, and then have a parallel on it that is maybe more heavily compressed and just comes up underneath, then take those two groups and feed them into one, then compress and limit them again. It doesn’t have to be unbelievably aggressive, but just that sequence will make your drums feel that much bigger and badder.
Taking a limiter and putting it on the mix bus, and squashing it down so that everything comes out as a square wave is not going to get the results you want. It is all about that serial and parallel compression on individual elements.
Another mistake we are all guilty of is getting too aggressive with EQ. If you get in there, and sculpt it, and use the EQ wisely, your mixes will sound much better
Just like the compression, apply it strategically on individual elements, so that when you get it as a whole, your mix it more controlled and feels bigger.
Watch the video below to see the full answer and answer to other great FAQ Friday questions!