COMPRESSING LOW END – Trigger for the Applause or Boo
In today’s music, the low end must be tight, and thick, and thump, you must fill it in your chest, it must elevate the whole mix to a different level, with other words, THE LOW END IS EVERYTHING.
By the quality of the low end in your mix you get applause or boo. For such punchiness and consistency all of us are using compressor. And also for making kick and bass muddy and disappearing in the fog using the same compressor.
It is not important just to use compression, but to know how to use compression.
By compressing low end, we make the kick more punchy, and the base more consistent. If it is live kick drum, you are evening out the difference in level from kick to kick. Sometimes by grouping and compressing the low end, the kick and bass you are gluing them together to sound as one instrument. So the need of using compression in low end is enormous, and also the problems for not doing it right are countless.
The most important thing for compressing the low end is the rule of release. If you can’t remember anything just remember this: “When compressing low end never go under 80ms on Release”.
The low end frequency is big and slow frequency and long frequency, it demands a lot from compressor and if the release of the compressor is faster than 80Hz the compressor makes unnatural distorted waveform changes.
I don’t prefer LA1176, I often use LA3A for base because of the perfect release time for bass, and if I compress with any other stock plugin I would do it with release not faster than 80ms.
But sometimes this information is useful to experiment with base distortion while compressing, try with fast release especially with sub bass with no character at all, it will induce grit, and that little bit of distortion will generate upper octaves on the bass so it can be noticed even in smaller speakers.
Try using auto release or smart release when limiting on the master buss channel, because if you go with limiter compressor faster then 80ms it will make a mess in the low end. Try this method and check on your older mixes and see the difference.