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Parallel compression under microscope Dynamics Plugins
Old 10th September 2008
  #61
Here for the gear
 

I think I didn't make myself clear. Look at the picture below:

The dashed curves (closer to the bottom) are the ones I used in my article. Now, if we apply makeup gain (blue arrows) they will look like normal curves (closer to the top). Does the normal red curve looks like the one from Weiss manual to you?

That 'sagging' in parallel compression transfer curve is what makes the sound a bit thinner. At the same time it sounds more transparent on loud parts as Paul Frindle said. Again, nothing for free

The calculator gives you the green curve, which is not exactly the same, of course.



StoryvilleYou are very close Regarding the article. Well, it is my first experience in writing and, I agree, it is not a comprehensive work. I hope you'll forgive me
Old 10th September 2008
  #62
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I've been watching this thread with interest.

I use quite a bit less parallel compression while mixing than many other people because, as Vitaly suggests, I can get similar results, and I often prefer using simple compression.

I am however very sceptical that simple downward compression can perform in the same way as parallel compression in the most common role of "smacking the hell out of something while allowing the original transients through".

For the sake of argument I will take an example to extremes and talk about limiting, compression at infinite ratio and very fast attack.

For instance; a drum buss with sharp transients paralleled with (again extremes for arguments sake) an L2.

If I allow the L2 to reduce around 8dB of gain and apply 5dB of make up, the untouched original transients will still be louder than the loudest compressed/limited peak by 3dB.
No matter how well I apply simple compression or limiting I will never be able to re-create that sound using 1 compressor/limiter.

Will I?

If you are willing Vitaly, give me some ratios/attack/release/make up numbers and I will be happy to perform a test on an audio file and upload the results?
Old 10th September 2008
  #63
kjg
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkRB View Post
I am however very sceptical that simple downward compression can perform in the same way as parallel compression in the most common role of "smacking the hell out of something while allowing the original transients through".
Arguably even more important than the difference between parallel and downward compression with regard to transients, is how the two techniques react differently to macrodynamics: Downward reduces the crest factor in louder passages, parallel reduces the crest factor in softer passages.

Quoting myself:
Quote:
In parallel compression, when the signal gets louder, the relative contribution of the compressed path to the sum gets smaller.
At the same time it increases intelligibility of quieter passages, because there the contribution of the compressed signal to the total signal is relatively large.

That is more similar to upward compression, isn't it?
While the first effect (a compressed 'sound' while retaining somewhat natural transients) is probably most often the reason why parallel compression is used in mixing, the second effect (achieving gain reduction by bringing low level passages up instead of high level passages down) is especially useful in mastering.

With kind regards,
Klaas-Jan Govaart
Old 12th September 2008
  #64
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkRB View Post
If you are willing Vitaly, give me some ratios/attack/release/make up numbers and I will be happy to perform a test on an audio file and upload the results?
Sure! Some important notes:

1. Your compressor must be capable to operate as a compressor and limiter as you must use the same device for this sort of test. L2 can't work as a compressor so we can't use it.
2. Make sure it's Attack and Release times stay the same at different Ratio. Some models do change them. Be specially careful with those software models which emulate hardware.
3. You must be able to set values like Ratio= 2.13:1, not only 2:1. Make Up isn't so critical as, I guess, you're going to execute the test in ProTools which allows to set channel faders precisely.
4. Don't use Auto Make Up function.

Give me Threshold, Ratio, Dry and Comp Levels settings of your parallel setup and I'll give you Threshold, Ratio and Make Up for equivalent downward compression. Or, you can easily get them yourself using the calculator (sorry, for PC only). It is going to be fun

And the last thing. Guys, please, can we change the focus of this discussion from 'Which one is better?' to 'What's going on under the bonnet?' type of talk?

