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Compressor for live drum application.....

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  • Compressor for live drum application.....

    Hey everyone, I was told by a friend that our system could use a good compressor for the drums...mainly the kick. So that leads me to a few questions....what are some good easy to use ones, and also is a compressor a good tool for toms also. I know there are 1,2,and 4 channel compressors but but dont know enough about them to rate them......any help appreciated.
    Jack of all trades....Master of none...

  • #2
    TC Electronics had a model called the C300 (I think) that was very beginner friendly. On it's face you could select what instrument you were comping and the unit would set many of the parameters automatically, if I recall, you still have control of the ratio. Supposedly they worked pretty well for general duties.

    A&H GL2800 console, BagEnd Crystals over D-18's, 12"and 15" BagEnd and EAW wedges powered and processed by QSC, Klark, BSS, Symetrix, Valley, Sabine, Peavey and BagEnd INFRA.


    • #3
      That one is interesting......but discontinued. There is a few used ones on evil bay but not sure I want used. Im gonna look and see what they replaced it with.
      Jack of all trades....Master of none...


      • #4
        I rarely use a compressor on drums. Rarely on kick, more often on snare. Usually pretty light on the kick and pretty heavy on the snare, but basically never on toms.

        If you're looking to tighten up the sound of your drums, you'd probably get more benefit from gates. I don't use my analog processing much anymore, but I remember my DBX 1066 being a nice general-purpose comp/gate for instruments, and my Rane G4 gate is great on drums. Pretty much any comp/gate will work if you set it right though. Buy used. The analog market is diminishing every day, and you can get some great stuff at amazing prices compared to a few short years ago.

        As far as easy to use, there's definitely going to be a learning curve. If you've never used a compressor or gate before you might be able to figure it out from the manual, but you'll probably get better help if you ask here or watch videos online.


        • #5
          If you have a big enough system to handle it, and you know what you are doing, they are good tools. In marginal systems, they are trouble. The net effect its that the average level goes up, so you are stressing the speakers more, not less. In those situations, any sonic benefit is marginalized by the higher risk that you won't have as many speakers at the end of the show as you started with. The catch 22 is that if you have enough system to handle compression on the kick safely, many times you just won't need it. Too many times, people buy the compressor thinking they limit the peaks and help the system that is tickling red all night. The result is that the peaks go down and overall goes up to compensate for the reduced volume. No cooling time for sub coils means coils die.

          You may well have adequate system and know how. I don't know the answer to those questions, but I would step back and ask myself why I need the compressor first. If it helps the mix, then maybe you need one. If it helps save the PA, maybe you really don't need the compressor at all. I always went to gates first for all drums, and can't remember the last time I used compression on them.


          • #6
            what mixer board do you have?
            what PA?
            how big of gigs do you play?
            can you submix the whole drumkit to a set of axes?

            I typically am using 4-8 comps on a mix, always kick, snare on larger gigs, toms sometimes but more gating for toms.

            The DBX stuff, even the lower cost units, always work well. For a buss comp the inexpensive FMR audio RNC is great


            • #7
              For me it depends mostly on the consistency of the drummer and type of music bring played. I've been real happy with the compressor on the DL 1608. A short clip of a recent show with an amazing drummer. http://youtu.be/zf7rp4LxrJc


              • #8
                Ok ... a little more info for you guys. Music is everything, everything from thin lizzy to pink to johnny cash. Our system is normally sp2's over sp218's, we add a set of sp118s for outside gigs. Using an old faithful mixwiz. We are using no processing as of now, only effects thru the mixwiz for vocals. We mic everything. Gigs can be indoors for 50 people or outside for 500. We do more than just the average bar gig.
                Jack of all trades....Master of none...


                • #9
                  I would ask the friend who suggested a comp why he thinks it's needed. If you aren't familiar with how to use compression, you'll need to practice using it during rehearsals, etc. and then it won't be as necessary to seek a "beginner" model, which really doesn't exist. The more simple units eliminate controls (by setting certain parameters to "average", which we all know means "isn't right for anyone", so they're "simpler" but far less effective. Most important, however, is establishing a need. If you haven't noticed a problem, you probably don't have anything substantial enough to need a fix.
                  Last edited by Craig Vecchione; 08-05-2014, 08:18 AM.
                  "If you don't know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else" - Yogi Berra, 1925-2015


                  • #10
                    Peavey used to make a thing called the Gatekeeper that I've used on drums for years. It's one rack space with 5 channels and you can pick them used for under $150 pretty easily I think. Great inexpensive way to gate your drums and kind of get your feet wet into the world of doing such things without spending much money.

                    Often, gating and compressing is more trouble that it's worth. Especially if you're mixing sound from on stage and don't really know what you're doing. So you might want to enter into this world carefully.
                    Last edited by guido61; 08-05-2014, 11:05 AM.
                    band websites:


                    • #11
                      I think whether or not to use compression/limiting on the drums centers around how much headroom you have in your system. If you never see a clip light come on anywhere and you are not looking for some sonic modification then you don't have much reason to use it.

                      If you are seeing clip lights then the entire system IS being compressed every time it fires. Typically the culprit causing most of that to happen is either the kick or snare as they have huge dynamic range. And the peaks from those inputs cause the limiters in amps to fire off. Remember that your ear generally assigns a "loudness" value to the average energy and not the peak energy. So limiting on those individual channels means that when they do go into limiting they are not sucking your vocals down at the same time as they are the offending drum channel.

                      So limiting a 3-6dB will be barely noticeable but will give your system an equal boost in headroom or loudness depending exactly how you assign the comp/limiter. If the mics on those sources aren't picking up a lot of bleed from everything else I would expect little or no problems adding that small amount of limiting.

                      For a rock type show I almost always knock down 3-6 dB of the peaks on kick and snare. YMMV
                      Don Boomer