Using Compression on Your Master Fader

Mix bus compression. Do you do it? Should you do it?

First off, let me explain what I’m talking about. When you’re mixing a song, regardless of what DAW you’re using, all of your audio tracks are being fed into a single mix bus. This is normally represented by a master fader of some sort.

When you’re first starting out mixing, you’re main goal is to mix everything at a decent level without clipping your master bus. As long as you’re happy with your mixes, you can keep doing this…and you don’t have to read the rest of this article. 😉

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Video: Pro Tools Track Types Part 2 – The Master Fader

Yesterday I went through the first four track types in Pro Tools – audio, MIDI, instrument, and aux tracks. Today I want to delve into the mysterious master track, or master fader track.

Metering

In a typical Pro Tools session, you’ve got a bunch of audio tracks, a few instrument/MIDI tracks, and a couple aux tracks. The outputs of all these tracks are typically set to “Analog 1-2,” the main stereo outputs of your interface.

Internally, Pro Tools takes all these individual audio signals and combines them into a single pair of outputs. This is called summing.

When all of these tracks are combined, it’s very easy to clip the mix bus. None of the tracks have to even be close to setting off the clip light, but when they’re all summed together, there’s a good chance that clipping is happening underneath the hood.

How do we monitor this? The answer is the master fader.

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