When processing your buses, there are some great techniques to try – for example, you can use dynamic EQ on one bus and side-chain another bus with competing frequencies to help separate the two. Or you could send all buses to one parallel aux track to create parallel compression.
Drum Side-Image Bus
This video includes 10 different useful bus unrelated techniques you can try when processing your buses.
First, let’s look at using transient expansion on our drum bus’s side image – after I create my drum bus by routing the output of each drum track to a singular bus, I’ll create a send from this bus. On the auxiliary track made from this send, I’ll insert the free plugin MSED and mute the mid-image.
Then I’ll insert a transient expander, in this case, Punctuate by Newfangled Audio, and expand the side image. Then I’ll blend in the parallel side image.
This creates transients that were likely very buried in the original signal, in turn creating an impressive and percussive side image.
Let’s listen to it.
Overlapping Performance Bus
Sometimes you’ll have performances that overlap, but you want to have the same processing – for example, you want to let a guitar note ring out over the start of a new guitar passage. Instead of adding the same processing to both, just change their outputs to a singular bus and process that bus.
This way you save yourself some CPU but still achieve the same sound you wanted.
We don’t need to listen to this one, but try it out and let me know if it saves you some time when mixing.
Master Bus Mid-Side Compression
I typically avoid processing my master bus when mixing, but this one form of processing definitely has a beneficial sound. With a bus compressor that offers mid-side compression, I’ll very subtly compress with a very low ratio and softer knee, but more importantly with de-linked triggering.
This will cause more compression to the mid image than the side, resulting in subtle dynamic stereo widening, which has a really pleasant sound.
Let’s take a listen.
Side-Chain Gullfoss EQ on Bus
Even if you’ve mixed really well, there will still be some competing signals in your mix – for this reason, I like to use Gullfoss EQs on my buses. Additionally, I’ll side-chain competing signals so that the corrective equalization responds to similar and overlapping frequencies and subsequently creates space.
For example, if my vocal and instrument bus are competing too much, I could put Gullfoss on the Vocal, and side-chain the instrument bus before subtly increasing the settings.
Let’s take a listen.
Parallel Vocal Sibilance Bus
Aggressive sibilance is kind of a pet peeve of mine, so what I like to do is control sibilance somewhat significantly on the individual vocals, and again on the vocal bus, but then create a parallel track to further control it. To start, this aux track needs a linear phase EQ.
Then I’ll isolate the highs with an aggressive high-pass filter. Then I’ll use some optical compression to make it dense before reverberating it with a bright long plate-type reverb.
Lastly, I’ll blend this softer, more enjoyable sounding sibilance back into the vocal. This way the vocal sounds balanced but not shrill. Let’s take a listen.
Parallel Master Bus Processing
Creating a parallel track from your master bus or stereo output would usually necessitate exporting the stereo mix and then processing it separately, but if we create identical sends from each one of our instrument busses, we can accomplish it within the regular mix session.
After the busses are sent to the track, process with compression or saturation, depending on what you want to accomplish, and then blend the parallel signal back in. Let’s take a listen.
Side-Chain Dynamic EQ
Somewhat similar to chapter 4, we can use EQ to help separate our signals – but this time in a more traditional way. I’ll use a regular EQ on my vocal bus in this example, then create a dynamic band and center it over 3.5kHz – then I’ll side-chain the instrument bus.
After triggering the band using the side-chain, I can dynamically amplify the presence of my vocal whenever the instrumental would usually mask it.
This is just one example, but you can try something similar between your drums and bass, or maybe to pull the vocal back if we use a negative range on the dynamic band, etc.
Let’s take a listen to the example we covered.
Best Drum Bus Saturation
In my opinion, Saturn 2 gives us the best chance to create incredibly detailed and nuanced drum bus compression. I’ll use 3 bands to isolate different aspects of the performance and use the saturation type that best accents what I want – then I’ll create an envelope follower and switch it to transient mode.
Next, I’ll link this follower to the drive amount of each band – causing dynamic saturation that responds to the drum’s transients.
Then, I’ll switch the processing to mid/side, and link the follower to the high frequencies drive pan dial, so that the distortion dynamically shifts to the side image – causing image expansion. I’ll do the opposite to the low frequencies and make the distortion dynamically mono – causing the lows to be more focused.
Lastly, I’ll link the follower to my mix slider, changing the processor’s overall effect based on the incoming signal.
Creating all of these program-dependent parameters results in saturation that’s incredibly nuanced. Let’s take a listen.
Parallel Ambient Mic Emulation
This one uses parallel master bus processing like chapter 6, but it isn’t necessary to include all of your buses if you don’t want. In short, I’ll create the identical sends from my busses, and then insert a room emulation, usually a studio emulation, onto the auxiliary track.
After setting it to 100%, and changing the reflections to emulate being farther away from the source by emphasizing late reflections, I’ll blend the effect in with the auxiliary track’s channel fader.
This parallel signal acts a lot like an ambient mic, giving the mix a sense of cohesive space. Let’s take a listen.
Randomization on Busses
Last up, I’m going to insert UVI’s Shade EQ on each one of my busses – using 4 EQ filters and 4 randomization modulators that are linked to these filters, I’ll cause subtle randomization to the bands’ Q values, amplitude, and frequency. This causes overall randomization to the mix.
If done subtly enough, this randomization causes a movement to the mix that makes things more interesting for the listener.
Let’s check it out.
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