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How to Use Parallel Compression on Drums in a Mix

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How to Use Parallel Compression on Drums in a Mix
How to Use Parallel Compression on Drums in a Mix - youtube Video
Hey folks, Matthew Weiss here —, I wanted to talk about using parallel compression on drum buss.

So I’m going to play this little drum riff right here, and I’m going to talk about why I might use parallel compression and how I might set it up.

[drums and bass]

So to my ear, this drum riff here sounds pretty darn good. Everything is sitting at about the right spot, but maybe it could have a little bit more boldness to it, like a little bit more body, or a little bit more strength. Now, when it comes to putting body into a sound, a really cool way to do it could be to use parallel compression.

Now of course, we could try it with EQ techniques, we could try it with regular compression techniques, but parallel compression can be fun, because we can create a really exaggerated compression effect, and then sort of just tuck it in enough where it’s being felt rather than being overtly heard. So what I’m going to do is I’m going to bring in the parallel compression effect that I setup, then show you exactly how I went about doing it.

[drums and bass]

It’s kind of cool, right? The room sound in particular gets really exaggerated.

Well, here’s how we’re setting this up. So I’ve got my MJUC compressor here, and I’m going to put this all the way into wet mix mode as I’m setting things up, and the idea here is I want to really, really squeeze the living crud out of this drum pattern here, this drum sound, and I’m going to turn on all of the effects that would make that work.

So this density control, I’m flipping that in. This high ratio control, I’m flipping that in. This iStage, which puts a second stage of compression into the line, I’m going to put that in as well, and then I’m going to turn the attack and recovery to very, very fast speeds, and start with the punch at 0. Punch sort of allows a little bit of a time delay for the attack to come on through.

Then I’m just going to turn the compression knob until I’ve squeezed the absolute crud out of this thing. Until I’ve squeezed it to death. Alright, here we go.

[drums, adjusting compressor]

Let’s mute up the bass real quick.

[drums, compressed]

Alright, so that’s pretty darn compressed. It’s only saying about 3 decibels of compression, but that’s got to be wrong. It’s way more compressed than that. So now I’m going to turn up the makeup gain and basically level match it.


Right, so I’ve got this very, very heavily compressed sound.


Now what I’m going to do is use this mix control here and blend it in so that the completely uncompressed version…


[drums, uncompressed]

Is mixed in with the very compressed version.

[compressed drums]

Cool, and then what I can do is I can sort of fine tune the attack and recovery and punch controls to kind of allow the drums to breathe the way I want them to breathe, while at the same time getting that sort of roomy, very compressed kind of tone.


Cool. So that’s how you setup basic parallel compression. Now, the reasons why I would do this is if I wanted to bring more body in terms of the dynamic, so more sustain into the signal, you can actually use parallel compression to do a lot of other things. You can use it to excite the transients by slowing the attack way down.

[drums, adjusting attack]

Or any other number of effects, but primarily speaking, we want to do this when we want to get a little bit more body, and because there’s so much compression action going on, and there’s distortion to the dynamic envelope, it also creates a form of excitement that can really liven up a sound. So a lot of times, it’s not even for the sustain, it’s really for the energy of it.

The other thing that can be fun to do sometimes is to time the recovery, the release so it kind of has an ebb and flow to it.

[drums, adjusting release]

So especially when you hear that snare hit, it goes like, [imitates snare]. It has this splash to recovery sound.


Like that snare in particular, you can hear it pretty exaggerated. If you can get that timing to feel just about right, you can actually impart a little bit of groove to the inbetween sounds, like the push and the pull.


So not only do you get a little bit more body, and a little bit more sustain, and a little bit more room tone, and a little bit more excitement, but you actually get a little bit more groove as well, so we’ve really improved things all across the board.

Alright guys, I hope that you learned something. If you dig what I’m doing in this video and you want to learn more about using compression, I have a really great video out at Get really in depth in terms of how a compressor works, all the different applications, some cool tricks that you can do with it, a lot of stuff that’ll help your game really fast.

Anyway, if you dug this video, please hit that like button. If you want to see more of these videos, don’t forget to click that subscribe, and I’ll catch you next time.


Matthew Weiss

Matthew Weiss

Matthew Weiss is the recordist and mixer for multi-platinum artist Akon, and boasts a Grammy nomination for Jazz & Spellemann Award for Best Rock album. Matthew has mixed for a host of star musicians including Akon, SisQo, Ozuna, Sonny Digital, Uri Caine, Dizzee Rascal, Arrested Development and 9th Wonder. Get in touch:

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