What is compression used for when making drums?

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ArrenMog
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What is compression used for when making drums?

Post by ArrenMog » Sun Aug 19, 2012 6:13 pm

I'll give you a list of the sort of things i would tend to do with my drums on a normal track and then people can tell me where i am going wrong and where i can improove and most importantly, how can i use compression to improve my drums and what it its actual purpose in making drums sound good? i always here people saying about how they use compression on all different parts of their drums and i've never understood why. I am not asking for people to explain to me what each control on a compressor does or what it does in general as i know this from what i have learnt at college, i am just trying to find out what people use it for on drums whether it is used for single drum samples or over the whole mix of drums. I want to know as i've heard many people saying how the only way to get a truely professional sounding drum track is through compression, though i dont see where to use it or why. i'd also like to use this post to get some general feedback on the way I create my drums and to get any tips from any other producers on ways to improove.

It's also best to point out i tend to create more minimal and dark dungeon style dubstep so any tips would ideally be for the production of this style and not say a huge sounding skrillex tune. :)

1) I start by adding all my drums into seperate audio channels just creating the drum pattern that i want

2) I will go through each drum one by one and EQ out all the unessesary frequencies

3) i will do a quick rough mixdown levelling each audio channel to a roughly good level so it sits nicely in the mix

4) I will then start sending each channel through busses, i will send all my hi hats to one bus, any samples that make up my snare to another bus, one bus for my kick samples, one bus for any background sort of hits that sit in the background that i usually drench with reverb to just fill out the sound, then one more final bus for any other odd percussion such as bongos and other wooden hits etc.

5) i will then finally bus all of these busses to one global drums bus.

6)i will then do some further eqing on any busses i feel that need it particularly where i have combined more than one sample, usually the snare where i can use up to 3 samples, i eq it just to make it gel together more easily.

7) i will then send the busses through reverb sends i already have set up. i have several reverb sends set up all trying to keep the majority of the same settings so that they gel together as well as possible, just with different release times and high pass filters on for different parts of the drums. i have two short reverbs(around 2 sec release), one that is very high passed (for the high hats mainly, and the kick) and one that is less high passed (can be for the kicks and bongos and sometimes snares), one more medium reverb (3-4 second release) which has a little eqing (hi pass above around 200-300 hz) that i use for my snare and sometime percussion bongo type noises and random noises that i want fairly reverberant. i tend to have a long reverb (6-7 seconds) which i use for rides and other splashy cymbals to fill out the sound and sometimes more random percussionoises, this tends to be high passed fairly heavily as i dont want a lt of frequency space being taken up for long amounts of time. and finally i have a ven biggeer reverb (15-20 seconds very hi passed again) which i use for crashes at the begining of bars and background hits just to add more atmoshphere.

8) while going through this i will amend any hits that i feel are slightly stand out as best i can and will constantly be mixing down the track as i feel apropriate.

9) finally i will eq the final drum bus adding or removing any frequencies that i feel are lacking to the best of my ability

10) recently i have also experimented with adding a compressor to the final drums bus to try and gel it together better and add definition to each hit though i dont really know what the true aim to usign and compressor with drums is and feel i am just experimenting and could well be doing this wrong.

Cheers for any feedback that anyone can give! :)

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ArrenMog
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Re: What is compression used for when making drums?

Post by ArrenMog » Sun Aug 19, 2012 6:49 pm

I think it might also be worth mentioning that i produce, or at least try to produce haha, really minimal tunes where there often just drums and bass yet the track manages to still sound so full, my tracks often seem to lack this fullness and i'm wondering if my lack of compression is the reason behind that.

also i'd like to say what i use compression for at the moment on my drums. like i said above, gelling my drums together on the master bus, sidechaining shakers or sub bass to kicks to give a certain effect or make the kick stand out amongst the sub therfore stopping classing, and also finally on creating fuller and longer reverbs on many of my background hits in the drums.

also one final point is whether any one has had experience with multiband compressors and whether they are useful and nessesary and could be benificail to me.

cheers again!

