Now we’d like to introduce you to a special kind of parallel compression that is popular with some of the top mixing engineers in the business and is particularly good for creating interesting vocal tracks. This type of parallel compression involves routing the signal through 5 compressors (or more in some cases) and mixing the output signals to create the final sound.
In contrast to simple compression of the vocal track using an insert, this method provides you with many more options for mixing the various compression characteristics to create just the right sound for your vocals and really bring your mix to life. Another advantage is that you can reduce the dynamic range without cutting off too many of the transients.
Step 1: First we want to create five AUX tracks under the vocal track. We’ll use these later for the compression. To do this, select “Track Menu > Insert new tracks > Add several tracks” and enter 5 in the input field.
Step 2: Open the track settings for Track 2 by right-clicking in the name field and check the box for “Track Type: AUX Bus“.
Step 3: Now move to the next track by clicking on the arrow beside the “Track name” field and check the box for “Track Type: AUX Bus” just as you did before.
Once you have done this for all of the new tracks, close the “Track Settings” dialog and switch to the Mixer View (keyboard shortcut “M”)
Step 4: Open the AUX area of the vocal channel by right-clicking on the gray box beside “AUX”.
Step 5: Now we can set the amplification for our 5 AUX busses to 0.0 (Unity Gain) and check the box marked “visible”.
All of these 5 AUX channels will now receive the signal from the vocal channel.
The fader will be used later to control all of the AUX send levels which in turn controls the total compression.
Step 7: To finish the signal routing for the mixer setup, we’ll set up a group that will receive the outputs of the AUX tracks. To do this we’ll right-click on the channel number of the last AUX channel and select “Insert Tracks > New Submix Bus” from the context menu.
We’ll call this group the „VoxMaster“ and enter that in the name field by first double-clicking on it. Now we’ll route the output signals from our AUX channels to this group.
Step 8: Now it’s time to connect the various compressors to the the sends. Samplitude offers a diverse assortment of compressors that each have their own special audio characteristics but you can also use VST plug-ins from third parties if you like. Just make sure that each of the compressors enhances a different aspect of the sound spectrum. We’ll use the following compressors for this workshop:
AUX 1 > Advanced Dynamics
AUX 2 > Multiband Dynamics
AUX 3 > eFX_Compressor
AUX 4 > AM-Track
AUX 5 > AM-Munition
We’ll connect these compressors to the plug-in section of the mixer and rename our AUX channels accordingly.
If you want to experiment a bit you can try adding a distortion effect like “Distortion” or “Vandal” to add some clipping to the signal.
Step 9: Now we can set the plug-ins to apply the specific sound characteristics of each one. Don’t be afraid to use some heavy settings to make sure that the individual characteristics push through in the mix. Pay close attention to whether the gain reduction is making the vocal performance livelier or holding it back and what kinds of sound effects or distortion occur.
Even if a particular compressor setting seems to be disruptive, you might find that it adds a unique aspect to the mix when combined with the effects from the other compressors.
Step 10: Experiment with the various compressor settings and the volume ratios between the compressor channels and the vocal channel which influences all of the post fader sends to the compres- sors and in turn controls the total compression. You can also include more signal processing in the “VoxMaster” group by adding insert and send effects.
One more tip: If you want to include the uncompressed vocal in the mix to keep the sound more natural, you can create another AUX channel without a compressor in the plug-in section. You can then
mix this channel together with the compressor channels.
Have fun with advanced parallel compression!
Your Samplitude Team