Listening Test – Closing Date April 2nd!

So! You have until the end of the 2nd April to get results for the listening test back to me – so hurry!

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Remember this link!

Just plopping this here to aid my project. Mixerman posted it ok Facebook and I don’t want to forget it! Discussions on how music makes you feel is part of the “counter-pumping” theory.

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Brauerizing: A How To Guide

Brauerizing: A How To Guide 


“Brauerizing” is the name given to a mixing mentality honed by Grammy award winning mixing engineer Michael Brauer, feeding audio into compressors and equalizers in order to impart harmonic content to the input signal, as well as utilizing subtle group compression to “glue” audio together through an audio phenomena known as “counter pumping”. This how to guide will explain the three stage process of “Brauerizing”; Multi-Bus Compression, Multi-Vocal Compression and the utilization of dual parallel 1176’s for extra cushion in the mix.

Multi-Bus Compression – Introduction and Analogy 

It is common practice to utilize compression across the stereo bus in order to compress the entire mix in an effort to add tone, attitude or knit the mix into a more cohesive product. The problem with stereo bus compression is that the compressor will react based upon the wide range of input material it receives, which when utilizing a compressor with a particular frequency response can soon lead to particular frequencies compressing more than others and begin to detriment that mix you worked so hard to perfect.

The origins of the Multi-Bus Compression technique harnessed by Brauer are rooted in an Aretha Franklin mix. Brauer found that he was at the limits of the mix, but when instructed that the bass guitar needed pushing higher, pushing it caused the vocal to suddenly drop in volume due to the stereo bus compressor now reacting to the louder bass. Counter pushing the vocal up caused the bass to drop and therefore a new mixing mentality was required in order to achieve the maximum volume musically, without causing issues at the stereo bus.

Multi-Bus Compression – Calibration and Routing

The introduction of Multi-Bus Compression to Brauer’s mixing allows for multiple sources of audio to be routed to desired busses; alphabetically named ABCD to correspond with the centre section of his SSL, where carefully chosen compressors compliment the input material. At this point it should be mentioned that Brauerizing is not a form of Multi-Band compression; often misinterpreted as, though in dividing the material to the four busses, the technique is more Multi-Vibe compression.

OTB (Out the Box) Brauer utilizes the SSL’s routing matrix in order to take the individual channels of the mix to the ABCD busses and sets the routing to post-fader, allowing any channel fader movements to affect the input of the ABCD busses. The ABCD busses are then routed to the Stereo Bus. In assigning the routing matrix to post fader, it allows the mixing engineer to push into the compressor patched across the bus, allowing for a familiar sweet spot to be recognized and replicated with each mix, where pushing too softly or too hard into the bus causes the sound to thin, whereas the sweet spot adds glue and attitude. A diagram for this routing; along with Brauer’s channel routing and equipment utilized, can be found in Figure 1.

Brauer ABCD ConfigurationFigure 1: Multi-Bus Compression OTB

To replicate ITB (in the Box) it is recommended that equivalent plug-ins are utilized to achieve similar characteristics to Brauer’s OTB set-up, one that stresses on the importance of using the compressors as tone generators. It is possible to replicate the routing ITB by directly outputting the individual channels to the desired ABCD busses, though as not all DAW’s have the capability of multi-outputting channels it is better practice to utilize a dummy bus; emulating taking the channels our of the stereo bus, for the channel’s output and utilizing the channel sends set in post fader to replicate the functions of the SSL routing matrix. A diagram for this routing; along with recommended plug-in equivalents, can be found in Figure 2.

ITB ABCD ConfigurationFigure 2: Multi-Bus Compression ITB

The above plug-ins are personal preferences as the Brit-C models the Neve 33609 compressor, the Puigtech models the Pultec, the CB303; on the harmonic distortion preset, models the Distressor and is sent to the Decapitator for further harmonic saturation, the API 550A has appropriate fixed band choices, the VBC FG-MU models a Vari-Mu/Tube compressor; which the Pendulum ES-8 is, and the V-Comp in limit mode with the S1 stereo imager emulate the configuration of the D Bus; as Brauer has the width knob on the compressor set to maximum. It is important to mention that Brauer has his compressors set unlinked; where each side is independent, and therefore recommend utilizing plug-ins in multi-mono mode and unlinked; where applicable.

