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.
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.