I think it's kinda cool how when I went from aiming for loud to aiming for punchy, the way I used compressors basically changed completely.
Brick-wall on RMS mode, no attack to keep peak volume down, then release/sustain as low as possible before distortion, then cut the top off with saturation.
Moderate boost in peak, large attack so transients get through and are boosted to shape it to be really sharp, then clip a little bit with saturation for better aggression.
Difference is *really* noticeable going back to my old tracks. Taking the first and last from each broad approach:
Mix by ear alone:
Micro: way too wide at the low end (it'll all cancel out); drums really weak; not properly balanced (too much low mids, too little highs).
Clairvoyant: significant improvement; drums are stronger but still completely buried under everything else; whole mix is quite blurry/clouded.
Aiming for punch:
Shatterstar: immediately way better stereo image; mix by far the clearest; sub is incredibly smooth and powerful; drums *very* punchy and nice and high in the mix; transients very snappy all around; extremely happy with this.
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