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How do YOU compress your drums w/ heavy 808's/ sub bass? Dynamics Processors (HW)
Old 27th April 2018
  #1
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How do YOU compress your drums w/ heavy 808's/ sub bass?

This question is more for those who produce modern hip hop. I am trying to learn different strategies for mixing drums. My current method is to bus all drums, including the 808, and use parallel compression with some sidechain on the low end.

If I have a boomy kick and a bass track, I will use the kick as a sidechain to compress the bass so the kick cuts through.

However I thought there might be an advantage to bussing together the kick and bass, separate from the rest of the drums.

I'm getting a dedicated hardware compressor in the next few days and I'm just trying to figure out different viewpoints on compressing drums.
Old 27th April 2018
  #2
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Hey man your on the right path but don't compress the drums. Try breaking up the kick and the bass so they have there own bus. Kicks n 808 go together better. Bass should go on a different bus to give you more control.

Last edited by Bgtheengineer; 28th April 2018 at 06:19 PM..
Old 27th April 2018
  #3
I don't compress the drum bus with modern hip hop. There's gonna be so much compression down the road that sometimes it just makes everything sound really small.

Usually do bx console E on all my drums and the Maag EQ
Old 27th April 2018
  #4
Quote:
However I thought there might be an advantage to bussing together the kick and bass, separate from the rest of the drums.
Keep them separate and you need to apply some 'Complimentary EQ Techniques' for the kick and bass so they can be on their own frequency space and be hear clearer in the mix.

CJ
Old 27th April 2018
  #5
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I think you might be getting too cute and causing more problems than you are solving.

For modern hip-hop I rarely bus the drums and compress them. In fact, the only compression I’m doing on drums is usually on the individual kick and snare to INCREASE dynamic range (create more attack) than to restrict dynamic range. I will, however compress the bass, often heavily.

I also have almost never side-chained the bass from the kick. I always get a lot of praise for the kick/bass relationship in my mixes and I never sidechain them, nor do I ever bus the kick and bass together.

For me, it’s just about getting good tone on each drum sound and the bass and then using the faders.

If you are having a hard time with kick/bass relationship, a trick I use is to mix ALL the other music first with the bass fader down and make it the last thing I bring up.
Old 27th April 2018
  #6
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Thanks for the responses everyone. Now I’m wondering why I bought an SSL compressor and a Drawmer, in addition to my WA76

Hopefully I can use them for something. Just got the Dione (SSL comp) hooked up and it’s not making as much of an impact on the sound as I thought it would. It’s not much better, if better, than the Waves G comp or NI Bus comp. I heard all this talk of hardware making such a big difference but I’m not really hearing it to be honest. Of course I’m using the SSL on the master, not drum bus. The Drawmer 1978 is coming in next week. Never really tried hardware comps in person so I had to spend the bucks. Hopefully I won’t regret it, though I can’t lie, I kind of regret it already.
Old 28th April 2018
  #7
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In a lot of cases these days you don’t need to compress your kick, because most of the kick samples used from sound kits today are probably already somewhat compressed. So if you do decide to compress do it wisely.

A VCA compression, like SSL, applied to a hiphop can be tricky and dangerous, try first always a HPF on the side chain.

The key to get a good kick and bass is usually:

Identify the kick fundamental and the next two harmonics (For example 40, 75, 98HZ) using a good and very precise analyser.

Try enhancing these fundamentals with a narrow eq to your liking in the mix. You'll notice that magically your Kick will be fuller and the RMS level will be higher.

Make sure you carve out a few db, with narrow notches, these freqs in your bass channel if you see there's some collision with the fundamentals above.
Old 28th April 2018
  #8
DAH
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Mixing with analyzer does not work ime.
Old 28th April 2018
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DAH View Post
Mixing with analyzer does not work ime.
I totally agree with you but here the point is that most musical sounds are predominantly made up of combinations of individual tones, known as harmonics or partials. The frequency relations between the partials determine whether we perceive the given sound as pitched or inharmonic, with the partial with the lowest frequency of the set being referred to as the 'fundamental'.

