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Foundations of Audio: Compression and Dynamic Processing
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Get in the Mix: Working with parallel compression


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Foundations of Audio: Compression and Dynamic Processing

with Brian Lee White

Video: Get in the Mix: Working with parallel compression

Parallel compression is the process of combining an uncompressed version Now listen to the un-compressed drums inside a dense section of the mix.
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  1. 4m 56s
    1. Welcome
      1m 49s
    2. What you should know before watching this course
      32s
    3. Using the exercise files
      53s
    4. Using the "Get in the Mix" Pro Tools and Logic Pro session files
      1m 42s
  2. 13m 47s
    1. What is amplitude?
      1m 51s
    2. Measuring amplitude
      1m 57s
    3. What is dynamic range?
      4m 8s
    4. What are dynamics processors?
      3m 36s
    5. Hardware and software dynamics processors
      2m 15s
  3. 38m 40s
    1. Introducing compressors
      1m 45s
    2. Understanding threshold
      1m 29s
    3. Utilizing compression ratios
      3m 0s
    4. Understanding makeup gain and gain reduction
      3m 13s
    5. Understanding attack and release
      2m 12s
    6. Applying attack and release
      5m 22s
    7. Demystifying compression controls: soft knee vs. hard knee
      2m 43s
    8. Get in the Mix: Using compression to even out a vocal performance
      4m 55s
    9. Get in the Mix: Using compression to add punch and sustain to drums
      4m 39s
    10. Intelligently using compression presets
      3m 6s
    11. Recording with compression: Why or why not?
      2m 53s
    12. Recording with compression: How to do it
      3m 23s
  4. 18m 50s
    1. Introducing limiters
      1m 59s
    2. Types of limiters
      4m 17s
    3. Get in the Mix: Maximizing mix loudness with brickwall limiters
      5m 58s
    4. Solving common mix problems with limiters
      2m 58s
    5. Using layered dynamics processing
      3m 38s
  5. 26m 49s
    1. Understanding and using de-essers
      3m 46s
    2. Get in the Mix: De-essing a vocal track
      3m 30s
    3. Understanding and using gates
      4m 41s
    4. Understanding and using expanders
      1m 35s
    5. Get in the Mix: Gating a drum track
      3m 18s
    6. Understanding and using multi-band compressors/limiters
      3m 31s
    7. Controlling frequency content with multi-band compressors
      3m 3s
    8. Understanding and using transient shapers
      3m 25s
  6. 36m 38s
    1. Effectively using side-chain inputs
      2m 6s
    2. Using side chains creatively
      5m 4s
    3. Keying gates and compressors (and/or ducking)
      4m 12s
    4. Managing gain staging and headroom and fixing over-compressed tracks
      3m 20s
    5. Compression first or EQ first?
      2m 56s
    6. Understanding mix bus compression
      3m 26s
    7. Get in the Mix: Using mix bus compression
      2m 47s
    8. Get in the Mix: Working with parallel compression
      3m 46s
    9. Working with "modeled" vintage compressor/limiter plug-ins
      5m 57s
    10. Building healthy compression/limiting habits
      3m 4s
  7. 14s
    1. Goodbye
      14s
  8. 5m 51s
    1. A session with Brian Lee White
      5m 51s

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Foundations of Audio: Compression and Dynamic Processing
2h 25m Appropriate for all Dec 22, 2011 Updated Jan 10, 2014

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In this first installment of the Foundations of Audio series, author Brian Lee White shows how to improve the sound of a mix with compressors, limiters, gates, de-essers, and other dynamic processors. The course explains the fundamentals of sound waves, and amplitude, explores common compressor controls, and shows how to eliminate unwanted noise using gates and expanders. The course also demonstrates best practices in compression and limiting in a variety of audio applications and covers sculpting the attack and decay of individual notes with transient shapers and applying frequency specific dynamics control with multiband compressors. Exercise files accompany the course and include special Get in the Mix session files.

Topics include:
  • Measuring amplitude
  • Understanding dynamic range
  • Introducing compressors
  • Utilizing compression ratios
  • Applying attack and release
  • Evening out a vocal performance with compression
  • Adding punch and sustain to drums
  • Using compression presets intelligently
  • How to record with compression
  • Solving common mix problems with limiters
  • De-essing a vocal track
  • Using gates and expanders
  • Controlling frequency content with multiband compressors
  • Using sidechains creatively
  • Keying gates and compressors
  • Fixing overcompressed tracks
  • Using mixbus compression
  • Working with parallel compression
  • Compression and limiting best practices
Subjects:
Audio + Music Mixing Music Production Audio Foundations Audio Effects
Software:
Logic Pro Pro Tools
Author:
Brian Lee White

Get in the Mix: Working with parallel compression

Parallel compression is the process of combining an uncompressed version of a signal with a compressed version and blending to taste. This best of both worlds approach preserves the dynamics, openness, character, and frequency response of the unprocessed signal, while solving the issue of an overly dynamic track getting lost in the mix. When a compressed waveform is combined with an uncompressed waveform, the result is purely additive. The peaks of the uncompressed wave form are preserved, while the body of the signal is raised.

Let's take a listen to these un-compressed drums. Now listen to the un-compressed drums inside a dense section of the mix. Notice how they have a little bit of trouble punching through the mix. The problem here is that the drums get lost in the denser parts of the mix, the chorus in this example. Well more stuff is going on. Simply turning them up will push up the transients and eat up head room. Compressing them will bring them out more, but will also eat up the transients, causing them to loose a lot of their punch and impact. This is a scenario where parallel compression is extremely useful.

By applying compression to a duplicate track or duplicate sub-mix of the material. I can over-compress the duplicate, and bring up its volume to fill out the original, un-compressed track. I'll start by adding a duplicate track, and apply aggressive compression to this track. Take a listen to the compressed drums on their own. Now listen as I bring in the parallel compressed drums underneath the un-compressed drums with the mix. Once it's in, I'll mute it out for a measure so you can really hear how much it's supporting the drum sound in the mix. Notice how the sustain of the track becomes a bit inflated, allowing it to cut through the dense sections of the mix better.

This trick works on almost any kind of material where you want the benefits of compression without a lot of the artifacts. Try it on vocals, guitars, drums, or even entire mixes. Try automating the level of the compressed track, up and down throughout a mix. For example, turn up the volume on the compressed track to really drive the drums hard into the last chorus of the song. Whenever you're creating parallel processing chains like this, you want to be extra sure your DAWs, automatic delay compensation is enabled and functioning, because separate plugin chains may create mismatched latencies in the parallel tracks.

Even a sample of difference will result in very nasty comb filtering as the two recombine. Most DAWs delay compensation is always on, while in Pro Tools you need to explicitly enable it in your session under the playback engine. Many compressor and limiter plugins, and even some hardware processors feature wet/dry mix knobs, that allow you to achieve parallel compression in line. Without breaking the signal off into another chain. This avoids any potential problems due to latency, and makes the setup ridiculously easy.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Foundations of Audio: Compression and Dynamic Processing.


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Q: This course was updated on 1/10/2014. What changed?
A: The Get in the Mix videos have been updated to the most recent version of Pro Tools. Also, the course now includes free Get in the Mix sessions for two more DAWs: Logic Pro X and Pro Tools 11.
 
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