Parallel Compression In Ableton Live

If you find your drum tracks are not quite as punchy as you’d like, then perhaps it’s time for some extra compression – but without losing those precious dynamics…

Keeping The Beat Down

Parallel compression is also known as New York compression, and is a very popular technique for getting drums louder whilst retaining most of the energy of the original envelope.

Basically, what you do is mix two versions of the drum track together – one track being treated with quite severe compression, and the other being uncompressed. The compressed track brings up the ‘oomph’ whilst the original ensures that the dynamic interest of the beat is maintained.

Of course, this technique is not exclusively for drums – it can be very effective on vocals too, or any other instrument that needs to be tightly controlled.

Ableton’s Audio Effect Rack

Live Effect Rack Browser

You can perform parallel compression in any DAW, but Ableton Live’s audio effect rack makes it extremely simple to employ (presuming you have a copy of Live, that is).

Find the effect rack in Live’s device browser on the left, and drag an instance of it onto your drum track.

Next, you need to select a compressor device from the browser – once you have one that suits your purposes, drag it into the effect rack.

Now, you can drag another compressor into the same effect rack – this will create a new effect chain below the first. In my example here, I have the first compressor set with a compression ratio of 8, an attack of 17.9ms and a release of 45.3ms.

Live Parallel Compression

The second compressor is actually applying no compression at all, so the overall output of the effect rack is a mix of the compressed signal and the dry (dynamic) signal.

Live Compression Levels

As usual with compressors, you must adjust your settings to suit the feel of your track. You should also bring down the levels of the two chains within the effect rack – to avoid clipping the channel.

Set the relative levels of the two chains so that you have a good mix of compressed and uncompressed signals – and that’s a quick start for parallel compression…


Home | Canabrism | Guides | All Music Technology Posts | XML Sitemap