In order to calibrate the compressors ITB you will need a signal generator and VU meter. Insert the VU meter at the end of the insert slots and the signal generator at the top, and ensure that the signal generator; set to sine wave, reads at 0VU. From there, follow Brauer’s notes on calibrating the Multi-Bus Compression set-up found on his website at

Once calibrated, begin mixing and have fun with the ABCD busses! The golden rule (or metaphor) for the Multi-Bus compression technique is to treat the gain reduction like an elastic band; there’s only so far you can push an elastic band before it snaps, and be conservative with the amount of gain reduction; averaging around 1 – 1.5dB. Once familiar with the sweet spots, you’ll begin to experience “counter-pumping” caused by varying compression rates between the four busses, causing the compressors to add subtle rhythm to the mix that allude to the mix “breathing”. This is a sign of successful Multi-Bus Compression!

Multi-Vocal Configuration

As you may have noticed from the aforementioned figures, the lead vocals aren’t typically routed to the ABCD busses and go through a different process all together. The lead vocal channel is “multed”; outputted in multiple instances, to two faders where one will be affected for the verse and another for the chorus.  The vocal is then routed to five different compressors alike the multi-bus compression; again for the cohesive glue and tone, and returned on five faders. This stage of parallel compression is very effective in achieving a solid vocal sound, due to macro-compression being multiplied by five.  A diagram for this routing; along with Brauer’s equipment utilized, can be found in Figure 3.

Brauer Vox ConfigurationFigure 3: Multi-Vocal Compression OTB

In order to replicate ITB, it is once more recommended that the equivalent plug-ins are utilized. The Federal is a Vari-Mu/Tube compressor and therefore opted once more for VBC FG-MU, the STA Level is often likened to an LA2A and therefore utilized Waves CLA-2A emulation as well as their CLA-76 to emulate the 1176 of Comp #3. The CB303 was once again used on the “Harmonic Distortion” preset to emulate the Distressor and the Waves Puigchild 660 was the closes emulation to the Fairchild 666 of Comp #5. Similarities between the Multi-Bus Compression routing ITB and the Multi-Vocal Compression routing are obvious, with the “Dummy Bus” utilized to mimic removing the individual channels from the Stereo Bus and the sends used to emulate the SSL routing matrix post-fader mode. Selecting post-fader allows for the channel faders to be used to push into the “sweet spot” of these compressors, much like with the ABCD busses.

Unlike the ABCD busses, there isn’t any calibration for the Multi-Vocal set-up and through experimentation have found any gain reduction in excess of 3dB to be detrimental. In having 5 compressors reducing gain by 3dB, 15dB of Gain Reduction is achieved overall that sounds natural, as opposed to how choked and revealing a singular insert of 15dB would be. A diagram displaying the routing of the Multi-Vocal set-up ITB along with recommended plug-ins can be found in Figure 4.

ITB Vox ConfigurationFigure 4: Multi-Vocal Compression ITB

Parallel 1176 – Glue Festival

Multi-Bus Compression and Multi-Vocal Compression; as discussed above, should get you well on your way to a cohesive, punchy mix, though if it doesn’t Brauer has another ace up his sleeve. A pair of unlinked 1176’s are utilized in order to send any aspect of the mix; utilizing a stereo cue send, for further glue. It may be desired to send the entire mix there as a parallel, or the ABCD busses and the Vocals, or maybe your mix works without using it at all. It’s there as a final crutch for gluing the mix together. The 1176’s are set to “all buttons in mode” and it’s once more recommended that the gain reduction is tickled, as opposed to pinned. The routing of the 1176’s OTB can be seen in the diagram of Figure 5.

Brauer Parallel 1176Figure 5: Parallel 1176 OTB

To replicate ITB, simply set-up a stereo auxiliary with your choice of 1176 emulation inserted and send desired audio to the bus. As Brauer utilizes the Stereo Cue, it is important to ensure you’re sending in stereo ITB; where you can pan the send. In Pro Tools, it is recommended to utilize the “Follow Main Pain” function as this will automatically pan your send relative to it’s pan position on the channel itself. As no two pieces of analogue equipment sound identical, in order to truly replicate the effect of two separate 1176’s ITB, try using two mono auxiliaries panned hard left and right with separate 1176 emulations on each. Set the input to the auxiliaries to adjacent busses (such as Bus 1 for the left and Bus 2 for the right) and send channels to Bus 1 + 2 for the fullest effect. See Figure 6 for an ITB routing diagram.

