In this episode, Benedikt Hain & Malcom Owen-Flood are diving deep into the world of snare compression and exploring how you can use this powerful tool to bring out the best in your snare drum recordings.
Book a free feedback call with Benedikt, the host of the show!
The snare is the heartbeat of your music, and getting it to cut through the mix with clarity and impact is essential. That's where compression comes in.
Join Benedikt & Malcom as they unlock valuable insights and techniques they use to harness the power of snare compression and elevate your drum sound to new heights.
Here's what’s covered in this episode:
- Understanding the role of compression in shaping your snare sound.
- Discover why compression is a game-changer for achieving a professional snare drum sound.
- How compression controls dynamics and balances the snare's attack and sustain.
- Essential compression parameters for the snare.
- Exploring the ideal attack and release settings for different snare drum styles.
- Setting the right threshold and ratio to maintain the snare's natural dynamics.
Parallel compression and advanced snare compression techniques.
- Unveiling the magic of parallel compression and how it adds depth and punch to your snare.
- Techniques for blending dry and compressed signals to get that perfect snare mix.
- Using sidechain compression to create space for the snare in a dense mix.
- Exploring multi-band compression to address specific frequency areas on the snare.
Malcom and Benedikt also discuss their go-to compressor types and plugins for the job:
- Reviewing popular compressor models and plugins ideal for snare processing.
- Tips for choosing the right compressor for your snare sound.
- Providing insights on how to tailor compression techniques to suit various musical genres.
You’ll also find useful tips on how to avoid the pitfalls and overcome common compression mistakes that can hinder your sound when using snare compression.
By the end of this episode, you'll have the knowledge and confidence to apply snare compression effectively in your recordings. Whether you're an experienced producer or a self-recording musician, these techniques will help you take your snare sound to a whole new level.
And then it goes through mastering and it's gonna be compressed again. So possibly there's like five, six, seven stages of compression and, just so you know compression ratio, it's multiplying. So if you compress four to one and then four to one again on the next compressor, it's not eight to one, it's sixteen to one. This is the Self Recording Band Podcast, the show where we help you make exciting records on your own, wherever you are, diy style let's go. Hello and welcome to the Self Recording Band Podcast. I am your host, benedikt Hein. If you're already a listener, welcome back. If you're new to the show, welcome. So stoked to have you. Today. We're gonna continue what we started last week, which was our series on snare sounds or like mixing snare drums Alright, engineering, maybe also snare sounds in general. So we started with EQing. This week we're gonna continue with compressing snares, which compressor plugins we like, which types of compressors are a great fit for that and how we like to set those compressors to achieve certain things and, of course, why we want to use compressors to begin with at all on snare drums. So, as always, I'm not doing this alone. I'm here with Malcolm Owen Flutt, my friend and co-host from Canada. How are you, malcolm. Hey, benny, I'm great man. How are you? I'm great too, thank you. So this has been. I got some. I just have to tell people because it was so brutal. I got some running banter again. I'm still a little tired because on Saturday I had the most brutal race I've done so far. Oh, yeah, it was the hottest day of the year. Yeah, it was 37 degrees and Celsius and it was, yeah, a trail race, not too long, like 25 kilometers, but a lot of, lots of elevation gain, running up three, three different mountains here in Bavaria and it was just a super crazy hot day and there was no shade, it was all like in the sun on the mountaintop and, yeah, it was just brutal. And interesting fact, and it's kind of crazy how that works actually, over the course of this day of Saturday I drank about six to seven liters or so. I don't know if you do gallons or liters or ounces or whatever you do. We do all of it.Malcom:
All of it. Yeah, we can't make up our mind.Benedikt:
Okay, I only know liters so you might have to translate for people who don't know what that means, but it's a lot. That's what we yeah it's like three to four times the amount people usually drink in a day. So I drank that. And then in the evening, when I weight myself, and I still had about two kilograms less compared to what I had in the morning. So this is like four pounds, five pounds or something less than what I had in the morning, all despite me drinking four times as much as usual. So it was like absolutely crazy and but yeah, I survived. I'm pretty happy with my results and, yeah, finished I think I don't know middle of the pack somewhere, like it was 300 people in that race and I finished 130th or 40th or something like that.Malcom:
So 37 degrees. That's too hot to be running man. It was crazy. It was really crazy how long was this race?Benedikt:
25 kilometers, 850 meters of elevation gain.Malcom:
All right, I don't think many of our audience understand just how crazy of a person you are the day after our wedding. So Benny flew over to Canada for my wedding just a few weeks back and, yeah, the day after our wedding and the last five people awake Benny was one of them. It was like two, 30 in the morning me and my now wife stuck her head out just to kind of like take a mental snapshot of like the last of our friends shutting down the party. And it was five people, Benny's one of them. It's like two, 30 in the morning after just a partying all day and then hours later that guy's going for a 30 kilometer run.Benedikt:
He's insane, he's totally unstoppable.Malcom:
It's slow runs, you know, and it's like most people could barely move man, yeah, running was gonna make me sick, yeah.Benedikt:
No, I just I enjoy it, but I was just the reason I wanted to bring this up on the park is was not to brag about this, but it was a lesson, because to me, 25 kilometers as weird as the sounds to a lot of people to me that's not that long. I do that pretty often and it's like, yeah, there was like a lot of elevation and all of that, and it's like not flat, it's very technical terrain also, but still it's like something I do pretty much every single weekend, sometimes longer than that. But I completely underestimated the heat and also how technical the course was and everything, and I was just so stoked that I just made it over the finish line and I threw all of my time, goals out of the window and everything, and I was about to quit multiple times along the way. It was really the toughest race I've done so far in Afrin much longer distances than that and I was like very surprised and it was very like humbled and very. It was a yeah, it was absolutely a lesson, and also a lesson in. You know, I don't know I do this because it helps me push through hard things or hard situations in life in general. So it had had a lot of moments during these three and a half hours or so that it took me to finish this. I had a lot of moments where I just wanted to quit, absolutely wanted to quit, and and it wasn't fun anymore. But quitting is, for some reason, really an option for me and I just pushed through. And I know that at some point, even in the studio or in anything that I do in life, there will be a moment where I don't want to do something, and then I remind myself of situations like that and I'll be, like you know, I kept going there, so it's not that hard to do this thing right now, you know. So that's part of the reason why I do this. It just really trains, trains me and, like you know, it's an exercise in resilience and just pushing through when things get hard.Malcom:
I think yeah, can't give up. Gotta keep going. There's yeah, you went into it expecting it to be something very achievable. Like you said, something you do almost every week is like that distance or more and just in one day, not not accumulated through the week, like me, yeah, yeah. And but like that that actually does happen in the studio. Whenever I have like a home run mix, my next mix is like the hardest thing ever, because I like just my confidence is like, ah, now I've got it, it's, it's always going to be that easy, now, right. And then it's like, oh, sometimes it's really hard to make these things work. Or like, if you like, back when producing bands, I remember like maybe do a single for the first time with a band. It goes off just perfectly. And you're like, okay, we got a formula. And then it just doesn't work. On the next song, like trying to do it that way, and you have to pivot and it gets all stressful and you're like, why isn't this sounding good?Benedikt:
Yeah, yeah, totally, totally. Also, situations where, like, where you don't want to do it but you know you'll be so much better off and you will feel so good about it when you do it. So, for example, sometimes I get a song to mix and I listen to the rough mix, I listen to the demo and I'm like that's great, that's going to mix itself. It's like very simple, very cool, it really works. And then once I dig into the session and the tracks, really, then sometimes I notice, oh, there's much more work to do than I thought there would be, and you discover all kinds of things that need to be fixed first, and maybe you thought the timing was great, but then it's not. And then you have to manually add it a bunch of hits, and then you have to manually tune stuff and then hours go by until you can actually start, like even start mixing, and then you don't, you don't feel like it anymore and it's like a you're almost like disappointed that it's not that as easy as you thought it would be. And it's very you, you the situations like. In situations like these, you want to. It's tempting to cut corners, it's tempting to to just half-ass it, just to move on, you know, and get to more exciting things. But, yeah, it just pays off to do the hard stuff and to just not stop and do it properly and, and you know, remind yourself of the, the outcome that you're after, and and then, yeah, you just push through, and even if it means that the mix is taking three times as long as you thought it would be. It would take, but it just pays off and it is what you have to do and you have to. You can't lower your standards just because it's it got harder than expected. Basically, and, and I just find that doing things outside of music that are hard train like it helps me, helps me, you know, do this or like I don't know. I just feel like that, that this is, this is helpful in all kinds of situations in life, but also in the studio. Sometimes things are not fun for a moment at least, until they get fun again. Anyway, so, yeah, that was my weekend. That's pretty much all I've done, because yesterday was just suffering from Saturday. Still, right, right, a little bit. Yeah, how about you dude and and and? Where do we? How do we put all these, all the Canada stuff from our two weeks there, from my two weeks there. How do we put all this in the podcast?Malcom:
Oh, I don't know, we're just going to have to keep sprinkling it in, I think yeah. But yeah, my week was good man. I kind of was like on a half vacation, did a little bit of work, but mostly took the week off with family, which was awesome. And then I had yet another wedding on Saturday. Good friends of mine got married, which was fantastic. So I've just been in like party party, the summer away mode and now I'm ready to not party anymore.Benedikt:
I'm way too tired. Yeah, yeah, I could see that Ready All right, but that sounds like a solid weekend as well.Malcom:
It was awesome, it was totally awesome. But yeah, I just like count. Right after this podcast I'm going up the door for a run and then I'm going to come do some mixing and just get back into a routine Very like craving or a routine at this point.Benedikt:
Oh yeah, oh yeah. I can totally relate to with that. All right. So what do we like? Is there anything before we get into the episode? Finally, Is there anything that we can? What have we talked about like from our Canada time together? Is there anything we can bring up today? Well, what have we talked?Malcom:
about. We talked about the meetup that we had. I think we talked about the meetup. We talked about you going for crazy runs. We got one run in together as Benny and I, which was awesome. It was really fun. I think people would have been upset if we didn't manage that, at least.Benedikt:
Yeah, totally I've won with you and then won with Richie also. Both were amazing, I think at some point I'm just going to put pictures to the things that we talk about here. I'm just going to post them somewhere and then link to them in the show notes or whatever, and just so people get an idea of what it was like when we got together. So they actually believe us that we got together, yeah. Other than that, I think, when it comes to music related stuff, I think I want to bring that up here in the podcast too, and I always think about, obviously, things that might be relevant for the episode too. I think we briefly touched on how I was at the Vogue Villains jam space and about their drummer and the unique drum style. I think this is actually relevant for today's episode because part of why we want to compress snare drums is to either enhance what the drummer is already doing or to compensate for things the drummer is doing, to make the drummer seem to be hitting harder, or to fix inconsistencies, or to get more out of the sound of what's already there, basically to get more of that. And also, you can mess things up and you can completely change the way a drummer played or the way it appears, and you don't want that necessarily. If the drummer is good to begin with and once again, I said it last time that drummer was that was fascinating to watch because it was kind of the opposite of what I would expect a rock drummer to do most of the times, which is hit the shells really, really hard or hitting hard in general. So he played very controlled, pretty quietly, but it still made sense and it was sounding good and balanced overall. So that was a lesson for me in a way, because my instinct immediately is to tell people to just hit harder. And then I would compress it some more to get even more punch out of that. And that drummer was doing something else and it still worked for that rock band. And if I were, I can only imagine you've produced them and mixed it. But I can only imagine if I and I know you went pretty crazy there with the compression and stuff too. But I would just imagine if I were to mix this or produce this, I think I'd be pretty careful with the compression, not that I wouldn't use a lot, but like the way how it sounds and how I compress it. I would be very careful to not mess it up or to make sure it still sounds like the span, because I could see myself completely changing that, and maybe not in a good way, if I compressed through it I don't know how you feel about this.Malcom:
Something that I kept thinking about after watching them. It definitely was just like all about having a vision predetermined, in that we wanted it to be a totally unique drum sound. I knew right off the bat that it was going to be like an intensely gated drum sound as well. So close mics are like hard gated all the time every drum, and I was monitoring that way while tracking with Pro-G, I think, actually, if I remember correctly, while we recorded. I think Pretty sure, actually, yeah, so it was just like sculpted that way right off the get go. And then, because of that, let me lean really heavily into the compression Because, like you said, not hit slam in the drums, it's not rim shots, every hit kind of thing, it's not like that at all. It's almost like jazzy in its like dynamics and approach, but with it being hard gated, I could kind of slam those individual close mics and push them pretty hard so that the you know like if you hit a drum soft versus hard, it's got a different sound. And even if you compress it so that those levels are kind of the same so the dynamics have been robbed it still sounds like two different types of notes being hit to me. So it's like a very musical drum performance, even if the compressions are sucked out of it pretty heavily. Does that make sense?Benedikt:
Yeah, yeah, it makes sense, Makes total sense. Yeah, yeah, yeah, makes total sense. Nothing to add to this. Actually, the thing I always wonder is I wanted to do it separately, we will do it separately in a different episode, but it kind of, if you compress heavily and you try to do it because of the sound and the character you get from that, you're not only compressing but you're also introducing saturation. You know, harmonics, a different type of character sonically, and I want I mean we can't really separate that from the compression episode in a way, because it just happens when you compress really hard, and I think what you did there was also a mix of compressing it hard but then also saturating it a lot, clipping it, limiting it, you know, and I think the both go together also, because if you don't, for example, if you compress really hard and leave the attacks alone, but then you don't clip or limit, you might end up with a very, you know, spiky, whatever, like hard transient that you don't necessarily want, that you need to control in other ways. So the two go together kind of, and I think that's, if I remember correctly from our mixing course. I think that's also kind of what you've done. There is like a bunch of different compressors and limiters and clippers and whatnot like stacked together to get that sound. So at the end you pretty much you've controlled the whole thing, like all of it, and it's not too different from what you've recorded, but it has a different character to it in a way.Malcom:
Definitely yeah. Pretty hard to explain that, but yeah, yeah, like you're right, like we're trying to. The goal for today was to talk about compressing snare drums specifically, but it is hard to do that without mentioning like clipping, for example in some way. It's like I definitely pushed. Actually it's the universal audio unison preamps that are like Neve 1073 plug-in that you can like track through. I was totally clipping that on purpose. It just does wonderful things on drums. I think you can just cut off the top of it and it's like very dynamically controlled. Because of that. You're squeezing this down to a more uniform dynamic and that's yeah, that was a huge part of what we did.Benedikt:
Yeah. So I think just to give some context or to just let people know why this is similar, without going into specifics of like clippers and limiters and stuff, let's just view, for now let's just view clipping and like clipping is different again. But let's just view to make it easier Limiting and clipping as like compression with super fast attack and release, very high ratio and just something to really control the peaks and either like turn them down or chop them off in case of a clipper, but let's just view it as like a super fast compressor that also distorts if you push it hard. For now, just so so people know by what we're talking about here. But if you use a normal compressor, then you have more control over that. You can choose how long the attack actually is, how long the release is, you can choose different ratios, you can do a very gentle compression, you can do a very heavy compression, you can use it to achieve different things. And to me, the main reasons why I want to compress networks and it's one of those things that I like really almost, almost, if not always compress like. I can't remember a mix that I haven't, where I haven't compressed the snare drum in some way shape or form, because there are some tracks sometimes that I don't compress, depending on the source, but drums and a snare drum in general In the genres that I work with at least I always compress it in some way, and so the reasons why we do that are either to fix inconsistent playing or to add or reduce punch, so how hard it feels, how hard the drummer seems to be hitting, to add or reduce the sustain of the drums, of the snare drum, to add energy, which is hard to describe, but that's what compression and snare does to me, depending on how you do it and then also to add some sort of grit and character, which goes into like saturation again. But different compressors have different sounds. Just by their nature they have a box tone, even if you don't compress hard, they just have a certain sound, and the harder you compress, the more of that comes through, and so these are the main reasons why I like to compress snare drums, and you need to do different things to achieve any of the above, and so this is the main thing I wanted to talk about on this episode how do you achieve these things, how do you set a compressor to do these things, and which compressors you choose to begin with, and then maybe some special tricks or things we do in addition to that. So maybe let's start, malcolm, with the compressor type, like what are your favorite compressors to use on a snare drum, maybe for different purposes, maybe there's one you use always, I don't know.Malcom:
