The Drummer’s Guide to the TD-50 – EQ and Compression

Equalization is used to improve the clarity and audibility of sounds and its been used in nearly every music mix since the earliest days of sound recording. Most musical instruments will benefit from some type of EQ adjustment, in order to get the sound just right. Drumkits, for example, have a wide dynamic range meaning that EQing can help balance the variety of sounds that the instrument is capable of producing. Electronic drumkits, like Roland’s V-Drums range, include surprisingly powerful EQ processing to help get the sound just right.

EQ comes in many configurations, with the most common being:
* High and low-cut filters for reducing hiss and rumble.
* Shelving for boosting or cutting all frequencies above or below certain values.
* Peaking or Parametric EQ that allows surgical adjustment of specific frequencies, via their unique ‘Q’ or bandwidth control.

The TD-50 module features a three-band EQ per pad, in addition to a four-band master EQ over the entire kit.
 

Button Presses & Values:
[MIXER] | [PAGE DOWN x 1] (PAD EQ) | [R1] (LO GAIN) | [R2] (MID GAIN) | [R2] (HI GAIN) | [F4] (ON)

Compression is a method for controlling the dynamics of sound.
 

 
Compression is used to restrict dynamic range, to improve audibility and enhance the perceived average volume, power and impact of sounds.

Compressors began as tools for overcoming the limited dynamic range and noise floor of early tape recorders. Along with EQs, compressors have become one of the most widely exploited sound shaping tools available to musicians and engineers.

Different types of compressors are used on drums extensively throughout the recording process and the creative use of compression on drums has become an art form all of its own.

The TD-50 features single-band compressors for every pad sound, as well as a multi-band master compressor which can be applied over the entire kit.
 
 
The main adjustments for compressors are:
 
Threshold

Determines the volume level at which the compressor starts to act on the incoming signal.

When the input volume is above the set Threshold level, the compressor begins to work.
 
Ratio

Once the input signal exceeds the Threshold, the Ratio determines by what factor the output level is reduced. We can “squash” our signal quite dramatically by increasing the Ratio.

So, if we have an input signal that is 4 decibels over the Threshold and a Ratio of 4:1, the output will be 1 decibel greater above the Threshold volume.

Tip: Ratios above 20:1 are known as limiters, as they hardly allow any signal to exceed the Threshold.
 
Attack Time

Attack controls how quickly the compressor kicks in and starts to work, once the input signal has exceeded the Threshold.

Once the input exceeds the level set by the Threshold, we can choose to have the compressor act immediately or later.

Long Attack times make things more aggressive or punchy, shorter Attack times soften the blow.
 
Release Time

The Release Time determines the length of time the compressor takes to return to its pre-compression state, once the level drops below the Threshold.

The longer the Release Time, the longer the compressor acts on the sound.
 
Gain

Also known as “makeup gain”, this allows us to increase or decrease the volume of the compressed signal.

This is important, because contrary to some common beliefs, compression reduces the dynamics of a sound and as such, it makes a sound smaller – not larger.

[MIXER] | [PAGE DOWN x 2] (PAD COMP) | [R1] (TYPE) | [R2] (THRSLD) | [R3] (GAIN) | [F4] (ON)Typical compression settings to try:
For subtle, with more bite: Slow Attack | Fast Release | Ratio 3:1
For more of a controlled sound: Medium-fast Attack | Medium Release | Ratio 5:1
For a savage squash, but still with snap: Fast-medium Attack | Medium Release | Ratio 20:1Use the TYPE setting for ready-made settings for the drum type.

 
Multi-Band Compressor

Multi-band or ‘split’ compressors are often used in the final mastering process, as they allow independent compression of the high and low frequencies, affording greater control.

Multi-band compressors work by dividing the signal and compressing each part separately before recombining them.

The TD-50’s master compressor allows compression of the high-frequency component of the kit, such as the snare and cymbals, separate from the low-frequencies produced by the toms and kicks.

Useful presets are provided to make finding a starting point easy.

[MIXER] | [PAGE DOWN X4] | MASTER COMP
Try:
Type: 2 BAND HARD COMP.
Split Freq: 120Hz.
LO:
Threshold -5.
Gain: +5.5.
Attack: 5.
Release: 70.
Ratio 16:1.
Knee: Soft1.
HI:
Threshold -8.
Gain: +5.5.
Attack: 17.
Release: 40.
Ratio 16:1.
Knee: Soft1.

 
 
FINAL WORD: COMPRESSION JUST DOESN’T ADD UP!

Compression has a multiplying effect on signals, rather than an additive one.

Compressing a drum sound by 3:1 using the pad compressor and then compressing it again using the master compressor by a factor of 5:1 gives a total compression ratio of 15:1!

So be aware of this, or you will find your drum sounds becoming squashed and lifeless by the time they make it to iTunes.

If they are then broadcast on the radio or TV, they get slammed again with a hard limiter of 30:1 at least, which makes for a grand total ratio of 450:1…Ouch!

RELATED ARTICLES

THE DRUMMER’S GUIDE TO THE TD-50 – BEEF UP YOUR KICK
THE DRUMMER’S GUIDE TO THE TD-50 – MAKE YOUR CRASH CYMBALS SOUND BIGGER
THE DRUMMER’S GUIDE TO THE TD-50 – GIVE YOUR SNARE SOUND MORE PUNCH
THE DRUMMER’S GUIDE TO THE TD-50 – MAKING YOUR TOMS SOUND DEEPER
THE DRUMMER’S GUIDE TO THE TD-50 – TWEAKING THE RIDE CYMBAL
THE DRUMMER’S GUIDE TO THE TD-50 – MAKING YOUR HI-HATS SOUND SOLID
THE DRUMMER’S GUIDE TO THE TD-50 – USING WAV SAMPLES WITH THE TD-50
THE DRUMMER’S GUIDE TO THE TD-50 – HOW TO USE PAD EFX AND MULTI EFX
THE DRUMMER’S GUIDE TO THE TD-50 – USING THE TRANSIENT EDITOR

TD-50KV with KD-A22

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