The Definitive Guide To Taming Transients

Struggling with harsh or even ear-piercing cymbals? What about a snare with too much ring that you just can’t seem to isolate? Then there are the guitars that don’t have enough bite to break through the mix…

All of these scenarios come down to transient issues at their root.

By attacking these transients with a powerful transient designer, you can dial in the sounds you want while isolating and decimating the parts you don’t.

Ready to get started?

Controlling Your Cymbals

Overheads and spot mic’d cymbals can be the deciding factor between a lively drum mix and shrill, unappealing hiss. The trouble for most engineers is the lack of control EQ gives you over most of that high end.

A standard EQ is going to let you boost or cut, but that’s really it. It can’t distinguish between good cymbal tone and washy white noise. You’re stuck picking a frequency and bandwidth, and you’re stuck with it.

The old alternative was to automate this EQ – filtering your cymbals to roll off high end along with the natural decay. Unfortunately, this process is time consuming and very inefficient. Not to mention you’re still primarily treating based on the frequency, not the attack.

The Solution

Using a multi-band transient designer works two-fold on treating your cymbals. The first benefit is that you maintain your frequency range focus; treating only what you need to while leaving everything else in the track untouched. This approach means you can treat your drum bus as a whole, keeping everything sounding natural and cohesive.

The second benefit is unlocking Attack and Sustain controls, which let you dial in just the right amount of tail for each cymbal hit. Using these two adjustments together can work wonders on finding the perfect pocket for those cymbals, taming the harshest offenders from wrecking your mix.

Tighten That Snare

No matter how much you try, you’re bound to find a junky snare in your session every once in a while. Instead of reaching for a sample, why not try to salvage the shell from its warbled, ringing overtones?

The Solution

Once again, a multi-band transient designer is the way to go. Multi-band control is great at dialing in the specific frequencies you want to hear, but it’s just as effective at treating the ones you don’t want to hear.

By adding a multi-band transient designer like Transify to your snare, you’re going to be able to roll off a lot of the lower end bleed that finds its way into most snare tracks, as well as the unwanted ring that made you question your snare in the first place.

The end result is a punchy, tight snare without scrolling through a single sample library.

Add Some Snarl To Your Guitars

Getting your guitars to cut through the mix is a tricky game. The high-end frequencies in a guitar recording can be fizzy, undefined, or in the worst case, missing altogether.

It’s hard to make a dull guitar achieve the bite you desire if it’s been tracked poorly, but not all hope is lost.

The Solution

Give your guitars the boost they need by adding in some upper mid attack. Using the controls in Transify, you can increase the cutoff to find the upper limits of your guitar’s transient, and then turn up the attack to give it a bit more edge.

Still not quite enough to break through? Flip on the Clip circuit to add some aggressive peak overages to the sound. You’ll get sweet, harmonic saturation on just that frequency range, making a subtle yet effective difference without overpowering your mixed guitar tones.

What Do You Use Transient Designers On?

Transient designers are still some of the most misunderstood tools in a studio today. Add in a processor set up for use with multiple frequency bands in a single interface, and you’ve got a lot of power just waiting to be harnessed.

If you’re using Transify on your drum bus, guitars, or even vocals – we want to hear about it. Share your approach with thousands of like-minded producers and engineers on the Joey Sturgis Tones Forum.