Sometimes instead of clipping I will use a multiband comp on a clone track and just add some distortion to the upper frequencies to make it stand out a bit. (Basically the same principal as a distressor)
Ok, I sort of forgot to mention that I'm using parallel compression on the drum shells as well. What sort of ratio and GR do you all normally use on PComp settings? This snare sample I really liked at first (I got it from here, I forget which one it is....) but now that I mixed 2 or 3 songs using it, I'm realizing it's not working out so well.
Basically, I normally run a master chain in the same session as all my tracks/my entire mix. I don't mix with this on, only an analyzer. It's when I have the master chain active that I'm losing my snare definition. Master chain is (in this order) EQ - slight HP filter and a small bump in the mid area, Comp with 2:1, 0.1ms attack, 100ms release, W1 Limiter with -12.5 threshold, -0.1 Ceiling and 5ms release.
As soon as I flip off the master chain, everything is very quiet (obviously) but my snare punches through like a MOTHER EFFER, like it's TOO loud. And my guitars seem too quiet.
Thanks again to all who have tried to help me. This is fun yet slightly frustrating.
Parallel compression on each shell may be a little OT, but not where your issue is. A slight parallel comp on the main drum buss is normally all that is required to acheive a noticable effect. Stillwell audio's Rocket is great for this.
Remember you are using samples that are already heavily processed so the chances are they will not take kindly to much more, especially compression.
When using processed samples things like clipping and comp are used more for balancing out the samples and to glue them together to make them sound 'real'. 6db of gain reduction will simply be too much unless you drop the ratio back to 2:1, but you will be better off lowering the threshold so only the loudest hits get around a 3db decrease, no more.
So, Gclip each sample track so only the tops of the highest transient peaks are being removed. Use an 1176 style plugin (or gain in Gclip) to raise the body of the hit without increasing the overall volume.
Buss your close sample mics (KST) and gclip just the very top of these transients too. Your toms and snare should be hitting at the same level, the kick a little under. Then a little comp (3:1, 10ms attack, 0.5ms release) on main drum buss with no more than 3db of reduction.
It sounds like your master buss is where the issues are though to be honset.
If your mix is sitting pretty good without it, you dont need it.
But, try opening up the attack time to 30ms, use the release on auto if you have the feature and aim for no more than 1.5 - 3db of reduction.
Loose the limiter on the master buss unless you are mixing into a mastering chain.