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Old 2013-01-20, 09:40
parachutes parachutes is offline
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 35
How do YOU use compression with your drum sounds?

I've been reading a lot about some artists, like Washed Out and Baths, that i like and about how they get nice big drum sounds. They all talk about using compression. I'm new to mixing, and I'm still trying to wrap my head around compression, but what i want to know is how you guys have successfully used it in your songs. I'm looking to crisp up my mixes, and get that nice non-empty drum sound. so how does it work for you?
Old 2013-01-20, 14:54
JeroenPost JeroenPost is offline
Join Date: Nov 2012
Posts: 38
Hi... I just tried to help someone on another topic.
He wanted to make to the stock reason drum sounds sound better.

I Replied him and attatched a Reason file to show some example.
It's not only about compression, but it's also in there.

Feel free to check it out, i think it has something in it for you.
Old 2013-01-20, 16:25
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pushedbutton pushedbutton is online now
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Discussions like this usually take place in the user forum.
Most of the serious users (the talented ones) don't look in this section as it's full of people asking stupid questions. This question is reasonably sensible.
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Old 2013-01-20, 19:50
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JellyF JellyF is offline
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Originally Posted by pushedbutton View Post
Discussions like this usually take place in the user forum.
Most of the serious users (the talented ones) don't look in this section as it's full of people asking stupid questions. This question is reasonably sensible.
So lets bring some talent here as well then?

Anyway, to stick to the topic: I recently read a thread on gearslutz with Bruce Swedein about compression. And to be honest, after reading that I kind of started to doubt Compressors. Or anyway the way I used to use them.

Lets split this in CBBS (Compression Before Bruce Swedein) and CABS (Compression After Bruce Swedein).

Short background story on me. Im a 23 year old guy from sweden. Since 2004 I'we been writing pop music with Reason. My standard setup has been an M-Class Compressor and at least one Eq for every track. Why?
I don't know why! Because "your supposed to compress your bas like this, your kick like this" and so on. Using ratios between 4:1 and 10:1 on everything. This was CBBS.

CABS are a whole different story. At the moment I'm working on my next album. Mixing with CBBS everything sound dull. So I decided to start over. Mixing in Mono, first setting levels. Then moving over to eq. Forming some sound, making room etc. And THEN. Listening to the whole mix, not soloing any tracks, I listened for tracks that could need some compression. I ended up with five compressor for the whole 50 track song.

I had a electric guitar making a picked riff in the verses that was kind of uneven in volume. So I compressed it to even it out.

Same thing with lead vocals, but I also did some gain riding.

The Bass guitar was king of flappy. Compression on that.

I wanted to compress the kick. Long attack to get more punch in the attack.

And then finally a Softube Fet Compressor on a mix channel summing up all drum-channels. Just about 2 db Gain reduction.

Thats all.

My point being:

1 whenever you put something on a channel ask your self "Why?". If you can't answer, then don't put it there.

2 You don't need compression on ALL tracks. Comprssors are a tool. Use when needed, don't make it a standard sound designer.
Old 2013-01-21, 01:22
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djfm1983 djfm1983 is offline
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 949
(To the OP) if your having issues with compression please check out my A/B compression comparison video on my livestream channel ( in the recorded videos). Whenever your compressing anything it's a good idea to match the dry signal and comp signal to the same peak db when comparing. This is very important and will help you with adjusting your compression settings. Selig even recommends comparing with the comp signal slightly lower than the comp signal. Once I learned about A/B comparing it totally improved my compression technique.
Old 2013-01-21, 11:18
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scifunk scifunk is offline
Join Date: Apr 2002
Posts: 918
The first rule is to get the untreated sound as close to what you want before trying to treat it.

This may not be to the liking of the pro users here but my general rule is compress everything individually first. Sounds with low frequencies compress more heavily with larger ratios then the higher end frequencies.

Don't compress a sound fully with one compressor, and the same can go for eq. 'Save' a little compression room for grouping similar elements ie drums to be treated with group compression. It takes a while to learn not to go overboard at the individual stage. Grouped compression and eq will add glue to your sounds and make the mix sound more together.

All things that take time and a good ear to perfect (I'm still learning)
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Old 2013-01-21, 11:50
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KevWestBeats KevWestBeats is offline
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Posts: 5,646
that video should give you an idea of what the knobs and settings do. Depending on the drum sound you will want to compress them with different settings of course or sometimes not compress at all. There are no one size fits all answers to mixing in general its all about using your ears and knowing what the knobs do. That said in general for drums I like a fast attack with a slightly slower release and I adjust the threshold to taste. My favorite compressor to use right now is not a Reason compressor its the British channel strip vst from Ik mutlimedia. For Reason I really like the Fxpansion Chan Comp and Transient Designer. The entire FXpansion Dcam Dynamics collection is great. I considered buying it in vst format.
Old 2013-01-21, 18:46
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Garland Garland is offline
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Usually what I do is layer, EQ, and then compress. For example, I'll choose two different kicks and two different snares. Each sound will have slightly different tonal qualities and each sound will go to its own mix channel.

After selecting the sounds and sending them to their own mix channel, I'll carve out a unique EQ for each sound, and then I'll take one of the kicks and one of the snare and either use the channel strip compressor or place an MClass compressor as an insert on the channel. Then I adjust levels and compressor settings until I'm happy.
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Old 2013-01-21, 19:33
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Djstarski Djstarski is offline
Join Date: Sep 2002
Posts: 1,056
it took me years to understand compression , because to many people telling me what they do with a compressor . not how to use it , but what they do with a compressor .ie

1 compressors can add character to the sound
2 i parallel compress my drums to give it a bit more depth .
3 you use a fast attack and fast release on my drums
4 i just want to level out the vocals
5 i want to squash the living day lights out of the sounds

back to basics : M-Class compressor is a good start .

make up gain

research the above parameters first

forget everything else for now .

great videos to start with is :

take your time with these videos , music aint going anywhere .

check out the rest of his videos . he is great on the basics of a compressor .

i just want to add that he does not tell you to buy any particular brand of compressor , he just shows you how to use one .

Last edited by Djstarski; 2013-01-21 at 19:37.
Old 2013-01-21, 19:36
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JoshuaPhilgarlic JoshuaPhilgarlic is offline
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Posts: 1,376
Originally Posted by JellyF View Post
1 whenever you put something on a channel ask your self "Why?". If you can't answer, then don't put it there.

2 You don't need compression on ALL tracks. Comprssors are a tool. Use when needed, don't make it a standard sound designer.
Yay, you're absolutely right! Perhaps one could add that the first issue is to understand how a compressor works and what it can do. If you got that you can decide where it's useful. There's absolutely no need to use a compressor everywhere and it may even be counterproductive to apply any kind of preset or to follow any "rules", just 'cause they never fit to the sound you actually use.
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