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Mastering compressor/limiter that doesn't destroy the kick? Dynamics Plugins
Old 31st August 2008
  #1
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Guy Gabriel's Avatar
 

Mastering compressor/limiter that doesn't destroy the kick?

I've had experience with several plugin compressors in the mastering process such as L2, Waves RComp and some others and I've noticed that they all smash the bassdrum and take a little bit of its power and punch.
What mastering compressor or limiter would you recomend that won't hurt my bassdrums too much. VST only.

Thanks guys.
Old 31st August 2008
  #2
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ARIEL's Avatar
Voxengos polysquasher or marquis compressor - I never use limiting it kills the drums -I prefer voxengo for mastering , and i have both waves and duende ssl stuff -the SSL comp colours it to much and you loose a bit of fidelity. I prefer a more transparent compressor -
Old 1st September 2008
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guy Gabriel View Post
I've had experience with several plugin compressors in the mastering process such as L2, Waves RComp and some others and I've noticed that they all smash the bassdrum and take a little bit of its power and punch.
What mastering compressor or limiter would you recomend that won't hurt my bassdrums too much. VST only.

Thanks guys.
I realize that this is not an answer to your question, but try multi-band compression with a setting that affects only all bass frequencies below 200Hz or lower. This should increase your punch and fatten up the bottom end. If you prefer, use it only to tighten up the bottom end, though this will also reduce kick's punch. Then, use a *peak limiter* with a modest attenuation, high threshold (even up to -0dBFS) and ceiling at -0.01 dBFS. As per what plugin you should use, do the one you already have.

Used very conservatively, a compressor peak limiter can allow the highest transients to stop dead at -0dBFS and thus, retain plenty of the dynamic range...
Old 1st September 2008
  #4
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If you're talking specifically about increasing average level (and not actually smoothing dynamics and controlling transients) - then got to say if you're looking for retaining transients over not inducing additional distortion then clipping rather than limiting can often be the preferred technique.

One freeware VST digital clipper that I found sometimes can work remarkably well for retaining the source's low end punch is GVST GClip - GVST - GClip

Best regards,
Steve Berson
Old 1st September 2008
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guy Gabriel View Post
I've had experience with several plugin compressors in the mastering process such as L2, Waves RComp and some others and I've noticed that they all smash the bassdrum and take a little bit of its power and punch.
What mastering compressor or limiter would you recomend that won't hurt my bassdrums too much. VST only.

Thanks guys.
1. Are you talking the low end of the kick drum or it's mid range beater attack?
2. Tried slower attack? All compressors are well capable of killing drums' energy if set incorrectly for the desired outcome. Does it really need compression? If the track does but the bass drum doesn't = modify the side chain.
3. L2 is a peak limiter, not a compressor.
4. I shudder at the thought of talking clipping for low frequencies/longer wavelengths.
Old 1st September 2008
  #6
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I think he's talking about how getting the music loud enough to compete with the levels of everything else can mean having to cut off the transients such as kick and snare. I've had plenty of stuff come back from mastering where its nice and loud, but the kick and snare get buried in the choruses as a result. I've started doing mix versions with the drums up to compensate. Not an answer to the OP really, but just throwing in my 2 cents. I jsut think if the whole mi is going to come up in volume, then what ever is loudest is going to come down in volume.
Old 1st September 2008
  #7
If you use an L2 different than deliberately reducing offending peaks, it becomes a transient killer by definition (like most limiters).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Guy Gabriel View Post
..What mastering compressor or limiter would you recomend that won't hurt my bassdrums too much. VST only...
Key is to start with a clean compressor that allows you to adjust attack and release and take your time to find the best setting for each song specifically.
Allow it to do no more than 2 dB of gain reduction and stack another compressor (new settings) after that one if you need more compression.

So what would make a clean vst compressor you might ask... mmm, i don't use them but i'm thinking more in the direction of Sonnox (Sony Oxford), TC Works, the new Waves SSL or API series.
I've never tried software clippers but maybe it'll work for you.
Old 1st September 2008
  #8
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Hiya

If the mix lacks excellent balance between the kick & snare vs the rest of the sounds. Otherwise squashing will probably smear bandwidth a lot.

Best wishes
Old 1st September 2008
  #9
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joerod's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boomshanka View Post
3. L2 is a peak limiter, not a compressor.
Hi Adam, however, a peak limiter is a compressor. It's just the degree in which we use this process what changes...
Old 2nd September 2008
  #10
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Strobian's Avatar
1)UAD Precision Bus Compressor

2)Waves API 2500

3) UAD Neve 33609

I personally like hardware for finals...better low to my ears.
Old 2nd September 2008
  #11
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lucey's Avatar
 

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MS compression where you use a sidechain on the mid set to grab above 400 won't touch the kick.

Quote:
Originally Posted by joerod View Post
Hi Adam, however, a peak limiter is a compressor. It's just the degree in which we use this process what changes...
A digital brickwall is not a compressor.
Old 2nd September 2008
  #12
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joerod's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lucey View Post
A digital brickwall is not a compressor.

A brickwall limiter is a *bit* different than that of a conventional compressor or limiter in that they are designed to be super, super fast and highly transparent. While many compressors are designed to add color and “vibe” to a track, a brickwall limiter is only there to knock the peaks off the music and then automatically boosts the level of the mix to the threshold you set. Most compressors aren’t infinitely fast and therefore will let some of the signal past a specific point. The modern brickwall limiters are designed so that absolutely nothing goes past the threshold. Basically, brickwall limiters allow you to boost the RMS volume of a track to as loud of levels as you please.

EDIT: One more thing worth to try (though it works much better in stem mastering) is parallel compression, where you make a copy of your mix, squash the heck out of it and then blend it together with the un-processed version. For this to work you need to have them in the correct phase...

Last edited by joerod; 2nd September 2008 at 02:52 PM.. Reason: another point
Old 2nd September 2008
  #13
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E-Irizarry's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by ARIEL View Post
Voxengos polysquasher or marquis compressor - I never use limiting it kills the drums -I prefer voxengo for mastering , and i have both waves and duende ssl stuff -the SSL comp colours it to much and you loose a bit of fidelity. I prefer a more transparent compressor -
Quote:
Originally Posted by lucey View Post
MS compression where you use a sidechain on the mid set to grab above 400 won't touch the kick.



A digital brickwall is not a compressor.
WHAT THESE TWO CATS SAID +2 thumbsupthumbsup
Old 2nd September 2008
  #14
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E-Irizarry's Avatar
Areil and I are the only two cats on GS that I know - that know about that Voxengo Polysquasher. It has to be the best soft mastering compressor on the market.

As much as I desire the GUI look of PSP MasterComp, it throws my levels off whenever I drop instruments in and out of mix as I am spooling the mix to external WAV file outside of my DAW.

However, as for regular soft compressors, I still use Fab filter Pro C(-ompressor) and Waves C4 on making beats and recording on REAPER studio sessions.

Whereas I use other compressors, instruments drop in and out of mix throw off the volume of the mix no matter how much I try to level it. So C4 doesn't fukk with me in that regard compare to other compressors i have used.
Old 2nd September 2008
  #15
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lucey's Avatar
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by joerod View Post
A brickwall limiter is a *bit* different than that of a conventional compressor or limiter in that they are designed to be super, super fast and highly transparent. While many compressors are designed to add color and “vibe” to a track, a brickwall limiter is only there to knock the peaks off the music and then automatically boosts the level of the mix to the threshold you set. Most compressors aren’t infinitely fast and therefore will let some of the signal past a specific point. The modern brickwall limiters are designed so that absolutely nothing goes past the threshold. Basically, brickwall limiters allow you to boost the RMS volume of a track to as loud of levels as you please.