I guess you've often noticed a low peak frequency area that changes with the pitch of the note being played. This fundamental frequency is arguably the most important partial in such sounds and boosting it can help sonic definition, pitch clarity and the instrument's ability to cut through a mix.

You can either identify the fundamentals dialling with a precise spectrum analyzer or just an EQ:

Open up your EQ and dial up a single notch filter with as high Q setting as you can - the narrower the better. The reason for this is we want to isolate the fundamental over all other partials. Start off with a low gain amount of around 3dB and begin to slowly sweep your notch frequency down from 120 Hz towards 20 Hz and pay particular attention to any frequencies that really jump out at you.

If no frequency in particular jumps out of your speakers or headphones as you're doing this, try a slightly higher gain amount for your filter notch and start the process again. You need to be careful here as kick drum sounds carry a lot of low frequency energy, so you might want to reduce the overall volume of your channel to avoid clipping.

Solid Mastering
www.solid-mastering.com
Old 28th April 2018
  #10
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I think I read a SOS interview with Seth Firkins just using a Transient Designer.
Old 28th April 2018
  #11
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Wow! Some really great advice from Chris Carter and Solid Mastering. Thanks so much.
Old 29th April 2018
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chris carter View Post
I think you might be getting too cute and causing more problems than you are solving.

For modern hip-hop I rarely bus the drums and compress them. In fact, the only compression I’m doing on drums is usually on the individual kick and snare to INCREASE dynamic range (create more attack) than to restrict dynamic range. I will, however compress the bass, often heavily.

I also have almost never side-chained the bass from the kick. I always get a lot of praise for the kick/bass relationship in my mixes and I never sidechain them, nor do I ever bus the kick and bass together.

For me, it’s just about getting good tone on each drum sound and the bass and then using the faders.

If you are having a hard time with kick/bass relationship, a trick I use is to mix ALL the other music first with the bass fader down and make it the last thing I bring up.
Really dope approach. When you say you compress snare/kick to INCREASEA dynamic range via a compressor how is that done? Compressors usually reduce the dynamic range which is why I was confused on that part.

what compressor plugin do you use that really gets the job done. I feel stock fl studio limiter/compressors i use are not controlling dynamics as much as i want.
Old 29th April 2018
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by varun213 View Post
When you say you compress snare/kick to INCREASEA dynamic range via a compressor how is that done?
If the release reduces the tail of the kick, the amplitude relationship between attack and tail is increased. Then, increasing makeup gain enables the attack to go even louder. Typically, you want to back the compressor’s attack off to leave the hit uncompressed, and use a slow release to completely compress the tail. At least that’s my interpretation of Mr. Carter’s comment.
Old 29th April 2018
  #14
I use saturation first and foremost for the harmonics. The Black Box HG-2, Overstayer Saturator or the LTL Silver Bullet. I then shape to the track with the correct compressor or transient designer for the job if I need to manipulate the envelope. For the bass I may highlight a different octave or filter out certain frequencies ( or vice versa) but balance is king. Sidechaining is a last resort to make the kick or bass more present.
Old 29th April 2018
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul_G View Post
I use saturation first and foremost for the harmonics. The Black Box HG-2, Overstayer Saturator or the LTL Silver Bullet. I then shape to the track with the correct compressor or transient designer for the job if I need to manipulate the envelope. For the bass I may highlight a different octave or filter out certain frequencies ( or vice versa) but balance is king. Sidechaining is a last resort to make the kick or bass more present.
i naturally just sidechain the kick and bass by default. Now after reading this thread it seems as sidechaining can be detrimental? If so how?

