If you haven’t noticed yet – there’s a common theme that runs throughout every great drum sound of at least the last 2-3 decades. It makes use of some of the most common studio post-processing in some of the most unconventional ways.
The results are staggering:
· Bigger sounding drums
· More attack and sustain
· More presence
· A fuller audio image
· Punchiness that you’ll be hard pressed to find without it
The approach used to be a secret to the pros, but for some time now that secret has grown and spread. Rather than being some backdoor approach used by the audio elite – it’s now a type of passage for engineers and producers looking to be taken seriously by their peers.
Parallel Processing Basics
Parallel processing is being done in almost every mix, even if you’re unaware that you’re doing it. The shortcut that more and more manufacturers are coming up with is the Mix knob (or Wet/Dry knob) inside of the plugin. This knob gives anyone quick and convenient access to parallel processing, that is, control over how much of the unprocessed signal they’d like to mix in with the processed signal.
The industry standard method has a few more steps to it:
1. Create an aux track to bus your audio to
2. Enable the plugin on the aux track
3. Set send levels on individual tracks
4. Set plugin parameters and tweak levels as needed
Engineers have found some workarounds to the common headaches with the standard approach, including subgrouping their dry tracks so that they can adjust the send level at a more universal stage.
The benefits to the standard method are clear:
· Dry/Wet Tracks can be soloed
· More control over the input to the aux
· Can be routed back to a Master bus after for further processing
The Head Honcho
There are all types of parallel processing that can be done, but none more prevalent in big drum mixes than parallel compression. Parallel compression can take a muddy, undefined drum mix to powerful and clear.
By layering a parallel compressed drum mix under the dry drum tracks, you can effectively add power and depth to them without losing the natural characteristics of the drums. Snares pop out more. Toms cut through dense mid-range. The entire drumset takes on a warmth and sheen that can’t be achieved any other way.
Parallel Compression is the glue that pulls the world’s best drum mixes together.
Time to Get Started?
If you’re ready to get started with crushing drum mixes and parallel compression, Gain Reduction is currently only $49, and as demonstrated in Fluff’s video above, can knock out any competition at less than 1/10th of their price tags.
Don’t get caught up in the hype of high-end plugins having to cost a fortune - trust your ears and your mixes will improve. It’s as simple as that.