How To Use Parallel Processing In FL Studio

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How To Use Parallel Processing In FL Studio

Parallel processing is a mixing technique where you duplicate audio signal, add processing (such as compression) to the other signal and leave the other signal non-processed (dry), mix them together and send them to the master out.


This technique is particularly useful with drum compression as with it you can apply heavy compression to the drums while retaining their original dynamics as both signals – compressed and non-compressed – are sent to the master out. Great trick to make your drums sound huge.

How To Use Parallel Processing In FL Studio

Here’s an audio example. First the drums dry, without parallel compression:

And here’s the drums with parallel compression applied:

Hear the difference? Sounds like the drums are heavily compressed, but they still have their original dynamics there as well.

In this tutorial, I will show you how to set up parallel compression (also known as New York compression) in FL Studio.

Let’s begin.

Pick a set of drum samples – kick drum, snare, closed hi-hat and open hi-hat – and drop them to the step sequencer sampler channels and assign each drum sample to an empty mixer track. Create a simple drum sequence and use the mixer to set the volume levels between the drums in balance:

Creating The Drum Sequence

Now, in the mixer view, ROUTE all the drum mixer tracks to an empty mixer track. Into this track, we will add the compression. You do the routing one-track-at-a-time by clicking a drum mixer track and then right click that little up-arrow on an empty mixer track and choose “Route to this track only”. The little up-arrow on that empty mixer track turns yellow. Do that for each of the drum mixer tracks.

What we are doing here is we send the signal of each drum mixer track to a master track THROUGH one (or more) mixer  track(s) and as we chosen ‘Route to this track only’, the signal will not be sent to the master track straight – ONLY through the chosen mixer track. This allows us to apply processing (such as compression) to the drums as a GROUP so that it affects all the drum sounds together. However, we can still control the volume levels, apply processing, eq, etc. to each individual drum mixer tracks.

Routing The Drum Mixer Tracks To An Empty Mixer Track

Ok. We are going to need another empty mixer track where we route the drums (you can route a signal to as many mixer tracks as you want) and this mixer track we use to send the non-processed (dry) signal to master track.  So pick another empty mixer track, click on a drum mixer track and this time, LEFT click on that little up-arrow icon on that empty mixer track so that it turns yellow.  Do that for each drum mixer tracks. Note that you should use the left click as we are routing the SAME SIGNAL to two separate mixer tracks. The Same method applies if you want to route it to even more additional mixer tracks, because if you go and right click and choose ‘Route to this track only’, the signal will be routed to ONLY to the chosen mixer track. Think of a situation where you have already routed signal to a lot of different mixer tracks, and you choose ‘Route to this track only’, you will loose all the other routings and you would have to set them up again. Just saying this to save your time from unnecessary clicking.

Routing The Drum Mixer Tracks To Another Empty Mixer Track

Ok. So now we have routed the drum tracks to two separate mixer tracks. Rename them in a style of ‘Drums Wet’ & ‘Drums Dry’. Into ‘Drums Wet’ -track we are going to add the compression and ‘Drums Dry’ -track we leave dry.

Rename Empty Mixer Tracks

But we are not done yet with the routing. We are going to need one more empty mixer track – let’s rename it to ‘Semi Master’. We are going to send the signals from ‘Drums Wet’ and ‘Drums Dry’ -mixer tracks to the master out through this empty mixer track. This way we can control the volume levels and apply processing such as eq which will affect the whole group of drum signals via one mixer track. That’ll simplify the task to mix the drums with other instruments as we don’t have to adjust the settings track-by-track.

So, route the ‘Drums Wet’ & ‘Drums Dry’ -mixer tracks to an empty mixer track (this time using right click & choosing ‘Route to this track only’).

Routing The Drums Wet And Drums Dry Mixer Tracks To Empty Mixer Track

It might be a good idea to color the mixer tracks just to keep things organized as with all this routing, etc. you may start to get confused which track is sending what to where esepcially when you start to add more stuff to the mixer tracks. So simply just click on a mixer track, press F2 and click on that little square box (on the right side in that rename -box) and choose the color.

Color The Mixer Tracks

Okay. Now we are going add some heavy compression to the ‘Drums Wet’ -mixer track. We are going to use compression here as an effect rather than just controlling the dynamics.

Rough Rider by Audio Damage is a very good plugin for this. It’s free so go download it now.

After installing the Rough Rider, drop it to ‘Drums Wet’ -mixer tracks fx slot and goes extreme. I’m using the following (works pretty good with the type of drums I’m having in this tutorial): Ratio 1000:1, Attack 1.0, Release 1.0, Sensitivity -60dB, Makeup 30dB.

I also added Fruity Limiter to the ‘Drums Wet’ -mixer track just to increase the volume level as the above mentioned Rough Rider -settings brings the volume levels down.

Also, roll off a bit of the low end and high end using the mixer track eq.