ITB Parallel 1176Figure 6: Parallel 1176 ITB


You have now gone through “Brauerizing” as a whole and are now aware of the power behind utilizing compressors for the tone and attitude they have as opposed to their dynamic control, you can subtly “counter-pump” material to keep adding energy and dynamic to your mix, the stereo bus is not choking for once and the multiple stages of macro-compression have added up to an RMS lift, making your mix louder in a musical way… or maybe not and you need some Troubleshooting!

If you can’t get to grips with the routing (remember, it’s not in parallel!), I’d recommend spending more time with the diagrams and accompanying text as they explain concisely exactly what gets routed where and is then displayed. I cannot recommend Brauer’s website enough for the Q&A section, where you will find all of the information harnessed for this guide.

There are no hard and fast rules regarding what channels should be routed to what busses for the Multi-Bus Compression stage, just as there are no rules for the amount of compression, so experiment until it sounds good! The above is merely a guide to get you started. However, if your mix is lacking to begin with, Brauerizing will expose this further and cannot be used as a substitute to good mixing. It can aid to finalize, but not replace mastering.

Tone Boxes

Just incase there’s any doubt as to the harmonic injection plug-ins can have… here are the 5 busses (ABCD and the B Grot box) with a 1 kHz sine wave routed through the plug-ins.

A Bus 1000HzFigure 7: A Bus – McDSP 6030 Brit C + Puigtec EQ

B Bus 1000HzFigure 8: B Bus – McDSP CB303 (Harmonic Distortion) + API 550A

B Grot Bus 1000HzFigure 9: B Bus Grot – Decapitator

C Bus 1000HzFigure 10: C Bus – VBC FG-MU

D Bus 1000HzFigure 11: D Bus – V-Comp (Limit) + S1 Imager

Blind Listening Test

“Brauerizing” as you will now be aware makes up a large part of my University Degree and I have been collating individuals to partake in a Double Blind Listening test to judge whether or not the mix that has been “Brauerized” as opposed to utilising other finalising techniques is favoured. If you’d like to partake, listen to the SoundCloud set in the link below and leave a comment on your favourite of the four. Maybe one feels more punchy, or one seems to convey emotion and dynamic more than the other three. Individual levels have not been adjusted between mixes and the finalising techniques are all that have differed!

Feel free to send your comments to me via e-mail using the contact form below.

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Brauerizing: The Routing.

Here it is, finally. An in depth explanation of the routing of Brauerizing, both from an OTB (Outside the Box) perspective and ITB (In the Box) perspective.

ABCD Routing

One thing that must be stressed, is that the ABCD configuration is not done in parallel. Not strictly anyway. For anybody that’s ever worked on an analogue console before, they’ll know that it’s possible to route audio out of the stereo bus, yet still send to the centre groups and still utilise send and returns using the routing matrix of the console. This is how the ABCD of Brauer’s Multi-Bus Compression works. The channels are not being routed to the stereo bus and are taken out utilising the consoles routing matrix, but are instead being routed to the ABCD busses utilising the send faders on each channel, returning in the desired ABCD bus. To see the routing of this OTB, please see the diagram below.

ImageFigure 1: Multi-Bus Compression OTB

The image appears to have saved a little wonky. The A bus also has a Pultec EQ patched across and the C bus should say Vari-Mu compressor. The information above has been taken from Brauer’s Q&A on his website, as well as utilising various articles around the net. As you can see the individual channels are outputted out of the stereo bus and sent to the ABCD busses. The ABCD busses are then outputted to the Stereo Bus. This allows for the individual channels to be dynamically and tonally controlled in their individual bus prior to the stereo bus, causing one of two phenomena.

#1 – Counter-pumping. Where each bus has a different speed of reduction, causing the individual busses to counter-pump between each other; albeit with small gain reduction values, subtly adding the aural and metaphorical perception of the music coming toward you in waves (the wet type as opposed to sound!)

#2 – Stereo Bus Safety. In compression slightly between each individual ABCD bus, it allows for the channels to glue between each other, without the reliance on heavy stereo-bus compression; commonplace in many mixes. Utilising the slight compression between the ABCD with Stereo Bus compression becomes a complete Glue festival, and adds that professional punch that many home studio mixes are missing.

Well, what’s different ITB you may be thinking? I use Pro Tools, so cannot speak for other Digital Audio Workstations, but if you attempt to take the individual channels out of the stereo bus utilising the “No Output” option; the DAW equivalent of how Brauer routes his audio, you will be unable to utilise the send and returns of the channel, as it defuncts the fader. In order to get around this, the audio of the individual channels must be outputted to a “Dummy Output” which in my session was an un-utilised bus. This therefore allowed for the channel faders and send functions to still work, while not affecting the Stereo Bus.

In an earlier post, I discussed having the ABCD sends in post fader compression, which with the Dummy Output should now make perfect sense. In having the audio routed to a pseudo-nowhere, the send faders can remain at 0, and the individual channel faders ridden into that “sweet spot” calibrated for the ABCD busses. For extra sweetness on top of the automation, ride the sends too. A diagram of the ABCD configuration ITB can be seen below.


Figure 2: Multi-Bus Compression ITB

Again, the image format has been a little fruity so bare with! In order to get the truest representation of Brauer’s techniques, I sought after the equivalent plug-ins that I own. McDSP’s 6030 compressor has a Brit-C setting which models the Neve 33609, and was the apt choice for A along with Waves PuigTech Pultec emulation. McDSP’s CB303 (or CB3 for those using the legacy plug-ins) has a “Harmonic Distortion” preset that emulated a Distressor and was tweaked to match the ratio, attack and release settings Brauer utilises. Brauer discusses utilising a 3 band EQ on the B bus and therefore used Waves API 550A emulation as it worked well with the program material.

On Brauer’s site in the Interviews section, there is an AES Masterclass he did in 2007 where his assistant discusses Brauerizing ITB utilising a “Grot Box” to send the B bus to. I experimented with this and enjoyed sending B to a severely punished mono decapitator, adding much harmonic loveliness to the input material and blended back in to taste.

The C bus utilised a Vari-Mu compressor and therefore used the brilliant Slate Digital Virtual Bus Compressor Mu emulation and the D bus utilised my favourite limiter plug-in for tone, which is the Waves V-Comp (Compression turned off, Limit turned on). Surprisingly all of these plug-ins add harmonic content to the input signal, as seen below with the A, B, B Grot, C and D plug-ins having just a 1 kHz sine wave routed through them.


Figure 3: A Bus – 1 kHz test tone


Figure 4: B Bus – 1 kHz test tone

ImageFigure 5 – B Grot (Decapitator) – 1 kHz test tone

ImageFigure 6: C Bus – 1 kHz test tone


Figure 7 – D Bus – 1 kHz Test Tone

So as you can see from the above images, plug-ins aren’t transparent at all! They’re tone boxes. I hope this has so far helped regarding the routing of the ABCD busses.

Vox Routing

Another part of the Brauerizing pie is the way that vocals are routed. In an OTB scenario, the Lead Vox is multed to two faders, where each fader is processed independently for the verse and chorus; something many mixing engineers will be familiar with. In this project, the track I mixed did not require a separate mult for the verse and chorus as it sat perfectly in the track with just an instance of heavy parallel distortion. As the output of the Lead Vox is patched to the two floated channels, the two channels are then taken out of the Stereo Bus; alike the individual channels sent to the ABCD busses, but then sent to 5 compressors. These 5 compressors are then outputted to the Stereo Bus. A signal flow diagram for this OTB can be seen in the diagram below.


Figure 8: Vox Processing OTB

Utilising what was discussed in the Multi-Bus Compression section, the next bit should be taken in quite well. It’s important that the Lead Vox (or Mult where applicable) is outputted to the Dummy Out and then sent to the 5 compressors. The Signal Flow for this ITB can be seen below.


Figure 9: Vox Processing ITB

Again, it was important to try and match the hardware utilised by Brauer to their plug-in equivalents, though proven a little more difficult with the boutique compressors Brauer uses OTB as they don’t seem to have many plug-in equivalents! In researching, the Federal is a Vari-Mu compressor and therefore utilised the old faithful Slate VBC FG-Mu once more. In research, the STA-Level was likened to the LA-2A and therefore used Waves CLA-2A emulation, along with their CLA-1176 emulation for Comp #3. The CB303 was utilised on “Harmonic Distortion” once more to emulate the Distressor and although there isn’t a Fairchild 666 emulation, the Puigchild 660 worked well. All of these plug-ins, alike the ABCD compressors, added harmonic content to the signal.

It’s important to be wary of the attack and release time used on the compressors, as compressors manipulate the ADSR of an amplitude envelope, and therefore it’s better in this instance to think of them as altering the time domain as opposed to the loudness spectrum. If the attack and release times between the 5 compressors don’t compliment each other, you will soon find yourself in comb filtering, phasey hell!