I use Synth moog bass alot with some typical punchy kick drum from your everyday drum kits out there ( already compressed and saturated) I do a shelf EQ from 30-100hz at about 10db at most just so I dont lose the meat of the synth bass and let the kick sit on top of the bass and sidechain it that way. I usually get great results but I can always get bettter. Please break it down if you can
Old 29th April 2018
  #16
It's not detrimental per se it's just not essential and as always it's on a track by track basis.
Old 29th April 2018
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by varun213 View Post
Really dope approach. When you say you compress snare/kick to INCREASEA dynamic range via a compressor how is that done? Compressors usually reduce the dynamic range which is why I was confused on that part.

what compressor plugin do you use that really gets the job done. I feel stock fl studio limiter/compressors i use are not controlling dynamics as much as i want.
I set the attack slow enough to let the front edge of the kick or snare through, and then the compressor reacts creating a transient. You can do this with other instruments as well, but it's very common with kick and snare. You can make the transient bigger by lowering the threshold and/or increasing the ratio. You can make the transient sharper with a shorter attack and fatter with a longer attack. You have to pay special attention to the release time to make sure the compressor gets out of the way enough for the next hit, but not so fast that it just sounds like you a compressing the hit.

I usually use the Kjaerhaus compressor. It's very old, but back then I needed something that would nail the dBX160 attack and it did it flawlessly. So if it ain't broke, why fix it? I still use it.

This all said, in the last few years lots of transient processors have come out and in many cases they are preferable for this task since you don't have to worry about the release time. They are a bit hit and miss though. Particularly if there's dynamics in the performance you can get some wild results sometimes. So sometimes I'll use a transient plug-in, sometimes I'll use a compressor. Whichever works better.
Old 29th April 2018
  #18
DAH
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chris carter View Post
I set the attack slow enough to let the front edge of the kick or snare through, and then the compressor reacts creating a transient. You can do this with other instruments as well, but it's very common with kick and snare. You can make the transient bigger by lowering the threshold and/or increasing the ratio. You can make the transient sharper with a shorter attack and fatter with a longer attack. You have to pay special attention to the release time to make sure the compressor gets out of the way enough for the next hit, but not so fast that it just sounds like you a compressing the hit.

I usually use the Kjaerhaus compressor. It's very old, but back then I needed something that would nail the dBX160 attack and it did it flawlessly. So if it ain't broke, why fix it? I still use it.

This all said, in the last few years lots of transient processors have come out and in many cases they are preferable for this task since you don't have to worry about the release time. They are a bit hit and miss though. Particularly if there's dynamics in the performance you can get some wild results sometimes. So sometimes I'll use a transient plug-in, sometimes I'll use a compressor. Whichever works better.
+1 on the good ol kjaerhus comp, my first and about single comp to grab. Very predictable and easy to tune-in, 10 o'clock attack and release, 4 to 1ratio in most cases.
Old 29th April 2018
  #19
Some great tips in this thread!

Typical drum compression for punchy drums is slow attack and fast release. You would also typically use lower ratios, unless you're trying to smash them or going for an effect. You would use higher ratios on parallel processing. You then set your threshold to get the amount of compression that feels right.

You can use the same approach to individual tracks and the bus. As mention before some compressors do rob low end and or can react a little two much to the kick, so being able to side chain (to exclude the lower frequencies) or parallel process or having a mix knob can help in those cases.

As also mentioned saturation is your friend on drums, tape and or tube emulations can be great, for helping th thicken them up or help the poke out the mix a little. Most mix engineers will use a combo of compression, EQ and saturation to get their drum working in a track. This is across all genres.
Old 29th April 2018
  #20
Gear Maniac
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chris carter View Post
I set the attack slow enough to let the front edge of the kick or snare through, and then the compressor reacts creating a transient. You can do this with other instruments as well, but it's very common with kick and snare. You can make the transient bigger by lowering the threshold and/or increasing the ratio. You can make the transient sharper with a shorter attack and fatter with a longer attack. You have to pay special attention to the release time to make sure the compressor gets out of the way enough for the next hit, but not so fast that it just sounds like you a compressing the hit.

I usually use the Kjaerhaus compressor. It's very old, but back then I needed something that would nail the dBX160 attack and it did it flawlessly. So if it ain't broke, why fix it? I still use it.

