Parallel compression Part 1

Parallel compression Part 1


Whether you are a beginner or a more experienced user of sequencers and mixing projects, you will have come across this term a couple or more times along the way.

We are not going to go through all the lengths of what is parallel compression, but look at it from a guitar playing point of view. Because most of the articles you will read about focus on how it can improve your mixes, give you tips with different techniques of parallel compression like the famous New York compression, people do not think it can actually work when you play your guitar on your own and practice at home.

When playing at home on your own, it is all about enjoying a full sound, a larger than life sound. If you use your live rig, send the signal to your DAW and play on the monitors or headphones (why would you do that??? well because it is late at night and you don’t want to wake everyone up, or because you live in an apartment and your neighbours are very touchy about noise levels), you will experience an edgy guitar sound, which is made to stand out against the bass and the kick drum (see related article about why you live sound is different from your bedroom sound).

And a simple trick to have a fuller sound without touching your presets can be achieved through the parallel compression of your track.
You will gain all the oomph and clarity you need thanks to the compression and the eq you will apply on the comped track. You will be able to keep your attack thanks to the original sound, while feeling less the need to press hard on the strings, gaining a slight sustain that helps loosen your playing.

But can’t this be achieved by just comping the track? To put it simply no. Because the guitar is as much a very percussive instrument when playing clean sound as it is compressed when playing with high gains. The dynamic range is quite extended and a direct compression will lead to a dull sound in one of the situation. Also you can EQ a separate comped track and adjust this supporting track to your taste.

For those who wonder how to do it, it will be our subject next week using the WoS and Reaper to show you how to do it easily.

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