I'm a big 1176 guy. They're usually my first choice compressor for most things Can be very fast, very aggressive and very obvious in that you can like really tell what you're doing in playing with the attack and release. So, like Benny said, you're trying to solve a problem or add or subtract something from the sound. So it's just a very quick tool I can throw on and instantly manipulate to get closer in the direction that I'm looking for. And when I say 1176, that also again going back to the color and grit that you could be adding, choosing which 1176 that you're throwing on Like I think that plug in, more than any other compressor plug in seems to vary the most to me. Like the waves, cla, black and blue 1176 is those two alone sound so different to me. And then now I don't know what type of compressor it's meant to be, but the Ponchop Comp by Dan Cornf.Benedikt:
That thing's awesome and I imagine it as an 1176 because it is so capable of being so fast and it is also so obvious sounding to me what you are doing when you are messing with the attack release and ratio of that plug in. So it's like those two 1176s, the UAD 1176s are again very different sounding, and then that Dan Cornf compressor which I pretend is an 1176, but I'm sure isn't. That is like where I'm always starting with the snare.Benedikt:
Awesome, yeah. So I'm just looking up the Ponchop. I don't have that one. I have other plugins by Cornf, but that one I don't have it.Malcom:
I don't know what it is Is it a.Benedikt:
Oh, yeah, it is Okay. Yeah, it is an FET compressor, so it's actually similar to an 1176. Yeah, but it also has tubes pre-empt tubes. It's like a hybrid thing. Oh yeah, yeah, it's got a.Malcom:
Yeah, there it is.Benedikt:
It's a hybrid tube FET circuit. So you're not wrong with the 1176, because 1176s are FET compressors, fet compressors, and that is also one, but with an added tube pre-empt thing. So, yeah, hybrid, but you're right. So the compression behavior and that's why you think it sounds similar or why it's something that's familiar to you is probably similar to an 1176. So, people, if you don't have an 1176 plugin, then maybe your stock plugin lets you choose different compressor topologies, like different types of compression, and FET would be the one. That's the 1176. So in Logic, for example, there you have the opto, the tube, the FET, the VCA, fet. Fet is the one here, 1176. And in Cubase, I think it's just the vintage compressor is what it's called it's also the 1176. Yeah, so that's the one. A lot of people love them on. The Protools has one. Yeah, the Bonfactory Factory Protools has one called the.Malcom:
Bonfactory, which is like the least 1176 one to me. It sure has a sound, yeah, but it's like it's 20 years old at this point right. Yeah.Benedikt:
But people love that one too.Malcom:
It is awesome, it's just like I don't consider it versatile at all. It's just going to mess up things if you're not ready for it, yeah.Benedikt:
Okay. So what's interesting about your answer is that a lot of people obviously love 1176s on everything. Basically, that's a compressor you can really use on everything if you like that sound and if you know how to do it, how to use it. However, for me personally, I love it on all kinds of things except like snare and kick, most of the time. Sometimes I do, and the reason is just because, to me at least and that's totally subjective I know tons of really great mixers who use it for that reason or on those sources. But to me even the longest attack is still too quick for me sometimes. So it kind of always kills the transients to a degree which can be exactly what I want, but sometimes, if I want it to be really punchy, it just does too much to me. It's more obvious on kick drums, honestly, than on snare drums. On kick drums it just kills a lot of the low end or controls a lot of the low end, a lot, which is sometimes too much for me. On snare drums it's often cool but also very aggressive and kind of you know. Yeah, if I don't want that much transient control, if I want to let the attack through and just make it a little more punchy. It's just a little too quick for my taste, but that's just probably the way I mix, I don't know. So I sometimes use it. If I want more, mainly if I want more energy and I want more sustain and I want to control the attack a little bit and like fix the inconsistent playing thing, then the 1176 is really great because it evens it out, it adds a lot of character, it brings up the sustain. The snare drum explodes, more sings, more rings, more. It has a certain character that only the 1176 does really to me and I love that. But if it's really consistent already or if I'm dealing with samples that are pretty much controlled already and I just want to make it more punchy, like make it sound as if the drummer hit harder, then sometimes it's just too quick and in those cases I prefer like a VCA style compressor, like the SSL one or a DBX or something that lets me use a little bit of a shorter, longer attack and that's just a little more punchy. It doesn't ring, doesn't have that much character. It makes it shorter, more focus, more emphasis on the transient, makes it heavier in a way, but also sometimes it's also dangerous because it can make things narrow and then it kind of disappears in the mix. That doesn't happen with the 1176 as much, but yeah, that's my. I don't know why I have this problem. I've talked about this. I've talked to a lot of engineers about this and some share the same sort of issue. I have the same type of problem. Others don't know what I'm talking about, but I just often when I shoot compress, I mean yeah, do a shootout between different compressors For some reason. I just feel the 1176 is too much on the transient. I don't know.Malcom:
Yeah, I mean it is not transparent in this situation at all because it will like really shape that transient differently. So it's all about if that's getting it to where you want it or not.Benedikt:
So if you're not enjoying what it's doing, so what do you do to make the snare drum still jump out of the speakers with the 1176? Because I always feel like it pushes it into the mix in a nice way if it's the right thing, if it's what I want. But sometimes I like the sound of it in solo and it's still kind of punchy, but because it's so heavy on the transient it kind of pushes it into the mix too much for me. So what do you do to not have that happen?Malcom:
I mean I think it's just coming from other places. There's always a transient coming through your overheads as well, or your rooms potentially, and then samples I'm not afraid to use literally just an attack sample where it's just all of the sample is like a click kind of thing. Been known to do that for sure. If I think I need to make it up again, because I just tend to enjoy the consistency, like you said, of what I get after the 1176. And kind of like having it duck down a little bit and sit back further into the mix usually pays off once there's vocals and stuff like that. So it's just not too pokey and it's just staying away from my limiter a little bit more for overall loudness. I tend to enjoy it very often. Alright alright.Benedikt:
Okay, then let's say that as a great starting point. I think we can agree that if people have the choice, starting with either an FET or a VCA is probably what we can recommend. I mean, that's not to say that I mean you can't probably also or definitely also use an opto compressor or other types of compression on snare drums, but in general, like the probably the most popular choices and for a reason are 1176 style compressors, so FETs or VCA, console style compressors. I think that's what most people use and what I would say is a good starting point. Yeah, to start there, if you have the option, let's go through the different types of things you can do with a compressor, like how do you set the 1176 if you want more punch, if you feel like it's not sounding like the drummer is hitting hard enough, is this something you can enhance with the 1176, for example, or any compressor?Malcom:
Yeah, I think so. Again, for me I'm probably playing with my TAC knob first in that sense and just making the transient have like more of a smack and less of a poke. Is it generally where I'll go With snares? On 1176, I'm probably going to be rocking like a four ratio, because that's like the lowest setting available. Usually Some of them have like a two or a variable, but generally it's a four, eight and higher kind of thing, and four is kind of the sweet spot for me there. So yeah, like the it would be rolling off the attack transient on the top and then on the bottom. I would like really destroy the transient and bring it up so that it's like transient on the top mic Just crack buzz on the bottom kind of thing, this tube of and, and then blend those together and that's generally like oh, they smashed that drum now, because the bottom's like doing this explosive sound Mixed in with this rounded off kind of smack on the top. It's like kind of like pretty shy, didn't true for me Both. The 1176 is on both those tracks.Benedikt:
Awesome. So that's. That would have been another question. So in In the EQ episode, we said that it might be a good idea to group together first and then EQ together, but in this case, with compression, since we not we're not dealing with any phase issues when, when we do compression Moves like that, you compress the two mics individually and not together, or maybe you do probably both. You probably compress them individually, and there's probably something on this near bus as well.Malcom:
