One of the areas of dark magic that more and more home producers are approaching is treating the mix buss, processing that affects the entire song.
Right away, you should see the potential for danger. DANGER, Will Robinson!
Forget about that for a while. Mix buss processing can be the last little bit of glue that holds your mix together. It can also replace processing you do on groups and individual tracks. Once you get a signal path for your mix buss, throw it on before you start really mixing and you might be surprised at how good your mix sounds already.
While some mix buss moves don’t require too much thought, others can be an absolute nightmare, including mix buss compression. Mix buss compression follows all the same rules you apply to compression, but you’ll be surprised at what a compressor does to your entire mix. With so many elements running through the compressor, some very unusual things start happening.
This guide from Sound on Soundhelps you to sort through all the different options you have with compressing the mix buss. The easiest is perhaps a quick attack and release, though that’s just the tip of the iceberg. You can really alter the imaging of the song and the feel, depending on how you tinker with the mix buss compression:
The best way to grasp the concept of the sound of mix-bus compression is to mix the same song twice: once with compression and once without. This test should give you a great indication of how mix-bus compression affects the overall cohesive balance of the loudest and most important parts of your mix.
Even then, you might not totally grasp the differences between different compression settings. But if you do, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the punch and clarity that a little compression can give you.
Compressing the mix buss isn’t required. Some producers like to leave it clean. Just give it a chance and see if it does anything for you.