How is parallel compression useful for a mastering chain?

i've noticed a lot of people using this technique for a mastering chain, and am just wondering how it is useful, and what character it gives a mix. some general compressor setting may also be useful, thanks


lauriej1316 7 years ago | 0 comments

4 answers

  • Tarekith
    8 answers
    33 votes received
    14 votes

    In general parallel compression (also called NY compression) is useful because it allows you to use a blend of a really compressed signal with the original untouched signal.  This allows you to add more weight and beef to the sound, without totally killing all of the transients in the process.  It's not a magic solution though, as it's still possible to overdue it.  Because the low end of your signal is typically what is triggering the compression on the compressed signal, this method tends to build up the lows and the lower mids more than the highs.  So by using this, you might skew your mix too much to the low side of things when otherwise it was perfectly balanced.

    In general, I find parallel compression more useful on material that is still really dynamic, but just needs to be a little more solid sounding to compete with other music in the same style.  If you're producing dance music or something else that's generally going to end up pretty compressed or limited already, I find that parallel compression tends to muddy things up in that all important low end if you're not really careful and have accurate monitoring to hear what's going on down low.  Like any audio processing, there's a time and a place for this technique, it's not something you want to use all the time.

    As for specific settings, well again, because it's dynamic processing, the actual settings can vary a lot depending on how dynamic the signal is.  So it's hard to recommend starting points as it can vary wildly from song to song.  A good understanding of compression is probably the first thing you need to study before using a technique like this, so perhaps start here:

    Tarekith’s Guide to Dynamics Control

    7 years ago | 0 comments
  • nakatano
    6 answers
    10 votes received
    3 votes


    something like this: ?



    7 years ago | 0 comments
  • Electronathan
    1 answer
    3 votes received
    3 votes

    A possible scenario where parallel compression could be helpful is if your arrangement has a wide dynamic range (quiet verses, loud choruses) and you don't want to lose that impact when a section gets louder. However - and this is where lots of homework/practice on compression is necessary - Dual Stage compression can come in handy here. after your  parallel compression you follow up with another stage of (serial) compression but ideally it's only set to touch the louder sections (chorus). 

    the PC stage would fill out the verses but you'd still leave enough headroom on the output for when the chorus hits. The unprocessed signal at this point would overpower the compressed signal path, but lo! there's yet another compressor waiting to tame the louder section. 

    General usage of compression in mastering, when going for a transparent sound, is best done in small doses at different points in the signal chain. -1db or -2db here and there pre-eq, post-eq, etc. This also applies to your mix, so don't put loudness all on one tool.

    My personal take is that I use these techniques not for mastering, but on submixes; vox, drums, synths. I always attempt to mix with the goal of not having to master and then on the final output stages I'm using compression and very subtle EQing for "glue" and then things like limiting (I like the oxford Inflator + Limiter combo myself) are bringing in their own intrinsic character.

    I think it's best to just dive in and see what you like in the world of compression. Take a break from listening and check back later. If it still sounds awesome then you're probably on the right track. If when you return and it sounds off go through your signal chain and try to figure out where the problem is.

    7 years ago | 0 comments
  • TheAnt
    14 answers
    44 votes received
    1 vote

    I am with Electronathan, parallel compression is for the mix stage not the mastering in my view.


    I will put my compressor on a return with a low cut filter after it set to cut off below 20Hz. The Compressor I will set up with the threashold all the way down, the ratio almost all the way up, the attack at 2 - 3 ms and a fast release.


    Then I will send each drum hit or my bass (not my sub bass though) maybe my stabs. I will turn up the send until it is too high, then turn it down a bit. You can mute the return to check you are making things better.

    7 years ago | 0 comments

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