Thanks,
Vitaly.
Old 24th September 2008
  #65
Audio Alchemist
 
Lagerfeldt's Avatar
Parallel Multiband Compression
Parallel Multiband Compression for Mastering in Logic Pro

Naturally I don't use the Logic plug-ins but rather the Waves Lin MB, but I've written the article with a ITB Logic setup in mind. Even if you don't use Logic it might be an interesting read I hope.
Old 24th September 2008
  #66
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hackenslash's Avatar
 

Good article Lagerfeldt. How well does this address woolliness in the crossover points? I've always stayed away from multiband on stereo mixes for this reason, but it would certainly simplify some things if using MB in parallel allowed me to keep tight in those crossover points.

TBH, I haven't used a multiband for a long, long time, except occasionally on a stereo drum mix.
Old 25th September 2008
  #67
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Lagerfeldt's Avatar
Thanks.

Not sure what you mean regarding wooliness? I don't use the Logic Multipressor myself but rather the Waves Lin MB. There doesn't seem to be any wooliness to either.

In general you'll find that the parallel compression scheme makes the quality of the compressor used less important than when doing regular compression on the main signal.
Old 25th September 2008
  #68
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Cheers. By woolliness, I mean that there tends to be some smear around the crossover points, meaning that it's very difficult to find the best points to cross over from one band to the next. That's why I tend only to use MB on drum tracks, where there is plenty of open space between elements, and this smearing can be avoided.
Old 25th September 2008
  #69
kjg
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Thank you for posting Lagerfeldt. Why are you using two aux channels in Logic, instead of using the channel as one signal path and the aux as the other? Is this a latency compensation thing?

hackenslash, have you used Waves LinMB? It is really doing a pretty good job of _not messing up around the crossovers - very different from C4 (or whatever their non-phase linear multiband was called).
It's clean enough to use on the main signal path even, so in parallel should really be a good option if the material calls for it.

Like Lagerfeldt suggested, the character and artifacts of a comp are really less important in parallel than in downward.
Old 1st October 2008
  #70
Audio Alchemist
 
Lagerfeldt's Avatar
I've updated the post, the two aux channel setup is now changed to a simpler setup.
Old 2nd October 2008
  #71
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kjg View Post
Like Lagerfeldt suggested, the character and artifacts of a comp are really less important in parallel than in downward.
Funny enough, there are many engineers out there who use parallel compression to add the character. At least, that is what they think they do. Sometimes, it seems to me that everyone interprets it as he or she wants.
Old 2nd October 2008
  #72
kjg
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vitaly View Post
Funny enough, there are many engineers out there who use parallel compression to add the character. At least, that is what they think they do. Sometimes, it seems to me that everyone interprets it as he or she wants.
yes, but the character is less obvious than when you would use it as a downward comp, since you mix in the dry signal (with unchanged transients etc).

you can balance just the amount of "character" (artifacts/distortion) you want. also, because the net amount of compression is not a direct consequence of how you set the compressor (but rather of the balance between the comped and dry signal), so you can choose and set the comp for the type of artifacts, and then balance dry and compressed signals to get the amount of artifacts and compression.

so, you can get the artifacts of e.g. smashing that drumkit, but keep the good stuff of the dry signal.

regards,
kjg

ps: there is a difference depending on application, generally. the application lagerfeldt was talking about (and I replied to), was parallel compression for mastering (i.e. transparent). what you were referring to vitaly (parallel for the character) is normally more a mixing thing.
Old 22nd May 2009
  #73
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Washington's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lagerfeldt View Post
Parallel Multiband Compression
Parallel Multiband Compression for Mastering in Logic Pro
Naturally I don't use the Logic plug-ins
(in a veery light tone of voice) Lagerfeldt, now that's one funny thing to say for somebody who knows the soft as incredibly well as you do, I must say! Particularly as I remember you were able to squeeze a more than decent emulation of the SSL buss comp outta L8's own compressor...

Actually, I mainly meant to send a quick thanks for all I learned from you over quite a few years. All the best!
Old 23rd May 2009
  #74
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Kayo's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jefferson View Post
i see two issues:

2. you wrote your calculator for windows. you should know that everyone here uses macs.


Yeah, right…
Don’t get me started on this Mac’s better than PC yap..