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Re: What is compression used for when making drums?

Post by lightshapers » Sun Aug 19, 2012 7:36 pm

ArrenMog wrote: i always here people saying about how they use compression on all different parts of their drums and i've never understood why.

i am just trying to find out what people use it for on drums whether it is used for single drum samples or over the whole mix of drums.

its just control, if youve got compressors on each seperate part you can obviously treat things differently, so for example if you want stupidly extreme compression on your snare to the point its so squashed it sounds like a shitty squashed white noise hi hat then you can do it without affecting the rest of the drums.

the single group channel/drum buss with one compressor is a bit of an old skool method, used to cost a lot of money to have loads of compressors but its not really an issue these days if youre working completely in the box, can have as many instances as you like. I prefer routing my drums as individual channels to one group channel and then compressing lightly (usually use sugarbytes vogue, psp busspressor or vintagewarmer), but i also use a transient/envelope shaper on the individual channels before hand

theres always parallel compression as well, which will be handy if youve got a minimal arrangement going on but want it to sound big, can easily swamp the mix with it though if you over do it so will cause problems if its a busy tune

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Re: What is compression used for when making drums?

Post by Sharmaji » Mon Aug 20, 2012 4:22 am

tl;dr

long attack/fast release compression is used to make drums really snap.

overload the input, ie on an 1176, and you get some nice high-end crackle.

limit afterwards for dynamic control and increased high end.
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Depone
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Re: What is compression used for when making drums?

Post by Depone » Mon Aug 20, 2012 7:52 am

Dude you spent a lot of time telling us exactly which reverbs you used, but didn't ask yourself "what do I want to achieve?" is your goal to have more punch to your drums, do you want to make them less dynamic? Do you want to increase the transients? All these can be achieved with a compressor, you just need to spend more time working with them and you will hear and hopefully feel the benefits. Just try some out. Most important controls on a comp for me are the attack and release, these can shape it from tight and snappy to crunched and flabby

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nutrician
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Re: What is compression used for when making drums?

Post by nutrician » Mon Aug 20, 2012 9:03 am

i think you have it naild. watch out though with to many types of reverb because you can easily create space that doesnt feel natural anymore. And there can be a huge (creative) difference in sound when you compress before or after a reverbed signal.

I think there is a post on this forum that talks about the influence of different order of effects (cant find it now)

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Re: What is compression used for when making drums?

Post by cryptic » Mon Aug 20, 2012 9:38 am

nutrician wrote:i think you have it naild. watch out though with to many types of reverb because you can easily create space that doesnt feel natural anymore. And there can be a huge (creative) difference in sound when you compress before or after a reverbed signal.

I think there is a post on this forum that talks about the influence of different order of effects (cant find it now)
Deffo.....use one reverb for drums...maybe a small plate or room pre-set. But i sometimes like to feed the clap/snare to a log verb to to full the mix up if im doing something minimal.

I find parallel comp is the best for drums / followed by some gentle saturation and limiting.

There is various tutorials on youtube :)

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Re: What is compression used for when making drums?

Post by Sparxy » Mon Aug 20, 2012 12:28 pm

Tits

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drake89
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Re: What is compression used for when making drums?

Post by drake89 » Mon Aug 20, 2012 12:50 pm

Holy wall of text

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ArrenMog
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Re: What is compression used for when making drums?