EDIT: One more thing worth to try (though it works much better in stem mastering) is parallel compression, where you make a copy of your mix, squash the heck out of it and then blend it together with the un-processed version. For this to work you need to have them in the correct phase...
The digital limiting this thread is about is not a "bit" different ... it's 100% not compressing, like an apple is not an orange. And "brickwall limiters allow you to boost the RMS volume as loud as you please" is an oversimplification ... sure you are technically allowed to do it, and it might sound bad. Your last paragraph has two misleading assumptions and conclusions, as well.
Old 2nd September 2008
  #16
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joerod's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lucey View Post
The digital limiting this thread is about is not a "bit" different ... it's 100% not compressing, like an apple is not an orange. And "brickwall limiters allow you to boost the RMS volume as loud as you please" is an oversimplification ... sure you are technically allowed to do it, and it might sound bad. Your last paragraph has two misleading assumptions and conclusions, as well.
The bottom line is, (whether you like it or not) that all these devices ARE compressors, just like an apple and an orange are both fruit...
Old 2nd September 2008
  #17
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lucey's Avatar
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by joerod View Post
The bottom line is, (whether you like it or not) that all these devices ARE compressors, just like an apple and an orange are both fruit...
A compressor and a digital limiter are not the same thing dude. Compressor is one category with variants, limiter is another category with variants.
Old 2nd September 2008
  #18
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joerod's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lucey View Post
A compressor and a digital limiter are not the same thing dude. Compressor is one category with variants, limiter is another category with variants.
Look, I don't want to make a debate on what is a compressor and what is not. Another thread for that if you like. The use of "peak limiting" is not exclusive for recording applications. I am really not interested in debating you on this. Brickwall limiters are compressors, end of the story.
Old 2nd September 2008
  #19
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24-96 Mastering's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guy Gabriel View Post
I've had experience with several plugin compressors in the mastering process such as L2, Waves RComp and some others and I've noticed that they all smash the bassdrum and take a little bit of its power and punch.
What mastering compressor or limiter would you recomend that won't hurt my bassdrums too much. VST only.

Thanks guys.
The longer the release of your limiter (turn ARC off and set release manually), the more punch, arguably, gets preserved. The downside is that 1. you don't get as much loudness 2. you get more noticable dynamic movement (which may be perceived as punch ideally or as nervousness in bad cases) as the rest of the mix is pulled down for longer amounts of time.

With Waves Rcomp (still a nice compressor for quick work), try setting the attack longer. If you had it at the default setting (which is around 16ms, I think), try upping it to 25, 30 or even up to 40 ms. Use the make up gain for comparison. You shouldn't feel that the unit is "eating up" your punch then, rather that it can add punch and emphasize the kick, when set nicely.

Be advised though that both these methods won't give you punch and loudness, but that your experimenting is weighing off one against the other to some extent.
Old 2nd September 2008
  #20
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Bubbagump's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by joerod View Post
I am really not interested in debating you on this. Brickwall limiters are compressors, end of the story.
Err, more like clippers where as a compressor (even the old "10:1 ratio = limiter" definition, doesn't clip the signal but does indeed lower the gain. A compressor will at least allow transients to exist when the signal is over the threshold, everything else may be lowered, but the transient still can exist just at a lower gain. (Assuming attack/release are set properly) Above the threshold past a certain point on a brick wall and chop... flat tops.

So to summarize for the masses

Fruit = dynamics processor

Orange = brick wall limiter/clipper
Apple = compressor

I think Brian is more after the fact that the behavior between the two are fundamentally different though they are both dynamics processors.

Back on track... And to the original poster... You have a few options. The M/S idea where only the mid is processed, multiband below 200 and a good amount of makeup gain (I like about 150 myself, but whatever, likely my first stop)... The latter is usually my first stop. Keep in mind, the bass guitar is usually panned center too... So whatever you do to the kick in the low end, you will also be doing to the bass guitar regardless of compressing via M/S or the stereo mix with a multiband. Also, if you are then later going to "loudify" the mix (which you will based on your question), overdoing the kick or bass in general can cause all sorts of bad things to happen. Just be sure this is something you should be messing with and not sending back to have remixed. Also, bad room ms can fool you too. I don't know your environment, but I had a mix room at one time with a miserable null around 120hz that always made my kick perception off.


