Bus Compression with U-he Presswerk

Bus compression is a great way to tie drum elements together. Modelled versions of vintage compressors compressors are usually a good choice, as they are not only intended to control dynamics but also to add that much needed ‘glue’ or ‘vibe’ to a group of sounds, helping them to sound more coherent.

Step 1

Begin by inserting an instance of U-He Presswerk onto your drum bus. If you don’t have Presswerk, pick a compressor that is modelled on or influenced by one of the classic hardware units – for example Logic’s Compressor in Vintage VCA or FET mode or Cytomic’s The Glue, which comes bundled with Ableton.

Our drum bus has an 808-style kick with a couple of top and hi-hat loops. The mix sounds OK, but could do with some bus compression to help gel these sounds together.

Step 2

Presswerk is an outstanding compressor, capable of pretty much every style of compression, however the GUI may not be so intuitive to some, especially if you are new to compression. Let’s make things easier by loading one of the presets and then tweaking to our needs. Hit the preset button on the top section of Presswerk, then select GL Gentle Loving from the 2-Track_Mixdown section.

Step 2

Step 3

This has changed our loop quite a bit, and has really changed the shape of the transients. The Attack is quite fast on this preset, so back this off to about 14.0ms to let more of the transients of the drums through. We’ll also bring the release right down to 15.0ms so the compressor doesn’t cling onto the sustain of the drums.

Presswerk features a mix control, allowing us to very quickly dial in some parallel compression, blending the compressed signal with the uncompressed original. We’ll take the Dry/Wet dial down to 23:77. We’ll also take the output down to 3.34 dB, balancing the level of the processed signal with the original, so we can really hear what the compression’s bringing to the sound. The loop is definitely sounding tighter now – more punchy and upfront.

Step 3

Step 4

Now let’s take a look at the Saturation section towards the bottom of Presswerk. We can use this to really add some colour to these drums.

Take the Dry/Wet control back up to 0:100 for now, and push up the Amount control until you begin to hear some audible saturation occurring. It’ll probably be most notable on the kick drum.

We’ve pushed the Amount right up to 30 dB, which really smashes things. If you now begin to turn up the Dynamics control, you’ll noticed the saturation soften. This is due to the way the Dynamics control applies saturation only when compression is occurring. We’ve set this to 35%, producing a pleasingly driven but not destroyed result.

The Warmth controls shifts the energy towards the treble end of the spectrum, saturating the high frequencies more. Turning this up reduces the saturation on the kick drum and softens the top end, great for that vintage vibe. We’ve set this to 5.51 dB.

We now dial the Dry/Wet back to 23:77 and again adjust the Output control to match the levels.

Step 4

20th December, 2015


  • Christmas just arrives for me ! Thanks a lot for all this tutorials !

  • 10 essential drum techniques??? 10 tutorials on how to do this or that using very particular DAWS and Plugins. Total waste of time.

  • I do like Attack and despite me mainly being into underground hip hop I play disco and some nu disco (which is house haha) and still love techno as in the minimalist Detroit sound, not bloody tech house. I DJ and come from a great position clubwise. Growing up in South London in the 80’s there was the soul scene then the warehouse, hip-hop, funk, Boogie, disco anthems, Kiss FM when it was a pirate was our Bible and on a Tuesday night there were prob 5 good clubs to go to, on a Saturday, 25 maybe. who knows. Then I lived and loved through 88- to about 93 when the original Balearic, anything went, all about the tunes was starting to go slowly and it was about the DJs and had split into 1000 genres. Boys Own, Slam, and others still kept a more undergrounf scene going away from momeymakers like MOS. (only time I went there I lost my mates within about 20 mins and looked in vain for a few hours. That wasn’t what it was about. I was in Brighton then anyway and we had the wonderful Zap. Now what we got? A weekly decent hip hop night on a Tuesday, once a month clubs like Russ Dewbury’s terrific Soulful Strut where I do the odd slot.. All the sefront clubs which were once cool are now for the geezer and hen night crowd.Then there’s patterns. If there is a decent DJ it;s worth it. If not it;s the usual kid playing his perfect and completely broring seamless tech house set. The crowd don’t actuyally seem like they are having a particularly great time and most people in their 20’s just go to the pub and I’m not surprised. Your ‘What makes a great DJ’ was terrific as it so backed up what had happened. Itl;s turned on it’s head so instead of buying tunes as u knew they would be bangers I can tell that tracks are downloaded ‘cos they fit in with other tracks, I call it anti-DJing and it’s nice to see Attack interview some of the greats like Derrick May etc. You would think that the kids who think they are DJs now (despite there not being many places to DJ) would respect people like that. Indie kids in bands worship those who went before but no…they think they know best, they DJs who shock horror mixed with vinyl and would drop lots of banging tunes on the One as we punters couldn’t have cared less about the mixing really. It was all about the tunes, Depressing really. Good that the drum and bass scene and a few others have kept going by not becoming commercial. Sad thing is in Brighton there are loads of us that want to put proper small nights on with little risk like u used to be able to but there’s no where to hire out now.

    Anyway I think all that was saying that you seem to be taking a more mature approach instead of articles like one I saw online which was “Is it possible to mix without using your EQ?” I just stared at it tbh in horror. The only time I tounch my EQ is when I turn the bass down for scratching. Oh couple of requests. How about a few more Beat Dissected on hip hop. The Underground has all kinds of leftfield beats and talented producers, and more minimalist techno. We of a certain age could make a house beat in our sleep. And can you please not make your tutorials so expensive plugin specific? We donl;t all use or can afford Ableton, Pro Tools, etc. I use Reaper, MPC Element and the best free plugins and synths that I have found. I’m sure Variety of Sound and Tokyo Dawn plugins could give a lot of commerial ones a run for their money. And making hip hop TyrellN6, Firebird and SQ8L certainly do the job. The only plugins I’be bought are the DopeVST Hip Hop romplers. And how about some tips on leftfield hip hop? Do people really still actually make ‘House Leads?’ I have about 50 in various presets that sound alright. Andy

  • Thanks for all these tips, great article!

  • This seems to be an advert for various (expensive) plugins rather than a tutorial on essential drum techniques. This should have been done using a DAW’s native plugins.


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