Apply Compression to Entire Project

I read some place that it’s a good idea to compress the whole project. I’ve also done it before. But when I inserted compression into Stereo Out, it highlighted some instruments and suppressed others. My piece is a large orchestral Epic soundtrack demo. To compress or not to compress the entire piece? If so, what type of compression and what parameter settings? All comments appreciated.


It depends on the Music Style. And also the library, you are using. Be aware, most (or maybe all) linraries are compressed already.

But the overall compressor is here to “Glue” the record, somehow. So you can use it even for the samples. Be carefull with the compressor on the individual channels.

Hi Martin,

I found out where I had read it. It was in one of my recording textbooks. This is what they call Final Mix Compression or Bus Compression. You apply this after everything else (before dithering, of course) to the output channel. In my case Stereo Out. The reason is to reduce the dynamic range (make the highs lower and lows higher). This adds 1-2 dB to the final mix and improves bass perception. But I personally think it makes a demo more audible in case the CD is being listened to in a car or other somewhat noisy surroundings.

The book recommends starting with medium attack/release, 4:1 ratio, and keeping the levels between 3-6 dB. The tool they recommend is the multi-band compressor. I have a lesson scheduled with a recording engineer next week who has a couple dozen credits on IMDb. I will report back.

Hey Martin,

I talked to a film composer friend. He said that it is important to compress the final mix as people will listen on iPhone speakers! But he had not set rules for the compression parameters. I used the multi-band compressor that comes with Cubase 8 and got results that I’m happy with. My piece is a MIDI mock up orchestral “epic” demo with a wide timbral and dynamic range. Other genres will most likely use different parameters. As they always say: “trust your ears”! For the benefit of forum here’s what I did. I set the output level to 0 dB and set the following parameters exactly the same for all four bands:

Level: 0 dB (flat line across)
Ratio: 4 to 1
Threshold: -15.0 dB
Attack: 1.0 ms
Release: 500 ms

I sacrificed the dynamic range a little but got a “punchier” sound that could be listened to on cheap speakers!