This all said, in the last few years lots of transient processors have come out and in many cases they are preferable for this task since you don't have to worry about the release time. They are a bit hit and miss though. Particularly if there's dynamics in the performance you can get some wild results sometimes. So sometimes I'll use a transient plug-in, sometimes I'll use a compressor. Whichever works better.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul_G View Post
It's not detrimental per se it's just not essential and as always it's on a track by track basis.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Solid Mastering View Post
I totally agree with you but here the point is that most musical sounds are predominantly made up of combinations of individual tones, known as harmonics or partials. The frequency relations between the partials determine whether we perceive the given sound as pitched or inharmonic, with the partial with the lowest frequency of the set being referred to as the 'fundamental'.

I guess you've often noticed a low peak frequency area that changes with the pitch of the note being played. This fundamental frequency is arguably the most important partial in such sounds and boosting it can help sonic definition, pitch clarity and the instrument's ability to cut through a mix.

You can either identify the fundamentals dialling with a precise spectrum analyzer or just an EQ:

Open up your EQ and dial up a single notch filter with as high Q setting as you can - the narrower the better. The reason for this is we want to isolate the fundamental over all other partials. Start off with a low gain amount of around 3dB and begin to slowly sweep your notch frequency down from 120 Hz towards 20 Hz and pay particular attention to any frequencies that really jump out at you.

If no frequency in particular jumps out of your speakers or headphones as you're doing this, try a slightly higher gain amount for your filter notch and start the process again. You need to be careful here as kick drum sounds carry a lot of low frequency energy, so you might want to reduce the overall volume of your channel to avoid clipping.

Solid Mastering
www.solid-mastering.com

Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ Mastering View Post
Keep them separate and you need to apply some 'Complimentary EQ Techniques' for the kick and bass so they can be on their own frequency space and be hear clearer in the mix.

CJ

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bgtheengineer View Post
Hey man your on the right path but don't compress the drums. Try breaking up the kick and the bass so they have there own bus. Kicks n 808 go together better. Bass should go on a different bus to give you more control.

Quote:
Originally Posted by auralart View Post
I don't compress the drum bus with modern hip hop. There's gonna be so much compression down the road that sometimes it just makes everything sound really small.

Usually do bx console E on all my drums and the Maag EQ

Quote:
Originally Posted by DAH View Post
+1 on the good ol kjaerhus comp, my first and about single comp to grab. Very predictable and easy to tune-in, 10 o'clock attack and release, 4 to 1ratio in most cases.
Excellent tips from all of you, and those I didn't quote as well. I really appreciate it!

What about time-based effects? If you add reverb to snares, hats, etc., and you want to compress the drum bus, would you include the time-based effects in the drum bus that will undergo further processing ala compressor?

When I was using protools, I never routed the drum effects back to the drum bus, but in Ableton, because of how the Drum Rack is set up, you can't send individual drums to effect return tracks, you have to create effects within the Drum Rack, and send them that way. So if you have a compressor on the Drum Rack track, all your drums and FX sends will get compressed.
Old 30th April 2018
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chris carter View Post
I also have almost never side-chained the bass from the kick. I always get a lot of praise for the kick/bass relationship in my mixes and I never sidechain them, nor do I ever bus the kick and bass together.

For me, it’s just about getting good tone on each drum sound and the bass and then using the faders.
Side-chaining bass from kick was something I use to do a lot 10 years ago. Today, I couldn't tell you the last time I've even bothered trying it. When the tone of the bass and kick compliment each other the right way, and their levels relative to each other are set suitably, they simply don't fight each other, at least from my experience.
Old 30th April 2018
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PettyCash View Post
Side-chaining bass from kick was something I use to do a lot 10 years ago. Today, I couldn't tell you the last time I've even bothered trying it. When the tone of the bass and kick compliment each other the right way, and their levels relative to each other are set suitably, they simply don't fight each other, at least from my experience.
right sound choice/selection really beats all mixing techniques. Ive started to notice this with my new beats taking time picking the right sounds usually mixes the beat for you right then and there
Old 30th April 2018
  #23
Talking about matching samples....

I also tune my drums as well, nice and easy to do in Maschine. I also bought Waves Torque a few weeks ago, quite enjoying that too, if I've already printed the drums and I need to re-tune them.
Old 1st May 2018
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blayz2002 View Post
Talking about matching samples....

