Which compressors for the job?

Discussion in 'Compressors / Limiters' started by thebrooksman, Apr 24, 2005.

  1. thebrooksman

    thebrooksman Guest

    I'm looking into getting my drum kit seriously miked up, and i've got an idea of some good mics to use. I'm curious to know: I've read that using compression on kicks and snares can be a great idea for an awesome sound, i'm just curious to know what compressors to use. I'm on a really tight budget, so not too much flexibility there. I've worked with a lot of dbx stuff and I like their boxes, but I have no idea if they're the right deal for this application. I'm guessing a 2-channel box would be best so I could run two mics through it and compress them separately. Thanks in advance!
  2. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    You pretty much get what you pay for. Cheap compressor equals cheap sound. Thr RNC compressor is one of the better vaules for your money but I not a fan of the RNC for drums. I've learned that it is better to go without than to use a cheap and crappy compressor.
  3. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    I don't generally care for compressionon drums.

    For me, the crucial objective when recording drums is to get as much isolation on each track. This way when I turn up the kick, I am not turning up the snare and cymbals at the same time. When I add highs to the snare, I am not adding them to the other elements as well. Compressing makes low level sounds louder, making background spill more audible.

    IMO, compression takes away from the dynamic punch of the drums rather than adding it. For me, in most cases compression on drums while tracking, just doesn't work that well. don't get me wrong, I will compress almost everything else .... but not drums.

    If I feel that a drum sound needs to be fatter and thicker or to be tamed a bit (needs compression ) I will copy the track to another channel and then after editing or gating out spill, compress that bringing it into the mix to supplement the first track. This is a post recording trick which can be done with plug ins in the DAW. Almost any of the stock compression plugs available in Cubase / PT Nuendo / Cool Edit ... whatever, will work fine for this.
  4. thebrooksman

    thebrooksman Guest

    Thanks for your replies guys. I'll work harder on the miking than any kind of compression, then. And its good to know that any issues can be taken care of on the DAW. Theres one that the confused me though. Kurt you said that you try to isolate each drum track as much possible, which I agree is a great idea, but how would you normally mike up a set? Overheads, kick and snare? How do you get the best isolation (open to everyone)?
  5. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Good drummer ... good kit ...... great room, four mics can sound killer. Especially crappy drums or drummer, sometimes more than four mics will not help.

    That said, I usually try to record kick / snare / toms / ohs and hat, each on thier own tracks when possible unless I know the drummer, room and the kit are killer. This gives me options to work with at mix. You can always turn something down or off but you can't make something appear if it's not there in the first place.
  6. thebrooksman

    thebrooksman Guest

    Thanks Kurt, thats great advice. Right now I have an SM57 on the snare which I like, and some not so great C.A.D. mikes on the rest. Someone recommended to me a shure set that looked pretty nice. Basically i'm looking for the best mics that will keep me going for a while, but at the same time won't leave me with a 10 cents left in my wallet. What would you (or anyone) recommend?
  7. Dave62

    Dave62 Guest

    I run a small album project studio with an 002R and I always compress and EQ snare(lightly) and kick( not so lightly) to disc. While I know the purist will hate this I EQ kick(to tone) snare(cuts for tubby) toms (to tone) oheds(hi pass) etc.to disc. Why? I really know my room and after 30 albums have a fairly clear idea what I want in a finished drum sound. I also believe that using a bit of EQ and compression to tape and a bit after is better than a lot of processing after. After its digitized you are really adding EQ to an approximation of your signal. Plus, until recently, it cost a fortune for linear phase EQ's for any daw and the standard EQ's shipped with Protools and Cubase were crap. It also cuts down on processor overhead if you can do without in the mix.
    My usual setup for drums is Kik- Shure 52, snare Shure 56 on top, 57 on bottom phase reversed, toms Shure 56, Oheds -KM 184 ORTF pair, Hat and ride AKG C-1000, far room TLM 103. I don't alsways use them all but as Kurt says it's there if you need it.

    A dbx 160 series compressor just rocks on a kick drum to tape and can seriously alter the tone. I have used it for "screamo" bands and it does a great job. You do have to work to isolate the kick to hit it hard but it is doable. Two low booms placed rite will let you put a blanket around the kick without actually touching the shell and you can put a second mic in the tunnel for "boom".
  8. thebrooksman

    thebrooksman Guest

    Great input, Dave. It looks like you and Kurt have different opinions on compression. It works out though because I know i'll need compressors in the studio for lots of different things, so once I can afford it I'll buy one or two and if it sounds good great, if not fine also. Thank you gentlemen for your great input! I love this forum!
  9. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    I also use compression in tracking and mixing. But usually more for the tone I get using high quality expensive compressors. I may even use 1-3 compressors in a chain. I usually mix in analog even if I have digial tracks that get some amount DAW automation, and will use paralal compression where I mix the source and the compression on seperate racks/channels. When you use great quality expensive compressors and those that also have a special character sound, you can really take an average or even poor sounding track such as drums and take them way past the next step in obtaining great results in power, impact, level and tone. The use and application of compression is an art form that takes much experience to master. I've also found that just about nothing in the digital world when it comes to compression can match what can be done in the analog world.

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