In this episode of the show I’m going to demonstrate how to use master bus compression. When used correctly, this mixing technique has the power to glue your mix together as one cohesive project. I highly recommend using this type of compression on your master bus.

    16 replies to "How To Use Master Bus Compression"

    • Dave

      I am just starting out in the realm of digital audio recording setups. I have mixed live music and shows using analogue gear. In fact I have he ZED 14 as one of my smaller gig boards. I have recorded the stereo outputs to a small ZOOM HN4 recorder.

      Presently I have purchased the ZOOM L-20 board as an interface for a DAWS. So far I am stumped as to how this all should work…

      I am working from the point of view that the incoming mic and instrument signals can be brought into the DAWS via the ZOOM L-20 as an interface and then mixed, played back in groups or individually as well as output as a mix or as separate tracks.

      Any hardware/software advice would be greatly appreciated.


      • David

        So in a nuttshell, Zoom L-20 connects to your computer via the USB. Your DAW software (I use Reaper myself and highly recommend.) will then see this mixer and an audio interface allowing you to insert new tracks and assign their inputs/outputs to the corresponding tracks on the mixer.

    • chris kemp

      Hi David, I have used Reaper for a few months now but am unclear what sort of bus to use for groups. The forum seems divided on the issue and there seem to be pros and cons to each type, folders, VCA’s etc. What’s the best to use and is there anything to be aware of when using it. Thanks, Chris

      • David

        Hi Chris, in Reaper you can use track outputs and inputs to route any track (or tracks) to and from any track (or tracks). Folders are fine for grouping says all your drum mics into one track, this also auto groups them without having to manually configure the in/outs. However, I typically do both folders and then manually setup my in/outs for each track. This is somewhat redundant but makes it so I know exactly what is going where. Here is a post I did that talks about how I use my routing in Reaper.

    • Kolai

      Hey Dave do I use this style of compression on my band/ drum and vox busses?

      • David

        Sometimes I do light compression on my drum buss, but this specific example is Master Buss only. Nothing wrong with doing compression else where just be careful not to over compress.

    • Aaron Austin

      Nice tutorial. You can really tell the difference when A-B’ing the comps. Definitely more glue to make your mix sound cohesive with just a touch of a lift.

    • Rhett Davis

      Hello Dave.Thanks for the confirmation that using compression on the master buss is good. I’ve been doing that for a while now.Thanks for all the helpful the vids.

    • Keith

      I’ve used a local guy to do my mastering. He always asked me to pull the master buss compressor off the mix. Are there reasons that you can give as to why the mastering engineer would want that?

      • David

        Mastering engineers often don’t trust your mixing is why. This is understandable for those who overcompress in pre production which makes a mix more difficult to master.

    • Keith

      Hi Dave great vid as always… just a quick question when your mix is complete would you pull down the master fader so you are at 6 db? I’ve been told never pull the master fader down always leave it at 0 db is this the wrong advice and is it ok to pull down the master fader?

      • David

        So what I didn’t have time to show in this video is all my typical. I actual have a mix bus before my master fader. I would actually pull this down till the master peaked at -6db to prep for mastering. Your corrected in that I don’t typically pull my master fader down. Thanks for the question!

    • Kahlil

      Great video..
      I get your email blasts and often paid them no mind. I watched this because its something I have recently been trying with some of my mixes and I enjoyed the video. Also your in MI..Im down in Detroit YOU HAVE MY FULL SUPPORT.

      • David

        Thanks, I think ;) ha ha. Glad you’ve found it helpful and appreciate the comment!

    • Jameul Dye

      Nice video. Compression on the master bus is something I have thought about, but haven’t tried. I am going to play around with it and see how my mixes sound.


      • David

        Thanks Jameul, appreciate the comment!

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