Parallel Compression for Drums
Parallel Compression or New York Compression is the most used method for mixing contemporary music. We can use parallel compression method for many different instruments, but in this article I will focus on Drums.
With this tool you can make thick, punchy drums even in very busy arrangement with elements like bass, multiple distorted guitars, 808, synths e tc. This method helped me a lot in many different cases to make the drums cut through the mix.
In many cases especially in hip hop, trap and electronic music I am sending just the kick and snare to a parallel chain. But when I mix acoustic drums almost always I am sending the whole drum group channel to the parallel chain.
Have in mind that parallel compression is a method for processing dynamics, maybe a little bit of color, but mainly it is for dynamics. So you should start with parallel compression when you are pleased with the tone, color, shape and width of the drums, but you want the drums to cut more through the mix.
This is how I use parallel compression on drums.
I’ve created one AUX or FX Stereo Channel and on the first insert I am engaging LA 1176 with 20:1 or 12:1 ratio, fast attack and mid-fast release, 10-15 dB of gain reduction. I wouldn’t go with ultra fast release so I don’t have so much of the room sound. As second insert I am engaging Puig Tech or Pultec EQ adding 5-10dB on 100 Hz and adding 5-10 dB on 10 kHz. I recommend to add equal measure to the high end as on low end. Send the drum group channel signal to the parallel chain, right after you mix the whole song, and you will feel the magic. The Drums that ware swallowed in the mix will came up on the surface.
By using this method the tonal balance of the drums will remain the same, but you will change the punchiness of the drums. I hope that this tip will be a useful tool in your hand.