Yeah, yeah. Generally there ends up being an a sum compressor as well.Benedikt:
Okay, yeah, what about you? So for punch, I use again, like I think, the it's interesting, you said it because I Would I would have said I use the VCA style compressor most of the time, like like an SSL channel compressor or a dbx 160 or something like that, a Distressor, for example, also that can do all of it, a distra it can be an 1176, can be an SSL, can be all kinds of things, very versatile. But I would use it like an SSL compressor, meaning I would go for a longer attack time, like a Whatever 30 milliseconds or something, long enough to let the attack through way longer than 1176 does, even on the longest setting, and Then I would adjust the release so that I get enough sustain or like maybe even more sustained. So sometimes, oftentimes, actually, shortest possible Release, longest possible attack, which is a very aggressive sound because you get a lot of the transient and then it compresses for a short amount of time but then releases immediately again, so you get a hard transient. After that there's a little bit of a squeeze and then the sustain is also allowed, again very aggressive. I like that to to add punch, but mostly the attack is about the punch really. But since you've said it. You're right, there's a difference between the poke, which is what I do when I do what I just described, and and the smack, which requires a shorter attack actually, because then you get, you make the transient kind of longer and and then you bring it all up and then it's also a form of punch, but differently. It's less of the the hard Poke like, of the the stick sound hitting a hard surface, and more of a wide, general sort of smack thing. That can sound really cool too, and in that case the 1176 would be a good choice, or just a shorter attack on a different compressor. So you're right, there's. It's interesting, there's different types of punch actually. Yeah, that you can create with that. And the thing about the poke is as you called it and I hope I'm talking about the same thing here. But the way I think about it is when I listen to a snare drum in solo and I have a long attack time and so I let the transient through before the compressor really does a lot. It sounds really hard and aggressive and punchy and awesome, like ten times harder than the original and it's awesome. But then, if I put it in the mix, in context with everything, with everything else. The snare sometimes disappears because all that's left is like this hard, very short transient and and the rest of the snare drum kind of yeah, goes away, disappears and it sounds very narrow. You know, and and yeah, that's something you want to avoid, and in those cases you got to be either more careful with the compression or maybe use a different type of compressor or Stack things so that you create you create that pokey sound, but then you control it again with a clip or a limiter or an 1176 or whatever to bring that super loud transient down again and raise the whole thing up. You know, something like that it's. It's always that context matters so much because a snare drum on its own can sound super impressive and crazy punchy and then completely Tiny and narrow in the mix, which is which I often yeah, I often run into the situation actually.Malcom:
Yeah, yeah, you're totally right. Context is definitely everything. Yeah, like rounding off the transient, like that's definitely a sound and to me like kind of instantly sounds, like a little more finished. Generally, yeah, but it does depend, like some drummers, how they hit, just like already, does that I?Benedikt:
Yeah, it just already sounds finished and like like this nice pop to it when some people hit and it's like all poke and there's just not enough sustain. That's often like a how hard you're hitting thing again.Benedikt:
Yeah, totally. And so another thing that, yeah, the consistency, consistency thing also plays a role in that, in that whole, yeah, that whole conversation. So, for example, if I have, if you look, let's, let's try and visualize this like if you look at it as a snare drum, snare drum, track, the waveform, and it's a very inconsistent performance, but you want it to be consistent. Say, you're looking at at a chorus or one verse that's supposed to be sort of the same all the Way throughout the part and you see the snare drum hits and some of them are really loud and some of them are really quiet. If you want to control that and you can't re-record, and I mean you can do some clip gain and manual automation, but to degree they will still be differently. And if you want to make them a little more even and consistent, I would, I would probably do two different rounds of compressions. I would first fix the inconsistency by using a compressor with a very short attack time, actually only catching the the loud hits and Bringing them down so that they're closer to the quieter hits, because the louder ones are also likely to be more punchy or have more of the poke and the quieter ones are probably a little softer. So rounding off that transient, bringing it down, will bring the two together closer. So there will be less of a dynamic range and less of difference, less yeah, less of a difference in the dynamics there. And after I've done that and I've adjusted the Inconsistency with a very short attack it probably also short release just really addressing this transient. After I've done that, I will then Add back some of the punch that I lost doing this and I will add that punch not only to the louder Hits then but also to the quieter ones, because I brought them closer together. So the second compressor I'm going to be using then would be again a VCA or a distresser or something that creates that adds that that punch that is now may be missing, but now, since I've brought them the loud ones down, it will add that character to all of the hits and not just the louder ones. Because without that first step I would maybe apply like 10 dB of gain reduction to the loud hits but only two or nothing to the quieter hits. And if I bring those closer together I will apply the same kind of character to all the hits and now I have more punch and Also the consistency that I fixed in the first part of the process, basically so yeah, that's just like another vote of confidence towards, like this corrective step of mixing and or tracking, like always thinking downstream, like that, like okay, I need to prepare this so that it something else will work later.Malcom:
Yeah, yeah, so we talked about the attack a bunch. To sum it up, if you use a very short attack, you will Control the transient. You will bring the louder hits down or the attack of those down. The compressor will act really quickly and, and if you use a longer attack, it will take longer for the compressor to reach the full gain reduction that you want, and so a part of the transient will go through or will sound like it's coming through, and it will sound punchier, but also sometimes narrower, more clicky, less, you know sustain, more focus on the transient. And so with the attack knob you can you can control that. You can control how Wide and fat or smack or like, yeah, how wide and fat or soft something sounds, or how hard and narrow and clicky something sounds, basically anything in between. Now, when you want to manipulate the sustain of a sound with the compressor, there's also things you can do. So that's the, the release knob. So if you use a Longer release, it takes more time for the compressor to recover from the compression you you applied, which means the compressor after certain. You know the compressor kicks it immediately, but it takes them a certain time to apply the compression. This is what you set with your tech knob and then, after that's done, the release knob Tells the compressor, like how long it should take to release the compression again. And if that's a very long release time, it will stay compressed for longer and then release, which means the sustain will Be turned down or stay turned down and then, after the hit is over, the compressor will open up again. Or if you use a really quick release time, it will apply the compression and immediately or quickly Open up again, which means that the the tail of the sound will be louder against it because the compression is, it's gone already before the sound is over, before the hit is over. It's very hard to explain that, but if, if I want to add more sustain to a sound, to drum sound, to a snare drum sound, I will definitely use a short release time so that the sustain, the ring, can come through and not be Pushed down by the compressor. And if I feel like it's too much of a ring and I want it shorter and With more focus on the transient, I use a longer sustain so that the compression stays where it is until the hit is really over. And it's kind of counterintuitive at least I remember it being that way for me in the beginning, when because if you look at the knobs you might think that More attack means more attack you know you turn up the attack and basically you get more attack or turn up the release and you get more release. But actually usually on most compresses higher values on the release Means longer release, means less sustain and higher values on the attack means longer attack, means more Sound of the attack. So it's kind of you know what?Malcom:
I mean. So yeah, yeah, it totally feels counterintuitive at least it did for me as well. Yeah, and and there's this whole concept of being able to hear compression, which is something that people don't get right away. Usually most people can't really tell what's happening when they're turning the knobs on the compressor. At the beginning they like okay, something changed, but I don't really know what it was, and it takes some practice. Highly highly recommend just grabbing like four snare hits, looping it and and just letting it run while you grab an 1176 again, just because it's an obvious sounding compressor, and and just throw attack right up the middle five and then and then shorten or extend your release time and Just do it over and over until you can hear what's happening and you eventually do kind of hone in on it and you get better at hearing compression Very valuable skill.Benedikt:
