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 Post subject: Compression
PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2006 4:09 pm 
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here's a pretty decent rough guide that i just sw again today that helped a lot when i first saw it. never take any advice as fact and don't get lazy and just use the frequencies it suggests, experiment!

compression

1. The process of reducing dynamic range of a given audio signal by making the loud parts quieter and the quiet parts louder.
Compression literally squashes the sound. It works by making quiet parts of the music louder, and loud parts quiet. By using compression and reducing the dynamic range, you can smooth out the sound by finding a medium between the lowest and highest peak volumes.

Terms to know:

Attack: How fast a compressor will react once the threshold is breached. 0ms will result in immediate action.
Decibles (db): Measure of sound pressure.

Gain: Used to increase or decrease compressed sound. (measured in DB)

Knee: A compressor characteristic that affects the way a compressor behaves.

Milliseconds (ms): Attack and Release times measured by milliseconds.

Ratio: How much a signal is compressed. With a compression ratio of 3:1, a signal which is 9db over the threshold level would be reduced to 3db. A signal of 3db over the threshold would be reduced to 1db.

Release: How fast the compressor will return to its normal state after the signal has moved below the threshold. 0ms will result in immediate return.

Threshold: Threshold level determines which signals are subject to compression. With a threshold of -5db, all signals above this level (-4db < ) would be compressed by the set ratio.
---
Before beginning, you'll need a large decible meter, preferably with a digital readout. As a general rule, your mix before mastering should fall around or below the 0db mark. Leaving a ceiling will allow you to compress and boost, without having to do too much limiting.

Drums: Perhaps the most important element in a hip-hop track. DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Alchemist, Havoc, RZA, Marley Marl, Jay Dee, and Timbaland. What do all these producers have in common? Their thumping drums. Now imagine if all those beatmakers had used weak drums. Premier's "Come Clean" probably wouldn't be considered a classic, nor would Pete Rock's "T.R.O.Y". Compression is very much needed on drums, especially in the hip-hop world. What exactly does compression do to help? Fatten, thicken, louden, and sharpen. Deep, rumbly kick drums and sharp, snappy snares. Ah, the wonders of compression.

Threshold: -10db to -15db
Ratio: 6:1 to 8:1
Attack: 3ms
Release: 10ms
Knee: Hard
Gain: +5db to +7db
---
Percussion: Although not all hip-hop tracks contain, or need percussion, a lot of the newage pioneer beatmakers are using bongos, congas, triangles, steel drums, as well as other percussion instruments. Percussion doesn't require a lot of compression because usually, the percussion track rests behind the drum track. Bongos, congas, and the likes usually have an immediate popping sound that doesn't need compressing, so the attack should be set slower than drums.

Threshold: -3db to -7db
Ratio: 3:1 to 6:1
Attack: 5ms to 7ms
Release: 15ms
Knee: Hard
Gain: +2db to +4db
---
Bass: A common problem with bass is that the low notes seem to disappear into the mix while the higher notes stick out like a sore thumb. With many instruments, reverb could solve this problem. However, using reverb on the bass track usually gives it an undesirable effect. By using compression, you can bring up the lows, and submerge the higher notes into the mix. Often times, there is an initial "pluck" to the bass sound, and it can be more beneficial to let this sound slide through uncompressed.

Threshold: -4db to -9db
Ratio: 4:1 to 8:1
Attack: 3ms (if there is a plucking sound, use an attack closer to 7ms)
Release: 100ms on short bass sounds / 300ms on long bass tones
Knee: Hard
Gain: +2db to +4db
---
Brass / Wind instruments: Brass and wind instruments require a "transparent" type compression. Any obvious processing can noticably ruin the sound. Brass and wind instruments have a lot of variety in playing styles. Trumpets can be played expressivly loud, and a smooth, mellow flute will need much different processing.

Threshold: -2db to -4db
Ratio: 6:1 (lighter instruments) to 15:1 (deep brassy instruments)
Attack: 3ms (If a transient sound needs through uncompressed, use 6ms)
Release: 300ms
Knee: Hard
Gain: Varies

Guitars: When working with acoustic guitars, compressors tend to reveal themselves more so it's a good idea to use a very "transparent" compression. If working with electric guitars, make small increases to the ratio and threshold.

