Drum submix compression

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

Please give me a few basic guidelines about drum compression.
I am primarily a live sound engineer but alot of bands ask me to me to
record them because they are happy with the live mix.

I've got an indie-rock session and I am most likely going to use a 3
mic config (kick and 2 over heads). I am intrigued with the idea of
compressing the drum submix and mixing it with the uncompressed
tracks.

My questions are the following:
What type of compressors to you guys/gals prefer?
Where is a good setting to start out?
What are the most common pitfalls?


Thanks in advance,

-Peter
6 answers Last reply
More about drum submix compression
  1. Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

    Hey A,

    It's not uncommon to aux out, eq a bit thinner, compress like hell and mix
    back in just under the main sig level.

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    -bg-
    --
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    www.lchb.ca

    "Auslan" <outland@interport.net> wrote in message
    news:4139ef7d.4741238@news.rcn.com...
    > Please give me a few basic guidelines about drum compression.
    > I am primarily a live sound engineer but alot of bands ask me to me to
    > record them because they are happy with the live mix.
    >
    > I've got an indie-rock session and I am most likely going to use a 3
    > mic config (kick and 2 over heads). I am intrigued with the idea of
    > compressing the drum submix and mixing it with the uncompressed
    > tracks.
    >
    > My questions are the following:
    > What type of compressors to you guys/gals prefer?
    > Where is a good setting to start out?
    > What are the most common pitfalls?
    >
    >
    > Thanks in advance,
    >
    > -Peter
    >
    >
    >
  2. Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

    >What type of compressors to you guys/gals prefer?
    >Where is a good setting to start out?

    In a PC DAW..I like PSP Vintage warmer on one of the "driven tape" settings.


    John A. Chiara
    SOS Recording Studio
    Live Sound Inc.
    Albany, NY
    www.sosrecording.net
    518-449-1637
  3. Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

    I use a dbx 160, but that's old school.


    "Auslan" <outland@interport.net> wrote in message
    news:4139ef7d.4741238@news.rcn.com...
    > Please give me a few basic guidelines about drum compression.
    > I am primarily a live sound engineer but alot of bands ask me to me to
    > record them because they are happy with the live mix.
    >
    > I've got an indie-rock session and I am most likely going to use a 3
    > mic config (kick and 2 over heads). I am intrigued with the idea of
    > compressing the drum submix and mixing it with the uncompressed
    > tracks.
    >
    > My questions are the following:
    > What type of compressors to you guys/gals prefer?
    > Where is a good setting to start out?
    > What are the most common pitfalls?
    >
    >
    > Thanks in advance,
    >
    > -Peter
    >
    >
    >
  4. Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

    Auslan wrote:

    > Please give me a few basic guidelines about drum compression.

    What problem is it that you want to solve? - seriously, this is
    something to think about, because that is what determines what options
    to aim for.

    > I am primarily a live sound engineer but alot of bands ask me
    > to me to record them because they are happy with the live mix.

    OK, what you do is fine, they want it ... O;-)

    > I've got an indie-rock session and I am most likely going
    > to use a 3 mic config (kick and 2 over heads). I am intrigued
    > with the idea of compressing the drum submix and mixing it
    > with the uncompressed tracks.

    We are talking totally different drum sound styles here, you appear to
    aim for natural, generally I am inclined to supposed that close miking
    the kit with more mikes and going for an unnatural drum sound is the
    context where compression fits.

    > My questions are the following:
    > What type of compressors to you guys/gals prefer?

    The one in my main daw software does all I want done as I want it done,
    except that it doesn't multiband out of the shrinkwrap, but it could
    probably be coerced to do it manually.

    > Where is a good setting to start out?

    Bypass... O;-) ... seriously, you need to consider the initial audio
    quality and what losses that take place in doing something as drastic as
    compression or limiting or both is.

    > What are the most common pitfalls?

    Compressing and limiting .... O;-) ... seriously, it is not easy to get
    it right, sometimes it will help, and it will help make a mix "go
    together" to compress some components, but it can also be detrimental.
    Not also expanding may sometimes be a pitfall, but then it gets complex.