The beauty of the 5 compressors is that each are reducing the gain anywhere from .5dB to 3dB at the upmost peaks. If one compressor was placed on the Lead Vocal channel; as opposed to this floating method, and 15dB of Gain Reduction on the loudest peaks were applied, the sound would be awful and lifeless. In using this parallel methodology, it allows 3dB + 3dB + 3dB + 3dB + 3dB between each compressor, allowing the compression to be perceived as much more natural, yet still taming the dynamics as much. By bringing up the RMS level of the vocals this way and similarly with the Multi-Bus Compression stages of the ABCD busses, it allows for loudness to be achieved in a much more forgiving way than slamming a limiter on the Stereo Bus and sucking all of the dynamic range out. In having these channels “counter-pumping” between each other, dynamics can be reduced while still being perceived as being there.

Parallel 1176

The final stage of the Brauer puzzle is the unlinked dual 1176’s that audio from anywhere within the mix can be routed to. This is not strict and is used as a further cushion where glue is desired, though the ratio settings should be set to the All Buttons In mode. If the 5 compressors for the vox and ABCD configuration are not giving the desired tone or glue, audio can be routed to the Parallel 1176’s for added tone and glue and are sent via a stereo cue send. The Parallel 1176’s are routed to the Stereo Bus and can be seen below in an OTB scenario.


Figure 10: Parallel 1176’s OTB

In an ITB scenario, the routing options are limitless. If it’s desired that the ABCD should be sent to the Parallel 1176’s, so be it. It is important to state that the send to the 1176 should be a stereo send, so the 1176’s do not cause a “big mono” effect. This can be achieved in Pro Tools by using the FMP (Follow Main Pan) function on each send, to ensure that the channel is sent to the 1176’s in the same place in the stereo field as they appear in the mix.

Remember, although the strict rules of Brauerizing apply very much to Michael Brauer himself, the world already has a Michael Brauer. Play with the techniques aforementioned and develop your own way of making your mixes stand out. ITB the 1176 routing would be as shown below.


Figure 11: Parallel 1176’s ITB

Final Thoughts

I’ve simply ran with this, so hopefully the above makes sense. Feel free to get in touch with any questions, if this was helpful, if you like it, if you don’t and most importantly, if you’d like to help my project in be involved in a Blind Listening Test to identify whether Brauerizing is all that you may have thought, or do you prefer a mix without Brauerizing?! Please fill out the contact form below and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Thanks a lot!


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A look into the session!

So I’ve started running with the project work again, so those that have contacted me with questions expect an answer shortly!

Here’s a look into my Pro Tools Session for Brauerizing, lots of channels, lots of automation, lots of plug-ins. CPU didn’t cough! What massive system am I running you ask? My humble 2011 Macbook Pro, utilising Pro Tools 11 and the Built in Output. ImageI feel like I’ve really honed in on Brauerizing now, and have achieved it ITB. A double blind listening test is being arranged right now to discover whether or not it is worthwhile in comparison to standard mix-bus compression, multi-band compression of the mix bus and New York compression. Once the results are in from that, links to the Brauerized piece will be available for all to listen to!

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The Perils of Moving House

Good afternoon all!

Project’s took a back seat for now as I’m in the process of moving house and it’s rather stressful!

More updates to come shortly!

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Multi-Bus Compression Signal Flow

A great deal of these posts have been very much text driven, so based upon the research conducted I created a signal flow diagram for my project report of Multi-Bus Compression. The Signal Flow diagram is very much OTB (Outside the Box) driven, I’ll explain how it can be achieved accurately ITB (In the Box) in a later post, for now I have writing to do!


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101, baby

What a great end to the week! I passed my Pro Tools 101 exam and will be progressing to the 110 at the end of the year. Japes and larks all round.

Coming on leaps and bounds with my project write up too! Or at least I seen to think I am!!

It’s nice to finally get things all in line. Back home I go to explore the SSL J’s manual some more!

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Demonstrations have disappeared!

Soundcloud has been odd, bugged and my audio files are no longer there.

I’ve been spending my time writing up the report and getting it as bulletproof as I can, it’s been very insightful reading through the SSL manual and making a comparative template ITB.

I’ve also had a lovely chap from South Africa enquire into the process and if I’ll share my template, of which I am more than happy to comply with!

Updates coming soon

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Doing it wrong…

Bloody hell, this Brauerizing is much more complex than I ever imagined. Those interviews might as well be in Morse code, but I’ve finally got to the bottom of it..

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