by Nick Messitte, iZotope Contributor September 18, 2019
In an earlier article called “Expanding on compression” I covered unusual forms of dynamic processing, including upwards compression. Neutron 3 offers the ability to implement upwards compression, so I thought it would be useful to cover it further.
If you’re reading this, you’ve probably had some experience with parallel compression, the process of blending a compressed track or submix with an uncompressed copy. Getting this balance right allows us to enhance the punch and power of a signal without altering the original transients or eating up lots of mix headroom.
Logic’s built-in Compressor plug-in includes a range of different circuit types. In this tutorial, we illuminate the original compressors they’re based on, and the best ways to use them.
Always good to visit the progenitors.
Here are three hypothetical audio issues. Because they only present themselves some of the time, regular compression or EQ often don’t fix them satisfactorily. Do you use a multi-band compressor or a dynamic EQ to fix them?
I have dynamic EQs and multi-band compressors. I should know the difference and when to use them.
Set internal (or external) triggers on drums
Mixing drums is one of the bigger challenges in a song because we expect them to be many things at once: loud, groovy, punchy, cohesive, clear, etc. Compression and transient shaping are a big help here, but dynamic EQ proves useful when carving a unique space for each drum hit. For example:
If the overhead mics picked up too much snare bite and this conflicts with the close-miked snare sound, use the main snare to trigger a momentary cut in level in the overheads whenever it’s played.
Is your snare struggling to shine because of masking with the hi-hats? Place one node on the snare harmonics and another on the lower end of the hi-hats, then set the sidechain to duck the hi-hats when the snare is present.
Unpitched percussion with considerable low end can conflict with the lower frequencies of a kick drum. To keep that pulse but prevent sloppy collisions from occurring, get your dynamic EQ sidechain to high-pass the bassy parts of the perc only when the kick comes down.
I need to check to see if each node in the Neutron 2 EQ can have a separate side chain. The side chain choices are internal – all the bands – and external (the one set in Logic as side chain). It looks like I can only side chain one external track.
I can do something like side chain the overheads from Logic and set the nodes in N2 to side chain from the different bands…that will have to do.
Also see “7 Tips for Mixing Drums”
A dynamic EQ is a powerful tool that combines the precision of an equalizer with the musical ballistics of a compressor.
I have dynamic EQs – a couple of different ones. I find that I don’t add compression to tracks in a lot of situations.
Some instruments, when compressed, lack “sparkle” if the stronger, lower frequencies compress high frequencies as well as lower ones. This is a common problem with guitar, but there’s a solution: the Compressor’s internal sidechain can apply compression to only the guitar’s lower frequencies, while leaving the higher frequencies uncompressed so they “ring out” above the compressed sound. (Multiband compression works for this too, but sidechaining can be a faster and easier way to accomplish the same results.)
This handy hint should work similarly in Logic Pro X. I will have to try.
We’ve stressed the importance of mixing vocals time and time again! Because lyrics are what average listeners immediately identify with, making a singer sound great should almost always be a priority. Amongst other tools, the perfect vocal compressor for the job can really elevate the overall sound of your mix!
Video is “Mixing Vocals to Sit Properly in the Mix”.
With high and low level compression controlled by a streamlined interface, the MV2 is the simplest, most flexible way to control your sound. With intuitive dual faders for quick dynamic optimization, it’s never been easier to maximize your volume
Equal time for Waves MV2. The catalyst to my “upward compression” search.
Today I want to dig in to compression and expansion. I understand compression. I am starting to understand expansion. I really don’t understand the difference between “downward compression” (the typical) and “upward compression” (not so typical).
Waves has a plugin – MV2 – that combines an upward compressor and a downward compressor. Warren Huart (Produce Like A Pro Academy) thinks highly of it.
I am confident that the iZotope Neutron 2 processor can function similarly to the MV2. There are 2 compressors, both of which can do downward compression (positive ratios) and upward compression (negative ratios).
Set Compressor 1 to the negative ratio and “upward” threshold, set Compressor 2 to the positive ration and “downward” threshold. Use the output gain control to adjust.
Now we get to try it in practice.
“When many engineers say ‘compression’, what they mean is “downward compression.” In other words, bringing down the level of the signal above the threshold that you set on your compressor, to make louder things quieter. But all too often, we forget about upward compression, where quieter sounds are brought up to the threshold point; this technique can be quite handy in certain situations for a more transparent effect (it can also be approximated with parallel compression, if you don’t have an upward-compressor on hand).
Reference pointer for my Compression post coming up.