    > Thanks in advance,

    Oh, with the setup in question the most likely compression/limiting bet
    is to control the bassdrum. Whether you should do it depends on the
    drummers discipline, some drummers are intentionally noisy in sensible
    ways, some aren't. A compressed sound, i.e. improved sustain, may
    benefit the kit and/or the context, but methinks you will need to
    closemike to make it work.

    The more you do to the sound the more quality you loose ... weigh your
    tradeoffs carefully.

    > -Peter


    Kind regards

    Peter Larsen

    --
    *******************************************
    * My site is at: http://www.muyiovatki.dk *
    *******************************************
  5. Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

    hi -

    just wanted to chime in on this and offer a very different
    perspective. feel free to email with any response since i don't get
    to read the group so much any more.

    first off, i'm a mix engineer and i don't consider myself an
    audiophile. sure, i studied at Stanford's CCRMA and know a fair bit
    about sound. but when it comes to mixing, i try to focus only on the
    song at hand. more importantly, i think it's critical to listen from
    an emotional perspective rather than a scientific audio engineering
    perspective.

    i think that all the various forms of distortion that we hear on great
    records are a big part of what makes them sound big, exciting, and
    emotional. so i don't subscribe to the notion that all processing is
    a form of signal degradation.

    compression on the drum sub (and in general) is a very useful tool
    that can be used to create many different effects. for instance:

    - change the attack or release of a sound (louder or softer)
    - change the apparent volume of the instrument in the mix
    - glue parts together and make them seem more cohesive
    - adjust the timing of a performance to lock in with the tune
    - equalize the tone of an instrument (brighter, darker, less mids,
    etc.)
    - etc.

    so what types of compressors i use depend on the tune and what i'm
    trying to accomplish. the chandler/EMI TG1 can create some really
    interesting drum colors. i personally use the Alan Smart/SSL and Neve
    compressors more on individual instruments, but others like them on
    the drum buss. sometimes i'll use an empirical labs Fatso on the
    overheads or drum sub if the drums were tracked directly to ProTools
    and need some high end saturation / tape effects.

    in terms of settings, i would suggest you start in the middle of the
    ranges and experiment with the extremes. if you REALLY want to hear
    what you're doing, you can always flip a copy of the uneffected signal
    out of phase with the compressed version and sum them together. all
    you'll hear is the difference. sometimes this is nice when you're
    trying to determine how the compression is changing the top or bottom
    end. keep in mind that this is a bitch to do inside a DAW due to
    latency issues - i do it on a console all the time with no prob.

    common pitfalls? well, overcompressing the drums can make them sound
    dull - or small. you gotta use your ears to avoid that one. also,
    given your approach, be sure that no one drum (i.e. Kick) is
    clobbering the compressor and causing it to pump (unless that's what
    you're after!).

    BTW - my biggest pet peeve with compression on drums involves the use
    of long release times when tracking... i hope you never do this. i
    had one project where the band expected us to replace the drums, so
    they didn't worry about the sounds. well, since they used a fast
    attack and a long release, the compressor nudged the transients around
    so much that the Sound Replacer plugin wouldn't trigger appropriately.
    so we had to replace each hit by hand and ear - ignoring the
    mis-shapen waveform. sure, splicing tape is pain in the ass, but
    going through and guessing where every single kick and snare hit
    should go is no picnic, even with protools.

    have fun!
    -tE

    * Tony Espinoza
    SAN FRANCISCO SOUNDWORKS
    http://www.sfsoundworks.com
    ----------------------------------
    Featuring the only SSL 9000 in SF


