Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Using Parallel Compression For Mastering

A parallel compressor brings out the quiet parts in the mix just like regular compressor. But what is the difference between parallel and normal compression? A parallel compressor can work without limiting the peaks or transients artificially. You adjust the ratio of quiet sounds to loud ones and retain all dynamics. How it works is by mixing Dry & Wet signals to taste.


First of all what is compression?

Compression can make all sounds in the mix the same volume. It does this by reducing the signal when it goes past certain threshold (the threshold control).

- A low threshold compresses everything.

- The highest threshold compresses nothing.

The ratio you set the plugin also determines if the signal is compresses or not. It controls the amount of gain reduction directly.

- A low ratio, or 1:1 compresses nothing.

- The higher you set the ratio, 2:1, 4:1, or infinity, the more gain reduction you get.

- The attack and decay controls only adjust timing of when compression happens. Not the loudness of the signal. Long attacks delay the compression from happening. Short decays turn it off quick when the signal leaves the threshold area. Long decays keep the compression on for longer.


- We may not realize that compression doesn't make the signal loud. Its job is to reduce it.

- Gain / Output controls may give us the false sense that compression itself is making things things loud after the fact. After the gain reduction, we usually boost the signal back to normal levels.

- With Parallel compression, one of the signals can be totally compressed. Notice how my threshold settings above have are set to compress the entire signal.

- You can use Parallel compression as the final effect in the chain. I have it post eq, exciter, and multi-band-limiter.

Paralell Compression:

If you mix a totally compressed signal back in with the original, you get a louder, airy sound that is not crunchy from normal compression or  hard limiting. We are controlling the ratio of loud sounds to quiet ones. Gone are the typical artifacts or distortion from typical compression plugins. Both signals must be synced properly however, so the wave forms lay over eachother perfectly. Its probably best to use a single plugin than doing it yourself. A plugin with Wet / Dry controls will achieve the desired effect. Try it on your master bus.

Another Tip: You should manually ride the faders afterward.

If you've reached the end you'll have a perfectly cooked burrito, ready for an on-the-go lifestyle.

Monday, May 27, 2013

F-MDRIVE 2612 VSTi: Out Now!



With F-MDrive can design a vast range of sounds on top of 33000music instruments presets already available from Games VGMs. Out now! Windows 32-bit only (darn).

It looks like 8Bite PSG, a Master System sound engine is also coming soon

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Tips for Mixing at Low Volumes

1. Turn of RMC or ARC (if your system uses it)

At very low volumes you aren't exciting the room modes much. Leaving it on will lose bass and detail. If you are mixing at a medium level, maybe turn it on.

2. Boost LF (Bass) and HF (Treble) if your speakers or controller have it.

At low volume we can't hear bass or treble as well as midranges. Turn it up! This may seem wrong when using a high end monitor thats supposed to cover your butt, but it works. Hopefully there is just a switch. Going behind the monitor is a waste of time.

3. Use Solo. (mono)

Monitor in mono and hear the mix.

4. Listen to every instrument for clarity.

What is intelligible and what is not becomes apparent at lower volumes. At higher volume it can be too easy to hear everything. Not everyone listens to music loud.

5. Try different size speakers.

8" speakers or midfields radiate big at any volume. A different size could allow the low end to be more apparent at lower volumes. Make sure they are at ear level. A different brand may translate better at low volume than others as well.

Protect your ears!

Multiband Limiting To A Loudness Curve & NS10s


This is a mini tutorial that will attempt to explain the fletcher-munson loudness curve to get a better sounding mix.

Things you should know before we start:

1. Human hearing is not flat. Our monitoring system may be flat, but our ears aren't. The human ear canal resonates around 3k. We perceive sound between 1k and 5k as louder than it really is. Sound in this range can become painful when we turn our speakers up. This is the same range that guitars are played in.

Already knowing this will help us get better mix translation. We know not to boost sound in this area too much.

2. Humans have trouble hearing at extreme ends of the spectrum (at low volume) We can't hear treble past 10k as well as we think. We can't hear bass as well as we think either. We like to boost our stereo. BUT....

3. How we perceive sound changes at different volumes.

The large upward bass curve represents what we can't hear well. The lowest sections on the curve is what "sticks out" to us. The louder music gets (higher up on the graph), the better we can hear bass. The curve gets flatter.

If your music is meant to be played on a club system or stadium, it doesn't need as much bass boost as you'd think. Notice the top curves are flatter. That means we have no trouble hearing it. Mixing on a flatter curve could encourage the listener to crank up your music, if you desire that. Also remember that people have EQ'd their sound systems themselves. This adds a monkey wrench to the situation. Since we can't know or rely on these different systems its up to the mix engineer to use the loudness curve (and consider dynamic range).

Now on to the multiband limiter.

