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An Alternative Way to Use Parallel Compression For Punchier Drums

If you’ve followed any of my drum mixing advice inside the Drum Mix Toolkit, you know that I tend to bus and group my drum tracks to simplify my processing.

Here’s a quick excerpt from the course that talks about the different ways of bussing your drums:

  1. “All drums together – Simple and easy. Makes for an easy mixing job on the drum bus but doesn’t have a lot of flexibility.
  2. Separate Kick and Snare Routed to a SubGroup – This is when you have multiple kick and snare mics, an inside/outside and over/under respectively. You route them separately to their own bus but then route those busses to the drum group/bus. This allows you the flexibility of mixing the kick and snare mostly on their own while still being controlled by the overall drum group.
  3. Separate Kick, Snare and “Other Drums” Group – Use this when you don’t want the kick or snare to be affected by whatever processing you’re using on the drum group. For instance, say you’re using a lot of compression on the kick, and you don’t want to run it through the drum group processor as well. That’s when you leave them separate. It’s very flexible, but less efficient since you end up with three busses.”

I tend to use grouping #2 most of the time, processing my kick and snare individually but then route them together into the drum bus.

The most significant drawback to this method is that later in your mix, the original balance might not cut it anymore (no pun intended).

When you process your drums in solo, both the kick and snare might seem plenty loud, but when you’ve added everything else to the mix, they might get lost in the mix.

And if you’ve already got a good balance between the drums and you’ve processed the drum bus with compression, pushing up the volume of the kick or snare into the drum bus will make the drum bus compressor push harder against the signal instead of making the kick or snare louder.

Of course, you can always ease off on the drum bus compression but compressing yourdrums together is a pretty important part of making them tight and punchy.

Another solution I’ve found is:

Parallel compress the individual kick and snare tracks

I tend to send my entire drum bus to a parallel compressor, but when you need some extra power for your kick and snare to cut through, it’s a good idea to send the individual tracks you want to enhance to the compressor as well.

That way you get the glue from the compressor that’s inserted on the drum bus, but you also get some extra oomph from the compressor that’s compressing in parallel.

If drum compression is confusing to you, or you’d like to know more about the difference between multiband and full band compression to make your drums powerful and tight, you’ll find the compression chapters inside the Drum Mix Toolkit very valuable.

Check it out here:

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About me

About Björgvin Benediktsson

I’m Björgvin Benediktsson. I’m a musician, audio engineer and best-selling author. I help musicians and producers make a greater impact with their music by teaching them how to produce and engineer themselves. I’ve taught thousands of up and coming home studio producers such as yourself how to make an impact with their music through Audio Issues since 2011.

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