KICK DRUM Compression with Fabfilter Pro-C 2
Next, we’ll take a look at some individual drum hit compression techniques on kick drums.
Snap compression can be used to reduce the boom and sub of a kick and increase the perceived transient. Here’s the drum loop we’re starting with. The kick is quite boomy, which would be fine if it was the only low end element in our track, but in order to fit a bass or sub bass in between the kicks we’ll need to clean up the kick a bit.
To begin, load up an instance of Fabfilter Pro-C 2, if you don’t have Pro-C, your host DAW’s native compressor should be able to achieve similar effects. The idea of this type of compression is to leave the attack portion of the sound unprocessed and flatten the sustain, so we start by backing the attack control off all the way, and increasing the release to the fastest time possible.
Currently there is only around 1 dB of compression being applied. Pro-C 2 has various different compression styles available depending on the type of effect you’re going for. We’ll click the Style menu and select Pumping from the list. This instantly creates a much more aggressive type of compression, almost reducing the tail of the kick completely.
Next, we back off the threshold to around -16 dB to soften this effect slightly (the exact threshold will depend on the level of the sound you’re feeding in to your own compressor – go by sound rather than numbers here). Now you can hear a much more punchy kick, with space in between the drums for a bass sound.
We could also reverse this technique to increase sustain in a drum sound, by using a faster attack and slower release. Here’s how that could sound:
Using compression, we can also increase the sustain portion of this kick drum. We’ll load up a compressor on another version of the same kick channel, but this time we’ll use a fast attack, fast release, a ratio of 7:1, and bring the threshold to -12 dB, so that we have around 7-8 dB of compression being applied. These settings are squashing the transient of the kick a bit, but also bringing up the body and sustain.
To match the original signal level, we’ll boost the output level of Pro-C by 3.84 dB. Here are pre and post compression examples of this kick drum: