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Compression stages for drums and the rest of the mix

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Compression stages for drums and the rest of the mix

Postby Edde000 » Wed Nov 21, 2018 1:46 pm

Hi all!

Im doing a 90s punkrock mix. I'm thinking about the stages of compressions for drums in particular. All four of these seems a bit overdoing or is it smart to do a bit of compression in each stage or will i simply flaten out the effect of one or many stages? What would be your take on it to get a punchy and a bit garagey mix?

* Hard room mic compression to get some of the swelling effect
* Side chaining compression on kick and bass together
* Parallell compression for the whole drum kit
* Compression of the whole mix

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Re: Compression stages for drums and the rest of the mix

Postby CS70 » Wed Nov 21, 2018 3:20 pm

Dont think there are fast rules, mostly it depends on the recordings you have and the sound you're after.

A compressor increases the level of detail. That's a good thing when the detail is nice, not so good when it's not. When a compressor is applied to a mix of sounds, it also changes how the frequencies interact and thus changes the timbre. The way it does that depends on the compressor's characteristics, which is why compressors sound different from each other.

So for a non-dedicated room, you don't want to compress the drums at all (the overheads, I mean). I almost always set up parallel compression for the kick (I usually have two mics for the kick), which allows me to get it big and cut thru , then back it off to whatever reasonable level suits the song and my taste. Snare can benefit, but an exciter and some balancing is often more realiable and effective.

If the room mic sounds good, and you want more detail from it, why not? Just try and see how it works. Works best when all the instruments are recorded in the same room tough, as it makes a little harder to create a new space using reverbs and delays.

Sidechaining bass and kick is a common trick and it's not really much to do with compression sound by itself - you just lower the bass for a short while to get more of the kick's thump.

Finally, bus compression is something you may either leave to the mastering stage, or "mix in" a compressor - which basically will make so that everything has a little more detail and a slightly different timbre and interacts with each other in a way that may glue things better.

There's who does, there's who doesn't.

The best way of thinking is to have an idea of the sound you're after - many roads bring to Rome :-) Also good to always compress (or parallel-compress) while listening to the whole mix - because that's how the final listener will hear it.

Then of course if you have a happy accident along the way and discover that doing something does great things, it's great.
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Re: Compression stages for drums and the rest of the mix

Postby The Elf » Wed Nov 21, 2018 7:01 pm

This idea that 'parallel compression' is one specific type of effect is becoming a bit of a tea cake. It can add to the punch, or it can bring up the room noise and rattles. It's all about how you set it up.

So decide what sound you're going for and choose your tools and settings to support that aim. And you could always try avoiding compression until something tells you you need it - which should also tell what type of compression is appropriate too.
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