Before applying any effects on your instruments you need to think about the following :”What do I want to achieve?”
Do you want to shave 1dB of the peak of the kick? If yes, then by all means do it, its how it sounds in the end that matters, how you get to your vision is not important.
My way to have everything to blend is as followed.
1.Set your master to MONO
2.Set all faders to -inf.
3.Move the fader up with the most important element
4.Move the other faders up 1 by 1 picking again the more important elements first EG: after you have your vocal level, start doing the kick and snare
5.Once you have a nice balance in MONO (you can hear all the elemements the way you want them, change your master to STEREO
6.Now you start panning to give the instruments that need to be panned their own space (there are no rules as to what should be panned where, its all preference)
7.Start EQ’ing, but dont boost anything, use it strictly for filtering and cutting resonances.
8. I use a different EQ at this point for boosting, again, no rules. If you prefer the EQ you are working with, then stick with it.
9. Start compressing where you feel an instrument needs compression. Usually if you hear an instrument isn’t sitting quite right, compression will help you here.
10. add your delays and reverbs
11. add additional FX :phasers/flangers etc…
12. Draw in your automation if you plan on using it.
13. if you are not mastering your music yourself, leave the master buss untouched, unless its for shaping the sound of the overal mix, but always be subtle, nothing drastic
If you are planning on mastering it yourself, then again, go for what you think is needed. Typically you will have an EQ, followed by a compressor, followed by a limiter.
Thats what I do as a quick master.
Use something between a 1.5:1 to 4:1 ratio, slow attack, medium to slow release, look for about 2 to 4dB of gain reduction, and use 2 to 4 db of make up gain.
Limiter on the end to match the loudness of the reference. Usually I go for -3dB gain reduction when I’m using the L2