Join Larry Crane for an in-depth discussion in this video Parallel compression with aux sends, part of Music Production Secrets.
- [Voiceover] It's pretty common these days to hear about parallel bus compression on drum tracks. This is a way to add compression but keep all your transients and your peaks in tack. And the compression will make the drums slam a little harder and pop out in the mix and make them sound fuller. It's a really great technique and that's the way I worked for years but recently I started using aux sends instead of buses and the reason is when you use an aux send you're able to control how much you're sending in to the parallel compression. When you're using a bus, you're mimicking the exact same bus that the drum mix is set to.
So the levels that you're setting on your main mix are the same levels that are going into that bus. In the aux send scenario, you're able to control and send exactly what you want and how much of each instrument or part of the drum kit you wanna send into this parallel bus compression. In my mind, get a lot more control over the final sound. So I'm gonna show you how to set that up in the computer. So right here, we've got just a real typical drum mix. Typical tracking there, you know all the usual's.
Okay, let's go over to the mix window here and lets set up aux sends for all these channels. There are some little ways every da has a way to do this a little easier, in this case it's a shift option and set a little output bus action here. Now note that it's still called a bus, that's just nomenclature that's being used here. And we're gonna go to bus one and two. And right now those are set all the same, they're set at zero and let's hold down this shift option.
Let's go to pre, they're gonna be pre the faders down here that are in the mix that we're hearing. So that way we're able to listen to our bus, our aux bus compression set up here independently of the full mix of the drums here. Let's go and assign the parallel compressor here to the input of bus one and two, right there. And let's put a compressor on it, I'm just gonna go with a real standard 1176 from UAD.
And the solo, the parallel compression track. Now right now we probably won't hear a thing because nothing is up, right? But check this out. Okay, we're starting to get a little something in there. We're seeing the levels down here on the parallel compressor. So that's the kick track obviously, let's go check out the snare. Okay, let's hear how those sound in the mix. Let's turn this off.
Give this a higher ratio, a faster release. Now let's take that in and out of the mix. Wow, big difference and you can blend it as much as you need but the really great thing is you can solo this and hear what you're sending in there. Sometimes I'll send in a little bit of overheads but not a lot and that's one of the great things about using the aux send as opposed to a bus. Just a little, just add a little brightness for some of the highhat and things like that.
You hear how that sounds? Take it out. Gives the drums a lot more punch in the tag. And of course I would send the tongs in here. Let's set these guys up. And I'm gonna do just a little bit, they're panned a little wider there at 55. I'm gonna pan them just, you know, take 21, just picking a random number really. What'd we set that level to? Uh, 65.
I'm not gonna push 'em up super hot here, just a little bit. Let's check that out. Let's find a spot where the palms are playing, like the end here. Solo this track, maybe a little less. Blend this in.
And it's really great, it just gives you so much more control. I love using this instead of buses now even in the analog realm at this point in time, I am mixing this way, I'm using an aux send, feeding a outboard compressor and blending that back in the mix. I feel it gives you a lot more control. It's allowed me to do, in some cases, more compression than I used to do. Yet have it a little more graceful and so I'd really recommend trying this out. And try both ways, try using a straight bus where it parallels the mix of the drums that you have on the board and then try using your aux sends and creating a custom mix.
Alright, have fun with this
These tutorials work with any DAW, in almost every recording scenario, and are based on Larry's 20+ years of experience recording, producing, and mixing some of the world's best musicians, including Sleater-Kinney, The Decemberists, Elliott Smith, She & Him, Jolie Holland, and Stephen Malkmus. Tune in every week for another tip.