Threshold: -2db to -3db
Ratio: 3:1 to 4:1
Attack: 3ms (If there is an initial pluck, use 5ms)
Release: 30ms to 60ms
Knee: Soft
Gain: 0db to +1db
---
Samples: If you're a sampled based producer (specifically, phrase sampler), chances are you don't get to compress several instruments in different ways. Using the following numbers, you'll be able to smooth out the entire sample without too much limiting.

Threshold: -2db to -4db (If the sample is recorded bad, and there's lots of peaks, use a higher threshold around -8db)
Ratio: 2:1 to 3:1
Attack: 2ms
Release: 400ms
Knee: Hard
Gain: +1db to +3db
---
Full Mix: The final mix doesn't require much compression, although some hip-hop songs have been compressed with up to a 4:1 ratio, most aren't needed that much. A final compression should act as a limiter, keeping the signal close to the 0db mark.

Threshold: -4db to -7db
Ratio: 1.5:1 to 2.5:1
Attack: 5ms
Release: 200ms to 500ms
Knee: Hard
Gain : Varies


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2006 4:18 pm 
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I've made this sticky.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2006 4:26 pm 
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2006 4:29 pm 
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Thankyou - this looks like a very useful guide!


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2006 2:15 pm 
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here's another helpful hint from hattrixx about learnin how use compression ...

First, monitor the levels with your ears and eyes on the VU meter to help decide whether or not compression is appropriate. Then you've got to decide from which point up (on the dB scale) the dynamics need to be tamed. Say you've got this mad pad that fucks up and down like a whore on Feb 15th when it reaches -13dB, then you're going to want to set your compression threshold somewhere between -13dB and 0dB (obviously), depending on how much you're wanting to compress. In theory, -13dB would be the obvious threshold, but in practise, you might want to try something a bit softer, say -9dB in this case, with a soft knee setting (so it's gradual). Then you've got to decide how much you want to compress the problem area by. Start with a 2:1 ratio, which will half the dynamics above the threshold, then work your way up until it feels just right. Then back off a little (IF you have a fine-tune ratio, eg 1.9:1 vs 2:1). Then listen to the dry signal for half a minute or so. Then put the compression back on, to see if it's doing the job you originally intended. You want to start off with a quick attack and a slow release. First start drawing the attack out, so that the compression doesn't make any offensive quick transient cripples. Then start quickening the release, making sure it doesn't make the sound wobble (like Diamond Eye mentioned). All the while you should be monitoring the gain reduction, and making sure the sound is attenuated by the appropriate amount.

^That's slightly backwards to the way I'd usually do it in practise, but it's an easy method to learn what does what so that you can come up with your own specific techniques.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2006 6:59 pm 
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What VST/DX compressors are people using?

Currently I'm using something called 'C3 Multiband Compressor'. It seems ok, but I'd be willing to try something else if anybody has a recommendation.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2006 7:21 pm 
resist wrote:
What VST/DX compressors are people using?

Currently I'm using something called 'C3 Multiband Compressor'. It seems ok, but I'd be willing to try something else if anybody has a recommendation.


Yeah, I've used the C3, and still do - nice compressor.
I'm now using two different compressors, that I'm really digging.

I use the new compressor in the audio suite in Reason, on pretty much everything. It has a great sound, and is awesome.
As a VST compressor, I really like the Sonalkiss SV 315.
But, the best compressor I have yet used is the digidesign 'Smack' compressor.
It's like a compressor for retards, and is marketed as the 'fool-proof' compressor. Has an incredibly fat valve sound. 8)

I used the demo version, now want to buy the full version. $500 for a compressor plug? Anyone know where you can get cracked RTAS plugs that work? 8)


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2006 10:19 am 
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man, $500 for a compressor, you'd want it to be good!

RTAS plugins only work in Protools yeah?


