Category : Producers BlogDED_HERE
Compression is a key to controlling the Dynamics of your track. In this article I will be going over the basics of Compression, other resources, and share a collection of Compression Presets I use in production. This will include Parallel compressions, Drum Compressors, and Side Chain Compression Presets.
Wikipedia explains compression as:
Dynamic range compression or simply compression reduces the volume of loud sounds or amplifies quiet sounds by narrowing or “compressing” an audio signal’s dynamic range. Compression is commonly used in sound recording and reproduction and broadcasting and on instrument amplifiers. Audio compression reduces loud sounds over a certain threshold while quiet sounds remain unaffected. The dedicated electronic hardware unit or audio software used to apply compression is called a compressor. Compressors often have attack and release controls that vary the rate at which compression is applied and smooth the effect.
Compression is a tool that lets us tighten the gap between the loudest and quietest parts of an audio signal. Most compressors have pretty much have these same basic controls:
1. Threshold sets the level when the compression starts. If the peak of the sound is under the threshold, then nothing happens to it. If it is above the threshold amount it then becomes compressed.
2. Ratio sets the degree of compression above the threshold level. A ratio of 2:1 represents mild compression and means that when the incoming level (that is, the level above the threshold) rises by 10dB, the outgoing level will only rise by 5dB. The different ratios let you decide how obvious, and how much the compression is happening to the signal.
3. Attack is measured in milliseconds and sets the time taken for the compressor to start working once the signal has passed the threshold. For drum parts like snares and hi hats you will want some attack to come through. Other things like Sidechain compression you might want a slow attack to give it a pumping sound.
4. Release sets the length of time it takes for the compressor to return to its normal state once the signal has gone back below the threshold.
5. Gain lets you raise or lower the final output sound. Sometimes in compressing you make the sound much louder and it will clip. You can turn down the signal with the Gain Knob.
There are many different ways in how you can use these settings to take control of your dynamic range of your sounds. Here are a few of those techniques below. At the end of the article there will be a free download for Ableton Live Presets to show of these techniques.
Instrument and Drum Treatment:
Compressors can be used to tighten the range of an instrument or drum. By using the right settings you can make the sound more full and bring out details that might have been lost otherwise. It’s important to not over compress every element in a track, but it is useful to bring certain elements to the forefront.
Example Preset: (aq) Gental Drum Glue and (aq) Vocal Compressor
Sidechain compressor uses another signal other than the main input to control the amount of compression. This way you can map a Kick to some other element, lets say a pad, and when the kick element is happening it will compress the pad.
Example Preset: (aq) Ultra Sideshain Compressor
Parallel compression is a compression technique that is a form of upward compression. You do this by mixing a ‘dry’ signal with a heavily compressed version of the same signal. This helps to reduce the dynamic range by bringing up the softest sounds and adding audible detail.
Example Preset: (aq) Parallel Compression Rack and (aq) Parallel Compression Glue
Here is a free download of 6 compressor presets. They show of these techniques and can be really helpful in your music production and mixing.
Login or join the site to download files:
These Compressor presets are only a fraction of the tools you will find in the Mixdown Toolkit. If you are looking to level up your mix, tighten your low end, or get all your elements glued together then the Mixdown Toolkit will give you the tools you need in Ableton Live.
Other reading on Compression and techniques:
I am always looking to hear from the readers of this blog. If you have a technique, a preset to share, or an example of how you used it in your track then comment below.
When you are making music there will inevitably be challenges. You have two paths set before you. You can make every problem or question turn into self doubt, or you can transform it to self confidence.
You might be thinking that the reason you are doubting yourself is because that is just the way you are. You might think some people are better at this, or they have more experience. People that are staying creative are not doing this by mistake. We are all equal in our ability to go down the rabbit hole of self doubt. The difference with people that plow through it with confidence is they have built systems, ideas, and traits in themselves to keep them feeling confident. (more…)
Over the past week I have been loving using my Launchpad Mini and the custom LPC Live 2 script for drum sequencing. As I am still learning how to write new drums on the fly I decided to make a few “cheat sheets”. I have printed these out and use them to help me write in the patterns. The idea here is if I do it enough, it will be second nature.
