DAW Compression Methods

Discussion in 'Computing' started by bassmac, Feb 3, 2002.

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  1. bassmac

    bassmac Guest

    When you guys track through outboard compression into a DAW, are you mostly adding a little here and there to avoid peaks, and then adding most of your compression with plugs during mixing, or are you trying to dial in most of the sound you want up front with the hardware, so to avoid needing lot's-O plug comps later on?

    I would think if you had some good classic boxes available, you'd want to get most of your dynamic juice from them up front.

    I know this depends a lot on the type of track, instrument, etc., but I'm just curious about the general methods everybody uses.

  2. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    Feb 10, 2001
    While recording into DAW my compression use is generally as follows:

    OH - SSL comp
    Kick n Snare - DBX 160 vu
    Kit amb - Distressor on Opto or Nuke
    Toms - sometimes Tube Tech LCA 2A
    Bass - UA1176 & (or) Joe Meek

    Rock Gtrs - v little perhaps a touch of DBX 160
    Vox - quite a lot UA1176
    Other stuff - compressed to taste..

    I use it all to get the character and effect onto my DAW and I feel daw compression in general is disapointing overall. I look forward to the Sony Compressor plug in for PT and the TC Power Core to address that soon! Fingers crossed!

    I am soon going to try externally summing 8-16 channels form my PT rig's interfaces, out in the analog domain I will be able to use my compressors easly, without having to think of delay and reconversion issues. I will report my findings..

    Operating an analog system, I used to rely heavily on my SSL comp for 'comp drum group' duities - I will be honest when I say I have REALLY missed it in the DAW environment.. The whole rock multi mic 2nd compression drum group senario is kind of a nightmare in a DAW...and then we go back to what I call av-er-age plug ins for what is the BEDROCK of a rock track DRUMS! :)
  3. Dan-O

    Dan-O Guest


    Have you had the opportunity to hear the UAD-1 powered plugs?
    If not, IMHO I believe it will change your views of DAW compression.
    If so and not impressed, than MHO is shot to hell. :D

  4. arneholm

    arneholm Guest

    I did this weekend an 'on-site' tracking session for a goth metal type of band. Had an RNC available, also a DBX 266 and some Behringer - so nothing to write home about. Behringer sat idle for the whole session, DBX got some use on light compressing the kick drum and Bass amp track, and rest of the compression was done with my RNC.

    I compressed drum room, Bass DI and male and female lead vocals with the RNC and I squashed them quite a lot on the way in. Some 4-8 dB of compression at various different times. The male singer used 'very' different volume levels at his phrasing, even during the verses there were parts where he almost spoke, and next line was full blast screaming, so I ended up tweaking the 'threshold' knob on my RNC constantly - next part is gonna be loud, OK, let's raise the threshold a bit. It was fun... And worked surprisingly well.

    Did not compress guitars at all, but a Marshall at 11 did that for me though.

    Also I equed in also allot, always in context and basically what I tracked into the computer was a quite listenable mix already. Did I mention that I only had a small Spirit rehearsal mixer and had only one decent pre-amp (a custom made Valley People pre)? All the sounds fit together quite nicely, I just went to the best local studio to listen to the rough mix in controlled environment and big badass monitors and it sounded quite good - so it can be done. If you know what you're doing, this can save you from a lot of hassle afterwards.
  5. bassmac

    bassmac Guest

    Thanks for sharing all that Jules. Now that I see what you're doing up front, I have a few more questions you.

    1) Since you use use all those boxes up front, does that mean those individual tracks are pretty much done...in terms of compression...is that your goal?

    2) Are there tracks you find yourself squashing more later on with the plugs...maybe to sit better in the song?

    3) For sub-groups, and mix bus compression, do you use plugs, or hardware inserts? (which ones)

    4) When you do use plug comps, which do you prefer?

    Thanks again for sharing. :tu:
  6. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    Feb 10, 2001
    I don't have a ton of wonderful outboard compressors, so when I compress while tracking it's more for light limiting than setting a final sound. I have a Millennia TwinCom, an Aphex Expressor, and a Meek SC2.2 - usually while tracking I use the Aphex on the Kick, Meek on the snare, Millennia on the Vocals and/or a horn. Bass and Guitars usually get tracked without.

    In the mix (Pro Tools) I'll use Waves Renaissance Comps where needed for most additional compression, occasionally sending back out to the hardware boxes. If I had a load of Distressors, 1176's, LA2A's, 160's, etc. I'd probably do things differently.

    I use a touch of L1+ on the mix bus for limiting, but generally leave that for the mastering engineer.
  7. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    Feb 10, 2001
    RE: UA plug ins, I tried them at the LA AES 2,000 and was not blown away by their "action" (attack & release) but as I say - I am unimpressed OVERALL by most plug in compression to date.

    "1) Since you use use all those boxes up front, does that mean those individual tracks are pretty much done...in terms of compression...is that your goal? "

    Sort of, with the regular proviso of being able to add FURTHER compression at mixdown. :) Now a cool feature on my DAW is the ability to copy a track (routing / audio etc) so taking a page from many a top mixers book, I duplicate tracks like kick & snare several times, that way I can keep an intact, unprocessed signal and blend in various processed versions of it -
    Kick / Compressed kick / distorted kick etc.

    The old analog mixing rules apply, you compressed it on the way down, and you are compressing it again on mixdown...


    3) For sub-groups, and mix bus compression, do you use plugs,

    I am trying to avoid BOTH!!! :eek: I believe I will get purer sound this way.

    "or hardware inserts? (which ones)"

    I find this a PITA, 8 out of 10 times a trip out of the converter to a compressor then back again , leaves me 'underwelmed' dunno why, probably because I squash the living s**t out of it on the way in!

    4) When you do use plug comps, which do you prefer?

    Sony Oxford (RTAS Beta) is the favorite so far but Bomb Factory 1176 & McDSP Compressor Bank are among the best available for Mac DAW users at this time IMHO.

    Bottom line - I like to record so that my monitor mix sounds 'done' as I play it back. After basic tracks (say 3) I often stop for a 1/3rd of a day 'pre mixing' (involving gates, corrective EQing and sometimes compression) so that the overdubs are done to a pretty damn good sounding 'board mix' Tracking with compression & EQ can be reckless if overdone on any media both digital & analog but I approach this with 20 years 'control room' time experience.

    Last word, NONE of my tracking & overdubbing compression behavior is governed by a desire to serve maximum 'near zero" or "optimum" level to my DAW's converters. It is ALL governed by the sound I wish to hear back - from tracking - throughout the overdubbing phase. ( I used to believe in that "max it up to Zero on the converters" behavior, now I don't, I go for the SOUND alone.)

  • AT5047

    The New AT5047 Premier Studio Microphone Purity Transformed

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