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2006 11:37 am 
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psp mixpressor, l2 limiter, rcomp, izotope ozone, vintage warmer

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2006 1:08 pm 
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Ozone.... :drool:

Izotope plug-ins are the bomb. I love Trash!


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2006 2:35 pm 
Direktor wrote:
Ozone.... :drool:

Izotope plug-ins are the bomb. I love Trash!


Watched an M-Audio thing on the Crystal Method a couple of weeks ago, and they were going on about Trash.
Looks awesome.

Man, until I watched that vid I never realised what complete geeks they were.
Like, they are the Emperors of Geekdom.
They make Poindexter look like the Fonz in comparison. :lol:


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2006 2:50 pm 
resist wrote:
man, $500 for a compressor, you'd want it to be good!

RTAS plugins only work in Protools yeah?


Yeah, pretty sure they are just made for pro-tools.
Man, they are so expensive. Check out the Digidesign site, and check out some of the prices on these things. They are just way out of my league.
Usually incredibly high quality though, with very few bugs.
That's why it's almost imperitive to have a VST wrapper in Tools - just because of the out there prices of the RTAS plugs.
But now you can rewire Ableton, and that uses VST's yes? Not sure, I haven't done it myself, and only have a demo version of Ableton.
Anyone know? 8)


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2006 3:20 pm 
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Little Evil wrote:
Watched an M-Audio thing on the Crystal Method a couple of weeks ago, and they were going on about Trash.
Looks awesome.



Dang straight homie. I haven't seen Ozone or Spectron yet, but I've got a copy of Trash. One of the best distortion plug-ins I've heard.
Cliffery swears by it!


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2006 3:27 pm 
What do they go for?
Are they VST's?
Or, have you heard about those dudes who use cracks? :lol:
Wouldn't know anything about cracks myself. :angel13:


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2006 3:48 pm 
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RRP is $299 bud.

Compatible with most host applications supporting VST, DirectX and RTAS formats.

Give me a yell if you're interested mate - I'll take care of ya!


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2006 4:38 pm 
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IZotope.Trash.VST.DX.RTAS.v1.07.PROPER.incl.KeyGen-BEAT.rar

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2006 5:01 pm 
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^ I have no idea what you're on about dude


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2006 6:29 pm 
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has anyone else played around with reverse compression or parrallel compression? I'm just starting to now and it is producing some awesome sounds.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2006 6:59 pm 
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strategem wrote:
has anyone else played around with reverse compression or parrallel compression? I'm just starting to now and it is producing some awesome sounds.


paralell compression is the go. puchy/compressed sound & transients!!!

very cool

reverse compression is cool too, but only for drums or very precussive sounds i find.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2006 12:06 pm 
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whats reverse and parallel compression?
izotope stuff is good, but i goet this wierd problem. if is cut a sample into frequency bands and then eq it with their plugs when i stick it back together, its all outta time, same with the linear eq from waves

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2006 9:15 pm 
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i havent been compressing anything lately and shit sounds awesome

i used to squeeze the shit out of everything

those templates are crap, it depends on what sounds youre using and how they go with other sounds.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2006 12:45 am 
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Spherix wrote:
i havent been compressing anything lately and shit sounds awesome

i used to squeeze the shit out of everything

those templates are crap, it depends on what sounds youre using and how they go with other sounds.


Ya, see the drums and sub thread... nothing is compressed and it sounds phat as. Good samples and careful mixing makes a whole lotta difference.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2006 5:19 am 
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But good samples can often mean they've already been compressed... I'm just thinking about some of the 'raw' drum samples I've seen, which have massive spikes (approaching say -3 dBFS) and the rest of the drum (the "meat" and "tail" I guess you could call them) sitting well below -18 dBFS. With those samples you'd *have* to use compression to make them usable. I guess you could layer them with other drum samples together but you'd have to be very careful about keeping the initial hit peak under 0.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2006 12:55 am 
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parallel compression is basically taking taking two seperate outputs of your mix to two seperate compressors and compressing them in different ways (ie different attack, release and knee settings) and then putting the resulting compressed mixes back into your mixes and blending them together.

reverse compression is an effect i am fast falling love with. It is exactly what it sounds like. reversing the direction of your audio (play it backwards) and recording this. then send that through your compressor with the OPPOSITE setting of what you would want. ie- set the attack time to be REALLY slow and the release to be moderate to fast. then take that compressed audio and reverse it again. now play it forwards, it is like you have a 'predictive' compressor. sounds great, particularly on percussive sounds or really punchy bass. play around with the settings to see what you like the most, but the general idea is that the attack is set real slow.

