A question about parallel compression
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Old 16-12-2017, 11:35 PM   #1
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Icon5 A question about parallel compression

I have a question, I thought I had the grasp of parallel compression, but I was wrong because I didn't have a good understanding of the attack and release times of the compressor (I've been producing for almost 4 years, but the concept of compression has been one of the hardest for me to understand), so my question is, if you're using parallel compression on your drums, are you supposed to overcompress the transients of the drums by using a fast attack and a fast release or should you leave the transients as they are by increasing the amount of attack?

I know every situation is different, I'm not asking for specific numbers, I just want to know if I'm supposed to keep the transients or not? and do you know any books where I can get some detailed information about this and other methods?

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Old 16-12-2017, 11:38 PM   #2
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Re: A question about parallel compression

My understanding of using parallel compression on drums (or anything really) is to bring out certain elements while maintaining the original material. So if you want to comrpess to get snappy transients, but want to leave the rest alone, that seems reasonable.

Honestly, i don’t know ton about the technicals of compression, I just use my ears mostly.

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Old 16-12-2017, 11:54 PM   #3
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Re: A question about parallel compression

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My understanding of using parallel compression on drums (or anything really) is to bring out certain elements while maintaining the original material. So if you want to comrpess to get snappy transients, but want to leave the rest alone, that seems reasonable.

Honestly, i donít know ton about the technicals of compression, I just use my ears mostly.
I mean, I use my ears too, but I'm digging on a mixing technique called "New York Compression" and this technique requires parallel compression, but the thing is that I don't get what's my goal, to squash the sound or to keep the transients.

I read about the technique on the book "the mixing engineer's handbook" by bobby owsinski, but he's quite vague about attack and release times on this kind of compression.
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Old 17-12-2017, 12:13 AM   #4
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Re: A question about parallel compression

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Originally Posted by pepehands View Post
I mean, I use my ears too, but I'm digging on a mixing technique called "New York Compression" and this technique requires parallel compression, but the thing is that I don't get what's my goal, to squash the sound or to keep the transients.

I read about the technique on the book "the mixing engineer's handbook" by bobby owsinski, but he's quite vague about attack and release times on this kind of compression.
I often use various compressors and transient designers in parallel and series in a completely non-analytic and non-structured way, just based on what I felt at different points about improving the sound, so I might not be best suited to answer this, but imho you do the parallel thing especially in New York style compression so you can squash the hell out of the processed signal and mix it in softly while keeping the transients through the dry signal. But, of course, it depends.

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Old 17-12-2017, 03:06 PM   #5
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Re: A question about parallel compression

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Originally Posted by pepehands View Post
..and do you know any books where I can get some detailed information about this and other methods?
Bob Katz has an introduction to parallel compression in his book Mastering Audio (chapter 11 - part three: "the Lost Processes").
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Old 17-12-2017, 07:33 PM   #6
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Re: A question about parallel compression

I always thought mixing in the dry signal was supposed to make heavy compression more transparent / less noticeable
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Old 17-12-2017, 10:44 PM   #7
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Re: A question about parallel compression

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I always thought mixing in the dry signal was supposed to make heavy compression more transparent / less noticeable
Welp, now that I understand a little bit more about this technique I think you use it to make sounds bigger and fat, without destroying the transients of, for example, your drums.

I've been messing around with this trick the last 3 days non stop to find the typical settings and the effects that it can do and I must say, it's pretty cool. Parallel compression by itself it's pretty cool, but if you want something more agressive you can go full "New York" style of mixing and add (after your compressor ofc) an EQ with a high and a low shelf both boosting the low and the high end by a lot (4db to 9db!) leaving you with a really bright and fat version of your dry signal
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Old 17-12-2017, 11:04 PM   #8
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Re: A question about parallel compression

Right, New York compression will make your sound fat. It uses short attack and short-med release to duck the transient and amplify the body. It will use high compression ratios to make it effectively a limiter for the transient but with high gain on the body. You mix it into the dry signal to taste.

Best way to think about compression is like a gizmo that is really fast in turning the volume knob in response to an incoming signal. Anything exceeding the threshold will be reduced in volume x-fold based on the ratio x set. Attack will define how quickly your gizmo will be lowering the volume and release how much it will lag in bringing the volume back up.

With ratios of 10:1 or higher, you are talking about a limiter. Infinite is a brick wall limiter. Use either one too much and your waveform will look like a shitty sausage with no dynamic range, like much of EDM or brostep. Itíll sound massive and like shit all at the same time.

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Old 17-12-2017, 11:20 PM   #9
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Re: A question about parallel compression

For NY style parallel compression you want to compress the "wet" side hard with slower attack times so that you keep the attack.

Often times with this method the compressed/wet side will also get an exaggerated eq so that one side (the wet side) is really loud and proud and then you'd mix in your dry side to taste so that the wet adds emphasis.

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Old 18-12-2017, 01:28 AM   #10
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Re: A question about parallel compression

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Originally Posted by pepehands View Post
Welp, now that I understand a little bit more about this technique I think you use it to make sounds bigger and fat, without destroying the transients of, for example, your drums.

