Mixing Secrets For The Small Studio - Additional Resources

Chapter 10: Beyond Compression

Workflow Demonstration Video

If you have trouble downloading or playing this video, here's a mirror file on an alternate server.

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/MP3play_arrow which I heavily processed to increase attack and reduce sustain Ex10.02: WAV/MP3play_arrow for Mix Rescue May 2009. For Mix Rescue April 2009, on the other hand, the original kick-drum sample Ex10.03: WAV/MP3play_arrow was softened and lengthened by reducing the attack and adding sustain Ex10.04: WAV/MP3play_arrow. 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 specific 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 is: this is the unprocessed recording Ex10.05: WAV/MP3play_arrow, and here’s the transient-reduced version Ex10.06: WAV/MP3play_arrow.

  • Tempo-driven Balancing: Here’s an example from Mix Rescue July 2010 to show how tempo-synchronisation can serve useful mix-balancing purposes: this electric guitar part has lots of recorded-in delay Ex10.07: WAV/MP3play_arrow, but 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/MP3play_arrow.


  • Update: In the first edition of the book, Figure 10.2 describes 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 try some of these: Bob Perry’s freeware GateMac logoWindows logo; Cockos’s freeware ReaGateWindows logo and the several different expander modules lurking within their freeware ReaJSWindows logo plug-in; Dead Duck’s freeware ExpanderWindows logo; and Xhip’s freeware GateMac logoWindows logo.

  • 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 options. As far as freeware is concerned, check out Auburn Sounds CoutureMac logoWindows logo, Black Rooster Audio The CanaryMac logoWindows logo, Flux BitterSweetMac logoWindows logo, Sleepy Time DSP TransientWindows logo, and Sonic Anomaly TranspireMac logoWindows 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 VolumeShaperMac logoWindows logo and U-he Uhbik-TMac logoWindows logo for tempo-driven dynamics effects, but there’s also lots of decent freeware available, such as A1Audio A1TriggerGateMac logoWindows logo, AraldFX StormGate1Windows logo 32‑bit , Armando Montanez SimpleSideMac logoWindows logo, GVST GLFOMac logoWindows logo, Melda MTremoloMac logoWindows logo, and TAL Filter 2Mac logoWindows logo.

  • Affordable MIDI-driven Dynamics Plug-ins: There are plenty of these around, but my top tip would be Press Play’s freeware EnveLoverMac logoWindows logo, which is easy to use and super well-specified.

Further Reading