How to use New York compression on drums

Give your beats some extra punch

The New York compression technique is particularly effective on beats, as it allows the initial transients and power of dry drum sounds to be enhanced with a squashed but dynamically more consistent second audio signal that can be blended in under the original parts.

In the tutorial below we've started with a typical combination of elements, which combine to form a loop. They work well together but lack power. So, they're then routed to an auxiliary ready for a parallel compression treatment.

Don't send so much signal from each track that the auxiliary channel is overloading - introducing distortion by accident won't help your tracks. Then, add the stereo compressor of your choice. A high ratio, coupled to a low threshold (to ensure the whole buss is compressing hard) is a good start, but play with attack and release times too.

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Step 1: We start with a basic set of programmed beats for kick, claps, snares, hats and a couple of percussive elements, too. The balance is good, but there's no real power in this combination of sounds yet. We could keep adding new sounds but this might confuse the mix.

Step 2: Instead, we set up an auxiliary send from all programmed tracks so they're grouped. We ensure the send level doesn't overload the auxiliary and then we add SoftTube's CL1B compressor. We set a Ratio of 8:1 with a low threshold and fast attack and release times.

Step 3: As you can hear in the previous clip, the auxiliary channel sounds pretty smashed by itself, but when we reintroduce it under the original beats, it provides lots more energy. In this clip, you can hear 'before and after' treatments using this technique.


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