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PostPosted: Wed May 10, 2006 10:49 pm 
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its all about analogue compression, the difference is not know until experienced.

this is my unit

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strategem wrote:
parallel compression is basically taking taking two seperate outputs of your mix to two seperate compressors and compressing them in different ways (ie different attack, release and knee settings) and then putting the resulting compressed mixes back into your mixes and blending them together.


by the way man parallell compression is not used with two compressors, it is a mix of the uncompressed and compressed version of wateva signal ur processing, it would defeat the purpose of the exercise if ur were compress both signals as u would be overly swashing the dynamic range.
although, wateva u desire i guess

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PostPosted: Thu May 11, 2006 3:35 am 
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Care to post a quick sample of what an uncompressed and compressed drum sounds like with this analogue goodness versus a VST compressor? I guess the settings will make a big difference too...

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PostPosted: Thu May 11, 2006 12:54 pm 
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The settings provided in the first post above are ok and all but its much better to learn why you're turning nobs and to be able to discern the difference between parameter changes and whats most effective for your production style.

Any one wanting to get compressors happening should get a copy (or even just have a read) of these two books:

http://www.mixingwithyourmind.com/

http://www.digido.com/portal/pmodule_id=11/pmdmode=fullscreen/pageadder_page_id=66/

The first link "Mixing with your mind" is written by Aussie Mike Stavrou and has the most transparent explanation on compression and how to use compressors I have ever read and is probably one of the most useful sound recording/mixing texts available.

The second link "Mastering Audio" is written by audiophile and mastering big-nob Bob Katz, its just an awesome tome of information on anything important in audio and also explains compression extremely well.

Both books advocate a "less is more" approach with compression generally though so anyone who wants to learn how to make everything slam and pump to hell might not get alot out of them.

I've recorded bands for a while and studied sound at Uni but the penny didn't really drop with compressors until I read these books.


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PostPosted: Fri May 12, 2006 12:29 am 
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I haven't read the first one (checking it out now) but the second one by Bob Katz I can definitely recommend, it's a really good grounding, goes into a lot of detail about other things like bitrates, jitter, decibel measurement systems (like dB/dBFS/dBV etc.), digital and analog storage mediums, basically after reading it I came back to all my sound apps and VST plugins and the one or two mystery knobs/menu options/panels all of a sudden made more sense. :D

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PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2006 4:50 pm 
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Anyone got advice on compression for a really snap snare sound?

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PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2006 9:28 pm 
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Give this a try.

Start with threshold on max, ratio on its highest setting max, attack set to fastest and release set to fastest also.

Lower the output so you don't blow your ears or speakers.

Sounds horrible but it is important to hear the compressor working to better understand the effect of all the parameters.

Now just start working the attack. The more you open it up the more the initial transient (strike of the stick against the drum head) will come through.

Attack basically controls the width of the drum stick striking the snare, the weight of the initial transient of the drum.

Fast attack = thin drum stick / slow attack = fat drum stick

Once you've got you attack sounding the way you want it, start to work the release. Due to the ratio and threshold being set to max you can really hear the envelope shaping / pumping when you adjust the release setting.

Get it juicy sounding - think texture. For a snappy snare you might go faster rather than slower - let the ears guide you.

Now adjust your ratio conservatively (higher ratios mean smaller sounds) and finally set your threshold after that. If the compressor is compressing all the time you may as well just turn the snare track down - so adjust the threshold to make sure it isn't.

See how you go.

Re-interpreted from Mike Stavrou's "mixing with your mind".

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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2006 12:22 am 
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mrj wrote:
Anyone got advice on compression for a really snap snare sound?

I've been looking for the answer to this as well. I think part of the answer is in the compression, but part of it is also in layering sounds. I've been collecting snippits of advice from various sources and the most common tips that crop up for punchy snares are:

- Don't use shit samples. Shit in = shit out. I guess the question this raises is: Where to get good 24/32-bit stereo samples from? Can anyone recommend good sample CDs?

- Layer several snare sounds, including a mix of synth + acoustic snares. Say 3-4 is enough or you will end up with phasing issues. Try to EQ individual layers to highlight the best parts of each layer and/or avoid muddiness. For the acoustic snare try taking a snare hit from a drum loop.

- Try layering in a clap on the strike of the snare.

- Try layering in the strike of a tom (with the tail trimmed away) in with the snare strike for more punch.

- More info on the phasing issues: Zoom in on each layer and make sure they're all starting at the same time and moving in the same direction (either up or down - I'm not sure if there's a good reason to prefer one or the other, but either way you can just invert the sample to flip it.)

- Try to get some thump in at around the 200-220Hz mark. If you take a look at the freq response of most snare hits (Plumps are a classic example) you'll see a peak at this 200-220H\ mark. Where this is coming from I'm not sure, if they've just highlighted that freq range from an existing snare sample or if it's from a tom layer remains an exercise for the reader. I actually heard someone suggest subtlely layering a 909 Kick in with the snare... anyone got any other recipes? :)

- Get the compression right when you're happy with the sound - obviously this is a big can of worms that other posts have covered better so I won't go into it here beyond saying it's worth compressing your kick and snare individually to the rest of your percussion (whether you compress the lot altogether later on is up to you), and maybe use your kick as a side chain to other compressors (eg. a bassline that fights with the kick, or simply the rest of the drums, or a synth if you want to create a pumping techno sound)

- Pay attention to when the sample ends as much as when it starts. You create a punchy rhythm as much with stopping as you do with starting.

- Sample some snares from your favourite tunes and keep them close by when making changes (maybe on a muted layer so you can easily turn them on/off, or in another sound editor instance, or on the beat after your snare in a sequencer), continually compare the two.

- Try using a small room reverb @ 10% with a decent predelay to separate the reverb from the snare hit, and gate the reverb tail, then spread this reverb over the stereo image (this was Lynt's tip from another thread which he got from Nubreed)

- Always keep in mind the three dimensions of sound, that are frequency, volume, and panning/stereo image. Try to get good tools to analyse these three dimensions (ie. a phase analyser, spectral analyser and standard wave view to see dynamics) so you can see where your sounds are falling short and where the professionally mastered ones are shining. You can't fix the problem if you don't know where you're trying to go.

Anyone else got any more pointers for snares? I haven't had the chance to try out all of the tips above, but they do seem to be the unanimous answers for getting snap + punch. I think the best environment for doing this seems to be Battery as it suits setting up sounds to layer, gives you a lot of control over envelopes + timing for each layer without affecting the original sample, anyone got any other suggestions?

Anyway hope that helps.

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Thanks for the tips guys :D

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mrj wrote:
Thanks for the tips guys :D


how good is the production forum! :)

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PostPosted: Tue May 23, 2006 12:01 am 
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Oh another suggestion that I forgot to mention:

Tune your snare drum to match your track. If your snare drum is made of layers, tune all the layers individually. You can even try mixing a low frequency synth hit in softly with the snare sound to bind it to the song better.

There's a bit of info about tuning and how it affects the snare and your mix here:

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/dec03/a ... cnotes.htm

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do any of you guys use battery?

im interested to know what your thoughts of the how good the compressor is inside and if its worth using.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2006 9:45 am 
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i use battery just for drum fills/rolls etc, but i dont really copmpress drums as a rule, sometimes only after bussing them all and using a multiband on that channel so they all sound like the same kit.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2006 10:31 am 
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Spherix wrote:
i use battery just for drum fills/rolls etc, but i dont really copmpress drums as a rule, sometimes only after bussing them all and using a multiband on that channel so they all sound like the same kit.


So what's the best way to get fat sounding drums mate?

