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Author Topic: X32 FOH Mix Bus Compression?  (Read 338 times)

John P. Whiteker

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X32 FOH Mix Bus Compression?
« on: September 23, 2020, 11:13:51 am »

Just curious if anyone utilizes a main mix bus compressor and what baseline settings do you typically start with?  I've read that main mix bus compression should be around 4:1, but I couldn't decipher if they were speaking to a studio recording main bus or a FOH setup.  I have compression on most of my channel strips with special attention to lead vocals, drums and bass.  Let me know your thoughts.

I guess the reason I ask is because sometimes I deal with summation(sp?) where I have a pretty hot mix going and then they throw me for a loop and add a couple late vocalists or another guitar, which drives my main mix too hot at that point, causing me to pull down the house, which to me screws up the noise floor and gain structure of the mix. 
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John L Nobile

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Re: X32 FOH Mix Bus Compression?
« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2020, 11:20:25 am »

I've only used compression on my mains in one very live room that we played in a fair bit. And I only used a 1.5:1 rate. I felt that it allowed me to move faders normally where without it, small moves seemed to be louder than other rooms.

Can't see a 4:1 ratio being anything but trouble on a live mix.
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David Simpson

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Re: X32 FOH Mix Bus Compression?
« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2020, 11:28:02 am »

I only use compression as needed. Less is more. If you need too much, I have found that there is generally something else wrong further down the chain that should be addressed.

That being said, in recent times when sending a feed to a live stream, I have used one just to keep things in check to be certain things don't get distorted in the broadcast. Monitoring this post all broadcast / streaming devices can be tricky in some situations.

~Dave
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Dave Pluke

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Re: X32 FOH Mix Bus Compression?
« Reply #3 on: September 23, 2020, 11:44:23 am »

Just curious if anyone utilizes a main mix bus compressor and what baseline settings do you typically start with?

Not on the House mix, unless I want to set it as a Limiter to prevent someone other than me over driving the system.  But, typically, that would be handled by the DSP, not on the Console.

YMMV, but I use Compression on a per-input basis.  And, as noted, some compression on a Stream or Recording feed might be in order.

Dave
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John P. Whiteker

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Re: X32 FOH Mix Bus Compression?
« Reply #4 on: September 23, 2020, 11:49:19 am »

Great tips guys.  Thanks so much for the input. I think I'll try to run very limited or no comp on the house mix and just try to deal with gain structure when things are added.  I may just knock each channel strip down just a bit so the summation isn't such an issue if we make late additions.

* I do run some compression on my broadcast aux as well.  Yes, very tricky to monitor, especially if there's a delay in the feed or software compression on the other end that has to be compensated for. 
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Luke Geis

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Re: X32 FOH Mix Bus Compression?
« Reply #5 on: September 23, 2020, 02:12:43 pm »

I use it to good effect for bands and record sends for spoken word. With bands it can be touch and go, certainly not something you set and forget. For spoken word it is more set up like a limiter so you can get the signal nice and hot to all the records and not clip the inputs.

For bands I do it to help glue the mix together. With the bulk of the compression being done at the channel and subsequent group mix, the main bus compression is used to simply lock the mix in. This is not a very effective technique in small venues where the band is probably 50% or more of the equation, but in a larger event where the PA is doing 70% of the work or more, it really helps a lot.

Many band members and even a lot of live engineers will cry murder when you do a lot of compression, but I have come to learn that the people who are listening desire a more polished CD like sound. If you can hear pumping, or rather obvious signs of compression, you have probably gone to far, but having the compression done in several stages helps mellow it out and achieve good results.

I use the channel compressor as more of a peak/transient controller. Get the pop and thump out of the snare and kick, get the bass guitar under control and get the vocals locked into a range. Then with a mix bus compressor, I will crush things more. The drums are squeezed so they sound more like one whole kit, the instruments are again just squeezed into a range and then the vocals again are squeezed to get more punch and make them able to get placed up front and on top easily. Again the goal isn't to make the compression obvious, but get the elements into an easy to manage range. And then finally with main bus compression and or limiting, it just takes the elements that are too dynamic and squeezes everything into a particular range again, or glue it all together if you will.

Doing this I can generally get a 2 channel board mix that is very usable and sounds good enough for presentation with little work required.
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Bill Meeks

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Re: X32 FOH Mix Bus Compression?
« Reply #6 on: September 24, 2020, 08:39:52 am »

I'm with Luke on this one. Mild compression is a good thing on the FOH Mix Bus to glue things together and control dynamics a bit. Many churches today have their band on In-Ears, have a clean stage with no wedges, most (if not all) instruments on a DI and the drum kit shielded to some degree or other. So the PA is doing the vast majority of the work. There is minimal stage bleed.

If the above fits a description of your venue, then you should try an A/B comparison of FOH Mix Bus compression on and off using a virtual mix (assuming you have that capability along with a digital console). You can experiment with differing amounts of compression. I like it better slightly compressed. You don't go crazy with compression, but lightly applied it sounds good. I agree with Luke that pretty much all of the audience is accustomed to hearing the same songs from the radio or other digital media compressed to some degree.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2020, 01:55:06 pm by Bill Meeks »
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Jonathan Hole

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Re: X32 FOH Mix Bus Compression?
« Reply #7 on: September 24, 2020, 12:46:52 pm »

At church (fixed install Digico) and on my own system (Allen Heath portable) I always keep a comp on main buss just barely ticking at around 2:1, slow attack, quicker release, shouldn't be noticeable by anyone but you.  My amps have DSP and I have a limiter set there if all heck breaks loose.  Just going after that extra last step polish as others said and I'm never over 3db reduction on mains, just hitting.  I'm getting most of my glue from group processing so I encourage that if you're not already.  The X32/M32 has a basic multi-band you can also insert that can be useful if your PA gets a bit bright at higher volumes but fine otherwise.

I'm with Luke on this one. Mild compression is a good thing on the FOH Mix Bus to glue things together and control dynamics a bit. Many churches today have their band on In-Ears, have a clean stage with no wedges, most (if not all) instruments on a DI and the drum kit shielded to some degree or other. So the PA is doing the vast majority of the work. There is minimal stage bleed.

If the above fits a description of your venue, then you should try an A/B comparision of FOH Mix Bus compression on and off using a virtual mix (assuming you have that capability along with a digital console). You can experiment with differing amounts of compression. I like it better slightly compressed. You don't go crazy with compression, but lightly applied it sounds good. I agree with Luke that pretty much all of the audience is accustomed to hearing the same songs from the radio or other digital media compressed to some degree.
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Re: X32 FOH Mix Bus Compression?
« Reply #7 on: September 24, 2020, 12:46:52 pm »


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