Absolutely. And then there's another thing we need to mention, I think, and that is we discussed what those parameters attack and release and what they do to an individual snare hit. But, depending on how fast your song is, you might also need to think about the tempo of the song because, for example, if you use a long release time because you like, the fact that it turns it, keeps the sustain down, makes us the hit sound shorter, it might be too long, meaning that the next hit that comes in is not Like when the next it comes in, the compression has not fully recovered. Basically. So you might keep that in mind, especially it's maybe more so with kick drums, but even with snare drums or if maybe you need to automate it when there's a fast fill. So just for example, you use with with super fast release times is not so much of an issue. But if you use a longer release time and it takes the compressor Half a second or a second to recover and it's a super fast part or fill, or you know, the next snare drum hit comes immediately after the first one, the compressor might still be down, tend to be, or so, when the next hit comes in, and so the next hit sounds quieter or completely different. So you want to make sure that the compression has recovered before the next hit comes in and it you can even create a very musical pump if you adjusted to this the, the speed of the song and some some instances not always something I do, but Can be very interesting to set it so that the it seems like the snare drum breathes in a way, is it's the sustain of the snare drum Is breathing in a way and really matching the tempo of all yeah, yeah, it's very wise to again listen in context, like and I mean by throwing back in guitars and stuff like that.Malcom:
So, you kind of have like the riff happening while you're playing, with the decay and sustain of instruments, because that's all rhythmic information, right yeah, the difference between a snare ringing like very long, you know, and that's gonna give a totally different pocket, and you want to embrace what the right choice is for the song. I.Benedikt:
Remember I might be wrong, but I think I remember you doing something like that or you added some sort of character like that on one of the mixes and unpacked courses, where it was like a four on the floor, type Beat, with the kick drum and then the snare drum together on the three, the two and the four or something like that. I have something in mind where you used, you compressed it very heavily and it was like recovering, basically a pumping with the sort of the groove of the song which added to the whole feel and groove of it. I remember you doing something like that where I thought like my first instinct was like holy crap, like he's, he's going hard there with the compression, but then it was a, it did it in a very musical, very cool way that enhanced the groove and part of it was the timing that you Set there, where you did a lot, you used a lot of compression but it recovered perfectly in you know, and supported the groove of the song.Malcom:
Yeah, when you get the opportunity for, like, a song that calls for some pumping and and you get it right, it feels so good.Benedikt:
I. Something I really love is like a, a pumpy mix that is pumping intentionally. It's good Cool.Benedikt:
Yeah, now speaking about pumping how much compression is too much compression?Malcom:
No such thing. Yeah, it's hard to hard to say like. Like, like you've said, benny, you've seen me go Hard, like really really crush things and and I think it's turned out great. But every once in a while you barely need any or potentially don't need any, which is just total extremes, right. So much comes down to the performance and but ultimately just making it sound how you want it to sound, the the big mix that I think people are mistakes, or the big mistake that people make is Focusing too much on what they're trying to do. So maybe you're trying to make yours, your snare sustain, like have a way longer sustain, and you pull that off. But while you're so focused on that snare you told you didn't realize that now, like every time the snare gets hit, your hi-hat Bleed explodes and you've got this big. That happens every snare hit, because it's like just slamming everything together, like you got to pay attention to what else happens, or go so hard on, like the snare bottom mic, that the kick is in it. Right, like if you go too far with anything, it's gonna start costing you elsewhere.Benedikt:
Yeah, bleed is absolutely. Bleed is something you keep in mind when compressing real drums, especially like that, have bleed in them for sure. I think also, though, that in general, although we might think that compression always makes things better, usually, like in general, compression makes things smaller, so it's never gonna be Bigger than it was in the beginning. If we listen to an individual hit, it's always gonna make things a little smaller and a little narrower. We compensate for that and we turn it up after the compression and stuff, but still, I think that it's all always a trade-off and a compromise, and we get things out of compressing a snare drum that we like, but we pay for that by making the whole snare drum sound a little bit smaller, a little bit narrower, a little bit, yeah, compressed, and there's always a trade-off. That's what I'm saying here, and I think that sometimes we think it's better because it's punchier, it sounds harder, but compared to the raw drums, yeah, sometimes we lose something that we. It's hard to describe if you haven't heard it, but I've had this a lot where I compared it to the raw sounds and, yes, it sounded more finished, more polished, more punchy, but there was some feeling of size and depth to it that I had in the raw drums that was just gone after compressing it really hard. Then I have to either go back a little bit or compensate for that in other ways to make sure I don't lose this. Whatever it was that I initially liked about the drum recording, it's very hard to explain it without hearing it. By the way, we're in the process of Maybe it's already done by when this episode airs, but we're in the process of starting our YouTube channel properly. Finally, and that's where I'm going to do videos that actually show you what we talk about on the episode so you can follow along better, and this is one of those things that I think you need to hear to understand what I mean. It's very common, also in mixes that I hear from our students in the coaching program. Then they sent me a mix and I give them the feedback of, yes, sounds good, but maybe a little raw and it feels like it needs to be controlled more, and I would use more compression and I would do this and that, and then they apply what I tell them in the feedback and they compress stuff and then those problems are fixed, but sometimes it's still not better because it sounds narrower, smaller, whatever. It's just too much compression or the wrong type of compression, and then we have to explain. It's really hard to explain what went wrong and help them get the best of both worlds. Basically, it's a very common thing. Super hard to explain, though, and so to me, too much compression is when the end result sounds less exciting than what we started with and there's always going to be a trade-off, but it shouldn't be less exciting, it should be better, definitely, and oftentimes when you go too far, it might sound good in isolation or as long as you don't compare, but then the A-B still doesn't really work out, or in the context of the whole song it doesn't work out, and if it's less exciting than what you had when you started with, then it's too much for me.Malcom:
Yeah, yeah, like smaller. In a weird way, smaller is actually the goal, like you can kind of think of mixing as like a funnel that you're like a food processor almost. We're trying to like squeeze it down into something that can come out of a straw and still like taste like a milkshake, but like, so it's not that you need to avoid making things smaller, but you do need to avoid making things like lose, yeah, the energy, I think, and, yeah, ideally, try to add energy usually. This is such another huge vote of like why it's so important to nail it and track it and why, like the everything starts with the drummer. Because if you remember that everything you do, including EQ and any other processing, does kind of like take something away every step, you realize how much you could lose if you're having to do a lot of that corrective stage right, so if the snare hits are wildly differently in volume and we're trying to compress them to get them more uniform, before we even start trying to shape them into like a tone, it's like this huge kind of thing is already messed with it and now we've kind of lost, like we've lost so much before we even start getting creative. So, like the performance, a really well tracked drum performance is going to give the mixer so much more freedom to play with changing the sound into something cool and unique, whereas if they have to do a big corrective stage, you've just lost so much firepower by that stage.Benedikt:
Oh, yeah, yeah, absolutely. So it all starts with the drummer. It's most of the sound, actually. And then, even if you compress just as hard on a good drummer, it just will sound differently. And it's even more fun to compress that stuff really hard and you don't have to fix as much as like you said. Now, why does it add energy or sound more exciting if we compress correctly, whatever that means? Why is that? What do you feel? How do you feel about this?Malcom:
Well, like the pumps would be the obvious example of adding energy. If you're creating this thing that like literally is moving and you can feel like your body just can kind of figure out that tempo and groove of the pump. Like that's an audio like a very obvious example of energy to me, and then I think often more uniform dynamics actually leads to more groove as well, which can sound counterintuitive, I guess, but like if we can grab onto the backbeat of a song more obviously, because we can like really clearly make out the kick and snare and kick and snare, like that's again just to kind of like now we've established a groove, a pocket, where maybe it was so overly dynamic that it was harder to latch on to that feeling before.Benedikt:
