kick and snare +10db

Discussion in 'Drums' started by ShoeBoxDude, Jan 31, 2006.

  1. ShoeBoxDude

    ShoeBoxDude Guest

    Hey guys,

    I suppose this is a question for those of you getting serious mix work, or maybe even mastering engineers.

    When im mixing drums and have lots of compression, and parallel compression going on. I can kind of get them sounding how I want. But they are so loud and dynamic on top of the rest of the mix. That to make it sound like todays records you would have to probably kill it by 6-10 of limiting to get it right. And by that time, most of those sweet kick and snare sounds would sould like pieces of cardboard.

    So i suppose there is two questions;

    how do you get the kick and snare really pounding, without taking up to much 'level' (i know its compression, im looking for something a little more specific, or enlightening.)

    Secondly, what should a master sound like before its mastered.. how much dynamics do these usually have on the way in.. what can you get away with?


  2. Maybe you need to step away from the compressors slowly, walk toward the sound of my voice and keep your hands where I can see them.

    What you're basically saying is that after you get done mixing, your mix ain't mixed. That is, $*^t is sticking out where it ought not be sticking out. This we call "not mixed."

    The first question to ask yourself is, "why do I need 47 layers of compression to get a good sound on these two drums"? Are you using the wrong mics? Wrong mic technique? What's up with the source sounds that they don't sound good until you've compressed the utter piss out of them two or three times? Fix that.

    On the other hand, if you CAN get sounds you like other ways, you just WANT to get THESE sounds AND a good mix, then your problem is you don't know enough about your compressors yet. And, possibly, you're using suck-ass compressor plugins that smear the sound anyway. That's just practice. ^#$% with the knobs till it sounds right. Look for the "make up gain" knob and see what magic that holds for you.

    Another thing is, it could be that what you're really hearing is the fact that things sound better loud. That's just an issue of training your ears. Play it loud for the client so they get off on it, but you gotta be able to get punchy and present at low playback volumes.

    Answer #1 is as follows (if we assume that the drummer himself is constant)

    1) tune the drums properly
    2) use good mics
    3) place the mics well
    4) get good level to tape/disk
    5) rough mix using only level controls and pans
    6) refine mix using LIGHT channel EQ (this step can be omitted)
    7) refine mix using outboard gear/plugins

    If, during any step something begins to suck, undo that and don't do it anymore.

    Answer #2 is:
    A finished mix should sound like a finished mix. Make it sound as good and as close to your/the artist's/the producer's original vision as is humanly possible assuming YOU are constant. Don't ever say "ah, we'll get that in mastering". That's as bad, if not worse, than "we'll fix that in the mix!" Both are things you should never say. If you wanna compress the mix bus, do it. If you wanna EQ something, do it. Make it sound like you WANT it to sound, in short. THEN let the mastering guy do HIS thing. Don't ever send off a half-ass mix and assume mix issues can be fixed by a mastering engineer. How much dynamics? Well, hopefully as much of it as the artist originally intended it to have that the chosen recording medium will reproduce above the noise floor.

  3. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Dec 10, 2001
    Pacific NW
    Its funny, but I'm starting to hear folks talk on and on about ' parallel compression' and stuff that used to be secret handshake information that was only being used by certain mixologosts and only at certain times for troublesome tracks. Now things like this have become some kind of catch phrase and theres people that believe it cant be good unless yer going through all this stuff.

    Now it may be that original poster, Dan aka:shoeboxdude, may be offended at the Shotguns take, but I gotta go with him. Just the question being posed tells me that Dan doesnt have a bunch of experience and the telling tale is the fact that he doesnt seem to know how much dynamic range is necessary to be sent to mastering. The mastering gurus next door can probably clue you in to what each of them like to see.

    Personally, when I send something to mastering, the ONLY thing left to do is balancing and overall volume. Sure, there may be a touch of squeezing done, and maybe even some EQ, but this is generally on a song to song basis and is only for effect rather than repair.

    If I cant get my mix to sit right in my room or a mix palace then I oughta do something else.

    A trick I use after I've done all the tweeking I can possibly stand to do, is to listen to my mix with fresh ears at a very low volume. Another thing , and this is strickly a personal thing, I'll make a mix where I'll bury little things just for the headphone crowd. Things that on the surface ,dont mean squat to the overall sound but are little sonic details that someone with a frikkin killer stereo will hear as will someone with a good set of phones.

    And of course theres the obligatory 'back masking' that makes you want to buy more records at a discounted price, as well as sending money in unmarked brown paper sacks to our secret address.

    And heres something extra special....quote[How much dynamics? Well, hopefully as much of it as the artist originally intended it to have that the chosen recording medium will reproduce above the noise floor. ].......

    THAT, children, is POETRY. Thanks Shotgun ...
  4. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    Just press all 4 buttons on the 1176! 4 is better than 1! I mean more is better isn't it?? You need to learn how to mix.

    All mixed up
    Ms. Remy Ann David

  5. Quite welcome my dear.

    I think the role of the mastering engineer has become somewhat misunderstood of late. I think a lotta kids think a mastering engineer's only job is to take a single track and apply an assload of compression/limiting, some high end EQ and be done with it.

    That ain't really it.

    Now I've admitted before that mastering is a black art to me and I ain't never gonna really understand it, but...

    Mastering engineers in the old days were supposed to do all kinds of arcane stuff like make sure the stylus on the cutter wasn't going to jump the groove and jazz like that. These days they gotta make sure the CD master has the proper orange book (or whatever color book) codes and $*^t are required by the dupe house and that it ain't got no finger prints on it and $*^t. Then there's applying transparent EQ (and compression) to groups of tracks to make them sound as though they're really on the same album rather than just a group of singles.

