Compressing Drums. Why Do It?

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Threaded Nail
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Compressing Drums. Why Do It?

Post by Threaded Nail » Sat Sep 12, 2020 6:12 pm

The slow attack fast release compression is specifically the type of compression im talking about. Ive been making music about 2 years and got a few songs done and I have NEVER compressed the drums, I have only used drum samples though, and my drums are usually very basic. But whats up with everybody compressing each drum track (or as a send on a buss)? Am I doing something wrong by not doing this?

Id happily let someone hear my song and criticize the crap out of it if they want. I dont have soundcloud so Im not sure how I would send it though.

Tarekith
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Re: Compressing Drums. Why Do It?

Post by Tarekith » Sat Sep 12, 2020 6:24 pm

I almost never compress drums either. :)

Electronic drums and samples you buy typically are already a bit dynamically limited, either on purpose or just due to the nature of how they were created. If you don't hear a need for compression, don't feel you have to do it!

Threaded Nail
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Re: Compressing Drums. Why Do It?

Post by Threaded Nail » Sat Sep 12, 2020 7:11 pm

That makes me feel a little better already. Maybe its a psychoacoustic effect that makes people want to do this alot by making it seem louder but its really not? Still ive never seen a need for this in my music.

Tarekith
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Re: Compressing Drums. Why Do It?

Post by Tarekith » Sat Sep 12, 2020 7:49 pm

I think like a lot of things when it comes to making music, people read an interview with an artist they look up to who said they did X,Y,Z and feel like they should be doing X,Y,Z in their own music too.

JMFOne
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Re: Compressing Drums. Why Do It?

Post by JMFOne » Sat Sep 12, 2020 9:30 pm

The settings you mention are likely to smooth out the kit to make it bit more even and I guess therefore louder
You would also parallel compress to make abit more aggressive and also some limiting to reduce any peaks
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TLW
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Re: Compressing Drums. Why Do It?

Post by TLW » Sun Sep 13, 2020 5:51 pm

Drum samples might have been compressed and eq’d as part of the sampling process to give the user sounds that work i na mix with little additional processing. For example, bass and tom tom sounds from the fabled 808 and 909 sound rather basic and a bit weak unless compressed and processed with eq, which is why they usually are.

Compressing drums can be done for a lot of reasons. Such as making an electronic bass drum that goes “thud...” go “b-o-o-o-o-m”. Or levelling out a kit played by a human to prevent the quieter hits being lost.

A slow attack means that the initial transient isn’t affected by the compression while a slow release makes the sustained part or “ringing” part of the sound relatively louder. The overall effect being a drum that has more consistent level and sounds almost like a bass note rather than a drum. Compression tends to result in a loss of treble, and a slow attack on a real bass drum means the relatively faint higher-pitched “click” sound of the beater hitting the skin isn’t overwhelmed and lost.

Like all audio processes there are times where using compression on drums is a good idea and times when it isn’t.
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jlgrimes
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Re: Compressing Drums. Why Do It?

Post by jlgrimes » Mon Sep 14, 2020 1:16 pm

Threaded Nail wrote:
Sat Sep 12, 2020 6:12 pm
The slow attack fast release compression is specifically the type of compression im talking about. Ive been making music about 2 years and got a few songs done and I have NEVER compressed the drums, I have only used drum samples though, and my drums are usually very basic. But whats up with everybody compressing each drum track (or as a send on a buss)? Am I doing something wrong by not doing this?

Id happily let someone hear my song and criticize the crap out of it if they want. I dont have soundcloud so Im not sure how I would send it though.

Usually to mess with Transients.

Buss compression can be used to give drums a glue effect or even intentional pumping. Parallel compression can give some drum mixes a thicker sound.

ozinga
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Re: Compressing Drums. Why Do It?

Post by ozinga » Mon Sep 14, 2020 3:10 pm

You can also raise the perceived loudness by using parallel saturation and add higher harmonics without using eq to brighten up the track

Threaded Nail
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Re: Compressing Drums. Why Do It?

Post by Threaded Nail » Tue Sep 15, 2020 12:03 pm

JMFOne wrote:
Sat Sep 12, 2020 9:30 pm
The settings you mention are likely to smooth out the kit to make it bit more even and I guess therefore louder
You would also parallel compress to make abit more aggressive and also some limiting to reduce any peaks
Compression wouldnt reduce any peaks though, right? Because the slow attack is still letting that part through.

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Re: Compressing Drums. Why Do It?

Post by yur2die4 » Tue Sep 15, 2020 3:40 pm

In the land of compression, peaks are relative.

Since you can always turn up or down the overall result, if the ringing out / tail is louder, the overall perceived loudness of the drumming might be increased. Then your peaks in contrast to the other content is not as much of a difference ratio-wise. As a result, you might turn it down a little. So in a sense the peaks are reduced, even if they are preserved, only by comparison to the rest of the content. (I might be making some generalizations, I don’t have a lot of experience with compression in practice).

Shift Gorden
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Re: Compressing Drums. Why Do It?

Post by Shift Gorden » Tue Sep 15, 2020 5:27 pm

Great question and great answers.

In my mind, those slower attacks, faster releases are usually for the subtle gluing together of drum components - it can gel things together quite nicely - whereas the quicker attack times are more useful for shaping sounds.

Personally, some compressors I simply love the tone of - they add a nice vibe to the sound without having to squash anything. The UAD Teletronix LS-2A and the Plugin Alliance Lindell 7x500 really have a nice tonal character to them.

Threaded Nail
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Re: Compressing Drums. Why Do It?

Post by Threaded Nail » Tue Sep 15, 2020 5:40 pm

I know our ears act as compressors when we hear something loud they compress the volume much like a slow attack time on a compressor would do. We dont realize it happens because our brains still perceive it as very loud even though our ears protected our hearing from the initial burst of volume (natural makeup gain?) So, with that in mind im thinking hearing a drum hit which is at first loud (transient uncompressed) then compresses immediately after, then stops compressing when the tail is ringing out might make our brains think something was really loud because of our natural tendency to do this when we heard loud volumes. But the fact that it was all a trick leaves you more room for other instruments without your drums being in the way within the mix so much. Im still a little confused about this because if the transient was not compressed then how did it get out if the way? Oh im going in circles. Ok im done.

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