Yeah, yeah, totally, totally. So you're thinking mainly about timing and dynamics, in terms like, and how that changes the energy. I thought about it and I agree, but I thought about it also in terms of or I tend to think mainly in terms of volume differences, that or like. It's also dynamics, but more like micro dynamics and differences in volume of, like the loud things versus the quiet things. So when I think drums and I'm in the room with a drummer, it's this crazy loud, high energy thing. Even if the drummer plays in a very controlled way, drums are just loud and if you're standing next to a drum kit, the whole room seems to rattle and shake and like it's just loud and a lot of energy just because of the sheer volume of it and the way the shells like all the noise that the drum kits makes, aside from the thing you're hitting. Like you're hitting a snare drum and the whole kit like resonates, the toms make noise and the cymbals and you hear everything and maybe there's something in the room that also resonates. So that all is kind of the part of the experience and the energy for me. And if I compress a snare drum or any drum really hard, then I feel like more of those details of like how the shell sings and resonates and how all the other parts of the kit and the bleed comes up and how all of that gets louder. That also adds energy to me and some of that is like you don't want all of this. So I definitely most of the time don't want any cymbal bleed or more cymbal bleed in my snare mic. But some of that, like the way the shell reacts and the way maybe other things resonate, some of that is actually something I want or like adds up the more I compress different elements of the kit, and to me a compressed drum kit just has more of that. It's less the individual narrow hits on individual drums and more of this whole thing that just moves and shakes and rattles, and so that is also part of the energy for me. That, combined with what you said, with the pump, the groove, that really is why it sounds like more energy to me, even if that means it's a little harsher, it's a little more uncontrolled, a little wild, but that's just what drums sound like when you're standing next to them.Malcom:
Yeah, that's actually a good point. When you do slam like any close mic, you get more bleed and sometimes that's awesome. Sometimes that is energy and it sounds more natural because when you're in the drum, the room, the drum kit, you don't hear just the snare, you hear everything. So by squeezing all of the stuff kind of more together, on different tracks as well, it definitely can start to sound more like you're in the room.Benedikt:
And even the thing itself, even without the bleed, it's the sound of a stick hitting the drum skin, really loud and really hard. Really. That versus that, plus the shell singing and resonating and the snares moving and rattling. If you only have the snare top mic sometimes and the drummer hits really hard, which I usually like, then that's a cool punchy sound. But oftentimes it's a very short, hard sound that doesn't have much to it, despite the transient or the sound of the stick hitting the skin. But if you compress that a lot, all of a sudden the shell comes to life and then you hear the bottom of the snare and you hear those nuances of the whole drum and not just the impact on the top. Basically, and that just also is more energy to me, because in the room with a little distance, listening from the side of that shell, it's way more than just the sound of the stick basically. So that's how I think about it. Now, that being said, it's also genre dependent. You wouldn't want to do any of this with like or most of this with like a jazz drummer or something that needs to be really organic and true to what happens in the room, right? So what we're talking about mainly here is like pop and rock music that is heavily processed and manipulated in a good way and that's supposed to sound larger than life. If I would track like a blues band or specifically like jazz or something that needs to be really organic and natural, then you got to be very careful with this because it will change the way the drummer and the drum sounds and there's a lot of detail that you want to preserve and also the size of it and all of that. You don't necessarily want to make it smaller and squeeze it down. It should be dynamic and big and all of that. So genre dependent of course.Malcom:
Definitely, definitely. Yeah, it all goes back to not doing anything without a reason, right? So we're not just throwing on the compressor because you heard it on this podcast. We're throwing it on to try and make it do a certain thing, and likely a slammed 1176 kind of sounding top mic is something that you're not looking for if you're doing a jazz recording.Benedikt:
Yeah, also because that jazz snare drum doesn't have to compete with this huge wall of guitars and all the synths and whatnot. So there's only like an upright bass and acoustic guitar and or a clean electric guitar and a drum kit and it's very dynamic and people play quietly when they're supposed to play quietly. Then all the details come through, even without compression. But a normal, unprocessed, uncompressed drum kit sounds so tiny and small and weak together with these walls of guitars that we have in the louder genres that there's. Yeah, you just can't get away without compressing it. Really, do you do the bulk of your compressing there on the snare drum? Do you do that as an insert on the snare channel or the snare bus or both, or do you use a lot of parallel compression or maybe all of it? I don't know.Malcom:
I think it's all of it. Yeah, like there's obviously we discussed throwing like 1176s on the close mics, like top and bottom. Samples can't really be skipped over because often, like, the samples I'm choosing are already quite processed. I'm pretty into one-shots and stuff like that. So there's already this like another layer of compression happening there. In a way. There's the bus compression happening, usually usually a little lighter there, for snares in particular, and then but my overheads and rooms are very snare related as well, they're totally part of the snare sound for me, as we talked about in our last episode on EQing. You got to think about the whole thing, because that's what we're hearing and those are generally compressed in parallel my rooms and overheads. So you've got that stage happening as well. And then there's the bus compression on the whole drum kit, which is usually pretty aggressive, parallel processing as well, so like there's a ton of compression. When you think about the whole picture, not to mind the mix bus you know that also affects the snare, for sure.Benedikt:
Yeah, so okay, that means the snare drum goes through possibly some form of compression while tracking, definitely some sort of compression on the individual mics and the snare bus, maybe both. Then part of the snare that is captured by other mics, like rooms and overheads, is going to be compressed, either parallel or on those tracks or both. Then the drum kit as a whole is going to be compressed and then it goes maybe through an instrumental bus or something or the mix bus and then it goes mastering and it's going to be compressed again. So possibly there's like five, six, seven stages of compression that the snare has to go through. And just so you know, guys, like compression ratio is not, it's not adding up, like it's multiplying. So if you compressed four to one and then four to one again on the next compressor, it's not eight to one, it's 16 to one, and this just goes on and on down the chain, so you might, it's just limiting at this point. So you have five different compressors and they all do like four to one and you think you're gentle, but actually you're applying a ton of compression and in the end you end up having a 80 to one ratio or a hundred or more, like limiting. Basically that's just what happens, but that's sometimes that's just what it takes and I for me I tried an approach and I still don't know what I prefer. Actually I switched back and forth. So for the longest time I've done compression only on, I've done parallel compression, like I have to say, like this I've done exclusively, I've done parallel compression exclusively on the drum bus for the most part, and I've done like the compression of the individual tracks, like the snare that we're talking about in this episode. I've done that on the snare track, the snare bus or my individual mics, but mostly the snare bus. Then I switched to an approach where I didn't do parallel compression on the whole drum bus anymore but I used a drum crush parallel bus that only had the shells in it. So I left the overheads and rooms alone and I just sent the shells to this drum crush and mixed this in with my drum bus and had some drum bus compression there. But that was not parallel, the parallel was just the drum crush, meaning all my shells, kick snare and toms went to that crush bus where I compressed them in parallel. And so I did that for a while while still doing compression on my individual mics or the snare bus and then I switched to I tried and I liked it kind of. I switched to not compressing the snare drum on the track or the snare bus at all and only doing the drum crush thing in parallel and then sending both the compressed and the uncompressed snare to my drum bus and then doing a bunch of drum compression there. So I ended up having no compression on the snare itself, just the parallel compression, and I liked that also and so I could work with any of those approaches and I still don't know what my favorite is. I just follow my gut feeling for what I think the song needs. So sometimes it's just one compressed on my snare bus, sometimes it's that plus the parallel drum crush, sometimes it's no compressor on my snare and only the parallel thing, and very rarely, depending on the genre, it's that I compress the drums as a whole a lot and maybe in parallel, maybe not, maybe both, and don't do anything to the individual drums. It can sometimes happen very rarely, but sometimes I just crush the drum bus so hard that I don't feel the need or I remove the snare bus after the fact, after I know what I want to do to the drum bus. But in 95 or more, actually 98, 99% of all cases I compress the snare drum in some way, shape or form. But I don't have an answer for insert versus parallel, because it's different vibes that I use depending on the genre, the song, whatever I feel like doing.Malcom:
Right, yeah, yeah, it is always going to be circumstantial, for sure, but I think the moral of the story is that there's a lot of compression, kind of. By the end of the day, yeah, totally.Benedikt:
And I really I don't know why. That is why I like all of these approaches, because there are some mixes who claim to always do just one thing, basically. So Andy Wallace, known to basically only use the SSL Rarely any outboard you know, just uses the SSL compression, the SSL EQ, that's it. And then there's the bus compressor or something, but no parallel, no outboard compressor whatever, and his mixes obviously are fucking amazing. But then there's mixes like Andrew Shep's also super good mixer, super amazing mixer, mixes sound absolutely fantastic claims to be using only parallel compression and they seem to have good reasons for their approaches. And I kind of picture it together. I mean, yeah, I don't know, it all makes sense to me and I sometimes use one approach and then another approach and then a hybrid thing of all of them, and I'm not sure if I should have my go-to method or if it's a good thing that I keep switching things up. I don't know Right.Malcom:
I think changing it up is good. I think it avoids habits and, like we talked about earlier, you come to start expecting a result after you've done something, like you're running. You expected this run to be an easy one. Sometimes it just isn't the right circumstances and, like, going into a run at 37 degrees requires a more focus on going slow in water and body temperature than usual. Right. And the same thing happens with this. Like if it's a really fast song, you've got to approach compression differently than if it's a really slow, spaced out song where you have room for decay times and stuff like that it's. You can't use the same, you can't go at it with the same approach. So I don't think it's a bad idea to switch it up. You switch up your rodent even because it forces you to kind of like think about what you're doing rather than just autopilot it.Benedikt:
That's such a good point. Actually, I remember, yeah, I remember doing on certain things I've done the same, I've used the same sort of approach for a while, or I tried to use the same sort of approach and force it on whatever was in front of me, and whenever I did that, after a certain while there was a situation where I found myself fighting that source or that approach that I've used just because I wasn't adapting to the situation. I just had my go-to thing, I used it, I wanted to use it, and then I kept fighting the song for way too long when the solution would have been to just move to a different type of approach, use a different plugin, use a different strategy, routing, whatever, and that would have solved it immediately. But trying to do what you always do, even if it's not the best choice, can sometimes be very hard and can be an uphill battle that you're fighting, that it's not really necessary. So, yeah, you're totally right. And if you stay adaptable and like you're open to switching things up, you don't run into that situation that often, you're totally right. And so, yeah, and you go in expecting it to be super easy because you know that what worked last time or what you did on the last record, and then it doesn't work and then you have two options. You can either try and make it work somehow and that's oftentimes gonna be this uphill battle or you immediately notice that it's not the right approach for this type of record and then you switch to something else and if you can do that, I think it's better for the song and you're gonna have an easier time. But yeah, yeah, yeah.Malcom:
It pays to think ahead and even like, just when you're having your first listen, just try and imagine what you're looking for, just be conscious about the decisions you're making and like that could happen as early as the pre-production stage, right when you're gonna be recording the drums a certain way because you have a certain goal in mind.Benedikt:
Yeah, totally All right now, anything that we need to add here before we move to like the last few things, the more advanced stuff, or like additional tricks or hacks that you might wanna have for the listeners. Like we talked about attack and release, we talked about different styles of compressors. People are probably wondering about ratio and threshold. There's not much to say about this. It basically just determines how hard you compress things. So threshold just means how loud does the snare hit have to be for the compressor to start doing something? If you set the threshold really high, then only the loudest hits are affected by the compressor. If you set it lower, then the quieter hits get affected too, and so you can basically have control over which hits are gonna be compressed and how hard you compress those hits. Eventually, like it goes together with the ratio, because the ratio really determines how hard you compress it, like how much the compressor will turn down the snare hits. But the ratio and the threshold go kind of hand in hand, because you could have a very high threshold, only addressing the peaks and then using a very high ratio so that the peaks that you are addressing are reduced dramatically. That you can do that approach. It's similar to like a limiter. You can use that approach to create some sense of consistency by really turning down the louder hits but leaving the quiet ones alone. Or you can do the opposite. You can lower the threshold so that the compressor affects all hits, but then you have a more gentle ratio so that the compressor doesn't do a crazy amount of compression even though you're exceeding the threshold by a lot on the louder hits. So it's this combination of the two. If you do both, if you have a low threshold and a very high ratio, you're gonna affect all the hits and you're gonna do a lot to them. Basically, and that can also be a thing. But just know that the two together determine which hits are gonna be affected and how hard you will compress them. And you gotta play around with that. And it helps to have a compressor, like a stock compressor or some sort of digital compressor. That helps you visualize this, because once you see it you really know what's going on Pro-C, for example, pro-c2, fabfilter is amazing for that because you see the waveform, you see that line of the ratio, how the output of the compressor compares to what's going into the compressor, and then you also see the gain reduction, moving with the snare hits, which shows you is it recovering fast enough, is it still affecting the next hit or not? And at least for me. I'm more of a I think I guess I'm like a visual type. When I see those visualizations, when I see it in front of me, it makes much more sense to me and I can immediately hear it better as well.Malcom:
So yeah, I think metering and graphic interfaces are pretty handy with compression, like for me, a VU meter that shows the gain reduction happening, really helpful. I like being able to see that and see where has the meter recovered before the next hit or, if not, how, like where is it going on the next hit.Benedikt:
And then the final parameter. Depending on the compressor you have, there might be more, but the final parameter that you probably find is an output or a makeup gain knob, which means if you compress the snare by 10 dB and now it's quieter than before and you wanna bring it up to the same peak level that it had, then you can turn up the makeup gain, bring it up and you'll notice that even though your track peak meter, like on the track in your DAW, might read the exact same peak level, the snare will now sound louder or it will sound the same, but the bleak got way louder or whatever. Like you wanna be able to compare that, because without the makeup gain it might just sound weaker or smaller or quieter. And only when you compensate you really hear the difference in tone. You hear the difference in the level of bleed, which is very important, and you will also hear if the snare actually got more powerful, while keeping the peak at the same volume, basically, or even lowering the peak and sounding more powerful. So most of my mixes it's like before I start mixing, my drum bus is like or my drums are peaking at a certain level and it sounds okay, but not really punchy, and when I'm done mixing it's way more powerful and punchy. But my peaks are lower than they were to begin with.Malcom:
Yeah, yeah, grabbing that that's actually super important. Like there's no scenario where you don't grab the output or makeup gain with compressors, it's so important to like try and volume match and just be able to compare, because otherwise you'll really have no idea if you've made a good or terrible decision.Benedikt:
Do you ever use multi-band compression on snare drums?Malcom:
Not usually. No, I haven't grabbed a multi-band compressor in just ages actually.Benedikt:
Yeah now snare drum. I just wanted to ask snare drum is one of those things where I don't do it as well. There's other multi-band things I might do to address the bleed issue, but that's more of a multi-band expander thing or whatever, but not compression. Okay, so let's skip this.Malcom:
The only thing that comes to mind is like when you've got like a really terrible sounding skin, like you didn't change the top skin and it was really bad. Sometimes I'll try and use a multi-band compressor to alter like the sound of the attack in just a certain frequency range. That's getting like pretty advanced and honestly, like rarely helps that much. It's already like a lost cause.Benedikt:
