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5 Secret Weapons for Your Mix Buss (Hardware)

There are plenty of affordable plugins that can add character, clarity and punch to your master bus, but occasionally forgotten among them are some incredible and lesser-known pieces of hardware that can enhance your mixes.

1. Smart Research C2 Compressor

This compressor has a familiar look and functionality to the SSL Master Buss Compressor, but its applications don’t stop at adding glue and musicality to the master bus. It houses dual mono compressors, which is a great function for tending to material with uneven left/right balances, and comes with a “crush mode” for fast limiting.

2. Pultec EPQ-1A

A common practice is to run the stereo mix through a pair of these classic equalizers, adding a generous amount of 10, 12, or 16 kHz for brightness, clarity and air. Obtaining a matched stereo pair can be costly, so if price is an issue, numerous software developers including Waves, Universal Audio and IK Multimedia have emulated them.

3. HEDD by Cranesong

Complete with Triode, Pentode, and Tape settings, this is a versatile AD/DA converter that can add sparkle or warmth to an otherwise overly digital sounding mix.

4. Thermionic Culture Vulture

Touted as the first all-tube harmonic distortion unit for studio use, the vulture comes complete with numerous distortion types. The sounds this unit imparts can become rather extreme, which is why it’s so popular on individual sources or drum busses. However, the fact that they created a Mastering Version is proof that engineers have been experimenting with running their stereo mixes through the original.


5. Clariphonic Parallel EQ by Kush Audio

Designed specifically for adding air and clarity to a mix, and with a competitive price point, this stereo unit is a fantastic alternative to some other more expensive stereo equalizers.

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Ian Vargo

Ian Vargo

Ian Vargo is a Producer, Mixer and Audio Professor based in Los Angeles. He has worked on numerous major label and independent records. Get in touch on his website or learn more from him in Mastering in the Box and Mixing Pop.

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