About Craig Bauer
Craig Bauer is a Grammy Award-winning mixing engineer, music producer and owner of HINGE studios. He has been nominated twice for “Album of the Year” and has worked with a diverse roster of artists, including Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco, Ed Sheeran, Justin Timberlake, The Clark Sisters, Rihanna, Common, Dennis DeYoung, Styx, Richard Marx, Yolanda Adams, Donald Lawrence, Janet Jackson, Destiny’s Child and Dylan Meek.
Written by Craig Bauer
VSC-2 Tricks & Tracks Master Fader/Buss Compressor
The VSC-2 is my go-to as the "master fader" compressor. It has been built into my mix template for years, irrespective of the musical genre.
The VSC-2 is painstakingly modeled after the Vertigo Sound hardware compressor and brings a highly desirable “character” to mixes. Once the VSC-2 is inserted on the master fader between an eq and a limiter, I mix “into” the compression and adjust the threshold/make-up gain as necessary over the course of the mix.
Typically, I choose a previously saved preset as a starting point. One of the presets is “punchy” with a 4:1 ratio, slow attack at 30ms, and a very fast .1ms release. The threshold is ultimately fine-tuned as the mix progresses to provide roughly 2-3 dB of compression and an equal amount of make-up gain. This combination is perfect for retaining punch and motion in the mix without “pumping” or unwanted artifacts.
For tracks that require a more transparent touch, the “smooth” preset is selected. The difference being a gentler 2:1 ratio and setting the release to AUTO with roughly 2 dB of overall compression and make-up gain. It’s also worth noting that in both presets the side chain filter is set to 90 Hz to keep the compressor from overacting to low-frequency information in mix.
Parallel Compressor for Kick Drums
The Plugin Alliance VSC-2 compressor is a powerhouse for achieving “knock” in kick drums. Start by creating an aux track just below the kick track(s) and then route a send at unity gain from the kick(s) to the input of the new aux track.
Insert the VSC-2 on this new aux track with the ratio of 4:1 or a more aggressive 8:1 setting and set the attack to the slowest attack time with the fastest release. This allows the transient of the kick to remain untouched while the fast release provides “sustain” to the sound. A range of 2-4 dB of compression is ideal. The VSC-2’s character creates the perfect amount of punch when properly blended with the original “dry” kicks. Simple and extremely effective.
Download Craig's VSC-2 presets used in this blog entry for your DAW here:
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