There are a few different ways to process audio in your DAW, let’s have a look at how Parallel Processing can unlock new sonic potential in your next project.
Parallel Processing is a great technique that has roots in drum signal processing called ‘New York-style compression’ where audio engineers would mix in a compressed signal with a non-compressed signal in order to create a more solid drum sound on recordings. This along with using similar techniques with reverb and delay units has expanded to more weird and wonderful ideas to create new sonic palettes. It’s a creative way to bring great new ideas to your Radio Imaging.
Parallel Processing – What?
In a nutshell, Parallel Processing utilises busses or auxiliary tracks in your DAW. Let’s assume you have a dry voice over on a track which has some nice EQ and compression settings either as inserts on this track – or you’ve destructively processing your voice over to have these settings – the voice sounds exactly how you want it to. You then send this track’s signal to an auxiliary track. On the auxiliary track, you have additional inserts which create a sound which you can use the auxiliary volume fader to mix in as little or as much as you like. The volume fader becomes a kind of wet/dry control.
What can you use this for though?
Parallel Processing can be used for more than just ’New York-style compression,’ Reverb or Delay. There are so many different applications and ideas, you’re only limited by your imagination and what is possible within your DAW. Here are a few examples of Parallel Processing ideas I use:
- A flanger, phaser or chorus.
- Bit-crushing and reduction effects.
- An extremely short delay to add stereo width to the sound.
- Autotune/WavesTune/VocalSynth/The Mouth (with automatic correction engaged and set to the key of the piece you’re building).
- Or what about a combination of any or all of the above on a single fader!
Don’t be scared to mix and match and create weird and wonderful Parallel Processing treatments! I often use the above in conjunction with reverb and delays to add width and space to my treatments. Check out some of my plug-in choices:
Why use Parallel Processing?
The best reason to use Parallel Processing, in my opinion, is because it lets you retain the clarity and intelligibility of the original source audio while mixing in a completely messed up single. If you feel something isn’t quite clear enough you can easily automate a volume change or tweak the volume of your Parallel Processing auxiliary to suit your taste. With Radio Imaging intelligibility is the most important thing, listeners need to understand everything that is said to them. Parallel Processing is the best way to ensure this.
Try it, see how it works for you! If you want to read more about this check out this great article from Music Radar.