    Anyway, I agree with the Dog 100%. I bet I've used " parallel compression" about one time since I learned what it was and actually kept it in there for more than 10 seconds. I just can't remember exactly where right now.

  6. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    Goddammit!!! :!:

    I hate it when I agree with Shotgun. It's happening more and more though.

    Why do people reach for knobs or worse - plug-ins - to immediately try to fix a bad sound.

    If you're not getting the perfect drum sound without using ass-loads of compression or eq, something is wrong.

    Either you're using the wrong mic, or the drum is poorly tensioned or it's a piss-poor room OR, you're simply putting the mic in the wrong place. Of course, it could be a combination of all of the above.

    Of course, you could just REALLY like the sound of your drums loud so therefore you simply push them to obscene levels but everything else doesn't get the same treatment. (Loud sounds better to a point - see: Fletcher-Munson...)

    If you can explain the purpose of parallel compression or state why, in this case, you feel that it works, I would be happy to revise my above statements. But, I don't feel that this will be the case. Those who know how/why/what about parallel compression (and it's not some huge secret - it's kinda common sense) know how and why to use it.

    And as Senor Shotgun points out, it isn't done all that often.

    I would say - get the sound just about right without ANY effects. Then, if necessary, reach for knobs, but ONLY after the sound is good.

    Good luck...

  7. MilesAway

    MilesAway Guest

    If anything sounds great solo'd, you probably ^#$%ed up. Your best bet for getting a stand-out kick/snare sound is to 1) don't touch that compressor until you have to, 2) EQ each IN THE MIX.

    I don't know how many times I tweaked a kick/snare drum to death, got it sounding killer only to see it vanish when i brought up the bass/guitar tracks. By EQing with everything playing, it forces you to boost/cut only where there's room for it, giving you a stand-out tone without having to compress heavily or crank the fader to max.gain. Subtle compression is cool to level out any wild/out-of-control hits but IME, squishing the hell out of either kick or snare rarely yeilds positive results...
  8. MilesAway

    MilesAway Guest

    one more point to add: I'm not sure how standard this is, but lately, i've been shifting my OH tracks back a few ms to reallign snare hits in the OHs with the snare-track. Speed-of-sound issues - even over a few feet - are often enough to put your OH tracks out of phase with the snare track. Lining them up perfectly give a much snappier sounding snare.
  9. tranqs

    tranqs Guest

    Davedog is right!!!!! You don't have to use parallel compression in every single project..... this is not the right way....
    Sometimes i used to create a bus with snare and kick, without compress, only for increase the sound of drums and control the things better on a mix session.
    Try to do this instead of using compression!!!!!
  10. ShoeBoxDude

    ShoeBoxDude Guest

    fair enough

    relax friends. thanks for the replys.

    Im pretty happy with the way the mixes sound. And im fairly confident in my mixing abilty. I guess the reason I was using compression like that was because i wanted to hear more compression but just not really choke the drums. I never claimed to use it on every project. I just wanted them loud!

    Furthermore, I know how to track. I dont believe in the fix it in the mix either. I love my sounds on the way in. Im trying to get drums to cut through a lot of over distorted guitar tracks and BS so im messing around a bit to get it right.

    davedog had some useful advice, thanx for that.
  11. Re: fair enough

    I'd bet $10 you should leave the drums alone and revisit how you track and mix the guitars.

  12. stickers

    stickers Active Member

    Jan 31, 2005
    Lowell MA
    Home Page:
  13. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

    Oct 23, 2005
    Its what you get if you stick a compressor in an aux send loop instead of an insert so that the compressed signal is added back to the original. The result is a type of "upward" compression which increases the level of quiet signals instead of decreasing the level of loud ones.
  14. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    And not to be confused with serial compression which is the use of multiple compressors on a single signal - ie, one after another.

  15. saemskin

    saemskin Active Member

    Nov 6, 2005
    Is there a tremendous difference between that, and just pushing the fader up a bit more after compression? Of course I'm going to have to experiment with this, but I'm curious about theory always :D
  16. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA

    Say, for example, that by compressing, you've created a dynamic range of only 12 dB from quietest signal to loudest (that's, in theory, absurd, but for the point I'll run with it). By pushing the fader northwards after this, you've still maintained the same dynamic range.

    Now, say you've done parallel compression.

    You've now got two tracks, in theory, to work with. Your original material and your compressed material which, while not occupying two physical tracks (although you can if you'd like), are now configurable on the fly.

    For soft passages, you've now increased the volume through summing of both of the two signals. (Both of which should be unaffected by the compressor unless you're simply crushing the hell out of the signal). Now, your loud material also sums, BUT, the uncompressed tone lays on top of the compressed tone, therefore providing MORE dynamic range. IOW, you've increased the quiet stuff but not in direct porportion to the loud stuff.

    The point is, the compressed and the uncompressed shouldn't simply sound "volume limited" a compressed track should have its own sonic character and the compression is a BIG part of that. Overlaying that with your existing information makes for BBBBIIIGGGG sounds. In many cases, it's simply too much (and no gain riding will help you here.)

    Too much loud is a bad thing in most cases.

  17. saemskin

    saemskin Active Member

    Nov 6, 2005
    that sounds quite sexy for a gigantic drum kaboom, or anything from the old SE-1X

    thanks. :cool:

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