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> Fun With Compressors Part 4, Parallel and serial compressors
Saoirse O'Shea
post Jan 24 2012, 03:36 PM
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(With my apologies to Fireball for me taking so long to get around to writing about parallel compression._

There are some quite neat ways that you can use compresors in mixing that can help an ok mix sound fuller and more professional. Paralle and serial compression are two such ways.

Parallel Compression (sometimes called New York Compression)
A compressor can be used to affect the dynamics and levels of audio in more ways then just bringing down levels. In parallel compression, for instance, we can use a comp to increase the apparent volume of quiet material. A couple of benefits of using parallel compression is that it tends to be both more transparent and sounds more natural than standard compression. It works particularly well on drums, bass guitar and backing vocals but can be used on other material aswell: anything that needs more body, depth and would benefit from sounding fullre can benefit from parallel compression.

So how do we do parallel compression? First you need to set up a bus of the original track or group that you want to affect. The bus feeds two auxes: one aux is left uncompressed and the other has a compressor added. You can then blend the compressed aux with the uncompressed signal. As parallel compresion sounds more natural it also means that you can use much greater compression ratios then in standard compression. Furthermore as it you can also set shorter release times you can minimise pumping and low frequency distortion so it sounds more tranpsarent. Parallel compression is particularly good applied to group bus where the individul parts have already had some individual compression because it lets you retain the inidividual dynamic of each instrument/part whilst applying compression to the entire group. Want to get your drums to sound powerful and full? Compress the drums indivudally and then parallel compress the kit.

Serial compression (or multistage compression)
One of the nice things about a DAW is that you can apply the same VST as many times as your computer is able to handle it. A consequence of this is that you can use more than one compressor, or the same compressor more than once, on an individual track very easily and at little cost. This means that ew can very easily and cheaply use serial compression on a track. If you wanted to do this in a hardware based mixing studio you would need multiple hardware compressors and you would have to physically chain them all together.

Serial compression is simply a series of compressors on a track in a line one after the other: the signal flows in to the first, is dynamically treated, and then sent to the next for treatment. The advantages of this are 1/ you can spread the compression over more than one ompressor. So instead of using large ratios and/or low threshods you can use smaller and higher ones and so you can usually achieve more natural and less strained compression. 2/ you can have different compressors focused on affecting specific issues: you can have primarily to first downward compress and control the dynamics followed by a second that then focuses specifically on how you adjust the attack to affect impact . 3/ as different compressors sound different you can use different compressors as an effect to colour your tracks

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Sinisa Cekic
post Jan 24 2012, 11:29 PM
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Oh ,this is invaluable,thanks Tony wink.gif !

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post Jan 25 2012, 12:10 AM
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Thanks for taking the time to write this down, Tony. smile.gif I'll let this sink into my brain. biggrin.gif
No worries about it taking so long. I actually forgot about it. I thought I maybe missed it somewhere.
And I can't seem to compose without scrapping ideas. I'm getting frustrated that I can't finish a song - so I'm just working on covers now and lessons at GMC.

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