Dynamic use of a compressor

Discussion in 'Tracking / Mixing / Editing' started by pcrecord, Sep 2, 2015.

  1. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    Hi fellows,

    I was just wondering if anyone use or tried this technique I'm thinking about for several days now.
    Maybe it's a common thing but my brain just figured that possibility by itself lately !

    Many agree that a bit of compression on the master-bus will glue your mix but what if you want to keep more of the level changes of the song from verse to chorus etc..?

    Anyone thought of using a thresold automation to apply a lower thresold in the verses and a higher one on the choruses ? My Idea is to apply the same amount of gain reduction on the entire song instead of having the louder parts being more compressed...

    Is this making any sens ? ;)
  2. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    It makes complete sense to me, although I'm not sure how you would go about automating the threshold setting on the GR of your choice... is that possible? I'm asking because I've never attempted to automate the parameters of a VST/ effect/plug-in before, I always automate the effect return.

    Perhaps automating a parallel GR could accomplish something similar?

    I guess I'm suggesting to look at the compression as a sort of FX in this scenario...

    Say you were to create an Aux send on all your tracks, and then on that Aux, you inserted a compressor/limiter, you could then automate the level of the Aux return, pulling the level back during those louder sections, thereby decreasing the amount of compression being sent to the Master Bus ...

    I don't know which DAW platform you are using, pal.... so I'm just basing it on my own platform, which is Samplitude, where Aux's and Subs appear on my mixer just like channels/tracks do, so I can automate those aux returns just like I can with track levels ( faders).

    Although at that point you would be automating an aux return and not the actual threshold setting of the compression...

    Just thinking out loud...
  3. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    With sonar, nearly all plugins settings can be automated.. I still have to try it with Fabfilter's that I use now but I'm pretty sure it does it.

    Oh yes it does it, text from their web page :
    FabFilter goodies
    Of course, you also get all the usual FabFilter goodies: perfectly tuned knobs, interactive MIDI Learn, undo/redo and A/B switch, Smart Parameter Interpolation for smooth parameter transitions, an extensive help file with interactive help hints, sample-accurate automation, advanced optimization and much more!

    So the use that I think of is on the master bus. Lowering the comp thresold on the lower level parts of the song using automation.
    My idea is apply if you want your comp to barely touch the dynamics but have the same action on quiter parts of the song. Without this method, on dynamic songs, the comp would do GR only on louder parts.

    If your DAW doesn't do it directly OR if you want to do it in the analog world, you can automate the volume of the master bus Aux send and feed it to the side chain of your compressor. Or send the same signal of the master bus to another stereo bus then use the output of that bus to the side chain of the comp..

    I have a mix to work on this weekend, I'm gonna try this. I'm kinda exited that I came up with this on my own.. (even if many already use it) ;)
  4. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Honestly, I've never automated plug parameters. It's probably possible in Samp, I would think it's likely that my plugs ( waves, T-racks) also allow it, I've just never done it before; instead I've always just automated the aux/FX returns.

    I'm interested to see how this works out for you... please keep us informed.

    Although now, thanks to you, LOL, I'm also interested to see if this can be done on my platform with my current plugs as well. ;)
    pcrecord likes this.
  5. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    I often use plugin automation, Mainly for feedback and volumes on delays and for occasionnal EQ curves or some saturation plug-ins that I don't want to apply equally to the whole song...
  6. Makzimia

    Makzimia Active Member

    Automation of plugin parameters is old news. I just don't do it personally because it's yet another thing I have to think about :=/ LOL.
  7. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    It's something I occasionally do, but only when, for example, the song has verses single-tracked and choruses multi-tracked. It can be fiddly without any automation.
    pcrecord likes this.
  8. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Are we talking about a master as well?
    2-bus or a master track is really the same thing to me. Actually mastering just means its all done to me. Editing a 2-bus lane can be some of the most create steps for some people.
    Assuming I'm understanding the goal here... I do all sorts of interesting things to a 2-bus or master. This is yet another reason why I capture to a second DAW (however not needed to do this).
    Could you split your 2 track from the chorus to verses etc off on their own lanes and apply whatever effect you need to do it that way? Just because they are summed doesn't mean we can't keep disassembling summed lanes like we do to individual lanes. ( The beauty of stem mastering).