    Peter Larsen <SPAMSHIELD_plarsen@mail.tele.dk> wrote in message news:<413B6B7C.5B155892@mail.tele.dk>...
    > Auslan wrote:
    >
    > > Please give me a few basic guidelines about drum compression.
    >
    > What problem is it that you want to solve? - seriously, this is
    > something to think about, because that is what determines what options
    > to aim for.
    >
    > > I am primarily a live sound engineer but alot of bands ask me
    > > to me to record them because they are happy with the live mix.
    >
    > OK, what you do is fine, they want it ... O;-)
    >
    > > I've got an indie-rock session and I am most likely going
    > > to use a 3 mic config (kick and 2 over heads). I am intrigued
    > > with the idea of compressing the drum submix and mixing it
    > > with the uncompressed tracks.
    >
    > We are talking totally different drum sound styles here, you appear to
    > aim for natural, generally I am inclined to supposed that close miking
    > the kit with more mikes and going for an unnatural drum sound is the
    > context where compression fits.
    >
    > > My questions are the following:
    > > What type of compressors to you guys/gals prefer?
    >
    > The one in my main daw software does all I want done as I want it done,
    > except that it doesn't multiband out of the shrinkwrap, but it could
    > probably be coerced to do it manually.
    >
    > > Where is a good setting to start out?
    >
    > Bypass... O;-) ... seriously, you need to consider the initial audio
    > quality and what losses that take place in doing something as drastic as
    > compression or limiting or both is.
    >
    > > What are the most common pitfalls?
    >
    > Compressing and limiting .... O;-) ... seriously, it is not easy to get
    > it right, sometimes it will help, and it will help make a mix "go
    > together" to compress some components, but it can also be detrimental.
    > Not also expanding may sometimes be a pitfall, but then it gets complex.
    >
    > > Thanks in advance,
    >
    > Oh, with the setup in question the most likely compression/limiting bet
    > is to control the bassdrum. Whether you should do it depends on the
    > drummers discipline, some drummers are intentionally noisy in sensible
    > ways, some aren't. A compressed sound, i.e. improved sustain, may
    > benefit the kit and/or the context, but methinks you will need to
    > closemike to make it work.
    >
    > The more you do to the sound the more quality you loose ... weigh your
    > tradeoffs carefully.
    >
    > > -Peter
    >
    >
    > Kind regards
    >
    > Peter Larsen
  6. Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

    tonyespinoza@aol.com (tony espinoza) wrote in message news:>
    >
    > in terms of settings, i would suggest you start in the middle of the
    > ranges and experiment with the extremes. if you REALLY want to hear
    > what you're doing, you can always flip a copy of the uneffected signal
    > out of phase with the compressed version and sum them together. all
    > you'll hear is the difference. sometimes this is nice when you're
    > trying to determine how the compression is changing the top or bottom
    > end. keep in mind that this is a bitch to do inside a DAW due to
    > latency issues - i do it on a console all the time with no prob.
    >
    > common pitfalls? well, overcompressing the drums can make them sound
    > dull - or small. you gotta use your ears to avoid that one. also,
    > given your approach, be sure that no one drum (i.e. Kick) is
    > clobbering the compressor and causing it to pump (unless that's what
    > you're after!).
    >

    Great post Tony.

    Yo're right on with the common putfalls. A similar thing to listen for
    is the drums sounding great in the verse and when the song blows up
    in the chorus, the compressor limits them too much and the bottom
    drops out.

    Responding to the origingal post....

    It's possible to get great sounds using only the subgroup signal. I'd
    experiment with that too, maybe even first. You're probably not going
    to want that much gain reduction. Definitely a fast release and
    probably a medium to slow release if you want your drums to stay
    punchy.

    There are two reasons to use a compressor. One for it's gain reduction
    effects and the other for it's tonal charateristics -i.e. the Chandler
    TG-1.

    Once you've played with you subgroup only signal, try blending it back
    in. You'll probably like the compbination becuase it's louder, so
    you'll have to play with volume. Also, the uncompressed signal with
    keep more of the natural dynamics in the blend.

    If you end up with a blended signal, you can probably get away with a
    faster attack time wihtout ruining you punchiness. Also, since you're
    running the subgroup through the compressor for it's tone as well as
    it's GR effects, don't hesitate to EQ the group or run it through
    something crazy like a sans amp.

    You might want to experiment with leaving the kick drum out of the
    subgroup or using the subgroup only signal with just the uncompressed
    kick summed. And, it's also ok to compress you kick and overheads
    seperately before grouping them. This may help keep the kick under
    control so taht it doesn't squash the overheads in the when they're
    grouped.

    There's and importan difference to distiguish between "a lot of
    compression" and "a lot of compressors".
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