Parallel Compression [Video]

| Audio Example, Mixing, Pro Tools, Tips, Video

If you’ve worked with audio for any length of time then you’re likely to have used a compressor once or twice. The basic idea of a compressor is to reduce the dynamic range of the audio, even it out if you will, and then you can bring up the overall gain or volume of that now more consistent performance. Sometimes, however, we can push it a bit too much and you can “hear” the compressor working (not a bad thing if that is your desired effect).

So how can we benefit from compression while at the same time preserving the natural dynamics of a track? The answer is parallel compression. Let’s take a quick look at how to fatten some drums up naturally using this age old technique.

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14 Responses to “Parallel Compression [Video]”

  1. Mark

    Is there a difference from using a secondary bus for the parallel aux or could I just duplicate the aux channel?

    Reply
  2. Javier

    I’d say it’s the same in this particular case. Although I also use different busses when doing parallel compression. Mostly because sometimes you don’t want to send the entire drums to the compressed buss, maybe KD, SD & OH only. To do that, you would need different busses, so I think it’s easier to start with two busses form the beginning. Cheers!

    Reply
  3. James

    Hey, there!

    Great video!

    For using a send instead of additional outputs, don’t you mean “Full volume, POST fader”? I mean, you want to preserve your drums mix, right?

    Keep up the great content!

    – James

    @jameswilletts

    Reply
  4. Graham

    @Mark – Javier is correct. It really doesn’t matter, but it gives you more flexibility if you keep things on separate buses.

    @James – Great catch! You would definitely want POST fader if using sends for routing. Thank you sir.

    Reply
  5. Joel

    I just wanted to mention something I noticed with using parallel compression in logic pro. I decided to beef up a bass track by sending it to an aux channel (pre fader send) and dirtying it up a little. I like how it sounds, but kept getting a clicking noise at the end of my track. I figured out that it was because I was fading out the original bass channel, but not the parallel channel. Once I also automated a fade out on the aux channel, it sounded smooth. I don’t know how if that kind of routing causes conflicts in other DAW’s, but it’s something to look out for in Logic Pro 9.

    Reply
  6. Nathan Walker

    This is great. I had been using REAPER’s “Transient control” to achieve a similar effect, but this gives way more control.

    Reply
  7. Nathan Walker

    Is there an important functional difference between this and just controlling the Wet/Dry value on a compressor? Obviously there is somewhat less control…

    Reply
    • Graham

      Yes, because you can blend in compression on just a few of the drum tracks (kick, snare, toms, etc) and not the overheads. Also, it gives you a fader to automate and effect with other plugins.

      Reply
  8. Louis

    Great tutorial. I’m a little confused by the way the slower release time made the drums sound fatter? I would think the opposite would be true, since a faster release would allow more of the decay on the snare/kick to return to its original, louder level quicker, thereby increasing sustain. What am I missing?

    Reply
  9. Nathan

    What I like to do is something I think you talked about in another post. I love the sound of a room mic on drums so what I do is put a large diaphragm condenser mic as a room mic and get as beefy a sound as possible. Then I compress the room track hard and use it in the stead of a parallel compression bus.

    I guess this wouldn’t cut it though if you were wanting to beef up the snare and bass drum without cymbals. Works well for the sound I’m going for though.

    Reply
  10. Louis

    Great tutorial. I’m a little confused by the way the slower release time made the drums sound fatter? I would think the opposite would be true, since a faster release would allow more of the decay on the snare/kick to return to its original, louder level quicker, thereby increasing sustain. What am I missing?

    Reply
    • Graham

      Louis, on the 1176 compressor, the release set to 7 (all the way to the right) actually is a fast release. It looks backwards.

      Reply

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