Glue compression is a compression effect applied by passing multiple tracks through a single compressor and processing them together to make them sound more unified. This type of compression tightens up the sound by controlling the dynamics to create a more consistent performance. FL Studio does not have a glue compressor by default, but you can use Maximus to achieve the desired effect. So let’s go over the process in detail.
Applying Glue Compression
Glue compression works best on multiple input sources. You will first need to prepare the project before we can apply the compression to make sure it works efficiently.
Creating Bus Tracks in the Mixer.
Before you begin you will need to create bus tracks by routing multiple mixer tracks to one mixer track. This will allow us to control the dynamics of all the multiple tracks through the bus using only one instance of Maximus.
Step 1: Open the mixer by pressing the F9 key.
Step 2: Select the mixer tracks to be sent to the bus. In my case, I want to create a bus track for all the drums. I’ll first select the drum tracks by holding down Shift + Ctrl and clicking on the desired tracks.
Step 3: While the tracks are selected, find an empty mixer track and right click on the arrow located at the bottom of the mixer track.
I want to send my drums to insert 29. I’ll right click on the arrow at the bottom of the mixer track and select ‘Route to this track only’.
Note: This will unroute the selected mixer tracks from the master and any other mixer tracks they were routed to.
Step 4: I’ll rename Insert 29 to ‘Drum Bus’ by right clicking on it and selecting ‘Rename, color and icon’ or by selecting it and pressing F2.
I’ll rename it to drum bus and color it for easier identification.
I will repeat the process to create a guitar bus, a pluck bus, and an ambience bus.
Now that we have created the bus tracks, we can move on to applying glue compression.
Step 1: I want to start with the drum bus so I will select it by clicking on it.
Once it is selected, click on an empty FX slot and go to Select> Dynamics> Maximus to load the plug-in.
Maximus is now loaded onto the drum bus.
Applying Glue Compression
Now that Maximus is loaded, let’s dial in the compression settings.
Step 1: I’ll start by setting the threshold and ratio. Right away you will notice that Maximus doesn’t have the traditional threshold and ratio settings. The threshold and attack are set using the graph-like tool located on the top left of the plug in.
The vertical axis indicates the output level while the horizontal axis indicates the output level.
The compression envelope gives us a real life application of the compression ratio graph.
By default, the compression envelope is set to limiting by using the ∞:1 (infinite to one) ratio at a threshold of 0dB on the output level (vertical axis).
The compression envelope gives visual feedback which I’ll use to dial in my threshold and ratio settings.
You can set the threshold by using the middle control point (circled in red below) and dragging it along the diagonal axis until it is right below your peaks.
After setting my threshold.
You can see the compression taking place by looking at the analysis display that’s next to the compression envelope.
Set the ratio using the other control point. Drag it down for a steeper ratio.
Drag the control point up or higher for a gentler ratio.
Glue compression typically uses a gentle ratio between 2:1 and 4:1. I’ll replicate a gentle ratio in the compression envelope.
Step 2: For glue compression, we normally go for a slow attack and a fast release. The slow attack allows the initial transients to pass through which retains the punch of the mix. The fast release makes the compressor hold on to the tails for long enough without completely squashing them and as a result tightens up the mix.
Use the ATT knob to set the attack time in milliseconds.
Use the REL knob to set the release time. REL creates an accelerating release curve.
Maximus also has a second release time knob labelled REL 2 which has a decelerating curve.
Use REL and REL 2 together to create more complex release curves.
Below the attack and release knobs are the curve settings containing numbers in boxes.
The curve settings affect and change the curve of the parameter pointing to them. They can be used to further shape the attack and release curves to achieve the desired results. The curve setting ranges between 1 and 8, with 1 being a steep slope and 8 being a gentle slope. Use these to further affect the attack and release curves.
Use the SUSTAIN knob to increase the sustain of the compressor if it is releasing too early.
Applying Glue Compression in Multiband
I have only been using the master band for this illustration, however, Maximus can also be used to apply glue compression individually to the low, mid, and high bands found in the plug-in. Browse through the 4 bands by using the band selectors.
For me, this particularly useful on the master track during mixing as it gives me more control and more options to apply glue compression on a per band basis.
Note: The parameters displayed in the plug-in‘s interface are only for the currently selected band. All four bands function separately and a change in one band will not affect the other bands.
Knowing how to use glue compression is a vital skill for any music producer or sound engineer looking to deliver quality productions and mixes. It could be what your track is missing to add a sense of unity that is needed to make all the elements in your track feel like one. Maximus has been a game changer for me in terms of bus processing and glue compression. I hope this tutorial inspires you to load up the plug-in on your master or bus tracks and do the same. As always, have fun experimenting!