Ciao'
FD
Old 23rd May 2009
  #75
Mastering
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vitaly View Post
Funny enough, there are many engineers out there who use parallel compression to add the character. At least, that is what they think they do. Sometimes, it seems to me that everyone interprets it as he or she wants.

Obviously the more of the parallel comp you mix in, the more "character" you get. It's just another way of controlling that element. My initial immersion into the joys of parallel compression was the attraction of not touching the top of the music and squashing those important peaks, but it grew into the additional ability to fatten and sweeten "punch" up and tonalize (character) the music by adjusting those mix faders.
Old 23rd May 2009
  #76
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Silver Sonya's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bob katz View Post
Obviously the more of the parallel comp you mix in, the more "character" you get. It's just another way of controlling that element. My initial immersion into the joys of parallel compression was the attraction of not touching the top of the music and squashing those important peaks, but it grew into the additional ability to fatten and sweeten "punch" up and tonalize (character) the music by adjusting those mix faders.
Yes. Precisely. And that is it, folks.

No charts needed.

- c
Old 23rd May 2009
  #77
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bino_5150's Avatar
pay a little less attention to your microscope, and a little more attention to your monitors...

Parallel and serial compression, and especially with a good soft knee compressor, can be the key to a great vocal mix or drum bus.
Old 24th May 2009
  #78
Mastering
 

One thing that bothers me is this set of conclusions by some engineers:

"I don't like parallel compression because it muddies up the sound and makes it sound bad. But I love standard compresion, it sounds good to me."

But consider this:

You can perform a mix between wet (compressor on all the way, dry off all the way) and dry (the original source, no compressor in the mix). You can alter this mix all the way between the two extremes.

So, guys, if parallel compression sounds "bad" to you, then obviously it must be the mix of the parallel with the dry that bothers you. However, let me ask, isn't there some point where it stops sounding "bad" and starts sounding "good" to you? Are you trying to tell me that ANY proportion of the dry is somehow "bad" and the "fully compressed (no dry in the mix)" sound is the only true sound? But isn't that the same as saying that "fully compressed" is "good" and therefore the original sound is "bad"? Give me a break!

What part of the mixing-in process makes the sound suddenly become "muddy" for you? Is it the compressor itself? Really? The one that you like 100% of is no good at 50%? Is it too much of the compressed sound? How can it be that "too much" of the compressed sound sounds bad when 100% sounds good to you? Oh, maybe it's too much of the dry sound? Is it that which is making it "muddy"? Please explain yourself, because when you examine your argument, it doesn't make logical sense. Could there be something muddy in your thinking? Or maybe the simple explanation is that you haven't learned how to make parallel compression work for you.... Which is perfectly ok. There are lots of methods and things in audio that I have not learned to use that well.

Whatever floats your boat, but please don't argue against parallel compression because when you examine the situation logically as above these sorts of arguments do not cut the mustard. On any logical, rational and sonic basis, there's NOTHING wrong with the principle of parallel compression. The bottom line is that the proportions of the parallel compressor that you choose make the sonic magic, as well as your ratios, thresholds, attack and release times and look-ahead. If you choose to use 100% compressor, just remember that there are others who may prefer "a little less". :-).

BK
Old 24th May 2009
  #79
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Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by Darius van H View Post
I like the fact that some plugin compressors have a mix control - that's parallel compression -

so, if you think, "hmmm, that's great, but i'd like to make it a bit more subtle" you can yank the mix control.

Other then that i find parallel compression an overly complicated way of doing something, and i agree with the above poster that there's nothing intrinsically different about it from normal comp.
Mix knobs on compressors are the future.

PSP Audioware spotted that one and I think it's a part of their success. The situation above is so true "I like the compression but I'd love to have a bit more transient in tact...MIX KNOB"
Old 24th May 2009
  #80
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Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe_caithness View Post
Mix knobs on compressors are the future.

PSP Audioware spotted that one and I think it's a part of their success. The situation above is so true "I like the compression but I'd love to have a bit more transient in tact...MIX KNOB"
Since the cost of a wet/dry balance control is insignificant, you have to wonder why they have not been included in every analog compressor ever made.

