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Parallel compression on drums? Why / When / How to use it?

What is parallel compression?

Parallel compression is the process of blending a compressed audio track with an uncompressed copy of the track. This particular type of parallel processing allows you to retain much of the original dynamics of your audio while still letting you harness all the benefits of using a compressor.

Parallel compression is also known as New York Compression.

How and when I use parallel compression on drum bus?

On drum bus I usually use 2 compressors in series, LA2A first and then 1176 style.

Both compressor instances are acting as parallel compressors.

But for some extremely heavy genres with busy blast-beats or fast double-kick runs I turn both OFF.

And not even for heavy genres.

Sometimes the drums sound better with compression on the drum bus, sometimes not.

It really depends on the song, the beat, the tempo and the production style I am after.

Cheap workhorse compressor plug-in I use for drum bus compression?

I like to use Klanghelm DC8C compressor.

DC8C is my go-to workhorse compressor plug-in and it can mimic several different compression styles, including LA2A, 1176 or DBX160 styles.

What are the benefits of using parallel compression on the drum bus?

When using parallel compression, the compression can be heavier and mixed with the original uncompressed signal...

In most cases that heavy compression alone (with the Mix/Blend 100% wet) would sound great, but with some parazite artifacts like bad pumping or overly aquashed or unwanted over-saturated sound, especially on drums. Drum shells sound great with heavy compression, but cymbals are pumping and saturating the wrong way. So with parallel compression and right dry:wet ratio you can find the sweetspot where drums are compact, punchy a pumping while the cymbals are still listenable and not distracting too much.

What are the alternatives to parallel compression?

You can use side-chain compression (for example compressor is compressing only the lower frequencies and not the high frequencies) or multiband compression (Compressing the certail frequency band or range) to obtain more or less similar results.

Does it even matter?

No at all.

Audio production.

Not rules.

Several ways to go.

But the only thing that matters is the result, right?

No matter how you reached it (in most cases).

If it sounds good, it is good!

May the muse be with you!

Do you have a question? Opinion?

Write a comment below or feel free to contact me directly and let's talk!

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