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.
Here’s an audio example. First the drums dry, without parallel compression:[audio:http://howtomakeelectronicmusic.com/wp-content/uploads/audio/Drums-Without-Parallel-Compression.mp3]
And here’s the drums with parallel compression applied:[audio:http://howtomakeelectronicmusic.com/wp-content/uploads/audio/Drums-With-Parallel-Compression.mp3]
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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’).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Also, ‘beef’ up the drums a bit by adding a Soundgoodizer to the ‘Semi Master’ -track.
Now, create a few more drum patterns with a bit of variation to the groove and listen to the end results:[audio:http://howtomakeelectronicmusic.com/wp-content/uploads/audio/Parallel-Compression-Ready.mp3]
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: