Pro Audio Files

Compressing Drum Overheads with Phil Allen [Course Excerpt]

Transcript
Alright, so we’ve got this snare that we’ve now used a little bit to even out, and then a little bit to enhance. We’ve got our kick, which didn’t really need that much evening out, just a tiny, tiny bit enhanced, but again, I’m not trying to make any huge, drastic changes here. Just trying to make it a little, tiny, tiny bit better than what it was.

But let’s look at something a little more fun, like an overhead or room with compression.

[drums]

Now, overheads and rooms are kind of interesting, because you’re at the mercy of the relative volumes of the kicks and snares, and the hats and toms, and they’re all going to peak at different volumes. So let’s put a compressor on here.

We’ll do the same kind of thing and we’ll see how much fun we can have with this. Bring that all the way up, ratio all the way down. Your attack all the way slow. Cool.

So you can even just see here on our metering, the snares are hitting up around here, minus 10dB. Kicks are right here at about minus 18. Hats are down here at about minus 30. So let’s bring it down to minus 30 — the threshold, so that we compress the kicks and snares, but not the hats.

Turn my ratio up to a good medium ratio, about four to one. Now I’m going to start bringing my attack quicker, so it starts to clamp down on those hits.

There we go.

I lost some volume, obviously, so I’ll bring it back with my makeup gain.

Alright, so without compression.

[drums, no compression]

With compression.

[drums, with compression]

You can hear the relative volume of those hats came up. The ring of the snare came up, the body of the kick came up. This is a great example of using a compressor to bring out the detail of a track. Let’s mess with the release a little bit and see…

When it’s set really slow, it doesn’t let that detail come out. It’s still turning the tail end of stuff down. So if I set it quicker…

[drums, adjusting release]

Now we’re starting to hear it. If I set my attack really quick, I’ll probably clamp down too much of those initial attacks, and it might soften up my kick and snare. Kind of hear how we lose that pop. Takes the percussiveness out of the drums. So that’s a little too quick for my taste.

Right about there. The pop is coming through, but I’m also still getting the detail to come out.

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