Alan Parsons - NO Compression?

Discussion in 'Tracking / Mixing / Editing' started by waveheavy, Jun 9, 2012.

  1. waveheavy

    waveheavy Active Member

    Per Alan Parson's Q & A sessions on GS, he was asked about using compressors. He stated he did not use compression on his mixes. So what's up with that?

    Alan saying that, and my recalling of his Alan Parsons Project albums, it kind of makes sense (to me anyways). Those albums sound heavily produced to my ears, yet still well balanced dynamically. It suggests he uses a whole lot of automation. It would also seem to reflect on his recording and arranging ability, since the way I learned to use compressors was also as a musical time tool, and not just for controlling dynamics.
  2. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    He's one of my favorite producers but I don't agree with this in the slightest, especially today. Nothing more awesome than an awesome compressor or two or three or four etc in all sorts of styles and sounds. Music has evolved a lot since the Eye in The Sky. Back then, bass didn't even move your woofer like today. Different flavours for different folks. Plain and simple. There are no rules, if it sounds good, its good.

    BUT, don't kill the transients and that's why he and many people are against comps and limiters. I agree but if you have a vision and flavour , know why you are using them, they are the greatest thing since apple pie.
  3. JohnTodd

    JohnTodd Well-Known Member

    Amazing! But if AP said it, he must have had good reason for it on his recordings.
  4. waveheavy

    waveheavy Active Member

    Yeah, I agree with you; I like what good compressors do musically especially. But Alan said that within only the last year or so, along with saying he was getting into Cubase as a DAW choice. So is he still... doing automation instead of using compressors? It would appear so, if what he said is true.
  5. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    Was he saying he doesn't use them now, or has never used compressors? Across the stereo mix, or on individual channels?

    I just listened to "I Wouldn't Want To Be Like You" - and I find it hard to believe there isn't compression on the bass guitar, kick drum, and lead guitar in particular.

    He's had the luxury of working with some of the finest musicians in the studio, that certainly makes consistent levels a lot less of an issue. Plus some of his stuff would benefit from the natural compression you get from tube mics and a big juicy 2" tape running at 30 ips, without technically using a hardware compressor.
  6. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Automation, not sure if I would be using it a replacement for that either. Both makes more sense. Why rule out one or the other. I use compression for more than controlling volume level ( although that's what it does too). I use it to soften, enhance, add vibe , blend, side chain (big topic there). Hmm, there is great benefit to the use of compression rather than never using it. To give a blanket statement like that doesn't make sense. But, everyone has their own taste's too. But in Pop music, its very appealing to say the least.

    An LA-2A going in > AD and part of a hybrid system is awesome. A Nail doing the NY compression is killer for songs built around big bass.

    The reason these guys are saying this is more around killing the transients in sounds that are pure. Like classical music, or an rich acoustic song etc. You don't need to use compression on every track in a mix. I use them more on stems, and as flavour or glueing things.

    Depends on the song and taste.
  7. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

  8. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    I could not find the quote. Do you have a link? AP is selling a DVD on recording. There is a 31 minute segment on compressors and limiters. If he never uses them, that's a really long time to say so.
  9. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    I know that Bruce Swedien, as one of the best engineers in the world, also preaches 'no compressors'. Whether Mr. Jones, or whomever is producing the project, subsequently uses compressors in the mix-down... I don't know.

    Working in a great sounding room, using the perfect mic, with A-list talent (with great voices AND mic technique), a big budget, and having the luxury of doing 10,000 takes until it's perfect - has got to be a good place to start.

    [I narrowly missed a chance to meet Mr. Swedien and visit his studio while I was in Florida on a job a few months ago - hopefully next time.]
  10. waveheavy

    waveheavy Active Member

    Here's the link to GS

    Did you use EQ and Compression while tracking? -
  11. waveheavy

    waveheavy Active Member

    Another thing Alan Parsons said was that he was classically trained. And as said, classical you don't want to kill the transients with a comp. Hasn't anyone here intentionally tried to control the dynamics without using a comp, just to find out what it sounds like? AP said he limits bass and vocals during the recording stage. A friend of mine said his uncle worked in Frank Sinatra sessions, that Frank worked a comp knob while singing into a plate while recording.
  12. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    While there may be other ways to interpret this, the way I take it is that:

