Originally Posted by Dean Roddey
Just for the sake of experimentation you can also play around with EQ'ing the heavily compressed on, to keep the heavy bits that are doing the most good for the drum sound and lose some of the bits that aren't.
I don't do heavy stuff much, so I don't do much of this kind of thing. But I've played with it in SONAR for learning purposes. One thing that worked kind of nicely was doing a pre-fader/pre-fx send of the direct mics only (no room/overheads) to a parallel comp bus and then they could get their own compression and EQ, separate from the EQ of the un/less-compressed direct mics.
That way, the overheads and rooms, which might already have a fair amount of compression, are not compressed again, and only the direct mics are parallel compressed, and they can have their own completely separate processing. And it also would allow cymbals not to be parallel compressed, which sometimes doesn't sound so great. That was a pretty flexible way to do it.
But, it meant I couldn't put any processing on the original direct mic tracks, because there is no actual pre-fx send in SONAR, only pre-fader. So the direct mics would be routed to their own separate buses (kick, snare, toms) and the processing applied there, plus a pre-fader send to a single parallel compression bus for that.
Anyway, more experienced folks might have reasons for which that would suck. But I throw it out there in case, since I found it to be a pretty flexible way to do it that provided a lot of control over the various elements. And having only the much dryer direct mics parallel compressed provided lots of punch, without muddying things up too much.
+1 I do this all the time. Once you get your head around the routing it gives you a lot of scope for moulding the drum sound. There are many folks who will tell you that you should treat the drums as a single instrument, but it doesn't quite work that way in heavier stuff. I like the kick and snare to be really tight and focused, straight down the middle, with OH and rooms pushed back and wide. It goes without saying that you'll need to buss them to a mono aux, rather than a stereo one, but I've seen it done by accident (and I've done it myself). You lose volume (due to pan law?)
As far as parallel compression for drums, I much prefer the sound of it on close mics. If I'm sending OH and rooms it's because I'm looking to bring the ambience to the front a little more. With kick and snare though, you're bringing up the ring of the snare and the thud of the kick. I've found it works a lot better if you strap a gate across the parallel compressor's aux to stop bleed being amplified and also so that the compressor doesn't start bringing up the noise floor during breaks/quiet parts.
It's always worth rolling off a fair amount of the low end when doing this or you end up amplifying low end rumble which sounds pretty terrible. A low pass filter can also help tame cymbal splash if you're bussing rooms/OH, but EQ before compression.
There's also Motown compression - parallel compression but with high frequency boosts on a singer to accentuate them (usually around 8k). Apparently it sounded better on AM radio that way. Would be great if anybody knows more about it?
New York compression is another form of parallel compression for drums involving EQ cuts in the mids. I've used it a number of times and I find it lends a certain "Hi-Fi" or "Boom-Tizz" sound to drums. I like a pretty big scoop centered around 500Hz.
The best thing, as always, is to experiment!