I've been messing around with this trick the last 3 days non stop to find the typical settings and the effects that it can do and I must say, it's pretty cool. Parallel compression by itself it's pretty cool, but if you want something more agressive you can go full "New York" style of mixing and add (after your compressor ofc) an EQ with a high and a low shelf both boosting the low and the high end by a lot (4db to 9db!) leaving you with a really bright and fat version of your dry signal
That's the idea, I also use quite a bit of drive or distortion or actually fuzz is cool too for this, on the wet side, and try using compression in series too.
So you could have light comp on snare, another on the kick, etc. all going to a parallel bus driven and squashed and eqed to hell. Then all that blended and with a bit more bus comp on top of it all, it helps the dry and wet gel together a bit better.

Also you can use 2 different compressors in line with less comp on each and they affect each other, giving different character than just using one. (So 2 compressors with 2 dB reduction each instead of one with 4 dB.)
Or one pre eq and one post, or any other combination, just try it out.
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Old 18-12-2017, 01:48 AM   #11
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Re: A question about parallel compression

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Originally Posted by jbvdb493 View Post
That's the idea, I also use quite a bit of drive or distortion or actually fuzz is cool too for this, on the wet side, and try using compression in series too.
So you could have light comp on snare, another on the kick, etc. all going to a parallel bus driven and squashed and eqed to hell. Then all that blended and with a bit more bus comp on top of it all, it helps the dry and wet gel together a bit better.

Also you can use 2 different compressors in line with less comp on each and they affect each other, giving different character than just using one. (So 2 compressors with 2 dB reduction each instead of one with 4 dB.)
Or one pre eq and one post, or any other combination, just try it out.
Yeah, I was thinking that you can get a lot out of this technique! those are some good ways of using it!

Right now I'm experimenting with some compression and EQ, but that thing with the 2 compressors in series is a good approach! I knew about a trick where you could use 2 limiters in series for mastering to add more character, but 2 compressors in parallel compression seem like a nice idea! thank you
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Old 10-04-2018, 02:47 PM   #12
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Re: A question about parallel compression

Hey, with the attack you want to let through the transient and clamp down the release on the note value you wish.

I wrote up a blog post on it which may help

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Old 10-04-2018, 05:49 PM   #13
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Re: A question about parallel compression

it depends what you are going for. the point of parallel compression is to create the same affect that you would with more extreme settings (usually), but more subtle.
this could be that you are squashing the transient to push the tail more and create a bigger sound or it could be that you have a slow attack and you are letting the transient through while compressing the rest. either way, the point of parallel compression is to mix the processed version with the dry version in order to have a "happy medium" result

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Old 11-04-2018, 09:43 AM   #14
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Re: A question about parallel compression

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Originally Posted by pepehands View Post
do you know any books where I can get some detailed information about this and other methods?
Mixing Audio by Roey Izhaki has a chapter (about 60 pages) about compressors in which he devotes a few to parallel compression. The binding on my copy is really bad though..falling apart. And sadly not from reading, more like keeping me from reading :/
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Old 15-04-2018, 12:00 AM   #15
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Re: A question about parallel compression

If you own it already, libgen probably has you covered for an intact version (no moral dilemma?)
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Old 15-04-2018, 11:59 PM   #16
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Re: A question about parallel compression

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Originally Posted by Vault O))) View Post
If you own it already, libgen probably has you covered for an intact version (no moral dilemma?)
Never even thought of getting a digital version. But trying to get it on my e-reader is not a bad idea. Quick search did not find anything though. Really great would be if the publisher provided a digital version with the book, probably not..but worth a look tomorrow

thx for the idea!
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Old 03-07-2018, 03:27 PM   #17
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Re: A question about parallel compression

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Originally Posted by pepehands View Post
I have a question, I thought I had the grasp of parallel compression, but I was wrong because I didn't have a good understanding of the attack and release times of the compressor (I've been producing for almost 4 years, but the concept of compression has been one of the hardest for me to understand), so my question is, if you're using parallel compression on your drums, are you supposed to overcompress the transients of the drums by using a fast attack and a fast release or should you leave the transients as they are by increasing the amount of attack?

I know every situation is different, I'm not asking for specific numbers, I just want to know if I'm supposed to keep the transients or not? and do you know any books where I can get some detailed information about this and other methods?
What I love to do when it comes to parallel compression is to duplicate the track (audio stem) that I wish to process in parallel style (I don't make parallel compression setup via a send channel). This way I eliminate phase issues due to a audio latency. Then I put on that parallel channel some compressor that has a lot of flavor, lot of coloration of the signal, something like MM CP2V Compressor, Urei 1176 clone or any VCA vintage style compressor and compress that track really hard, so that I get, if it's some kind of percussion instrument that "paaah" sound with no transients. Than I mix that channel with the original channel and gain match original channel and original+parallel channel so that the difference in volume does not affect my judgment (that old effect of "louder means better"). Very often that parallel channel is more than 20 db lower in volume compared to original but you can feel that fat oozing from the speakers.

Good trick to use if you want to have movement and excitement through some parts of the song or you want to emphasize some section is to automate by hand (not drawing automation lines) volume fader for that parallel channel or even the amount of compression/distortion on that channel.
Good alternative for this style of processing is to use stock DAW compressor or limiter plugin and put distortion plugin either before compressor or after it. Really interesting results with this could be achieved with bitcrush style distortion.

Damir

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