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Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Mixing "Weather The Storm" Pt.5 - Compression

G’day everybody. This is the fifth part in my series of mixing “Weather The Storm”. My friend Jaye gave me this track wondering if I could help him make it brighter, clearer and punchier. I decided to go through a basic process of how I would go about mixing the track from start to finish. Here are the other videos if you missed them.

Part 1 - Setting up the Session

Part 2 - Balance

Part 3 - Mix Bus Processing

Part 4 - EQ

In this video I’ll be adding some compression to the tracks. Through this video I’ll be using Pro Tool’s “Dynamics 3” which is the standard compressor that comes free with the DAW. I use this one here to show you that you don’t need expensive plugins to get a great sound.

Vocal Compression

I started by putting a compressor on the first vocal sound in the track. I did this because it was the first sound that jumped out at me as needing compression. On the voice, some of the louder parts were a bit too loud and some of the quieter words were hidden in the mix a bit.

I used a very basic compressor setting for this with a fast attack (1ms), fast release (37ms), medium ratio (3:1), small knee (10dB) and then brought down the threshold so it was hitting the compressor lightly on the medium level vocals and definitely being effected on the louder notes. I then brought up the gain until it matched the level of the input on the louder parts.

This was a fairly basic setting and I could have gone through and changed the settings for each vocal part, but because they were similar parts with the same singer, it was a lot easier to copy the compressor through to each part. I always have the option to change the settings on each one down the track if I feel like there’s something not quite right with them.

After this, I also added a compressor on the Vocal Bus. This one was a little bit softer with a 2:1 ratio, extremely fast attack (10 microseconds), fast release (37.7ms) and big knee (20dB).

Because this setting is so soft on account of the bigger knee and the low ratio, I could bring the threshold down a bit to make sure the vocals are getting affected. I added this compressor to tame and glue all the vocals together a bit more and also because there are parts where second and third vocals come in during phrases and I wanted to make sure the vocals didn’t get too loud in those parts.

Pumping Drums

I added another compressor to the Drum Bus, however the purpose of this one is a little different to the one I had used for the vocals. Instead of levelling out the sounds, I used this compressor emphasize the transients in the drums and create a bit more feel. 

I started by using the sidechain to choose the frequencies that would trigger the compressor and put a high cut all the way down to 250Hz. This means that only the sound of the kick drum will be triggering the compressor.

I then used a slow attack (38ms) so that you get to hear the punch on the kick and snare hits before the compressor starts working. I used a very slow release, almost half a second, and this was where the compressor finishes releasing just before the next beat, and this is what gives it the pumpy sound.

I used a fairly low ratio (2:1) and the threshold was high so it’s not really affecting the sound too much. When you A/B the compressed track to the dry track, you can’t really hear the sound being compressed but it has a bit more “movement”. I find it hard to explain, but when you bypass it, it starts sounding very robotic. Give it a try to give you electronic drums some more feel.

Usually in a rock production with a live drum kit, percussion, bass and acoustic guitars, there would be a lot more compression required. However, because most of the other sounds were distorted and heavily effected guitars, samples and synths, they didn’t really need compressing and sat very well in the mix already.

If you have any comments or questions about this process, feel free to hit me up in the comments section below. Until next time, have a good one!

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