Parallel compression is a compression technique where a dry (non-compressed) signal is mixed with an over-compressed copy of the the same signal. What’s so cool in this technique is that this way you can increase the volume level of the quieter parts of the signal (i.e. the body or tail of a kick or snare) while preserving the transients (or attack phase or whatever they’re called) of the original signal underneath it.
With that said, in this tutorial I will show you how to easily apply parallel compression (or NY compression) to your audio using Maximus.
So let’s begin. I’m using a simple drum loop as example audio here. Check preview below:[audio:http://howtomakeelectronicmusic.com/wp-content/uploads/audio3/Drum-Loop-Dry.mp3]
What I do first is I route the drum loop to a free mixer track and drop the Maximus to it’s effect slot.
I reset the Maximus settings by loading the ‘Default’ preset (note that there’s also a preset in Maximus for NY compression, but I’ll set it up from the ground up – based on the preset – so you can see what’s happening “under the hood”).
Maximus has three compression bands (LOW, MID and HIGH), but I need only one band so I turn off the LOW and HIGH bands leaving only the MID band active.
As you can see from the display, the MID compression band now covers the full frequency bandwidth so all the tweaks made to the MID band will be applied to the whole frequency spectrum.
Next, I set a heavy compression by editing the MID band compression curve.
Basically, editing the compression curve in Maximus is like tweaking a threshold and ratio level controllers in a traditional compressor (like Fruity Limiter for example) though it’s MUCH more flexible as you can create infinitely variable curves with it.
So, first thing I do is I drop the envelope point 2/3 a little. This envelope point represents the compression threshold level which is the level at where the compression starts to kick in (once the input signal reaches it) and it needs to be dropped below the level where the input signal is peaking. Otherwise the compression doesn’t do anything.
I’ll press the playback so I can see at what level the input signal is peaking (also turning on the Monitor Display) and drop the envelope point below those peaks while keeping it in line with that 45 degree dim line you can see in the graph.
The envelope point 3/3 represents the compression ratio. The more closer you drop it to the level of the envelope point 2/3, the more harder the compression. I’ll drop it few dB’s.
With the point tension handle, you can soften the compression knee. ‘Soft Knee’ is preferred so I increase the tension level a bit.
With the Pre Gain, you can boost the input signal level. The more you increase it, the more input signal will reach the threshold level point (the envelope point 2/3) and the more audible the compression effect will be. I’ll just turn it up to the max.
Attack time should be set to short (2-10 ms). I’m using something like 2.60 ms. Release time should be set to quite long (100-300 ms). I’ll set it to around 130 ms.
With the LMH Mix -knob (LOW, MID, HIGH Mix) you set the balance between the uncompressed and compressed signal. First, I turn it full left to allow only the uncompressed signal to pass and then turn it right until I find a nice balance between the signals.
Sounds quite nice. Compare the drum loop before and after the parallel compression:[audio:http://howtomakeelectronicmusic.com/wp-content/uploads/audio3/Compare-Compression.mp3]
As you probably heard, the parallel compression boosted the volume level of the quieter parts of the drum loop making it sound more fatter. Let me show it visually:
As you can see, in the compressed material (the bottom audio loop), the quieter parts are louder compared to uncompressed and the original transients of the drum loop are pretty much still there.
That’s it. This tutorial is based on the FL Studio manual and the ‘NY Compression’ preset included in Maximus.
Few words about the ‘NY Compression’ preset: if you play with the preset, note that the MID band Post-Gain knob is set to +10dB so you might want to set it to 0dB if you don’t want a post compression volume boost.
The end. 😎
Check the video version of this tutorial below: