Compression/Limiting questions

Discussion in 'Production' started by D Double U, Oct 27, 2011.

  1. D Double U

    D Double U FQ Sessions

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    Hi Guys,

    Have been learning some audio theory but have some questions about making tunes from what i have learnt...

    Common phrases e.g. dont compress/limit that which has been compressed/limited

    1. I know that you have to have headroom and no master limiter when sending for mastering so, firstly what are the common guidlines people use for what elements should be hittting in a mix down, also is it ok to use limiters on the individual channels and in what capacity? e.g should it only ever be minual touches or is it ok to go in hard if required?

    2. Alot of genres use sidechain and parallel compression quite harshly and over-exagerated, generally does dnb use it and if so how does it utilise it?

    3. Difference between adaptive limiter and limiter? And where would you use them in production?

    I have had a look for decent logic tutorials based around dnb but havent had much luck so please share if you know any.

    Many Thanks!
     
  2. lostnthesound

    lostnthesound Burns Easily in the Sun

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    1. It really comes down to personal preference IMO. What I will say is that you never want to bounce down a mix that's going to be mastered with a limiter/compressor on the master output. Leave the sound boosting to the mastering guys. Typically you want your mixdown to peak around -6 dB. Save the headroom for the mastering engineers. What I will do though, is add a compressor to the master out while I'm writing the track to get a general idea of how it will sound, or if I want to burn a demo for playback just to get a bit more bang when listening to it. When it comes time for mixdown, I turn that fucker off.

    2. Sidechain compression is definitely used in DnB. Basslines...pads...etc. It's really up to the producer how they want to use it - some want that hard "pump" effect, while others want a little bit just to duck the bass under a kick or duck some running hats under a snare. Parallel compression is great when used moderately, the littlest bit can really fatten up your drum kit. Less is more when it comes to parallel compression IMO, as adding too much will make your drums sound like shit.

    3. An adaptive limiter, for lack of a better example, utilizes a RMS (average) interpretation of the overall sound analysis. It should only be used when mastering a mixdown. To add, it's lookahead function and will introduce latency which will definitely cause havok if you use it during your song creation. A standard limiter interprets the overall sound's peak value for analysis. I usually throw one on a drum group to add a bit more "umph." However, I use the settings very lightly, just enough to add about a 1 - 1.5 dB increase. Again, it's entirely up to you as these are all things the come down to personal preference and - most importantly - what's sounds best to your ears.

    Hope this helps.
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2011
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  3. D Double U

    D Double U FQ Sessions

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    Thank you very much for the detailed description! Very helpful!

    Im still a bit grey about use of compressors and limiters between the initial processing stage through to the mastering/mix down stage though?

    is it common to use them on groups of channels e.g a master drum bus channel or bass channel? and would you leave them on during the final mix down?
     
  4. lostnthesound

    lostnthesound Burns Easily in the Sun

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    Glad I could be of help.

    I think of a compressor like "glue" for my sounds. For example, when I produce (as well as my buddy/fellow forum member djredbeard), all of our percussion is sent directly to a drum bus. Now, without a compressor, this drum group sub mix will sound rather dull and uncohesive - lacking a bit of pump and dynamic range. The compressor - for lack of a better term - glues all these sounds together. This not only makes our drums fuller, but it also gives them the feeling that all the individual sounds are coming from a single drum kit - unified. This applies (usually) with our layered synths too - we'll send them all to a bus for submixing and add a compressor to - again - glue them together. The key is to compress the elements so they "sound" good. Too much compression and you lose that dynamic range. Too little compression and, well, you don't get the desired effect.

    Now if we find our drums are still lacking "punch," we'll use an aux send on the drum group and send it to an aux with a compressor with crazy heavy settings. We then set the volume of that aux strip to silent, and slowly increase it until we barely hear the parallel effect kicking in. Once we hear it kick in, turn it back down again just a hair - again, less is always more. As a side note, I find it useful to set the send on the drum bus group to "Prefader," but that's just me.

    As far as limiters go, I will sometimes add one to my drum group, and then end the signal chain with an enveloper to give the drum kit a bit of snap and a very slight tale. Again, it's entirely up to you as a producer whether or not to decide if that limiter is really necessary.

    I've had some colleagues also add a limiter to their subbass channel to boost some of those low frequencies. I tend not to do this, but again, it's all part of your preference and flavor of sound.

    As I mentioned in an earlier post, I like to add a compressor to my master out when working on the track. Once I'm satisfied with the song, I'll remove that compressor and drop every channel strip back to silent. Then I'll begin boosting the volume of all the channel strips until I'm satisfied with the mix as a whole. It's helpful to test your mix on different speaker systems and enviroments to make sure it still sounds proper. Remember, at this phase of the game, we're not looking for crazy loudness, but rather an even volume amongst the entire mix.

    Once I'm happy with it, I bounce it and send it off - being sure that I've disabled any effect I've placed on the master out. The only effect I ever add on the master out is a channel EQ, and I use that to cut off all the sounds below 30 Hz because it's all rumble and inaudible non sense. I leave the final compressing, limiting, saturation, maximizing, etc. to the experienced ears of a mastering engineer. He will add warmth, reveal great harmonics, enhance sonic details and most of all - make your track loud. After mastering, we usually like to ask the engineer "what can we do to make your job easier," which is the polite way of asking "Were any of my sounds too loud/quiet."

    So to conclude: compressors are glue, a compressor on the master out is helpful for referencing but, should be removed prior to final mixdown, and the pre-mastered mix shouldn't be "loud," but "clear"...we'll let our mastering pro make that shit bang properly.
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2011
  5. msmith222

    msmith222 redbeard

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    jesus dude. you're gonna be a hero around here with posts like that
     
  6. lostnthesound

    lostnthesound Burns Easily in the Sun

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    Well someone's gotta defend Gotham City :)
     
  7. st420

    st420 Member

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    when you send all your drums to a bus, and compress them, do you mix that drum bus back in so that its the only audible drum track? or would you have all the individual drum tracks audible aswell? if you get what i mean..
     
  8. D Double U

    D Double U FQ Sessions

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    Surely all to the bus then bus to master? You would get phasing otherwise no?

    ---------- Post added at 08:28 ---------- Previous post was at 08:24 ----------

    AND YES HERO! Thank you so much for all this!

    Far too many questions about the use of limiters and compressors...i just don't want to over use, its are getting used to playing about with them, especially circuit types etc...

    When side chaining bass, how extreme are the settings? light or relatively heavy? I've EQ'd well enough on the track I'm currently working on that the kick sits above the sub but in playing i was having trouble making a definite dip without harsh settings...
     
  9. dj-dusty

    dj-dusty Member

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    I havent read the above posts (because i couldnt be assed) lol but i dont use limiters on anything except a tiny bit of limiting on the master fader, also if the drums are mixed well you dont need a lot of compression on them.
    What i do is send all drums to there own buses, so if i have layered up a snare with 2 others then they will get sent to a bus called "snare" then i would compress the snares together on that bus and same with all other elements of the drums, eg... Kick Hats Toms Loops etc....
    Then i would send those buses to one master bus for all drums and call it.... "Drums" then compress the whole drum section together.

    I compress the Sub (Harshly) and the synths if they need it.

    Then on the master fader i would add a little compression (or whatever was needed) and a tiny limiter just so things dont spill over the edge.

    Prob dont help alot but thought i would give some sort of input as to how i work.
     
  10. lostnthesound

    lostnthesound Burns Easily in the Sun

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    No sir. What I do is change the output of all the drum parts from "stereo out" to "bus x" where "x" = the drum group. Then, the output of the drum group is set to "stereo out." This way, we have total control over the drum kit as a whole where we can add our glue (compression).

    ---------- Post added at 12:38 ---------- Previous post was at 12:32 ----------

    You're very welcome for the info. I'm certainly no "pro," but I've done quite a bit of studying (obsessing?) when it comes to the nuts and bolts of this stuff. The least I can is share this stuff with this great forum.

    You're exactly right! Drum parts to bus, bus to master.

    Sidechaining a kick to subbass can be a bit of a pain in the arse as the tendency is to compress until you can "hear" the dip. Try this: apply sidechain compression to the point where you hear the "dip," and then ease up on the settings slightly. You won't be able to hear the dip as dramatically, but that sidechaining is still doing it's thing. You want the threshold to be set just enough to barely "dip," and you'll want a fast attack (i.e. low value) so that the compressor responds quickly. The trick is to find the balance between the attack and release to get the dip you're looking for, and to ensure there is no nasty "click" sounds.

    Cheers.
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2011
  11. groelle

    groelle Well-Known Member

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    goooood posts, thumbs up, couldnt have put it better!!!
     
  12. Elzerk

    Elzerk 00111100 00110011

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    indeed, big ups!
     
  13. chromey

    chromey a.k.a Impact

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    nice posts. saves me the job :applause:
     
  14. lostnthesound

    lostnthesound Burns Easily in the Sun

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    Thanks for the kudos all, much respect to all of you. As I previously said I'm certainly no "pro," but I have no problem sharing things that I've learned over the years in hopes that someone will find it useful (or correct me if I'm wrong for that matter!).

    Cheers.
     
  15. msmith222

    msmith222 redbeard

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    nice one dude
     
  16. Mr Fletch

    Mr Fletch aka KRONIX

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    Indeed, good descriptions, and very good advice.

    Mate you should definately do a blog or something, tips for the new guys etc. Thought about doing one myself recently
     
  17. lostnthesound

    lostnthesound Burns Easily in the Sun

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    Mr. Fletch, that's not a bad idea...
     
  18. Mr Fletch

    Mr Fletch aka KRONIX

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    It's been known that I do have them every so often ;)
     
  19. Elzerk

    Elzerk 00111100 00110011

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    All reputation went to lostnthesound, every experienced artist should help those starters out.
     
  20. lostnthesound

    lostnthesound Burns Easily in the Sun

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    Thanks Elzerk, and I agree with you 110% percent helping starters out. I'm actually working on an article (which will be rendered to a printable PDF) right now for the forum that essentially is a mini production guide/glossary for beginners or anyone who wants to have it on hand for reference. I'll have it in PDF format once it's complete and will be happy to add other forum members' contributions once it's done. Now here's black meteorologist Ollie Williams with this weeks weather:
    ollie.jpg

    Thanks Ollie.
     
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