Discussion in 'Tracking / Mixing / Editing' started by cornsnap, Mar 28, 2011.

  1. cornsnap

    cornsnap Active Member

    I hear over and over that you must have compression on drums and bass to get the thumping sound from those instruments. Is it possible to get those same results just from EQ'ing? It seems if I EQ correctly I don't need compression. Am I looking at this right?

  2. Paul999

    Paul999 Active Member

    It all depends on your source. I sometimes don't use any compression on kick but there is still compression on it from the 2-bus, tube gear, transformer circuits etc. Compression is sometimes talked about like it is a bad thing so is eq for that matter. There is the belief that if yo have the right mic pre you won't need compression or eq. In reality all of these things are just tools neither good nor bad. I don't know if I assumed wrong that you are getting caught in some sort of negative mind trap or if you are attempting to avoid spending reams of money on compression.LOL

  3. cornsnap

    cornsnap Active Member

    No bias toward any effect I just want to be sure that my method of mixing is good. The first thing I'd do after a recording session is to add compression to the drums which makes them stand out. But lately instead of going to the compressor I'd been tweaking the EQ, especially on hard hitting sounds like drums. The EQ seems to give me more thump than the compressor. BTW i'm using the canned compressor settings in Adobe Audition. I guess my question is EQ'ing a substitution for compression? Should I compress then tweak the EQ's or just compress? How much EQ'ing do you do?
  4. Paul999

    Paul999 Active Member

    How much eqing I do really depends on how much the source needs. I've had a few projects that all I did was eq the 2-bus and a couple individual instruments. Other times I'll take a kick and go crazy. For hard hitting drums the attack and release settings on compressor is ultra important. A large attack time and fast release is great place to start.
  5. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Compression can most assuredly change the EQ curve of something like a kick drum. I almost never compress during tracking nor do I EQ. This will present some level problems at times and require a bit of delicate surgery later on, but it does give a more complete frequency range to play with at mix. Its then that I can determine whether to use compression and what type of compression. Or EQ for that matter. All of these decisions come after editting the open mics on the kit. If I'm going to group the kit and use a global compression, I dont want to compress dead-air bleed. I dont want to compress the cymbals either. I'm not a BIG WASH fan. Some styles will be okay for that but it always leads to separation problems for other instruments in a dense mix.

    So, I spend a lot of time on the drums. Getting them right from the git-go is a direct link to large sounding mixes. Big hitting drums with a lot of space in them is where you get space for everything else. Real drums or canned, it makes no difference.

    I will use a compression setting on the kick to even its attack. If this requires a touch-up of EQ to reestablish a bit of the thump lost in the addition of the compressor, then so be it. But its AFTER the compressor, not before.

    The order of the chain can , at times, make or break the track. Therefore is good to have a purpose for whatever you're adding to a source rather than simply using a tool because its been said that this is what you do...

    I ALWAYS record drums with a subkick track as well as the main kick mic. Very little gets into the subkick track except the lowend woof of the drum itself. So, for me, tightening up the inside kick mic with EQ and compression is a no brainer since this is going to be my attack with the subkick added as the thump. I use EQ on the subkick track to set the size of the kick drum. I never need to compress it.

    The snare is the attitude of the kit sound. I will do whatever it takes to make this stand by itself ina way that suits the song. Replacement, additional keyed sounds, distortion, compression, EQ, all or none, its much like the basic guitar sound for a track. It HAS to have that special attitude in order to move things forward in the way that the song is dictating.

    I very rarely do anything to the toms other than edit out all except the initial hit and then decide the length of the hits usually determined by the meter. I'll add EQ to enhance the stick sound on the head but rarely compress. The studio kit has small toms but they are tuned low and tight and they dont have a long decay. I record them open as I can and edit the mics later.

    I never leave the cymbals in the group. I think I already said this......old age.....I usually have a spaced stereo pair and a room mic. I usually only EQ these. If they are causing a time problem with the rest of the kit, I'll slip them a touch. If I'm recording Jazz or something that wants the whole kit sound, I'll only use a close mic on the kick and maybe an under mic on the snare and the overheads as the complete kit sound. In this case I'll do next to nothing other than making it sound as natural as standing in the room with the drummer might sound.

    I will add this. The more I use plugs-ins, the more I gravitate towards pci based cards for this. The UA stuff is getting so close to the real hardware its scary! And if you've been able to use the hardware stuff you know some of the advantages to the software versions as well as some of the drawbacks. But the gap is closing and they're all just tools anyway.
  6. cornsnap

    cornsnap Active Member

    I think I'll just experiment with pre/post compression but from what I've read and heard pre-compression is most popular. I think I'm getting a better understanding of what compression is used for as well as EQ.

    Thanks all.
  7. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    You cant 'un-do' pre compression. If you are compressing going in you are doing one of two things...You are compensating for poor mic placement or you are going for sound you have already achieved in the past.
  8. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member


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