I wonder if Bill Putnam might have thought of it.


DC
Old 25th May 2009
  #81
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Verified Member
It really depends on what kind of comp you are using at the time.

I used to parallel compress drums sometimes on an SSL with a pair of childs.

Sometimes it was just the ticket!
Sometimes it wasn't!

I don't care what it looks like on today's digital tools!
I just go on what it sounds like!
Old 25th May 2009
  #82
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Silver Sonya's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bob katz View Post
One thing that bothers me is this set of conclusions by some engineers:

"I don't like parallel compression because it muddies up the sound and makes it sound bad. But I love standard compresion, it sounds good to me."

But consider this:

You can perform a mix between wet (compressor on all the way, dry off all the way) and dry (the original source, no compressor in the mix). You can alter this mix all the way between the two extremes.

So, guys, if parallel compression sounds "bad" to you, then obviously it must be the mix of the parallel with the dry that bothers you. However, let me ask, isn't there some point where it stops sounding "bad" and starts sounding "good" to you? Are you trying to tell me that ANY proportion of the dry is somehow "bad" and the "fully compressed (no dry in the mix)" sound is the only true sound? But isn't that the same as saying that "fully compressed" is "good" and therefore the original sound is "bad"? Give me a break!

What part of the mixing-in process makes the sound suddenly become "muddy" for you? Is it the compressor itself? Really? The one that you like 100% of is no good at 50%? Is it too much of the compressed sound? How can it be that "too much" of the compressed sound sounds bad when 100% sounds good to you? Oh, maybe it's too much of the dry sound? Is it that which is making it "muddy"? Please explain yourself, because when you examine your argument, it doesn't make logical sense. Could there be something muddy in your thinking? Or maybe the simple explanation is that you haven't learned how to make parallel compression work for you.... Which is perfectly ok. There are lots of methods and things in audio that I have not learned to use that well.

Whatever floats your boat, but please don't argue against parallel compression because when you examine the situation logically as above these sorts of arguments do not cut the mustard. On any logical, rational and sonic basis, there's NOTHING wrong with the principle of parallel compression. The bottom line is that the proportions of the parallel compressor that you choose make the sonic magic, as well as your ratios, thresholds, attack and release times and look-ahead. If you choose to use 100% compressor, just remember that there are others who may prefer "a little less". :-).

BK
Bob, this post was exquisitely logical --- and I love you for that --- but the problem with parallel compression is not the science or math behind it, but the cultural context of its application. In short, parallel compression is very often a technique borne of insecurity.

People who (a) can't hear compression (b) don't trust their own ears (c) don't feel that they have skill (d) find the myriad of attack/release/ratio options bewildering or vertiginous (e) perhaps most profoundly, don't even truly understand what compression is or (f) what its musical role should be in a mix or (g) all of the above, find the technique to be a psychological relief. An escape hatch, if you will. All else fails, "sneak some dry signal in." A simplistic, hack notion.

It is very rarely used with authority or panache. So often, parallel compression is the sound of hedging/caution/timidity. And that mindset yields awful music.

The people who are most famous for applying it colorfully and boldy in their work (the Tchad Blakes and Michael Brauers and Nigel Godriches of this world) are a rare breed.

They're artists.

- c
Old 25th May 2009
  #83
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Verified Member
Some of Ted Fletcher's designs have incorporated mix control. I think he takes a a bit of credit for coming up with the concept (who knows). I've messed around with the idea on drum stems with some ok results.
Old 25th May 2009
  #84
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by kjg View Post
You are then presenting numbers that almost match up. The differences are in your opinion mere distortions and of minor importance ('just' -40dB - so the theory is still valid...).
He's right, these ''mere distortions of minor importances'' are actually completely different from what you think... Since you don't multi-press every single frequency independently, your compression has an effect on your spectrum... It will modify your final output differently than if you have a downward compression applied... That's why you can't see it on you waveform... Your observations are not based on the whole frequency spectrum, but on the amplitude the waveform gives you... If you were to watch the two signals going through a spectrum analyzer at the exact same time, you'd see MAJOR differences in the 2 screens... I hope i'm clear enough! Tell me if you don't understand, i'l try to draw something so you can see better.

