COMPRESSING A KICK DRUM AND
STARTER COMPRESSION SETTINGS
The main reason for compressing drums and a kick in particular is to make the ‘meat’ of the drums louder and to reduce the transients/peaks at the same time so that the kick can be punchier. This article is going to focus on compressing the Kick Drum and starter compression settings for other applications.
Your typical compression parameters are Threshold which determines when the compressor starts to work. Attack is how fast or slow the compressor reacts once it starts working. Release is how long the compression is held. Ratio is how much compression is applied to the signal. Gain Reduction shows you how much of the signal is getting processed. Using a DAW, you will want to use compression with a plugin on the insert of the track.
When compressing the kick, you are listening to the fatness or the punchiness of it. Either the kick will need to be bassier or it will need to be punchier to cut through the mix so as not to interfere with a sub bass instrument (if present). By increasing the attack time, the kick will be bassier. By decreasing the attack time, the kick will be punchier. This method will affect any instrument the same when compressing. If you want to squash it so it will hit harder, set the threshold so the gain reduction is -5 to -12 and set the ratio to 5 to 10:1. When setting the threshold this way, you will need to adjust the output. Make sure the output is the same level as the input before the signal was processed (use the bypass function to check this).
Make sure to tweak the compressor ‘while’ you are listening to the entire mix. This will ensure you find the sweet spot for the kick in the mix with the rest of the track.
KICK/SNARE COMPRESSION: Attack: 1-5ms, Release: 0.2s/Auto, Ratio: 5 - 10:1, Knee: Hard, Gain Reduction: 8-15 db GENERAL COMPRESSION SETTINGS: Attack: Fast, Release: 0.5s/Auto, Ratio: 5:1, Knee: Soft Gain Reduction: 8dd GENERAL MIXING COMPRESSION: Attack: Fast, Release: 0.5s/Auto, Ratio: 2 - 5:1, Knee: Soft Gain Reduction: 2-9db VOCALS: Attack: Fast, Release: 0.5s/Auto, Ratio: 2:5 - 6:1, Knee: Soft, Gain reduction: 5-12dB. BASS INSTRUMENTS: Attack: 2-8ms, Release: 0.4s/Auto, Ratio: 7 - 12:1, Knee: Hard, Gain red: 5-13dB
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