compression : to Side-Chain or Not!?!

Discussion in 'Tracking / Mixing / Editing' started by bar10, Mar 6, 2007.

  1. bar10

    bar10 Guest

    I am considering getting the Neve Portico Compressor. It is the only high-end compressor I'll have in my home studio. I was originally considering getting a compressor with a High-Pass filter option or Side-Chain so that I can use the compressor to only compress transients and let the low end on drums and bass come through. But the Portico is a great price for a sound I have always liked. The feed-back and feed-forward mode make it very versatile and the sound is unique and musical. Does anyone use the high-pass or side-chain features on their compressors to great effect (except ducking)?


  2. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    If you use I high pass filter your preventing the low end from coming through. I'm a little confused as to how you think side chaining a compressor will suppress transients any better than setting a proper threshold.

    A multiband compressor might be more what you're looking for but those things are dangerous as far as I'm concerned.
  3. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Not correct. Using high-pass filter on THE SIDECHAIN has NO EFFECT on the audio signals'
    EQ. It keeps the low-end information from "pumping" the compressor and beating the low end to death! There are compressors out on the market that facilitate this for you. The Distressor , for example, has filter presets you can select to do this. The Drawmer 1969 Mercenary has the "Big" switch that filters the very low end in the DETECTION section so that the bass isn't compressed like the rest of the signal. Joe Meek compressors have filtering in the sidechain, too.
    I keep a couple of old, noisey, but very effective Ashly and Symetrix parametric EQ's around just for that purpose. Their audio performance is a non-issue, you don't "hear" them in the sidechain. But they are great for contouring what the compressors' detection circuit is "hearing" and "telling" the gain cell (VCA, JFET, Optical, etc.) what to do. The same principle is used for de-essing,too.
  4. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    He wasn't clear as to how he was using the Hi Pass filter. It was an after thought for me to use the high pass in conjunction with the side chain. If it isn't clear enough, I obviously wasn't aware of this technique but that's why I come to these forums. Anyway, my mistake. :oops:
  5. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    No offense meant, and that is why I come to this site, too. I have learned so much from DD, Cucco, Remy and the gang. I think that sidechains are misunderstood by a lot of folks out there. No need to be embarassed about it. Hell, I mis-read a post the other day and put my foot in my mouth BIG time, only to have DaveDog straighten me out! Have a good day...
  6. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    No offense taken. I appreciate the correction. I consider that prevenative "medicine". Prevents me from putting my foot in my mouth again at a later date. :)
  7. bar10

    bar10 Guest

    thanks for the clarification Moonbaby. I wasn't clear with my question.

    I am wondering how important it is to have the ability to keep the lows out of the detection chain. From what I've read, the Portico compressor has a nice coloring affect and maybe I want to compress everything when tracking drums. Do you often use side-chain or High pass when tracking or mixing?

    I imagine I won't be loosing the lows when they are compressed. They will simply be "controlled" more, and isn't that the point of compression?

    Thanks for your input.

  8. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    bar10, the side-chain thing, only affects the detector circuit in the compressor/limiter. So it actually does not affect the frequency response of what passes through the compressor/limiter. But by being able to tailor what the detector "sees", you can spectrally affect how the compressor/limiter is going to work and on what frequencies it will work upon. Your perceptions as to what you think the compressor is actually doing seems to be a little unclear.

    For instance, you have tracked a band live. You want to put some compression on the vocals but the bass and the cymbals are nearly overpowering the vocals. So to get the amount of compression on the vocals you want, you would plug an equalizer into the side chain and rolloff the extreme high and low frequencies. Your compressor then would "see" mostly just midrange, which is where the vocal frequencies predominately reside.

    Or, let's say, the vocalist has a very splashy and sibelance vocal but you want to add some upper midrange and high-frequency equalization to make the vocal cut through the mix better. But now anything that they sing with an "S", "F", "Sh" makes their vocal Sssssound almossssst unbearable to lisssssten To. No problem. You plug the equalizzzzzer into the sssside chain and boossssst those offffffending frequencsssieszzzz. Thisssssss way, the compresssssssor/limiTer will now cauzzzze more gain reduction to occur when those naSSStie Sssssoundssszzzzz take plaCSSSSe.

    Maybe, you want to crunch a stereo mix of the drum kit? You'll find that the bass drum has a tendency to over modulate the detector causing extreme "pumping" of the sound of the drum kit. Don't like that effect? Roll the low frequencies off on the equalizer in the side chain. This will make the compressor/limiter far less sensitive to the extreme low frequencies, while still allowing all of the frequencies to pass through and so it will not "see" the bass drum or other low-frequency content to cause the compressor/limiter to pump. Sometimes we want that pump! So, boost the low frequencies on the equalizer in the side chain and you will have more pumping. Sometimes that's really cool. Sometimes, it's not.

    I'm all pumped up! And that, can also be controlled by slowing down the release time on the compressor/limiter.

    I'm too pumped to poop. ummmm that didn't come out right.
    Ms. Remy Ann David

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