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Parallel Compression Guide: How to, Tips, Tricks

Parallel compression, also known as New York compression, is a mixing technique that involves blending a heavily compressed version of a track with its dry, original recording. This technique has become a staple in the music industry and is widely used by top mix engineers to achieve a bigger, more dynamic sound.

In this article, we will explore the basics of parallel compression and how you can use it to improve your mixes. We will also discuss some tips and tricks to help you get the most out of this powerful mixing technique.

What is Parallel Compression?
Parallel compression is a mixing technique that involves blending a heavily compressed version of a track with its dry, original recording. The compressed version of the track is created by sending the original signal through a compressor with a fast attack time and a high ratio. This results in a heavily compressed signal that is then blended with the dry signal to create a final mix.

The key to parallel compression is finding the right balance between the compressed and dry signals. Too much compression can result in a squashed, lifeless sound, while too little compression can leave the mix sounding flat and unbalanced. The goal is to find the sweet spot where the compressed signal adds body and punch to the mix without sounding overbearing.

How to Set Up Parallel Compression
Setting up parallel compression is relatively simple and can be done using a mixing console or a digital audio workstation (DAW).

The first step is to create a new track in your DAW. This will be the track that will receive the heavily compressed signal. Next, you need to route the original signal to this track. You can do this by sending the signal from the original track to an auxiliary channel, which is then sent to the new track.

Once you have set up the routing, you can add a compressor to the new track. The settings you use for the compressor will depend on the type of sound you are trying to achieve, but a fast attack time and a high ratio are typically used for parallel compression.

Finally, you need to blend the compressed signal with the dry signal. This is done by adjusting the levels of the two tracks until you find the balance that works best for your mix.

Tips and Tricks for Using Parallel Compression
Experiment with different attack times and ratios: Different attack times and ratios will result in different sounds, so it’s important to experiment with different settings to find the right balance for your mix.

Use parallel compression on individual tracks: Parallel compression can be used on individual tracks to add punch and body to specific instruments. This can be especially useful for drums, bass, and lead vocals.

Use parallel compression on subgroups: Parallel compression can also be used on subgroups, such as all the drums or all the background vocals. This can help to create a cohesive sound for the subgroup and add overall punch to the mix.

Be mindful of the volume levels: The volume levels of the compressed and dry signals can have a big impact on the final sound. Be mindful of the levels and make sure the compressed signal is not overpowering the dry signal.

Use parallel compression sparingly: While parallel compression can be a powerful tool, it’s important to use it sparingly. Too much compression can result in a sound that is too compressed and lifeless.

Conclusion
Parallel compression is a powerful mixing technique that can help you achieve a bigger, more dynamic sound. By blending a heavily compressed version of a track with its dry, original recording, you can add punch, body, and sustain to your mix. However, it’s important to use it in moderation and to experiment with different settings to find the right balance for your mix.

When used correctly, parallel compression can enhance the overall sound of your mix and take it to the next level. So, take some time to play around with this technique and see what it can do for your music. Who knows, it may just become your go-to mixing technique.

In conclusion, parallel compression is a versatile and effective mixing tool that can help you create a more dynamic and impactful mix. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced mix engineer, it’s worth exploring and incorporating into your mixing process. So, go ahead and give it a try, and see what it can do for your music.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is parallel compression?
Parallel compression is a mixing technique that involves blending a heavily compressed version of a track with its dry, original recording. The goal is to find the right balance between the compressed and dry signals to add body, punch, and sustain to the mix.

How do I set up parallel compression?
Setting up parallel compression involves creating a new track in your DAW, routing the original signal to this track, adding a compressor to the new track, and blending the compressed signal with the dry signal.

Can parallel compression be used on individual tracks?
Yes, parallel compression can be used on individual tracks to add punch and body to specific instruments such as drums, bass, and lead vocals.

Can parallel compression be used on subgroups?
Yes, parallel compression can also be used on subgroups such as all the drums or all the background vocals to create a cohesive sound and add overall punch to the mix.

How do I find the right balance between the compressed and dry signals?
Finding the right balance between the compressed and dry signals will depend on the type of sound you are trying to achieve and the specific settings you use for the compressor. It’s important to experiment with different settings to find the balance that works best for your mix.

Is it possible to use too much parallel compression?
Yes, too much parallel compression can result in a sound that is too compressed and lifeless, so it’s important to use it in moderation.

What are some tips for using parallel compression effectively?