    I'd take more control of each section (chorus 1/2/3 / verse 1/ 2 /3 etc... to manipulate them.
    Possibly build something to ride a side chain comp in those new lanes. Sum it all back together again when you are happy.

    Hope that helps.
    Sean G likes this.
  9. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    I do disassemble tracks alot but try to refrain doing it lately. It's easier to work automations with less track when you have a 8 track controller.. Also what it does is that I have less plugin instance involve...
  10. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    For what you are describing, (I think) this is how I would be attacking it.
    In fact, I sometimes see automation as the worst offender.
    Samplitude is the king at all this because we can treat a chorus as an object. You don't need a plug in running in the background in the same way you do in sonar. Maybe Donny see's into this and may chime in as he knows both platforms well. More object based editing minds trying to help ... ;)

    Not that I'm suggesting you buy Sam but the concept of object based editing and what you are looking to accomplish may be easier than you think

    It sounds like you are looking at a vocal rider of some kind?
  11. Chris Perra

    Chris Perra Active Member

    If I wanted to do that I'd either Run 2 Groups of the entire mix with a comp plug in either insert with different settings and automate mutes for the sections Or run 2 comp plugs on the master bus and automated them turning on and off. Whichever works better for your DAW.
  12. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    How do you think it could be better than automation of one plugin?
  13. Chris Perra

    Chris Perra Active Member

    Settings on the plug in. Some plugins have limited automation options.. or don't work very well.. It's just a different way of doing it.

    For me I would find it easier to get the settings on 2 separate compressors than start with one and adjust the same one in a different part of the song and then assign automation to it. Is it a gradual setting change or a jump for each section? If a jump,...2 separate would be easier for me personally.
    audiokid likes this.
  14. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Maybe this is why I don't use automation on the actual plug, because with the Object Based Editing in Samp, I don't really have to.

    I don't think I could be much help with Sonar, though - my familiarity with the platform stops after PE 7/8; it was after this that Sonar released the 'X" versions and I never got around to upgrading to those because someone here (@audiokid ) talked me into giving Samplitude a try. ;)

    So, I don't really know how the later versions of Sonar are laid out, what it's capable of or how they have changed/improved... although I would think that generally they're keeping up with everything else that all the other DAW platforms are - Sonar is a very popular DAW, I'd be surprised if they weren't up to date on the things that most users want.

    As far as automating the actual plugs themselves, I think the reason that I've never really delved into that is because Samp's OBE allows me to work with effect parameters - along with many other actions as well - so automating within the processors has never been something I've had to do. I'm not saying that those who do automate within the effect are doing anything wrong... everyone has their own way of working, certain processes that they are familiar with, and whatever process works is what people should use.

    Assuming that Sonar doesn't have OBE to the degree that Samp does, there are still easy ways to accomplish what you want to do... I do agree with Chris ( @audiokid ) though, in that any DAW can have more than just one "master bus"... any bus can be used as a "master". I frequently use different buses - not only for the standard grouping of tracks, but also as master buses that are dedicated to certain sections of a mix, and in that regard, you could always create several different buses ( or Auggies), to which certain sections of the mix/song are assigned, which would allow you discreet processing for those different mix sections, and through basic automation, simply mute or unmute these buses as you want, or as the song calls for.

    For example, you could assign all your tracks ( and track groups) to two buses - one labeled "verse bus", the other labeled "chorus bus", to which you would apply whatever level of GR you deemed necessary for each, and then, during basic automation, simply mute one bus while you un-mute another. This way, the input levels to the GR would never change; the only difference would be that the verse bus would have different GR settings than the chorus bus would.

    You could also do the exact same thing using Aux's as well, in the case where you are using a DAW that doesn't allow you to assign one track to several different outs/buses at the same time.
    Simply assign all tracks ( and subgroups) to two stereo Aux sends - one labeled Verse Aux, the other Chorus Aux. Then, insert whatever processing you want on the Aux returns for each, and again, using basic automation, mute or unmute those Aux Returns as you see fit, or as needed.

    In Samp's mixer view, all subs/buses/aux's appear the exact same way that tracks/channels do - they have input trim, EQ, Inserts, Aux, Bus Assignments, Pans, Mutes and Faders, just like standard tracks do, and can be automated in the exact same way that the regular audio tracks in the mixer view can.


