In this article, I'll be showing you two ways to add punch to your MIDI and Audio tracks. So how do you know when something needs a bit more punch? We've all been there... a beat, bass, or top sound seems kinda blah, and just doesn't seem to pop out of the mix enough, or seems too slow or lacks energy. Let's look at two ways to emphasize the attack on sounds to make them seem faster, tighter and more punchy.
Open a new Logic Project and add the House Strong Beat 01 Apple Loop. Add the Compressor plug-in via the Dynamics menu. So you can clearly hear what's happening to the beat, switch the Auto Gain to off, but then adjust the volume so it's pretty close to the same level when the compressor is bypassed. I went with plus 3 dB.
Push up the Ratio to around 2.5:1, and then pull down the Knee to 0.0. A 'hard knee' like this will emphasize the compression since it allows the reduction to occur quickly and less smoothly. Next up, pull the Release all the way down to 5.0 ms. We want a very fast release so the volume reduction recovers immediately.
Now onto the Attack. If you're familiar with a synthesizer ADSR envelope, this is about to get weird; raise the attack up to add more punch. Set it to around 50 ms. Remember, a compressor is actually lowering the volume of a sound when there is no make-up gain. When the attack is set all the way down (unlike on a synth) it actually takes away punch because the initial transients that reach over the threshold never get to play through for a small amount of time... they're slammed down instantly. With our setting, for 50 milliseconds all the transients that reach over the threshold are not reduced. 50 milliseconds later they're immediately reduced which in turn emphasizes the attacks!
If you've been bypassing the effect on and off, you may have noticed that a bit of the weight has been taken out of this loop. Let's add that back by raising the Threshold to around -16.0dB. You may also need to pull back the gain a touch if you're looking for a equal level comparison.
Here's a before and after sample:
Now let's take a quick look at the Enveloper plug-in. Open the Loop Browser again and add the Wide Echo Synth Apple Loop to the arrange window. You can easily search for it at the top of the loop browser. Now add the Enveloper plug-in from the Dynamics menu. This amazing plug-in deciphers the attack transients in your audio and can boost (or reduce) them. Simply raise the gain on the left Attack side and you'll get an instant emphasis on the beginnings of each of the synth notes. Try also adjusting the Time knob to 'punch up' a wider area.
Here's another before and after sample:
If every sound in your song is punchy, then you'll be right back in the same boat. Try contrasting punchy sounds against non-punchy ones. Remember that depending on the volume of the material you'll be sending through the compressor, you will have to adjust the threshold every time as you would for any compressor setting.
Here's a before and after of both sounds together:
Thanks for reading!