Updated: Nov 19
Parallel compression is a very common practice in mixing that is used to help fill out a song’s stereo image. Parallel compression is used on vocals, drums, guitars, and any other instruments in a session. There are a few ways to set up parallel compression by using different routing methods. Here’s how I like to set up my parallel compression buses for drums.
I have adapted Grammy Award winning engineer, Vance Powell’s parallel compression technique and calibrations that he uses on his ssl console, to work in a DAW. And it works great! Here’s how you set that up.
This technique consists of (2) stereo buses:
Drum Bus - Kick, Snare, Toms, OHs, Hat
Drum Crush - Kick, Snare, Toms
I like to route the output of all of the drum tracks to the main Stereo Output and to each of these parallel buses instead of having a send to the parallel buses. This way you have one less fader to worry about. For example:
KICK, SNARE, TOMs - Stereo Bus OHs, HATs - Stereo Bus
Drum Bus Drum Bus
**So the Kick, Snare, Tom tracks will have (3) different outputs. The OHs and Hat will have (2).
What you put on each of these buses is up to you, but these are the plugins and settings that are recommended. On the Drum Bus, we have the UAD 33609 and for the Crush Bus, the UAD Fatso. For the settings of each:
33609 - LIMITER SIDE (make sure Limiter in engaged) COMPRESSOR SIDE
Threshold: All the way up to +15 Threshold: 0
Recovery Time: 50ms (fastest) Recovery Time: 100ms (fastest)
Fastest Attack: 2ms Gain: 0
FATSO - LINKED
Comp: Buss, G.P, Spank (all engeaged)
CALIBRATE PARALLELS (Insert a VU meter on the Stereo Bus, first)
Assign a signal generator to any unprocessed mono track
Make output to Stereo Bus
Increase output fader/signal so that you are seeing a level you can reference. (Example -5)
Send a copy of the signal generator to the 33609 parallel bus
Set the fader on the 33609 so that 1dB of gain is added back into the overall Stereo Bus
You will know this by looking at the VU meter on the Stereo Bus
Repeat this process for the FATSO
MAKE SURE TO ONLY SEND THE SIGNAL GENERATOR TO ONE PARALLEL AT A TIME.
THEN REMOVE SIGNAL GENERATOR
This same technique can be used on other parallel compression buses as well. If you do not have these specific plugins, try out some compression tools that you do have and like. The main idea is to get around 4dB of compression and adding 1dB of gain back into the overall mix.
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