I've read some pretty conflicting statements about what people should or shouldn't do when it comes to putting effects on the master bus. In general, what I always do is put on a compressor but have it set to very gently compress the mix and make sure it doesn't clip. I normally don't have a clipping problem but since I mainly mainly make electronic music, sometimes some extreme synth basses with a strong mid section don't like to agree with me when added on top of other sounds.
I know its better to compress the individual tracks and not the master bus, but I can tell a difference in the overall quality of the sound when I use a compressor gently. I still try to leave a good amount of headroom.
So to get down to it is this a bad method of practice? I honestly like the sound better if I use a little compression. I don't fully understand what mastering engineers actually do yet but if you feel like explaining that feel free.
What confuses me about this is some people say mastering adds the "sparkle and shine" to the song while also evening out the levels to make all your songs sound more even, which I assume they do in part with COMPRESSION ON THE MASTER CANDIDATE. Isn't this what your do while mixing though? I thought getting that "magic" into your track came from getting all the pieces to fit together nicely. Please correct me here. I want to learn it all.
I don't get why I should add compression later when it sounds good now
Also keep in mind, I mainly make electronic music and mostly use VSTi's which are sometimes difficult to mix while maintaining the sound you want