I personally don't find brick wall limiters to be all THAT significantly different from one to the next. (Different yes, but not enough that I can't make generalities...) If they are absolutely eating your kick me thinks something else is wrong. Either the mix is not great to begin with, you don't have a good handle on the low end be it through EQ or compression, or you are just simply pushing the limiter too hard. Just some things to triple check. In regards to pushing too hard, the average mix past about -10db RMS (a very general number, not hard and fast at all) your kick is going to be garbage no matter what you do... of course, so is the rest of your master. Punch comes from transient content. Transients have a low RMS value as they are so fast. Therefore, higher RMS means less transient material, and less punch, though "louder". Loud and punch are inversely proportional.

Also understand what makes a kick sound as this is important in EQ and multiband tasks.... there is a 1k or so click/attack transient and a meat low end "thud". Too much of one or the other and the kick sounds like a marching snare or a wet crap.

As for the parallel compression idea... using a broadband compressor (smash the hell out of it, mix to taste) at least in my use, tends to be a transparent way to add body to soft passages. Smashing things hard will cause the mixed in wet signal to disappear in loud passages (such as those with a kick drum) as it will be compressed even harder and be much too low to be useful.

Old 2nd September 2008
  #21
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joerod's Avatar
 

We (I) may be just confused in terminology here. When we developed the "Dynamic range compression" page at Wikipedia, we assumed that all dymamic processors were compressors. Just like all compressor, equalizers, de-essers, mixers, etc, etc, are in essence, amplifiers.

Maybe we were wrong and I need to address that at WP. That said, I can't do it without a valid reference. I know you are knowledgeable person, but I can't use this thread or this post as the reference simply because you said so. We are not allowed to use forums as verifiable sources, you see.


So, while you find the text and the links to this verifiable sources (which will be highly appreciated) this is what I summarize for the masses:

Fruit = dynamics processor = compressor

Orange = soft/hard - brick wall limiter/clipper
Apple = dynamic range reduction (Soft/hard knee)
Pear = dynamic range expansion
Bananas = Noise reduction

Respectfully, they are all compressors (even when the opposite effect should be called uncompressor). I feel this is still the case...

Quote:
I think Brian is more after the fact that the behavior between the two are fundamentally different though they are both dynamics processors.
Agree, I realize that...thumbsup

Quote:
...If they are absolutely eating your kick me thinks something else is wrong. Either the mix is not great to begin with...

Agree, we need to listen to that mix to try the correct technique...thumbsup

EDIT: One clue as to why all these different processors can be regarded as "compressors" is when comparing their schematics, one can easily see their similarities.
Old 4th September 2008
  #22
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RDMS's Avatar
 

Damn good limiter


Kjaerhus MPL-1
Old 6th September 2008
  #23
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defjamm's Avatar
 

psp xenon + sonnox limiter + izotope ozone can leave more of the impact of the kick, but can also cause more distortion (especially sonnox and ozone) if you go for high levels.
Old 8th September 2008
  #24
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Guy Gabriel's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ARIEL View Post
Voxengos polysquasher or marquis compressor - I never use limiting it kills the drums -I prefer voxengo for mastering , and i have both waves and duende ssl stuff -the SSL comp colours it to much and you loose a bit of fidelity. I prefer a more transparent compressor -
I'm not used to working with compressors that have more than just attack, release, ratio, threshold, make up. therefore i've got some questions, why do i need the Dry function? And how does the knee function work? when i push it higher how does it affect the track?
Old 8th September 2008
  #25
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Storyville's Avatar
Uh.... careful there

Quote:
Originally Posted by joerod View Post
Hi Adam, however, a peak limiter is a compressor. It's just the degree in which we use this process what changes...

Limiters are essentially compressors, but because of the specific functionality they are designed to hard compress with less distortion. Set your favorite compressor to behave like a limiter with equivalent settings, the results will be noticeably different.

