I recently got a request if I wanted to do a blog post about “channel strips” and “parallel processing”. So let me cover both subjects real quick. I won´t be going too deep, just want to give you guys my take on this.
There actually is only one channel strip that I use on almost everything, that’s the channel strip of my SSL Duende. The Duende is an external card from SSL that takes care of all the processing of the plugins that came with it (channel strip and bus compressor). It’s like the UAD cards only then from SSL. They don’t make them anymore tho but the plugins are still available. I’ve got the first one that came out, it connects thru firewire and supports 32 mono or 16 stereo channels of processing. I loved it since the first time I used it.
When I mix in my own home studio I mix in the box so I actually treat the Duende Channel Strips as an SSL board so I put it on every channel and if I got too many channels I run them thru buses and put the Channel Strips on the buses, so every channel still runs thru it. This way I still get the feeling a lil bit that I’m mixing on a digital SSL board if that makes any sense. I also like the Waves and UAD SSL Channel Strips.
Parallel processing means that you duplicate a signal, leave the original dry and do your processing on the parallel signal. Then you mix the two signals together. You can basically do this with everything; compression, EQ , distortion, whatever. And you can do this with drums, synths, vocals etc. There are no rules, whatever works for you.
For instance I like to use it on snares sometimes if I think the it doesn’t hit hard enough. Most of the time I just throw compression and EQ on the parallel signal but like I said there are no rules. Just be creative and use your ears.
I personally don’t use parallel processing that much anymore, but I used to do it a lot, and I never actually use it on vocals. While super engineer Derek Ali uses a Fairchild on a parallel signal on Kedrick’s vocals. Then you got other super engineers like Dave Aron (2Pac, Snoop Dogg, U2) and Mike Dean (Kanye West, Scarface) who don’t use parallel processing at all. So it’s just about what works for you to get the sound you want.
There are endless possibilities, there are no rules! Just use your ears and be creative!