Just layering, EQ and correct ADSR usage?


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2006 10:43 am 
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Direktor wrote:
Spherix wrote:
i use battery just for drum fills/rolls etc, but i dont really copmpress drums as a rule, sometimes only after bussing them all and using a multiband on that channel so they all sound like the same kit.


So what's the best way to get fat sounding drums mate?

Just layering, EQ and correct ADSR usage?


I try and layer my kicks and snares and EQ each one accordingly. Make my first kick really low and the third kick with a bit of crack etc. It works well for snares, the other day i mixed 2 snares and a clap sound with a really sharp attack and release, cut through nicely.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2006 11:31 am 
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Cool man.... I'll give it a 'crack'.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2006 4:09 pm 
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a1studmuffin wrote:
Where to get good 24/32-bit stereo samples from? Can anyone recommend good sample CDs?


Battery library drum Kits, Battery Synthetic drums, which can all be found on the net for free. Go find a torrent site where you can download torrent files and do a search for the battery drum kits. I found them there. There are so many samples in the libraries that i haven't needed to layer any of my drums to get the sound i'm looking for.

A1, if you have trouble finding them give me a pm and we can organise something for ya.

Peace. 8)

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2006 10:40 pm 
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Thanks mate, yeah I ended up sorting myself out with about 15GBs of samples from all over the place... hence why I wrote Aural Probe, I had too much and needed to find a way to sort through it all :D

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 12, 2006 10:28 am 
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I use longer attacks on drums.

Kicks 20-25ms
snares 15-20ms.

This stops the drums sounding small and lets some of the body through before squashing.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 12, 2006 6:39 pm 
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makes sense
depends on the sample for me
usually chop stuff into frequency bands and manipulate them differently too

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 12, 2006 6:49 pm 
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I dont use multiband compression. I dont really have a use for it.

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hmmmm, not really what i was getting at
i use a lot of breaks, made all from the one break or cut and paste from a few. this is kinda a starting point for me. gives the break warmth and individuality and make all the beats integrate


use the graphic eq to isolate 500hz and below, then 500hz to 2k hz, then 2k hz and up.

copy the file three times so you have 3 windows of the same break open and then apply what i just said above with the eq.

compress the bottom end, tube amp and slightly (SLIGHTLY) distort the middle part (like 5% maximum), then eq the top end to get a nice crisp sound.

copy that top end (after the eq'ing), go to the middle part you just did and right click/Mix. bring the mix in so it sounds nice with the mid. then, when you have those 2 combined, copy THAT wav and use the mix function again to blend it with the bottom part you just compressed.

that should give you a nice, fat break that sounds clean

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 12, 2006 9:38 pm 
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I tried playing around with multiband compression for mastering but I never got a result I was happy with, so all I use now on my master bus is a limiter to squash maybe 1-3dB of peaks and just make sure the each track is spot on. Really all I was using the multiband compressor for was a kind of remedial EQ at the mastering stage, which was really dealing with the problem too late. I use a little bit of compression on the drums bus but make sure I give a decent attack length (10-40ms depending on the drums/tempo) so that you don't lose the transients of your kicks/snares.

I always like to A/B my compressors with my eyes shut... I basically close my eyes, toggle the compressor on/off button heaps so I don't know whether it's active or not, then decide which sounds best and open my eyes. If the compressor sounds best, then I know I've done it right.. if it sounds worse it's back to twiddling :D

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2007 2:40 am 
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>I used the demo version, now want to buy the full version. $500 for a compressor plug? Anyone know where you can get cracked RTAS plugs that work? 8)



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 Post subject: Re: Compression
PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2008 12:39 pm 
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An interesting quote, and one I agree with.

"People think dynamics are a bad thing now. It's sad, like if we just communicated to each other all the time without any inflection, always just yelling. That's what music's doing now, yelling at you."

Morgan Geist


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 Post subject: Re: Compression
PostPosted: Wed Oct 22, 2008 4:44 am 
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dynamics rule, compression must be used carefully.

you dont need any compression if your channel is about dynamics, such as ambient backing noise etc

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