In any case, because we hear on a curve rather than linearly low frequencies need to be pumped a lot higher in order to appear to have equal (or somewhat greater if you want) weight in the mix. Thus, a punchy kick is very difficult to retain when limiting. Of course, if your not trying to make the loudest track you can then retaining the size and dynamic for a punchy kick isn't too difficult.

Getting a really loud track is where retaining that punch gets tricky. A full-band limiter will pull down everything in the mix as soon as the threshold is crossed, meaning the high content and other musical parts occuring with the kick will get pulled down too - so you not only reduce the oomph, you lose the attack sound as well.

Here are couple of suggestions, none of which work all the time, but might be what you need:

1.) Parallel compression. This tends to retain a sense of transient action, but can become very addictive and lead to a fatiguing mix, so this is best when used modestly.

2.) Multiband limiting. If you like how your kick hits, just limit the frequency content above the bass range. Volume is more readily perceived in the high mids. MB Limiters are tricky and take a good ear and a good device to keep distortion away.

3.) A harmonic exciter. You can give a mix a lot more push by exciting the upper mids. Watch your highs and mids though, because harmonic exciters tend to thin those areas out when overused. Also your going to get a bit of smear when you use an exciter, so its all give and take.

4.) EQ. I really love the waves ssl for this. Add some air in that 8khz+ range, it will make your mix sound very large. Again, use in moderation.

5. Limiting. After playing around with different techniques, for whatever is right for your particular sound, go back to the limiter. Apply it gently and you'll eek out another db without too much problem.


SIDE NOTE: I find that the Waves L2 makes the bass sound weak, even when the threshold is 0, and the signal isn't peaking.

Hopefully that helps.
Old 2nd February 2011
  #26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guy Gabriel View Post
I've had experience with several plugin compressors in the mastering process such as L2, Waves RComp and some others and I've noticed that they all smash the bassdrum and take a little bit of its power and punch.
What mastering compressor or limiter would you recomend that won't hurt my bassdrums too much. VST only.

Thanks guys.
you'll need a single-band mastering compressor with adjustable side-chain filter for being able to take out the range somewhat between 0 and 255 Hz (depends on the music) from the compressor's detection circuit (trigger).

this way THAT filtered range will not trigger the compressor. in other words: you compress lower midrange and everything above while the kickdrum and subs stay healthy and intact. any excessive peaks will be stopped by a good brickwall-limiter...
Old 2nd February 2011
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bob humid View Post
# in other words: you compress lower midrange and everything above while the kickdrum and subs stay healthy and intact. any excessive peaks will be stopped by a good brickwall-limiter...
Not really ...you will still compress the whole signal...(bass drum and the lot)
The difference is, that the Equalised signal, is what will control the compression. (you were actually explaining it correctly until the phrase I quoted)

Anyways...it is a bit of an old thread dont you think?
Old 2nd February 2011
  #28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Odeon-Mastering View Post
Not really ...you will still compress the whole signal...(bass drum and the lot)
The difference is, that the Equalised signal, is what will control the compression. (you were actually explaining it correctly until the phrase I quoted)

Anyways...it is a bit of an old thread dont you think?
yes, you are right ...

but the effect of this treatment is that you don't compromise the bass' integrity, which was the question.

the threat doesn't get old until it isn't answered properly ;-) - don't you think?
Old 2nd February 2011
  #29
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Apostolos Siopis's Avatar
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by bob humid View Post
yes, you are right ...

but the effect of this treatment is that you don't compromise the bass' integrity, which was the question.
Yes absolutely...sidechain Eq on a compressor is a valuable tool (especially for the low end control)

Quote:
Originally Posted by bob humid View Post
the threat doesn't get old until it isn't answered properly ;-) - don't you think?
Sure
Old 2nd February 2011
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colinmiller View Post
I've had plenty of stuff come back from mastering where its nice and loud, but the kick and snare get buried in the choruses as a result.
You're ME is doing something wrong. Probably using too much compression. Maintaining the size of a mix while controlling the dynamics is the key. If he's changing your mix balances in a way you don't like you need to communicate that with him.

IME, it's usually the mix that gets thin when the song gets loud - just the opposite of what it should do musically.


GR
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