Why would you apply an effect to the full range using a compressor or an EQ when you can also fix and tweak a specific part, a tiny detail in a more subtle way? I mean: this is 2013, we’re using software on extreme powerful computers, we can do things with audio now we could never have done before don’t you think?
Flat is bad
Digital is neutral and flat. Digital perfectly captures all frequencies in an even way. There shouldn’t be any colorisations be added caused by the processing. Recording in Aif/Wav is like how photographers record in Raw format. Non compressed.
And because digital is flat we can further process the audio file with any colorisations we would want later on. By processing the audio (including synths and samplers of course which are also producing audio) we can colorise these signals in any way we want really. A device which is perfect for colouring the sound is the Pulveriser. I sometimes use it to add some distortion to the low end and leave the highs unaffected. You’ll get a nice contrasts in the sound that way. Or maybe I will compress the mids a bit. Maybe add a little dirt too. I love dirt and not only on my guitars as you might have noticed by now 🙂
Splitting the bands
Previously I’ve blogged about the Parallel Channels in Reason. In my opinion it sets Reason apart from other musical/recording software. The magic of Parallel Channel mixing happens when you start splitting the frequency bands and treat them differently.
Adding the Pulveriser as Parallel Channel
- choose a track you want to treat and create a Parallel Channel by right clicking on the name-tag at the bottom of the SSL mixer channel
- in the rack of the Parallel Channel push the Show Insert FX button and add a Pulversiser to it
So now you have 2 channels, one without any effect and one with the Pulveriser on it. This will make the sound a lot louder because now we have both channels playing the same track. Cool thing though: the Pulveriser doesn’t introduce any additional latency will is extremely cool. This means we can use it for Parallel Channel mixing without introducing phasing or other annoying side effects.
Pull the volume of the Parallel Channel now down a bit and keep on reading.
Pulveriser as splitter + EQ
The Pulveriser has some great filters which can be used as a super fast way to both spilt and EQ a specific range in sound. In most cases you won’t need more than 3 ranges: lows, mids and highs. That way you will need 3 additional Parallel Channels next to the original channel. Most of the time you won’t need that many additional channels. Sometimes using one Parallel Channel for some additional low end might work just fine.
Key for me when using Parallel Channels is the role of the original channel: I always leave that in the mix, it’s the foundation of the sound and the Parallel Channels will add something to that sound. That doesn’t mean that I might use the original channel lower in volume than the Parallel Channels, because I will do that if it sounds good. I let my ears be my guide.
When using Parallel Channels you start blending different tones of sound, different colours, together. That’s the whole idea behind it.
More balls: Filter on Low Pass 24
Reset the Pulveriser so all parameters will return to their default values. This puts the Filter on Low Pass 24. When you pull the Frequency back to halfway this will already be a great way to add some low end to a drumloop, bass or kickdrum.
Use the Tone parameter in combination with the Frequency to cut out the highs and the mids. Of course you can use Dirt and Squash, which I do all the time. Compression applied to a specific range on a Parallel Channel changes the sound in a big way. And that’s great.
The LP12 + Notch Filter is also a great one for adding more balls to the signal. It has a different range and sound than the Low Pass 24.
Fixing the midrange: Filter on Band Pass
Reset the Pulveriser so all parameters will return to their default values and put the filter on Band Pass. Now try anything and play with the volumes of both the Parallel Channel and the original channel.
Fixing the highs: Filter on High Pass
Reset the Pulveriser so all parameters will return to their default values and put the filter on High Pass. No rules, just try it and listen.
The Comb Filter by the way changes frequencies way too naughty to be useful in Parallel Mixing so I won’t advocate to use it. Using it and you will end up with something that sounds unnatural. As an effect this can be nice though but I would recommend running the original signal through it if you want that sort of effect. Forget about using it on Parallel Channels if you want something that sound more or less natural.
Parallel Channels are so affective it can change the sound of a voice recorded through a Sure SM58 microphone in such a subtle way nobody will notice a SM58 was used. And when it still sounds natural even when the EQ and dynamics have changed dramatically this proves to me how affective Parallel Mixing is.
So there you go: Parallel Channels with the Pulveriser is a match made in heaven. That’s why Propellerhead has putten a Blend parameter on the Pulveriser. So no questions about it, yeah it will blend!
P.S. Thanks a lot for all the kinds word I received when doing these series of articles. I will have a break for the weekend and come back with some new Pulveriser stories next week. Still 3 weeks to come. Examples, patches and hopefully a ReFill too. Have a good weekend!
Excellent stuff, once again! Leaves me eager to fire up Reason and experiment with what I’ve learned.
Hey Marco,, great stuff–
Question – what do you mean here: “Parallel Channels is so affective it can change the sound of a voice recorded through a Sure SM58 microphone in such a subtle way nobody will notice a SM58 was used. And when it still sounds natural even when the EQ and dynamics have changed dramatically this proves to me how affective Parallel Mixing is.”
Are you saying you used parallel processing to make a vocal recorded on a cheap mic sound better? What settings did you use?
Thanks. And yes, I’m using Parallel Channels on all sources (field recordings too) including cheap mics. With the SM58 I use the SSL compressor and the SSL EQ by rolling off the low end a bit (80 hz) and adding a little more of the upper mids (around 4.5 kHz) works great for me.
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Cool, will try it out…when I upgrade to 7!
Another great article. This really is smart for varying the amount of dirt for each band. Do you prefer this to using something like Yoko / Stereo imager? As far as CPU usage is concerned, would 3 extra parallel channels be any different than having a yoko and three pulverizers on a single parallel?
Thanks. I prefer this method over splitting the bands with the Stereo Imager. A spitter would be useful when splitting a signal into more than one signal to further process them. But the main thing a splitter doesn’t offer is keeping the original signal mixed with the spitted signal. Therefore I prefer Parallel Channels.
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