Yeah, oh, okay. So there's actually one thing I like on both kicks and snares. Sometimes it's again rarely, but that's actually also a cool trick that you reminded me of now. But when you said you changed the sound of the attack If the performance is really inconsistent, then we often talked about how hitting a snare louder or a drum louder not only changes the volume but changes the sound of it too. So if a performance is really inconsistent and I want it to be more consistent, there's one multi-band trick that can help. I need two bands for that. So I need one around the fundamental of the snare drum, so one low band, basically that addresses the 200-ish area, around 200 Hertz fundamental area, and then one that addresses the top band, starting at 2K, 3k or something like upper, mid-range and top end. And so I have these two bands, and then what I do is and it's actually a mix of multi-band compression and expansion. You can do that with Pro-MB. So what I do is I have to explain what the difference is. If a drummer hits a snare drum quietly, it oftentimes is more of a thud of a dark, you know, has less attack, has a lot of body, it's dull, dark. It's like this different sound. And when the same person hits the snare louder, there's less of the fundamental compared to the crack and the attack and it sounds brighter and more explosive. And so what I do is I set the thresholds on those two bands so that on the louder hits it will turn down the fundamental area a bit and will turn. It will turn on the louder hits it will turn up the fundamental area a bit and it will turn down the top end a bit, and on the quieter hits it will leave that stuff alone, so that the louder hits get more of a boost and around 200, more thump, more fundamental and less attack. And then, once I've evened it out, I can EQ it overall to get the sound that I want. So that makes sense. Similar to kick drum, where if you hit it hard you get a lot of the clicky sound and less bottom end, and if you hit it very softly, quietly, you get a lot of boom but less of the attack. And so if you use that multi band trick to change the relationship between the fundamental and the attack sound to even it out, you have something more consistent and then you can apply your overall EQ and compression to it. That's just the one thing that I do very rarely to just fix, but that's again a fixing thing.Malcom:
Yeah, but that's like a cool advanced technique, that very creative problem solving. I like it.Benedikt:
Yeah, but other than that, in most cases I don't use any multi band compression as well. Do you use any other special compression tricks or hacks or anything maybe unusual or something you discovered or only you do or you've?Malcom:
picked up from someone. I don't really think so. Like, what comes to mind is just thinking about compression and tracking again, and being very conscious of the high happily is something that's really important to me because I tend to think that my snare is gonna get pretty compressed. So if the bleed is really problematic, I'll try and create more distance between the snare, snare mic and hi hat, and a little goes a long way. Couple inches can make a world of difference. But then also not just the volume of the hi hat, like how the hi hat sounds Like. I would rather have a louder hi hat in my snare mic. That sounds like musical versus like sometimes if you had like the positioning just wrong, it's like this weird whistley hi hat sound that is just awful, yeah, yeah, and so tragic to have in there. So being very conscious about that and through the lens of thinking about compression, Alright, cool, yeah, same here Bleed.Benedikt:
Very, very important Something I need to check constantly because, as you said before, you might be focusing so much on the attack and the release and the sound of the drum itself that you completely miss the fact that everything else just got way too loud or way too harsh and just doesn't sound great anymore. So, yeah, keep an eye on that and an ear on that, for sure. The only other thing that I do or like it's not even that special, but like going back to the 1176, one thing where I like to use it is I do my usual thing with, or one of the things that usually work for me with the Distressor, the VCA compressors, something like that In the dial-in the drum sound that I want. But oftentimes these compressors, as we said, sound a little pokey, a little hard. You know you've got a lot of transience, a lot of punch and less of the smack and maybe not enough of the ring anymore and it's like rather narrow than this wide smack sort of thing. And what I actually like to do is, if I get to that point and I listen to the mix and it's great, but it's like too much transient, not enough of the rest of it. I still like to keep that, but then I blend in a little bit of a parallel 1176 with that, which basically brings up just the ring, just the energy and excitement of the shells and stuff. So it's similar to what Andrew Shep's does with his backbuss, rearbuss, whatever thing, where he sends stuff to the 1176 and then brings it up. That's something I like to do with drums and that's something I do towards the end of the mix, where I listen to the whole thing and I feel like, yeah, sounds great, but I wish the drums would just come through a little more and not just the attack I got plenty of that but like the whole drum and that's really what solves it for me. A lot of the times I use in the 1176 and send my shells to it, compress it with oftentimes and really most of the time, actually a really, really short attack time, because I really want to squeeze it, I want to bring up the ring and the sustain of the shells and then I just blend it into taste and all of a sudden my drums come back to life. Basically.Malcom:
Yeah, okay, so this is actually really interesting, because I do kind of the opposite, like we talked about. I'm like 1176 as a default on my snare, which is aggressive and you mentioned like how do you bring it back to life when you need to? And because I'm so process heavy on the individuals, I have an outside bus that I can route to prefader and just send some uncompressed shells to my drum bus To get more of the attack back to the transient back.Benedikt:
So it's just like okay, this is sounding really like locked in, bumpy, aggressive, they might be heavily distorted or whatever, but I need some real life reintroduced into the sound and that is like one solution for that. It always lives in my template and I don't always use it Like I probably at least half the time I don't end up touching that, but it is like really nice, just being like okay, let's just bring some of that back in.Benedikt:
Cool, so interesting. Yeah, we try to achieve the same thing basically, but we get there different and differently and like not enough. Transience is almost never my problem because of my approach. My problem is that it's sometimes too punchy, which can sound clicky and narrow, and I want more sustained, more, and that's what I call like life. In that case is like more of the of that stuff, and you mean more life in that. Things need to jump out of the speakers a little more, probably because you killed the transience.Malcom:
Yeah, I need some natural poke back.Benedikt:
Yeah, yeah, very interesting. So, yeah, it's a combination.Malcom:
Exactly same goal, exact opposite approaches. That's great, yeah, great.Benedikt:
Yeah, totally All right. So I hope this is helpful. I hope you like episodes like this and I hope you like the whole serious concept where we do a series on certain things like the snare drum and dive deep into the individual phases of how we process things. It's important to note once again that it's all about context and it all goes together in a way. So we even don't at least I do it and I think you too, malcolm I think we don't view EQ and compression as, like these, separate things. Even those goes at a hand in hand, because the way you EQ is an interim changes. How you want to compress things and the way you compress it might probably mean you have to EQ it differently. It's like it all goes together. It's this one thing that where it's so much about the context, but we wanted to or I wanted to do these deep dive breakdowns of individual parts of the process, to not only have the big picture episodes. But yeah, go a little deeper there and let us know if you find that helpful. I know it's kind of hard to follow the theory here and just the explanation, like us explaining things and not being able to hear it, but that's why we're going to do the YouTube channel and that's why I'm going to make videos to go along with the episodes, basically to show you what we're talking about, so that you can get an idea of what that stuff sounds like. This will happen in the very, very near future and, yeah, let us know how you like all of this and if you have any questions or if anything we were talking about today was like too complicated and you need like more clarification on anything or have follow up questions, just let us know.Malcom:
Yep, absolutely. Go subscribe to the self-recording band's YouTube channel, because those videos will be coming out. And while you're there, go look up my name and find my YouTube channel too.Benedikt:
Exactly what's your channel called, by the way? Is it just Malcolm Owen Flood? Yep, just my name. I mentioned it before. Yeah, but it's like. Yeah, but I always I'm not sure because you have two channels, right? That was always confusing.Malcom:
Yeah, I got like a photo video camera. Nerd one but the Malcolm.Benedikt:
Owen Flood. One is the audio one.Malcom:
Yeah, exactly, All right. All right, that's what I wanted to hear, Cool perfect.Benedikt:
Yeah, go check that out, definitely, because Malcolm's videos are amazing. You've done, you've started already, and I kept putting it off for various reasons, but now we're going to start, and Thomas and not just myself, by the way, thomas, who used to edit this podcast and who's my partner engineer at the studio here he and I will fill this channel with content. He will do drum, specific content and a lot of the things that he just does way better than I do, and I will do things that I specialize in, and we're going to build this channel from now on and hopefully give you some, yeah, some additional content that covers things we can't really cover on the podcast. Well, yeah, that's awesome, that'd be great, absolutely Cool. All right, then, thank you for listening, as always, and talk to you next week, take care.
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