A common technique in modern music production is the practice of layering multiple drums sounds or samples to achieve a specific sonic goal or texture. For example, taking the sustain and bottom of a nice 808 kick, the fuzziness or grit of an acoustic drum, and layering the top end “snap” of an electronic kick sample can be an affective way of achieving just the right blend of sonic texture to cut through the mix and compliment the rhythm section, many times creating complex layers that could not be achieved with basic EQ or Compression of a single source alone.…

The speed at which a signal comes and goes as the compressor grabs and releases the program material is controlled by the processor’s attack and release controls. While a compressor’s envelope can be used to shape a signal in creative ways (e.g.…

Understanding the fundamental building blocks of sound is an important step for any mixer, producer, or musician. These core concepts are ultimately what bring our speaker cones to life, sending the sweet sounds of our favorite music through the air and into our ear canals.…

A “pass” filter affects all energy above or below the target frequency, often referred to as the “cut-off frequency,” by removing that frequency content in a continuously decreasing downward slope. Pass filters are extremely valuable tools in mixing because they allow us to”bracket” the frequency energy of a given signal in the mix.…

As humans, we have tons of built in “thresholds” surrounding all of our senses. What do you do when the shower gets too hot? As the temperature rises, it eventually gets to the point that your nerves tell your brain “ouch” and your brain tells you “too hot!” and you turn down the hot water.…

When you use traditional compressors to alter a signal’s envelope shape, you often trade one problem for another. Spiking out the attack uses deep threshold settings that alter the tone and shape of the decay, sometimes in an undesirable way, forcing us to use “mults” or parallel chains to achieve the perfect attack and sustain characteristics for a given instrument.…

Dynamics processors are little more than automatic volume controls, responding to changes in signal level over time. If the input signal’s level meets a specific criteria (threshold) then the processor reacts by changing the output signal level in a prescribed way (turns it down, turns it up, etc).…

Fresh from my brand new Lynda.com course Foundations of Audio: Compressors and Dynamics Processors, here is a free video on gating a drum track. You can watch all the videos in this new course by signing up for a free 7 day trial.…

Parallel Compression

Just because you failed high school trigonometry doesn’t mean you can’t use and profit from parallel compression in your mixes. Parallel or “upwards” compression is simply the process of combining an un-compressed signal with a compressed-one and blending to taste.…

So I use quite a few “wrapped” RTAS plug-ins, meaning that the plug-in was designed for VST and hacked (via FXpansion’s VST-RTAS wrapper utility) to work as RTAS in Pro Tools. For example, all of the UAD stuff shows up as wrapped plug-ins in my inserts menu.…