How on earth do compressors work :)

Sorry, this must’ve passed at least a couple of times. I’m really getting kind of fed up with trying. Many of the DSPs in renoise I get and use them to my advantage in synthesizing fat ass drums etc. But then when I’ve got a crazy loop, and want to “pump” it up I fail hard in understanding what to do with (Bus) Compressor. Someone posted a tip not so long ago, to just compress the drum track. But a lot of times I hear that whatever I try, the final compressor makes the kicks sound better but just annihilates the snares. Is it because the snares in my tracks don’t have a loud reverb, most of the time? Some other trick with compressor? Much obliged. For now I’ll just throw small Exciter and Maximizer on 'em.

Try slicing that beat up so you can use different compressor settings on each drum. It sounds like the snare needs a different threshold (without hearing an example of what you did.)

When I think of, “pumping compression,” I usually think of sidechain compression… not so easy to do in Renoise right now… there is some sort of compressor running around on this website that seem to do it, despite the limitations of routing, but I forget its name… I glanced at once, but it was payware… and I didn’t have the cash that day… or today lol…

anyways, I’ve got a ton of wonderful sidechain comps, and I’d love to use their inputs… that is the one thing I am hope, hope, hope for Renoise v3!! :w00t:

well… just to let you know, so you don’t try and drive yourself nuts… classic pump comp? sans sidechain? hmm… difficult to say the least…

If you are after punchier drums, try this:

FabFilter Pro-C has Parallel Compressor setting that works well “out-of-box” (plus support for sidechaining, although I am not sure if that’s the trick you’re after if you want to compress the whole drum bus).

Here is pumping drums Renoise style!!!

:walkman: :P

Edit = if the link doesn’t work, refresh this page and try again, I thought I uploaded the wrong file, so I made a new link… obviously, if you read this, long after I’ve made this edit, you do not have to bother with a refresh…

file is offline…

It is all about the right combination of threshold & release and sounds relative volumes.

I found that when compressing sound it is very important to prepare the signal that comes into the device. So make sure that sounds are sharp and well mixed before are subject to compression. By well mixed I mean the volume proportions are right, the eq is ok. By sharp I mean that sounds are short and distinct. You don’t need snare to have long tail or kick to have that long boom (depends on the mix though!). At least not in the part that get compressed. Use gate - you don’t have to cut tails completely, you can use “Floor” to just change proportion of direct hit and tail in your drum sounds. You can also do NY compression - which basically is a mix of wet(compressed) and dry (uncompressed signal) - gives nice effect of both distinct transients and that fat, full sound. But the volume is the most important factor.
Remember: compression is to change dynamics, to glue things all together. So, back to your example - snares may be weaker because they are significantly quieter than kicks. Maybe there are other sounds, like hihats, which are too loud so when those sounds are fed up to the compressor together with snares they just dominate. Or some other sounds have long tails which activate compressor just before the snare and damp it in result. Maybe relase time is a bit too long and threshold too low.

So first prepare your drums, decide what you want, adjust levels and eq. Most of the time sidechain is not needed. You can easily achieve very similiar result of pumping with right volume proportion. For example famous kick&bass pumping. Bass just needs to be quieter than kick and threshold needs to be set to react to kick and not the bass (that is why bass has lower volume). Then you set release to some long value like 1/4th of the beat. When kick comes in it damps the bass for the 1/4th of the beat and you get that pump sound. No sidechain need - just correct levels and appropiate release time. I give you kick and bass as an example to say a thing or two about eq. You don’t have to cut low frequencies on kick neither on the bass. Good volume proportions does the job without it. You should always remember it - volume is your tool number one. All the time. Before you have it right don’t rush to other, more subtle tools (like compression). It won’t work.

This is how I set compressors when my sounds are well prepared: I set ratio to max, attack and release to some very short values and threshold very low. Then I look for right threshold by going slowly up and listening to changes in sound also looking at this white VU showing how much the sound is damped at the moment. At this stage I am interested mostly in what is damped and not how. Back to the kick&bass example I look for a threshold when kick activates compressor and not the bass. When I found it I set the attack and after it the release. Release is a bit more important I think because it is more difficult to set properly. It is very closely tied to threshold. If the threshold is too low, long release time will cause compressor to damp signal too much. If the threshold is too high you will end up with no compression ;)/> You want release to be a bit long to make compression distinctive. If its too short every hit will be compressed individually. If its too long you will miss some transients. So for typical 4/4 kick and snare set release to a value that gets everything between kick and snare dumped but when the snare comes in compressor is already off. It’s all up to your ears at this point. When you are done with envelope and threshold adjust the ratio. I think of it as sort of dry/wet thing. Most of the time I don’t use make up gain because when previous parameters are set properly the overall sound seems louder, not quieter. If your sound is quieter it may mean that you set release and threshold inproperly and too much sound is dumped. It is also easy to fall into “it sounds better because it’s louder” trap with make up gain. Better leave it at 0 dB.

1 Like

Carmazine’s post was spectacular and there’s a lot to be learned from that. While I plan on adding my own two cents later I’d defintely recommend having a look at “Sound FX: Unlocking the Creative Potential of Recording Studio Effects” by Alex Case if you get the chance to rent it from a library at any point. The section on compression in that is more or less what taught me how to use it (even though I’m admittedly still rubbish at compressing!)

yeah, you didn’t fail. in sound design compressing a kick and compressing a snare are (can be, mostly are) very different things. When ‘gluing’ a bus full of sounds, compressors might serve a different purpose. maybe you should look into multiband compressors and transient shapers too.