  15. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    What I find challenging in your idea of using mutes is that you need to be very precise with the timming to avoid artifacts.
    On my DAW automations are very easy and accurates. Which one do you use Chris ?
  16. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    But I'm talking about the master bus or 2-bus here, not parts of the tracks. Can you create objects in a stereo bus with Samplitude ??

    The way Sonar does it is by giving an effect bin to object, so for exemple you can load a delay, just for a word. But again this is on the track level not the Buses.

    That's the way I did it and there is nothing wrong with that, but you may be duplicated plugin instance which is what I try to avoid. Instead of having 2 seperate Comp, you have just one. So less CPU use. If any one cares about that ;)

    I never said my Idea was better and I'm happy to read how others do it.
    On one side some split the tracks and assign the parts to different buses
    Others send all the tracks to 2-buses and use automated mutes.

    To me doubling the track count isn't very apealing because I have a 8 ch midi controler so it would mean scrolling to more pages if I want to retouch a channel
    And I find it equally easy to automate mutes or comp threshold...

    It's an interesting dicussion !! :)
  17. Chris Perra

    Chris Perra Active Member

    I use cubase 7.5 I haven't had any issues with automation. Earlier versions had some weird stuff happening.

    You could also use volume automation if mutes don't work well. Automating the plug in is equally as good. 2 groups or plug ins is just a different work flow
    pcrecord likes this.
  18. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    This is a classic example of where a 2 DAW mixdown process shines.

    Marco, this sounds very simple but maybe I'm not understanding what you are wanting.
    Are you basically wanting to compress parts of a master (verse, chorus, bridge, solo)?
    I'm guessing you have a song finished but its not mixed down (glued per-say) so in theory the 2-bus master tracks are not created yet? Which is why you can't break parts of them away to compress and glue?
  19. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    You don't need mutes or automation and it should all be seamless and very easy to construct. Easy in perspective to what you will achieve.

    Regardless of what extra things a song needs, I always create groups (verse, chorus) plus bass, drums, hats, guitars, keys, effects, solo's etc etc etc) and mix down groups where I use 2-bus processing. Always.

    From there:
    You can continue to master them (ITB) or output groups as stems without any compression so the groups are now either ready for:
    1. hybrid audio tracks
    2. prepared for (ITB or OTB) collaboration, remix or stem mastering.
    3. 2 DAW summing and capturing

    This (can be) an ideal way to work on commercial re/mixes and how I would choose to master (help, collaborate or finish) everyone I work with. In fact, I would always want both 2 channel mix and stems so I can choose what's best for the project and vision.
    Stem mastering is much easier to improve , fix, alter, remix and glue music. Its simple and the choice way I want to work.

    From this step (having the uncompressed stems),
    I would cut the stems into sections and put them into their own channels and assign (if necessary) comps/2-bus processing to each of them using separate plugs or hardware.. I would do exactly what Chris Perra suggested and not use the same plugin for all the steps.
  20. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    Initially I didn't have the need to confirm how to do it and neither the need to convince anyone it was a better way to do things. I just thought some would like to know it is possible to do it that way ;).

    The reason that I'm doing this is for mixing purpose and only if you have a song that some parts are at lower levels and you want to keep it that way and you want to use a compressor to glue things together but don't want to crush the louder parts or boost the quieter parts.
    I'm always using a master bus or 2-bus what ever how you want to call it. All the tracks revert to this bus before going to the master output of the DAW. I usually never put anything on that bus and the level is always at 0db. Some will ask why I do that if nothing is on it; The reason is simple, I see the final level of the mix without having to put my Output fader up and blasting my ears... So on that bus, I propose to put a compressor and set it so that the louder part of the song has about 2-3db of gain reduction like anyone would do, just to glue things together. Thing is, if you do that, on the quiter parts of the song the comp won't react at all and no gain reduction will be apply.
    By lowering the treashold of that comp for the quieter parts, you keep the general dynamics of the song but gain that glue effect on the whole song.
    I thought I would be using this while mixing but I'm now seeing application in mastering as well... ;)

    The benifit for me, as I said, is that I only use one plugin and less tracks or buses..

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