Posts Tagged ‘compression’

I haven’t done a “mixing tip” post in a while and I was working on some drums today and thought I’d share a little technique that I started using recently.

Many of you many not be in an ideal space to record drums; or, like me, you have a great room, but it just isn’t as “big” as you’d like it to be.

I’ve gone through TONS of positions in the room from mic’ing on the floor, to mic’ing up high, to pointing mics at the windows for reflections… many different methods.  And I’ve also tried so many different MICS.  My favorite for drum room by far is the AEA R88 stereo ribbon, hands down.  AMAZING mic.

But the mic alone won’t give you that magic “large room” sound.  You have to compress the crap out of it!  1176, Distressor, API 527, I’ve tried many different ways, but it still ends up sounding like a smashed small room.

A number of months ago I was working on an audio for video project and the voiceover was done in a less than ideal space. There was WAY too much roominess for a VO. I remembered the new Dereverb tool in Izotope’s bundle and tried it out.  It works pretty well… Not mind blowing, but used in moderation it helps a little bit. It’s a good tool for those doing audio post and film work. But while playing with the settings, I found out you can go the OPPOSITE way and actually make the room sound MORE prominent! Immediately I had to try it on drum room mics…..and sure enough, it worked wonders.

Screen Shot 2016-02-23 at 2.32.25 PM (2).png
The Dereverb tool is essentially a glorified multiband compressor where the only thing you can really change is the threshold and the release.  While on some compressors you can do expansion/upward compression (like Wave’s RComp) on Dereverb you can also overly compress the tails and bring up the room sound.

I find it to sound more natural than compression….more like a bigger space.  With the right compressor, I’m sure you can get there, but you really have to spend some time dialing in the right settings.  You can get a little bit of crunchy artifacts going if you dial too much in, but for most drum room sounds, I’m usually ADDING distortion anyway to be more aggressive/in your face, so I don’t mind this at all.

A couple of things to be mindful of:
– It’s best to dial back the High end because it can get quite crispy on cymbals
– You HAVE to render/process and not leave the plugin on (TONS of latency)

I’ve attached a link with samples below. You will find 3 files.

1. “Room – NO processing” – this is the completely dry signal as recorded
2. “Room – EQ Decap” – this is PRE Dereverb but with my EQ and Decapitator applied
3. “Room – DeReverbed” – this is after all processing including DeReverb

Download DeReverb Samples Here!



I had a client recently who wanted MP3 files in addition to a CD master.  When I ask clients what bitrate they want me to deliver I usually always get the same answer…..”huh?”

I actually prefer this answer most of the time because it gives me the opportunity to educate the client on the different types of MP3 compression and what the pros and cons are.

My client told me that they usually use 128kbit MP3s in house because “they’re just going to be played on crappy earbuds, and the file size is greater for 256”.

The voice inside my head screams, “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

This is EXACTLY why you want to use better quality files!  If they medium you are using to listen is already compromised, you should START with best quality product so that you can make the most out of your crappy playback device.  Otherwise it’s going to sound TWICE as bad.   Not to mention, low quality earbuds can sometimes overemphasize the frequencies where the harshness of MP3 is most apparent.  (Not all the time though)

Regarding the other argument, the file size difference is negligible.  It’s a few megabytes.   Nothing in this day in age.  We’re talking a couple extra text documents or emails worth of file size here.

Frankly, I’m surprised that we are even balking at the file size of uncompressed audio anymore.   I have 100mbit/sec internet speeds at my HOUSE.  It takes me like 10 seconds to download a 40MB file.  Hard drives for most people are in the 2-3 Terabyte range.  40-50MB is not a big deal.

But that’s going on a slight tangent.   The real problem here is the misconception that low quality files are for low quality playback systems.  That opinion couldn’t be further from the truth.   Garbage in, garbage out.    The same goes for recording and mastering.   If you start with the highest quality possible, then it’s going to sound better as it gets degraded further down the line.  But if you start with cheap microphones, bad preamps, etc… can’t get any better than that.

Of course, anyone who reads my blog is going to be fully aware of these things.  So what’s the point here?


There are always opportunities like this to let our clients know about good quality audio and what that means for them and THEIR clients.  Don’t be afraid to have that conversation.  They’ll appreciate it.



Man, I am REALLY bad at staying current with this lately!  I had something planned when Avid release the new s6 console, but I kind of lost interest.

I usually get around to writing a blog post when I’m tackling some sort of issue myself.  There are hundreds of audio blogs out there that do the normal reviews and tutorials.  I think my blog has stayed away from that for the most part.   So keeping with the theme, I have another dilemma.

In working at a studio that is completely “in the box”, I don’t know if I can say that I’ve ever been completely satisfied with my mixes.  I’d like to blame it on a lot of things.  I know I SHOULD only be looking inward and saying the cause rests solely on my mixing skills.  I’m sure that’s a large part of it, but there are definitely some revelations I’ve had along my career that have let me know that there is definitely a gear element there too.

Hardware compression over software compression, analog summing (which I’ve covered in a previous post), proper 2 bus compression, etc…have all added small pieces to the puzzle.

I DO, however think a large part of what I”m missing is mixing on an analog desk though.

SO…..that brings me to my  test.

I’m setting up a little challenge for myself.  I want to mix a song  in a few different ways and see how each comes out.  I will play them back in a double blind test and determine which sounds best.   Here are the different mixing methods.

1. Completely ITB using my usual go to plugins.  (mostly Waves and McDSP Channel G)
2. Completely ITB except using the Waves SSL bundle (unfortunately I don’t have it, so i’ll have to get a demo from Waves)
3. Take the mix elsewhere and mix on an SSL Duality.  I think the REAL SSL will make a huge difference, but it’s been a while since I’ve mixed totally analog, and I will be in an unfamiliar monitoring environment so it might all even out.
4. ITB McDSP mix going through a summing mixer
5. ITB Waves SSL mix going through a summing mixer.

Part of the reason I want to try the Waves SSL bundle is because I also have access to an SSL console for a similar comparison, and I’m really blown away by how DIFFERENT I’ve mixed on these plugins in the past and how aggressive it sounds.    The 2bus comp blows me away every time.  I just can’t get that kind of punch and forwardness out of any other plugins.

To be honest, I’m hoping that I get an amazing mix out of the Waves SSL bundle so I can stop lamenting over not having an analog console.  I hope those plugs get me to where I want to go.  Then I can just buy them and get it over with.   (and then be pissed at myself for not doing it YEARS ago!)

To keep all other elements of the mix equal.  I will apply the following rules.

1. Time limit for every mix will be capped at 3 hours.
2. I will only mix a verse and chorus to keep me on track and not wasting time.
3. The song I use needs to have a fairly minimal track count.
4.  All automation/editing needs to be done ahead of time.
5. All time based effects (reverbs/delays) will be pre-set ahead of time and limited to stock Avid plugins for compatibility

Basically the only thing I want to have different, is the channel EQ/Compression, and 2bus compression on each, as well as the summing matrix.  I’m debating on whether or not to allow myself to use saturation/tape/console emulation in the completely ITB mixes.

I will post the results when I’m finished.  It might be a few weeks so I can make the arrangements for the SSL room and summing mixer.

Now…to find a song to use.