The first article I found was at the website for Attack Magazine. They explain that there are many producers who will put the compression on the Master Bus either before recording even starts, and some will leave it to mastering engineer. However, a decision like this should not be take lightly as compression can cause many things. They give a quick skim through what a compressor does, and then goes right to work. The great thing about this article is that it is very interactive and encourages some hands-on examples. However, it also supplies a lot of audio samples so the reader can hear what the compression sounds like. It also touches briefly on limiting and how it has contributed to the loudness war and how it can damage a mix. In the end, the quote that hit me was “Think colour and shape – not loudness – and you should be on the right lines.” This definitely helps me with my mix when I think more about how the songs sounds at the end, rather than just using compression as a tool to change the volume.
The next article was found on Production Advice. The article is written with wit and humor so it was a pleasant experience to read along with all the advice it gave. Ian Shepherd writes that choosing to put compression over the buss is not a simple choice, and one that he struggles to explain. A lot of good mixes have one, however, the chance that the mix is over compressed is also a huge factor. He says he has heard way too many mixes that are dull and lifeless due to this issue, and just getting rid of a buss compressor solves this, but it also takes away the good things that come with one. He lists a bunch of do’s and dont’s. Do: add it early on, get a great compressor as possible, listen to the mix without it as well. Don’t: put too much on, have to compress everything. Less is more, but it definitely adds a certain sound you cannot get without one. This helped me out in my mix a lot, especially how they listed a specific list of things to do and not to do in simple terms.
Now we can get down to the actual drum mix....
Here is the mix followed by the pictures!
For my song to mimic, I chose Stockholm Syndrome by Muse. I chose this right away because ai always admired the drum sounds and playing of Muse. So, I began to delve into the song to observe the drums.
The snare has a very nice punch to it, as well as a whip like sound, sort of like a crack. After a lot of experimenting and a bit of research, the EQ helped a lot with helping define the punch and power behind the drum. This took a lot of the studio time but in the end I feel like I got really close to what the snare should sound like.
The bass was a different matter. After refining it with the gate I was able to get most of the background noise out; however, anytime the bass drum played the cymbals also came through the gate. I was never really able to get that out. However I was able to get the short, fat sound I wanted to to make it sound like Muse.
The toms did not need too much besides the usual EQ and compression to make it sound similar. I was also able to EQ the OHs and Room mics to get the clutter out and help boost the other instruments.
Over all, it was very interesting to get to do something like this. With enough time I was able to find most of the secrets to getting the instruments to sound the way I wanted to, however, there were a few things I could not figure out. I look forward to learning more this semester and hopefully figuring out some of the things I could not with this drum mix.