    1. He limits bass and vocals while tracking duh.

    2. I think "no compression on mixes" means "no compression on the 2-bus" or "no compression on the overall mix."

    If that is correct, it leaves a lot of room for compression and limiting on individual tracks during the mix. Maybe I am interpreting him this way because that's pretty much what I do. I usually use the DVC with the electro-optical limiter when tracking vocals and recently have been using the 4-710D (which has an 1176 (sorta-kinda) circuit) as a bass DI. If you have the gear and the experience I'm all for it. (AP...has both.) When my children get rich and give me lots of money I'll buy great outboard gear and use it just that way. Alice - an LA2A for Christmas. George - an 1176 for my birthday. The only time I put a compressor or limiter on the 2-bus is when I'm doing a "too cheap to send out for mastering" mix.
  13. JohnTodd

    JohnTodd Well-Known Member

    Hey, that's what I do! But then I "master" it in Wavelab with compression, etc.

    Am I doing it AP's way, or am I missing what he is saying?
  14. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    John - I'm guessing that none of us here is doing it exactly like AP.

    On the other hand, I think the point is that if you compress the source right, and compress each track (or stem) right, and then mix them right, there is no need to compress the mix (and in fact it is damaging).
  15. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I agree Bob. But, don't we think that is dependent too? Using something at the end of a mix, something with vibe might be just the thing no matter what was used or not.

    Dave, chatting with Bruce Swedien and seeing his studio would have been a great experience! Just seeing his grouse would have been fun.

    Here a really cool Video featuring him:

    It all about preserving the transients, which I can't agree more. And when you know how important they are, or aren't, you get the bigger picture when or why you would use compression or not, including for vibe in a cold digital mix.
    But, if they aren't using a compressor, the mastering has got to be using compression or a limiter somewhere in an album.
  16. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    To add, either of these engineer/producers may not like the sound of compression too, so they have an opinion but this doesn't mean its right for the next guy.
    For example, I just love the sound of a snare through a Transient Designer. In fact, I don't like the sound of the transients on a snare most all the time, especially in Electronic music, Metal, most Rock and most Pop. I don't like the sound of a natural snare in a lot of music. These guys are awesome but they are also pretty old school.
    Trusting they are right on this subject is pretty ridiculous IMO. Music is music. Now if we were talking about when to use compression, that would make more sense to me.

  17. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    I typically don't put any compression across my stereo bus when mixing. Only if the client requests it because I prefer not to. Just like those other guys, we grew up in the analog world where we would compress and/or limit while recording to the multitrack machine. You wanted to pack the tape with as much signal as you could put on it and you wanted to prevent as much noise as possible. Dolby and DBX were not an option for lots of us. Others couldn't live without it such as George Massenburg. And even though things are different today, I'm still compressing to the digital multitrack. I don't need to change what works for me. I don't need to follow trends or the pack or the other lemmings. I stand apart and do things like Mr. Sinatra did, my way.

    I'm also sure that Alan Parsons didn't need to use any compression on his mix because he already knew the disc cutter was going to use some anyhow. And who needs double trouble? Just because we have all of these toys doesn't mean we have to play with all of these toys all of the time.

    Gimme back my Barbie
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  18. bassie12

    bassie12 Active Member

    I very recently had the pleasure of assisting Alan on an upcoming release. I can confirm the except for bass guitar during tracking, no compression was used anywhere. This was an instrumental record with both solo instrumental, rhythm section and symphonic pieces. Also, Alan mixed everything by hand at Blackbird studio F on an SSL 9000k. NO automation. We did punch in on some mixes to catch moves or tweaks. No compression on individual tracks, buses, or anywhere. I sat there being schooled by a master while tons of beautiful vintage comps languished at arms reach. As a matter of fact, almost no eq was used during the mix either, maybe two channels total. The man at the board records what he wants, the way he wants it (mic choice, mic placement, mic placement, mic placement) and mixes it the way he wants it. In mastering, no limiting and just the slightest touch of compression was applied: -.5 to -1.5 dB on big peaks. Talk about depth & dynamic range. I'm still reeling thinking about those sessions.thumb
  19. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    wow, great to have you with us and to hear this from you, thanks for sharing! When the song is available, I would love to hear it?
  20. bassie12

    bassie12 Active Member

    Actually, we just mastered on Tuesday, so until some formal announcements are made, I gotta keep mum. I'll spill in a few weeks when there's a release date and maybe some links.

Share This Page