In other words, you forgot the overall effect that compressing a complete spectrum of frequency has on you final output, considering that the energy is spread logarithmically over the spectrum, and that your music has variable amplitude independently over this spectrum.

Your results are right if you do it with a sine wave, or if you happen to multipress every frequency independentlty...

So this is why you don't see the difference, but can hear one... For example, your amplitude levels are quite the same on your 2nd example, but they are different in terms or actual form... See how it was modified? for instance, on the very first major peak, you lost your 2 little bumps on the top there, that's the frequency response that is different, and that was modified by the 2 different ways of compressing.

Hops this helps clarifying!

Cheers...
Old 25th May 2009
  #85
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silver Sonya View Post
Bob, this post was exquisitely logical --- and I love you for that --- but the problem with parallel compression is not the science or math behind it, but the cultural context of its application. In short, parallel compression is very often a technique borne of insecurity.

People who (a) can't hear compression (b) don't trust their own ears (c) don't feel that they have skill (d) find the myriad of attack/release/ratio options bewildering or vertiginous (e) perhaps most profoundly, don't even truly understand what compression is or (f) what its musical role should be in a mix or (g) all of the above find the technique to be a psychological relief. An escape hatch, if you will. All else fails, "sneak some dry signal in." A simplistic, hack notion.

It is very rarely used with authority or panache. So often, parallel compression is the sound of hedging/caution/timidity. And that mindset yields awful music.

The people who are most famous for applying it colorfully and boldy in their work (the Tchad Blakes and Michael Brauers and Nigel Godriches of this world) are a rare breed.

They're artists.

- c
Your a funny one silver sonya. Thanks for making us laugh out very loud!
Old 25th May 2009
  #86
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bob katz View Post
What part of the mixing-in process makes the sound suddenly become "muddy" for you? Is it the compressor itself? Really? The one that you like 100% of is no good at 50%? Is it too much of the compressed sound? How can it be that "too much" of the compressed sound sounds bad when 100% sounds good to you?
Maybe, they get carried away and squash too much (almost a textbook suggestion) and mix in too much of the squashed sound when doing parallel, but are applying much gentler compression when doing plain compression, hence the parallel sounds worse.

Just a thought, not that it's my experience.

Branislav
Old 25th May 2009
  #87
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Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by jinksdingo View Post
Your a funny one silver sonya. Thanks for making us laugh out very loud!
I hope it was serious, as it makes sense to me!

It could also explain things like +0.2dB of EQ, mixing in mastering, and other things to avoid making an actual decision.


DC
Old 25th May 2009
  #88
Mastering
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Branislav View Post
Maybe, they get carried away and squash too much (almost a textbook suggestion) and mix in too much of the squashed sound when doing parallel, but are applying much gentler compression when doing plain compression, hence the parallel sounds worse.

Just a thought, not that it's my experience.

Branislav
Actually, that's a valid thought. I could easily give a seminar or lesson on how to use parallel compression. The "squishier" the compressor that you're mixing in, the more careful you have to be mixing it in! (Stands to reason). Well, anyway, it's a valid technique, and it works real well for people who know how to use it :-).

Silver Sonya's observations are also true.

BK
Old 25th May 2009
  #89
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Although I am happy to amuse anyone, I should be clear that my post was not a joke.

- c
Old 25th May 2009
  #90
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Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by Silver Sonya View Post
Although I am happy to amuse anyone, I should be clear that my post was not a joke.
It should be a sticky.

The funny thing about parallel compression is that every so often I will try it -- as if I'm missing some big breakthrough that all the top pundits are using -- and it never sounds better to me that just straight compression. I've tried it with my regular analog compressor, with the tc 6000, and lately in a demo of the Elysia, and the results never are musically satisfying to me.


DC
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