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Chapter 10: Beyond Compression

AUDIO FILES (To download all WAV examples at once: 15MB ZIP)

  • Dedicated Transient Processing: Here are a couple of contrasting real-world kick-drum processing examples which demonstrate the power of transient-driven dynamics processing. The first is a soft-sounding sample (Ex10.01:WAV/MP3 bp) which I heavily processed to increase attack and reduce sustain (Ex10.02:WAV/MP3 bp) for this Mix Rescue project. For this Mix Rescue, on the other hand, the original kick-drum sample (Ex10.03:WAV/MP3 bp) was softened and lengthened by reducing the attack and adding sustain (Ex10.04:WAV/MP3 bp). Notice here that some mild distortion has been introduced as well, by virtue of the transient processing attempting to track some of the low-frequency waveform movements, but in practice this caused me no concerns within the context of this mix. One final common application of transient processing is in taking the edge off pick noises on acoustic-guitar recordings. Here's an example to demonstrate how effective this fix it: this is the unprocessed recording (Ex10.05:WAV/MP3 bp), and here's the transient-reduced version (Ex10.06:WAV/MP3 bp).

  • Tempo-driven Balancing: Here's an example to show how tempo-synchronisation can serve useful mix-balancing purposes. Here is an electric guitar part with lots of recorded-in delay (Ex10.07:WAV/MP3 bp). By synchronising U-He's flexible Uhbik-TMac LogoWindows Logo tremolo plug-in to the project tempo, I can use it to reduce the note sustain between the sixteenth-note picking transients (Ex10.08:WAV/MP3 bp).


  • Update: In Figure 10.2 I describe Logic's bundled Envelope Shaper plug-in as a threshold-dependent transient processor. Many thanks to reader Lorenz Reichelt for alerting me that this plug-in can also function in a threshold-independent manner if you set its Threshold control to its lowest possible value.


  • Affordable Expander/Gate Plug-ins: Most DAW systems have some kind of expander or gate built in, but if not then Cockos's freeware ReaGateWindows Logo is worth consideration, as it's very well-specified. There are also several different expander algorithms lurking within the freeware Cockos ReaJSWindows Logo plug-in.

  • Affordable Threshold-independent Transient Processor Plug-ins: Threshold-independent transient processors are getting more popular, but I find that each one has a slightly different sound, so it's worth having access to a few. As far as freeware is concerned, check out Flux's BitterSweetMac LogoWindows Logo, Sleepy-Time DSP's freeware TransientWindows Logo, or the Transhape and Transient Controller algorithms in Cockos's freeware ReaJSWindows Logo. Other reasonably-priced options include SPL Transient DesignerMac LogoWindows Logo, Stillwell Audio Transient MonsterMac LogoWindows Logo, Voxengo TransgainerMac LogoWindows Logo, and Waves TransXMac LogoWindows Logo.

  • Affordable Tempo-driven Dynamics Plug-ins: I love the affordable Cableguys VolumeShaper 4Mac LogoWindows Logo and U-he Uhbik-TMac LogoWindows Logo for tempo-driven dynamics effects, but there's also lots of freeware available, such as Melda MTremoloMac LogoWindows Logo, AraldFX StormGate1Mac LogoWindows Logo (32-bit)32-bit, and Tweakbench CairoWindows Logo (32-bit)32-bit.


  • More Information On Gating: You can read in detail about the theory and practice of gating here and here. The second article also talks about how to use gates to produce tempo-triggered dynamic effects.

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