Post by ArrenMog » Mon Aug 20, 2012 2:24 pm

Depone wrote:Dude you spent a lot of time telling us exactly which reverbs you used, but didn't ask yourself "what do I want to achieve?" is your goal to have more punch to your drums, do you want to make them less dynamic? Do you want to increase the transients? All these can be achieved with a compressor, you just need to spend more time working with them and you will hear and hopefully feel the benefits. Just try some out. Most important controls on a comp for me are the attack and release, these can shape it from tight and snappy to crunched and flabby
Well i'm still fairly amateur and i was just trying to find out what the possibilties are with using a compressor on drums and i have got some good answers and will try and put them into practice right away!:)
Sparxy wrote:Tits
Sparxy you basically the type of sound i'm going for rekon you could shine some light on the subject and give me a couple of tips? :)
cryptic wrote:e you can easily create space that doesnt feel natural anymore. And there can be a huge (creative) difference in sound when you compress before or after a reverbed signal.
I know what your saying and i do try to keep nearly all of the reverbs the same, just with varying release times. would you say this is wrong? i know that i need to keep reverbs the same to help it all gel together but will changing the release time really affect this too much?

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Re: What is compression used for when making drums?

Post by Sparxy » Mon Aug 20, 2012 4:07 pm

Compression is a matter of taste. You only need to use it if there’s a technical or creative reason to do so. A compressor is effectively a transient gain control. If you think of a layered snare with 3 different samples making up the overall snare, they will all have different transients peaking in different areas. With a compressor you can flatten all the transients and then raise the overall gain back up. It has the effect of making your snare “smack” and sit right on top of the mix which is what you want.

I’ll only compress a kick if it sounds a bit dull. But on a kick drum I’d usually draw for saturation before compression, personally I find saturation suits kicks a bit better.

I personally don’t usually compress my hats but some people do. You want themto be very much audible but not drowning anything else out, effectively “dancing” on top of the mix.

To answer your question about compressing all your drums, I don’t think there are many situations in which you need to do this, personally I’ve never done this anyway.

Whenever you’re applying compression you just need to think “why am I doing this?” if you can come back with a good answer then it’s probably worth doing.

This article is useful: http://www.dnbscene.com/article/1474-co ... tutorial/1

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ArrenMog
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Re: What is compression used for when making drums?

Post by ArrenMog » Tue Aug 21, 2012 3:34 pm

Sparxy wrote:Compression is a matter of taste. You only need to use it if there’s a technical or creative reason to do so. A compressor is effectively a transient gain control. If you think of a layered snare with 3 different samples making up the overall snare, they will all have different transients peaking in different areas. With a compressor you can flatten all the transients and then raise the overall gain back up. It has the effect of making your snare “smack” and sit right on top of the mix which is what you want.

I’ll only compress a kick if it sounds a bit dull. But on a kick drum I’d usually draw for saturation before compression, personally I find saturation suits kicks a bit better.

I personally don’t usually compress my hats but some people do. You want themto be very much audible but not drowning anything else out, effectively “dancing” on top of the mix.

To answer your question about compressing all your drums, I don’t think there are many situations in which you need to do this, personally I’ve never done this anyway.

Whenever you’re applying compression you just need to think “why am I doing this?” if you can come back with a good answer then it’s probably worth doing.

This article is useful: http://www.dnbscene.com/article/1474-co ... tutorial/1
Thanks for the tips and the link to this tutorial man, having a little read through it now gunna put this into practice tonight! I totally agree with you when you say you should only use compression when you have a good reason too, i'm all against just following tutorials down to every last detail as you need to really understand something to be good at it.

Cheers! :)

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Re: What is compression used for when making drums?

Post by koncide » Tue Aug 21, 2012 4:46 pm

Compression for me is all about transients. For drums, it's a way of making things strike out.

I tend to use a lot of parallel compression in drum mixing. I get the snappy transient whilst stopping everything from sounding squashed as a pancake.
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Re: What is compression used for when making drums?

Post by goldengrime » Wed Aug 22, 2012 2:37 pm

As previously stated really... Just for shaping your sounds really whenever your using compression on samples. Drum bus compression can be good to control or gel your drums or whatever sounds you want sat together etc. Don't just use it becoz you think your supposed to either, just listen to the sound and think about what tool you want to use to get to the sound you want.

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