I also tune my drums as well, nice and easy to do in Maschine. I also bought Waves Torque a few weeks ago, quite enjoying that too, if I've already printed the drums and I need to re-tune them.
thats one of my weaknesses now..is knowing when to pitch up or down kicks/snares/808 cymbals/percussion basically anything that has a "Hit" to it and no decay.

I always figured sounds with a quick hit and small tail dont need much tuning but ive been told recently my 808 rim shots in a beat of mine were off tune and the cymbal needed to be pitched higher. How would you get better at this?
Old 1st May 2018
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by varun213 View Post
thats one of my weaknesses now..is knowing when to pitch up or down kicks/snares/808 cymbals/percussion basically anything that has a "Hit" to it and no decay.

I always figured sounds with a quick hit and small tail dont need much tuning but ive been told recently my 808 rim shots in a beat of mine were off tune and the cymbal needed to be pitched higher. How would you get better at this?
You can use a tuner plug-in.
Probably the best way to teach yourself to hear it is to play a piano or little simple sine wave type of synth, like an electric piano type of sound with no chorus. Along with the samples to hear what hey they’re in.
Drums don’t necessarily have to be all in the same pitch. But if a snare or a cymbal is like a minor 2nd or a 7th interval from the root note of the song or the song section.. that’s a lot of dissonance that can heard quite a bit.
So I think like playing an instrument to the note of the sample/s in question can help you learn to hear that stuff better.
Plus it’s just good music practice all around.
Old 1st May 2018
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chris carter View Post
I think you might be getting too cute and causing more problems than you are solving.

For modern hip-hop I rarely bus the drums and compress them. In fact, the only compression I’m doing on drums is usually on the individual kick and snare to INCREASE dynamic range (create more attack) than to restrict dynamic range. I will, however compress the bass, often heavily.

I also have almost never side-chained the bass from the kick. I always get a lot of praise for the kick/bass relationship in my mixes and I never sidechain them, nor do I ever bus the kick and bass together.

For me, it’s just about getting good tone on each drum sound and the bass and then using the faders.

If you are having a hard time with kick/bass relationship, a trick I use is to mix ALL the other music first with the bass fader down and make it the last thing I bring up.
This lol I thought I was one of the few that "Almost never side-chained the bass from the kick." I agree it's all about using some eq to carve space for each one, then letting them ride together.
Old 1st May 2018
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tnevz View Post
You can use a tuner plug-in.
Probably the best way to teach yourself to hear it is to play a piano or little simple sine wave type of synth, like an electric piano type of sound with no chorus. Along with the samples to hear what hey they’re in.
Drums don’t necessarily have to be all in the same pitch. But if a snare or a cymbal is like a minor 2nd or a 7th interval from the root note of the song or the song section.. that’s a lot of dissonance that can heard quite a bit.
So I think like playing an instrument to the note of the sample/s in question can help you learn to hear that stuff better.
Plus it’s just good music practice all around.
is the tuner plugin the same as the fork tool from guitar rig 5? I usually use that to tune everything.
Old 1st May 2018
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by varun213 View Post
is the tuner plugin the same as the fork tool from guitar rig 5? I usually use that to tune everything.
Yep. That’s a virtual tuning fork.
Your daw probably has a tuner plug-in too.

With drums though, since the transient can be so quick sometimes a tuner doesn’t work though.
Old 1st May 2018
  #29
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tnevz View Post
Yep. That’s a virtual tuning fork.
Your daw probably has a tuner plug-in too.

With drums though, since the transient can be so quick sometimes a tuner doesn’t work though.
yea they tuner kind of doesent work with with short transients..which is why I never cared to tune those types of sounds but apparently it does make a diff if you slight pitch it up or down. I guess mixing wise everything glues together better.
Old 1st May 2018
  #30
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Often if I have hard time tuning a 808 style kick drum I'll play it an octave (or two) higher where it's easier for the human ear to determine pitch. The human ear is designed for maximum detail in the mid-range. It's not so good at detail at the extreme highs and lows. So the same thing for some bell type sounds that have really high fundamentals - if I think it's out of tune, I'll play it an octave or two lower where it's easier to determine pitch.
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