Limiters allow you to change audio gain for custom bands. (Top graphic). Before limiting, You may want to decrease 2k to 6k bands by as much as 10db. This can be done with the gain knob. You can also increase the bass & treble range. Since I want to play my music loud, I might only boost bass by 3.5db. However if my bass kick is already loud I will leave it alone. At this point I'm not trying to get a competitively loud mix. Adjusting the mixer is probably better than using the multiband limiter, but we may not have access to that when we master! When I'm done making the mix sound right by approximating my loudness curve, I can try limiting with the main slider (makes the entire signal louder).

Now you should have a better mix!

Why do I use a multi-band limiter instead of EQ? The ones I use don't color my mix like many EQs. They have easy band controls. I can solo each EQ zone I set up. That helps me hear whats going on seperately. Later on, the compression & limiting function can help me shape the bass and the entire mix. I'm killing three birds with one stone. One plugin to mix to the loudness curve. One plugin to compress my bass peaks. One plugin to brickwall limit my volume.

The Yamaha NS10

The reason that Yamaha NS-10 speaker  translates so well is because they have just the right frequency bump in the 1k to 5k range where we can hear just fine alerady. Its a forwardness you don't want to hear at high volume because it causes pain. As a flat playback system the NS-10 is a failure, but when mixing, the exaggerated nature of this range makes a good tool.

Don't have NS10s? Just do the opposite of this tutorial. Bump the 1k to 5k frequency range by 8-10db instead of decreasing it. Ajdust your mix. Just remember to bypass it when you are done mixing!

So why did I bother getting a flat monitoring system? 

1. Good for playback at higher volume. Great for movies & video games.

2. Mixing & mastering at medium to high volumes.

3. The flat response serves purely as mental reference. No second guessing as to what it might be.

So with this knowledge we know that mixing at low volumes could lead to error. However if we add some EQ or loudness on our playback system, we can compensate a little. Even knowing this, the end results should always be checked on a flat system at a higher volume. The multi band limiter's single band gain control might be the right tool to get you there.

Why does Tron 2's soundtrack sound like a loud piece of junk? Perhaps it was mastered at lower volume, on a small system. This caused over compensation. Or perhaps they know not everyone turns up the volume on their junky home DVD system.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Blogs: Audio Software Out In The Open


Most people would think torrenting is the best way to find software. Torrent sites have come and gone. Heavily policing and attention caused some of them to disappear. These are no longer the preferred method of distribution for some obvious reasons. Right now the best method is out in the open. Google searches, blogs and 3rd party download services are more annoying for copyright holders to haggle and more convenient for people doing the distribution. It is also more convenient for those downloading because it does not require extra software.

Chances are you can get an archive of the needed VST or AU plugin by a simple google search. Search the title, format, and platform  and you'll usually find a download page on a blog. Sites like and link to all kinds of copied audioware for both platforms. Their RSS feeds will alert you to new posts. Its out there and virtually unstoppable. Its funny that pirates have gone back to basic methods (http) to transfer their files when in the late 1990s, specialized server/client software dominated (Hotline).

Its possible that the DMCA inadvertently protected the third party download sites. As long as they allow a takedown notice they should not be subject to major interruption. Its probably hard to track down the original uploader if the site was in another country as well. Pirates are still annoying to some of the original programmers. The original publishers can submit takedown notices to google and possibly these blogs, but other search engines, like Bing still function for shady files.

Speed can be a problem. Most of these 3rd party sites are a little bit crippled. None allow for straight downloads, instead making you wait on a timer and enter a captcha. Some sites have premium account tiers for larger sizes. If you are a patient person there will probably be success.The files are usually on multiple sites. The search engine is like the google of RAR and Zip files on sites like If you do require speed and large size, torrent sites are still the best speed.

In conclusion it seems like the people doing uploads to torrent sites are n00bs that copied the software from another distributor or companies actively trying to harm downloads. The future of downloads is HTTP and multi-layers of obfuscation.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Free U-he Diva Presets For Download


48 Flabby analogue tones.

Motorcycle Engines w/ Nitrous

Japanese Koto

Jupiter 8

Mini Moog Leads

Analog Basses

Plucks & Arp sounds

Italo Disco.



Roland Inspired Inits.

Hardcore Distortions & new effects setups.

Ready to play.

All quality sounds will take you into new sonic territory!

This demo uses 8 instaces of Diva. No channel effects were used! Drums courtesy of Apple Loops.

Link: Download Diva Presets (99k)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Roland (Cakewalk) A-300 Pro Mini-Review

This is the best off-the shelf midi keyboard controller under $500 in my opinion. The A-300 Pro is a solid, no-headache deal. Its not plug & play (requires a software driver), but its impressive. The key action is a steep improvement from the terrible M-audio Axiom Pro, and possibly Novation Remote (which was heavier and louder ). Ergonomically everything is laid out very well and will cause no headaches or mis-triggers. Menus are not hard to navigate, thankfully . The drum pads are acceptable and trigger fast, as well as light up. While Roland could create a keyboard thats only slightly more professional, with JP-80 level keys, it would end up too heavy for your lap. I found the keys translated to other Roland key-beds. This series of controllers by Roland is probably your best bet today. You won't have any regrets with the A-300 if you like to play and need a semi-compact setup.

Rating: A-