The images below show the sequence in a 1/16th setting. They can also help you visualize different beat patterns in multiple genres for your own production.
For me what I am doing is writing in the Kick part, and the Clap part into my step sequencer to then create the beat. If you wanted to you could always recreate this in Ableton like the image below:
I went over to my friend D’answers place the other day and ended up walking away with a new piece of gear. He showed me the Launchpad Mini. I already liked the look and size of it, but once he showed me the new script by Native Kontrols I was in!
Overview video of what you can do with the LPC Live 2.
Just messing around with it, here is a video we made. Just some bro’s messing with some toys.
To continue with this whole theme of Time Management, I want to dive into techniques in Ableton live for fast songwriting. These tips and tricks will help you stay creative, bust out songs, and feel confident in how you are spending your time.
If you are not using Ableton Live or, what to read the article on taking your time, it will look at the bigger picture of how artists can better manage their time.
1. Good Old File Management
Nothing says “I am an artist” like spending a day going through your files. Every successful musician I know is ruthlessly efficient with their sample library. We each have our own way of managing our files as well. Here is what I do with my Sample Library:
Time is a fickle thing. When it comes to our creativity, it is even more ethereal. If we spend too much time on a bass line, or a melody then we might not have enough to finish the track. Or working on the technical parts of the track might drain our inspiration and before we know it, we spent 3 hours on something and have nothing to show for it.
Because of this I want to share techniques for a good workflow and keeping the creativity flowing. This article will go over techniques that can be used for any artist. Be it a painter, ableton live wizard, Logic Ninja, or writer.
1. Take a Step Back First
Having a really clear vision of what you are doing and why will save you a lot of time. It’s important sometimes t o take a whole day, or even a week, to sketch out in your mind what your goals are. You should know that if you are sitting to create if you are just working on techniques, or a series of works you hope to complete in a month. The more time you spend on the bigger picture the faster and more on task you will be when you are in full creative mode.
A few weeks ago I released the (aq) Composition Toolkit. This Live Pack shows a collection of Arrangements and Compositions to help with songwriting. It is made to easily drag and drop in the track you are making. Easy and quick way to add inspiration to the writing process.
Over the week I have been asked to add a few more tracks to the pack. I spent some time looking at more “alternative rock” tracks from artist like Radiohead, Tool, and Coldplay. I then added there arrangements to the pack.
The reason I bring this up is to show off a cool new feature of the new website design. Once and a while I will update a love pack. Either for my own improvement, request, or updating for new versions. If you have ever ordered the live pack in the past you will be able to download the new version through logging into “my account”.
If you ordered the (aq) Composition Toolkit you can not download version 2 to add these 4 new arrangements to your repertoire. I am so glad I have developed the site to be able to constantly be expanding these live sets for you.
There is a free video / live set that walks through the technique in this blog. Feel free to check it out, request songs you would like to see in the Toolkit as well.
At the end of my 4 week Private Course I like to do a class built around sound design / or something else my student is trying to create. In finishing up my last class the student wanted to make some thick Growl Style Bass Patches. Together we sat down using FM synthesis and created a cool Instrument Rack.
Here is a video walkthrough and free download below:
Login or join the site to download files:
When building up a track we can sometimes get lost on what is next. Where does this part lead? Do I put a drop in here? What is a Chorus part? There is a lot of possibilities of where your track can expand to when you are writing it. Because of this I have developed my own technique to help me stay creative when writing my own music. This is a really simple trick, but it can greatly speed up your writing and give you new ideas.
So here is the basic idea. Make a midi track at the top of your set. Here you can add MIDI clips and name them after the part of the track.
Here is just the BLANK midi Track: (more…)