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Compression settings for Drum Machines
Old 5th March 2006
  #1
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Compression settings for Drum Machines

I know all compressors react differently to the material that is fed through them... but are there some generic settings to start with when compressing drum machines? Basically right now I just guess...and I'm sick of guessing. Anyone know of a tutorial on compression that will help me understand what each setting does?

Thanks.
Old 6th March 2006
  #2
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Drum machine sounds are usually over compressed to start with. Don't just assume that they need compression.

For learning - it is best to realise that the actual compression part of a compressor never makes sounds louder. It always compresses - in other words always reduces the volume. The 'makeup gain' that follows is responsible for making the sound louder again, and it's a good idea to understand this fully before you start.

Quick way to set up a compressor:

Set Attack to fastest
Set Threshold to lowest
Set ratio to highest
Set Release to fastest

You should now hear the maximum squashing effect, and probably a lot of damage to your sound. But this is just the starting point - at least you know it's working.

Attack - the longer the attack, the more of the 'stick' part of the drum comes through before the compression pushes down. Adjust to taste - this is how you get 'punch' - you are basically re-shaping the envelope of the sound.

Release - the end of the envelope. You want the compression to have released fully before the next hit. Or, you want the compression to flow with the groove.

Adjusting attack and release is difficult if you can't hear what's going on - which is why I recommend doing these first while the compression is maximised.

Ratio - decrease this until you get the effect you want without obvious squashing or damage - unless that's what you want of course.

Threshold - with the lowest threshold, the whole sound is compressed. Maybe you only want to control the very loudest peaks only - and leave the other stuff alone. Raising the threshold adjusts how much of the sound actually gets compressed.

Low ratio's don't achieve much unless you have a low threshold. This is more of a overall compression effect.

High ratios can be very excessive unless the threshold is higher. This is more of a limiting effect.

IMO - with drum machine sounds, they have already been limited and shouldn't need a limiter. They are probably compressed too.

You might want to use a compressor to bed a kick drum together with a bass line - so the bass sort of fills the gaps, instead of just riding on top. You can compress groups of instruments together for effect. It's not all just about smashing individual tracks for volume.
Old 6th March 2006 | Show parent
  #3
Lives for gear
 
Big 3rd's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiwiburger
Drum machine sounds are usually over compressed to start with. Don't just assume that they need compression.

For learning - it is best to realise that the actual compression part of a compressor never makes sounds louder. It always compresses - in other words always reduces the volume. The 'makeup gain' that follows is responsible for making the sound louder again, and it's a good idea to understand this fully before you start.

Quick way to set up a compressor:

Set Attack to fastest
Set Threshold to lowest
Set ratio to highest
Set Release to fastest

You should now hear the maximum squashing effect, and probably a lot of damage to your sound. But this is just the starting point - at least you know it's working.

Attack - the longer the attack, the more of the 'stick' part of the drum comes through before the compression pushes down. Adjust to taste - this is how you get 'punch' - you are basically re-shaping the envelope of the sound.

Release - the end of the envelope. You want the compression to have released fully before the next hit. Or, you want the compression to flow with the groove.

Adjusting attack and release is difficult if you can't hear what's going on - which is why I recommend doing these first while the compression is maximised.

Ratio - decrease this until you get the effect you want without obvious squashing or damage - unless that's what you want of course.

Threshold - with the lowest threshold, the whole sound is compressed. Maybe you only want to control the very loudest peaks only - and leave the other stuff alone. Raising the threshold adjusts how much of the sound actually gets compressed.

Low ratio's don't achieve much unless you have a low threshold. This is more of a overall compression effect.

High ratios can be very excessive unless the threshold is higher. This is more of a limiting effect.

IMO - with drum machine sounds, they have already been limited and shouldn't need a limiter. They are probably compressed too.

You might want to use a compressor to bed a kick drum together with a bass line - so the bass sort of fills the gaps, instead of just riding on top. You can compress groups of instruments together for effect. It's not all just about smashing individual tracks for volume.
Excellent explanation man.
Old 7th March 2006 | Show parent
  #4
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiwiburger
Drum machine sounds are usually over compressed to start with. Don't just assume that they need compression.

For learning - it is best to realise that the actual compression part of a compressor never makes sounds louder. It always compresses - in other words always reduces the volume. The 'makeup gain' that follows is responsible for making the sound louder again, and it's a good idea to understand this fully before you start.

Quick way to set up a compressor:

Set Attack to fastest
Set Threshold to lowest
Set ratio to highest
Set Release to fastest

You should now hear the maximum squashing effect, and probably a lot of damage to your sound. But this is just the starting point - at least you know it's working.

Attack - the longer the attack, the more of the 'stick' part of the drum comes through before the compression pushes down. Adjust to taste - this is how you get 'punch' - you are basically re-shaping the envelope of the sound.

Release - the end of the envelope. You want the compression to have released fully before the next hit. Or, you want the compression to flow with the groove.

Adjusting attack and release is difficult if you can't hear what's going on - which is why I recommend doing these first while the compression is maximised.

Ratio - decrease this until you get the effect you want without obvious squashing or damage - unless that's what you want of course.

Threshold - with the lowest threshold, the whole sound is compressed. Maybe you only want to control the very loudest peaks only - and leave the other stuff alone. Raising the threshold adjusts how much of the sound actually gets compressed.

Low ratio's don't achieve much unless you have a low threshold. This is more of a overall compression effect.

High ratios can be very excessive unless the threshold is higher. This is more of a limiting effect.

IMO - with drum machine sounds, they have already been limited and shouldn't need a limiter. They are probably compressed too.

You might want to use a compressor to bed a kick drum together with a bass line - so the bass sort of fills the gaps, instead of just riding on top. You can compress groups of instruments together for effect. It's not all just about smashing individual tracks for volume.
Thanks for your time. I appreciate it.
Old 7th March 2006 | Show parent
  #5
Lives for gear
 
blayz2002's Avatar
I'll add one thing to the already very well explained answer.

The best way to think of compression when your not sure of what your doing, is to first set the level you want from the drum track alongside your bass and other instruments, if then appears as though at that level the drums stick out too much (hit too hard) this is a good time to go with so compression it will as explained control the attack of the drum sound, but if you find the drums don't hit hard enough ..compression can help you there also if you keep it light and use fast attacks and releases, it can help to bring out the snap of the kick n snare.

Another situ would be having the compression on a bus and your drums routed to it, this would be when you want to gel the drum kit together and maybe add some flavour form a comp that has a certain colour.
Old 8th March 2006 | Show parent
  #6
Gear Head
 
Eager2Know's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiwiburger
Drum machine sounds are usually over compressed to start with. Don't just assume that they need compression.

Great info, thanx
Old 9th July 2015
  #7
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
almost ten years old, and this thread still delivers. thanks!
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