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Compression - The Basics
PostPosted: 26 May 2009 - 07:46:31 (365)  Reply with quote
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Great post! Certainly one of the easier compression explanations I've seen happy

- Josk
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PostPosted: 16 June 2009 - 14:18:58 (638)  Reply with quote
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honestly, i just wanted to say that this was an amazing tutorial. i have read many other ones, but this one really painted the picture for me and cleared things up. i first read it 2 years ago actually, but occasionally will come back to this every once in awhile to read over or send to other people. great tutorial! worshipping thumbsup
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PostPosted: 14 July 2009 - 21:28:56 (936)  Reply with quote
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Creative wrote:
now, i've read alot of compression tutorials, and since this one is the best, it would be really great if anyone could explain not WHAT is compression, but why do we use it, when do we use it, what effect does compression of a sound have on other sounds, how to use it to give warmth or power, etc

There is not a forced reason to use compression at all. Personally, I think most of the time it is just a tool for lazy to help finalize their mix easier. In my opinion one should find balance between all different sounds without compression at all. If (or when) you decide to use compression, please, do it after you have the final mix / eq done already and keep the compression as minimal as you can. This also helps you to avoid pushing levels too high already when you put in only bassdrum (or whatever you start with).

One point for the use of compression is that parts of the song can be really much more silent than other parts, but I think more often this is problem in the mix itself (that is, if some sounds seem to get lost in some times).

Using compression will make you "sound more professional". But very much of the material released is already way too much overcompressed. Often the (over)compression is not done by the guy creating the music but the audio engineers doing the final master. So keep that in mind when you make your tracks, if you put in too much compression no one can save your track from it afterwards, but too "silent" tracks can be mastered to be louder later.

EDIT: Actually, I forgot to include a lot of stuff that has nothing to do with creating good music: Loudness wars, the need for compression before cd-quality etc.

Simplification: Music industry thinks that "louder is better. Normally a song should have wide dynamic range, to make that snare hit really HIT, make that bassline really groove etc. Instead, the level of the average volume has been raised so that most of the time music has only the top 3-6dB for dynamics left. IT SOUNDS LIKE READING THIS FEELS ALL THE TIME. First it hits you and you notice it, then you grow weary of it fast and want to skip it.

More info:

Much of electronic music is, sadly, squashed to death. I personally have stopped buying any music unless I get a sample of it in my hands to make sure it is not just noise I get. Especially all those epic trance songs, that I used to love... new productions are mostly crushed. People don't seem to notice (or is the popularity of trance in decline?). Well, while dancing in a club with all the athmosphere it does not matter that much. But in home, I want to listen in good quality if anything at all.
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PostPosted: 19 February 2010 - 04:27:44 (227)  Reply with quote
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a common problem people run against is to have too long attack and release time and a high ratio, i believe they call it "breathing" it sounds like the compressor is breathing and the volume gets up and down like waves, in the beginning i always had that trouble...but no more, and just to add a good mastering kit is T-Racks and i think that the classic compressor there uses the technique that Macker mentioned about a no ration-knob just a drive or input gain or something, and that comp also has a stereo effect function im not really fully understand :P

Compression is explained simple but in practice they are kinda tricky to work with cuz there is no actual manual on how to use it its like macker said; "all about the source".
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PostPosted: 03 July 2010 - 16:01:50 (709)  Reply with quote
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I read a great thing about configuring compression once, it's dead easy but I was working in studios for years before someone point out this order of things:

Set the threshold and ratio to their maximum values, so the sound goes away, and the attack and release to their fastest.

Now adjust the attack so you get the attack you are after, then the release, now back off the threshold and finally adjust the ratio.

This way you can really hear what the compressor will be doing.
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PostPosted: 13 July 2010 - 14:59:28 (666)  Reply with quote
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EVERYTHING about this thread is made of complete win. Thanks for the wealth of knowledge shared happy
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Beadoleoma Starcraft II
PostPosted: 31 August 2010 - 22:52:47 (994)  Reply with quote
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For people who want examples of when and how to use a compressor in a track I will say the following:

Using almost synths only i rarely find use for compressing much there. I have however found an effect path that gives a pretty neat "touch". And that is adding a compressor after the reverb and delay. No biggie but if the riff consists of few notes it gives a nice well..compressed sound to it...which I really like.

other use for compression would probably be on breakbeats. to make them more punchy and/or stand out more in the mix.

Then on Vocals...the few times I have worked with vocals in my songs I have compressed them to death mostly to keep the audio signal under control to fit in the mix but also because I really like the sound of overcompressed vocals.

Other than that I cant think of more examples mixwise.

Then there is the Mastering part.

Here i must shamefully admit that I go for maximum punch and fatness and gluing the track. So here I use 2 multibandcomps...Nuendos built in one and Yamahas final master and then...the well known vintage warmer just to add a little something more to the final sound...
This chain causes squash to a certain extend sadly but it seriously also fatten up things in a way I could never achieve mixwise only. I have tried but failed miserably...

I am no expert so take this with a grain of salt. Most important thing is to do your own tweaking and try as many different settings as you can and experiment with everything as you go along. As pointed out there simply are no rules to this.

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PostPosted: 12 September 2010 - 06:35:17 (316)  Reply with quote
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thanks, only it.
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PostPosted: 15 September 2010 - 02:03:10 (127)  Reply with quote
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Compression in a nutshell, reduces the dynamic range of an audio signal.

It can be used for many things.....

dependent on the release and attack times you can use it as a transient designer for percussion instead of using the shitty envelopes in drum machines.

can be used to duck the bass to let the kick shine through

can be used to level out vocals

can be used to make a sound appear bigger by increasing the rms but as the original poster of this topic so rightly stated, it has an effect on audio quality.

compression can be a hard thing to hear but rest assured when the time comes that you decide you need it for something, you will be able to hear it.
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PostPosted: 15 September 2010 - 02:09:34 (131)  Reply with quote
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Oh while i'm here, a little tip for using compression

i've always found that setting all controls at their most extreme and bringing them back down one at a time - intuitively - gives good results as when it is more obviously audible your ears adjust to it better.

so what i do is,

start with minimum attack, maximum release, minimum threshold and maximum ratio ( these are the most extreme settings you can put a compressor under).

depending on what i'm after, i then bring each one back in a specific order and fine tune it when i get down close to what i am after.
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