master FX b4 mixdown

After you put your FX to each channel like compressing drums rev/delay vocals etc… is it kosher to then compress/rev/delay or what ever your looking for to the whole mix in the master channel? Is this type of doubling of fx over doing it ?or is it the norm?

Cruiser ???

no, it`s not overdone, i always have a comp in the master during mixing. then i remove it and go mastering. you can leave it there if you master yourself

If it sounds good, it is good. That is the only rule in any of this. It makes no difference how you get there.

Thanks…I figure what you’ve said was true I guess I just wanted validation of what my gut feeling was on this.


I recommend not to use a compressor on the master channel during mixing. It makes the mixer controls less intuitive, and every adjustment you make has more side effects with a compressor involved.

During mixdown, focus on getting a good mix. Make sure that all the important elements are clearly audible regardless of the playback volume! (This can be challenge, at low levels). Pay attention to the way the parts fit together, supporting or contrasting each other. EQ as necessary so that various parts don’t interfere. Get a good stereo image, reasonably balanced, and making it easy to identify the different instruments when & where that’s what you want, and getting a “gelled” sound that’s a mixture of certain instruments when & where that’s what you want (often both in the same song). Focus on the dynamics in terms of the MOOD portrayed, but don’t worry too much about the kind of dynamic range adjustments that will be done during mastering. Don’t clip.

If you do a good job of these things during mixing, you make the mastering job a lot easier!

Bubba’s right that it doesn’t matter how you get there. This is just a guide to make it easier to get there. I believe that compressing on the master channel makes it harder. The more experience you have with mixing and compression, the less this is the case, but it still makes the mental gymnastics of understanding what each control change does more complex.

An area where I drive myself absolutely nuts :p

I can spend hours and hours doing this, but here is my general sequence-
-record each track - mostly clean except guitar for which I use an effects processor at source
-clean up each track for unwanted noise, sort out any peaks and troughs, etc.
-then do the effects to a mixdown copy of each track (I always keep my originals)
-then play around with levels and possible EQ on the copied tracks in the whole mix (this takes ages)
-mixdown the whole mix
-then I might run this final mixdown track through some effects like compression

It takes an age to sort this lot out for me, probably 100 times longer than it takes me to write the words and music for the actual song

Just don’t get the impression that the only time for compression is at the end. Compression is usually the first plugin I put on tracks like vocals, bass, and acoustic guitar, to craft the dynamics of the individual tracks. Then I do the EQ and other FX.

But like Smiffy, I leave any master-channel compression to the end, a bit of “poor-man’s mastering”. If you’re going to have your tracks mastered (by yourself as a separate step, or by a mastering engineer), don’t do any compression on the mix, or you’re just limiting the options later.