Add Compressor To The Drums Wet Mixer Track

Now here’s something very important so pay attention: plugin processing delay. When we add a plugin to a mixer track, it will cause a minor delay that puts the audio on its mixer track out of sync with other mixer tracks. So if we have two identical audio signals on two separate mixer tracks (like in this tutorial example) and we drop a plugin to either one of the tracks, plugin processing delay will cause an unwanted effect called phasing and we don’t want that to happen here as it makes the drums sound bad.

There IS an automatic plugin delay compensation (PDC) feature in FL Studio, but I found it’s not working in a routing situation like this.

So, in order to cope with this problem, drop exactly same set of plugins to both – ‘Drums Wet’ and ‘Drums Dry’ -mixer tracks. In this case, Rough Rider & Fruity Limiter.  But in the ‘Drums Dry’ -mixer track, open the Rough Rider, and turn it OFF and set the Fruity Limiter to default settings as we don’t want any kind of signal processing to happen in the ‘Drums Dry’ -mixer track.

Avoid Phasing By Adding Same Plugins To Both Mixer Tracks

Ok. Now find a balance between the ‘Drums Wet’ & ‘Drums Dry’ -mixer tracks. In this tutorial example, setting both to 0.0dB works actually quite well. I also boosted the low- and high-end and a bit of the 1.4-1.5kHz area of the ‘Drums Dry’ -mixer track using the track eq.

Set The Drums Wet And Drums Dry Mixer Track Levels In Balance

Also, ‘beef’ up the drums a bit by adding a Soundgoodizer to the ‘Semi Master’ -track.

Add Soundgoodizer To The Semi Master Mixer Track

Now, create a few more drum patterns with a bit of variation to the groove and listen to the end results:

That’s pretty much it.

So what we did here we used routing to send a drum signal to separate mixer tracks, added a heavy compression to the other while leaving the other dry, mixed them together and sent them to a master track through a third different mixer track with Soundgoodizer.

Sounds complicated, but once you get used to it, it’s a piece of cake.

You can use the parallel processing technique on any sound and with whatever effect you want, but it’s especially useful with compression. Try it! 🙂

Finally, here’s a video showing this technique and the FL Studio project file:

Download The FL Studio Project File For Parallel Compression

Download Rough Rider.

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19 Comments

  1. Downtown Humanoid on

    great tutorial. very informative and it explains WHY you are doing certain things which really should be the point of a tutorial, not just HOW you do them….good shit.

  2. Max Golovanov on

    THX for tutorial, Petri!

    I was always convinced that ‘Parallel Processing’ is something really complex – ‘not for average minds as mine’ 🙂

    But… with this tutorial you’ve discovered for me that there is nothing complex in it at all – just logic sequence of simple actions (but with understanding of ‘what you’re doing, how & for what purpose’).

    THX again, man & PLS keep it up!

  3. If you send Kick, Snare to the group “Drums”, a group of “Drums” to send to the master channel and send to group “NY Comp” and insert a compressor in the group “Drums” and group “NY Comp”, then the delay of signals can be heard as the Phase effect . How to deal with it in FL? In Cubase this is not observed for example.

    • Hey Sadan,

      There is an automatic plugin delay compensation feature in FL Studio, but when doing routing like this, you’ll experience the phasing problem, so in order to cope with it do this:

      Drop exactly same set of plugins to the Drums (dry) and NY Comp (wet) channels, but remember to DISABLE the effects in the Drums (dry) track as you dont want the dry signal to be processed with the compression.

      • Thank you for your reply! Your advice helped partially solved my problem, but even so I think this is a significant lack of FL Studio. Personally for me

  4. This trick is great, but involves too much clicking and mixer tracks. 🙂
    I found a faster way – using Maximus. You only need one mixer track for it, and its definitely faster.
    I didn’t try it yet, so I don’t know if it’s better than your method.

  5. First of all thank you very much for your tutorial
    I am from China, the domestic didn’t find such a good website and so thorough interpretation
    thank

  6. Laurent DEVEL on

    Hi Petri,

    Many Thanks for your Parallel Compression Tutorial. It(s very informative.
    But as say someone, it’s not very easy to do- Routing process is not very fun!

    Would the result very different if i put a compressor on an insert slot of the drum group and I
    ajust the wet/ dry signal with the MIX LEVEL BUTTON at the right of the slot?

    MANY THANKS

  7. Just a heads up, soundgoodizer is a just a one knob version of Maximus, which is a compressor. Try using Maximus to customize the level and degree of compression that soundgoodizer cant give you.

  8. throwaway on

    Hi Petri, I was reading about parallel processing and I understood it in theory but needed an in DAW demonstration. This was a perfect tutorial: clear, simple, and with pictures. Thanks a bunch mate!

  9. For the love of god please use a mic. Great tutorials but all the text boxes are a pain in the ass to read through.

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