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Anyone have a good place for compression tips?

Discussion in 'F.O.H.' started by ArsMemoria, Jun 4, 2015.

  1. ArsMemoria

    ArsMemoria Member

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    So, I'm mixing this tune for class and my teacher immediately jumped on my use of compression. Admittedly, compression is one of those things I have a bitch of a time grasping. How did some of you guys pick up the technique, what are good books/links/threads to read on it?
     
  2. Studdy

    Studdy Member

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    The biggest thing that i learned to do when using compression is to use my ears not my eyes. What is a compressor? Aside from the character that in imparts, it essentially just lowers volume of the loud parts so the entire track can be raised in volume. Basically you are raising the "quieter" stuff to be more inline with the "loud" parts. I now hear what is happening as i lower the threshold as opposed to just watching a meter. Also dont always assume everything needs compression. For example if something sounds good to you but have a few peaking transients instead of applying a compressor maybe just automate those peaks down. Good luck man.
     
  3. Machinated

    Machinated Member

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    my advice is you probably need less compression than you think. not using compression, or using very little will almost always sound better than using a lot. using compression incorrectly will sound bad.

    think very carefully what you're trying to achieve when you use a compressor and just do it in moderation and you'll be fine.
     
  4. Jormyn

    Jormyn Member

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    It's important to understand what you want to do to the signal, as well as what the compressor itself is doing.

    In my head, I tend to think of compression as the envelope controls you get on most synthesizers - Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release. It lets you fiddle with the shape of your signal to bring out different aspects, or tame something that stands out too much, or simply get a more consistent level. Unlike a synth, where you're directly setting the shape of the wave, a compressor almost requires you to think backwards. Sort of.

    A few things to read:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynamic_range_compression
    http://atoragon.blogspot.it/2012/01/how-to-use-compression-guide-for.html
    https://www.soundonsound.com/sos/sep09/articles/compressionmadeeasy.htm

    I'd also highly recommend buying the Systematic Mixing ebook, if you haven't already. Among tons of other useful stuff, it has a pretty good rundown of compression, the different types and how you might use them, etc.
     
  5. egan.

    egan. daylightdies.com

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    Of all the things not to get caught up in numbers on compression is at the top. You just have to learn to listen.
     
  6. Canaan

    Canaan Member

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    You first need to ask yourself what you are trying to achieve with compression. Compression is so hard to hear that IMO in order to understand it you need to know what you are trying to achieve. Are you trying to level the sound, squash the dynamics, enhance the decay of a certain sound, round a transient, add punch, etc. Because You may not even need compression for certain things, volume automation maybe be the remedy or a transient shaper may do the trick.


    If I was to speak in generalities tho I would say no more than -4 db gain reduction per compressor, slow to med attack, release set to the needle bouncing to the tempo, ratio 3 to 4:1 except vox.

    For Vox i would -12 to --20 db gain reduction, fast attack, fast release, hefty ratio. 20:1+

    Hope this helps.
     
  7. ashgallows

    ashgallows resonant manipulator

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    a big part of it is really hearing how each of the controls you are using are affecting the signal. I seem to remember reading and article recommending you pull the threshold down until its hitting -10 then maxing the ratio and putting the attack and release all the way fast. it will sound like shit, from there you slowly pull the attack back until it sounds better, then the release, then the ratio, then the threshold. I don't know if this is something people on this forum do, but it was the only way I could really understand how my setting choices were affecting what I was working on.
     
  8. ArsMemoria

    ArsMemoria Member

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    For sure, I feel like I've spent a lot of time fumbling around in the dark with this particular thing. The "learn to listen" part kills me though when I get a comment like "that's pumping and sound like shit", but I can't hear what he's talking about to save my life.

    Jormyn, thanks for the links(and those of you that chimed in here), I'm gonna be studying this and figuring it out eventually.
     
  9. Jormyn

    Jormyn Member

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    "Pumping" means that the compressor is really audible, normally because you've set it too aggressively - try taking a drum bus, load up a compressor with a drum bus preset, and then turn the threshold WAY the fuck down. You should hear a weird bouncy/wavey/sucking sound going on with your drums' volume, probably on every kick or snare hit. To correct this, you could ease off on the threshold and ratio, maybe lengthen the release time so the effect isn't as obvious.

    Incidentally, if you send your drums to a SEPARATE track and overcompress it like that, you can sometimes blend it in quietly with the main drum mix for a bit more thickness. Google "parallel compression" or "ny compression" for more on that one. And then, like everything else with compressors, remember not to do it all the time.
     
  10. Korwent

    Korwent Member

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    In my opinion this is the MOST important statement about compression : far too many people throw in a compressor just because they were told compressors are usefull in the signal chain, and struggle finding a use for it afterwards.
    What I think should happen is throw a compressor only because beforehand you found a use for it!

    Hence you have to experiment a lot and A/B with or without compressor or different settings, always keeping in mind the main question : "For what purpore am I using this compressor?"
     
  11. SocialNumb

    SocialNumb Damn Christians!

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  12. exoslime

    exoslime Member

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    this here is a great course about compression and dynamics:
    https://www.creativelive.com/courses/compression-dynamics-master-class-graham-cochrane

    first question for me during mixing, do i want compress this track and why?
    are the dynamics out of the place and i want to even them out? thats good reason for me to apply some gently compression..
    are the dynamics ok? then i most likely dont want to compress the signal, but i do want more excitment from the signal? if yes.. then add some distortion/saturation instead of compression
    you can also do both, first add a compressor and then some distortion

    understanding compression can be difficult first, but imagine this:
    a compressor is a tiny little man in the box (plugin) that turns the volume fader down once a signal gets too loud (threshold)
    the ratio is how much he is going to turn it down
    the attack is how fast he is going to turn it down
    and the release is how long does he take to turn the volume fader up again

    i think a good visualisation of compression is when you are using plugins with a compression visualation gui, like pro tools stock compressor or izotope alloy for example, you can dial in the compression and you see how the little man in the box turns the volume up and down, see the attached screenshot just as an example, the yellow line at the top next to the waveform is how much this little man in the box turned the volume down on each time the threshold has been exceeded

    [​IMG]

    the goal is not a total flat signal, the goal is just to compress it gently together, so that you dont have too high spikes, you are reducing them and you can bring up the volume of the whole track (make up gain) and because of that you will be able to hear the quieter parts better
     
  13. mephetic_exhumation

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  14. Studdy

    Studdy Member

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    Allowing the initial transient through and the bringing up the make gain will essentially make the "tail" lower in level than the initial hit. So now when makeup gain is applied the initial transient is even louder. When I first starting figuring out compressors this was my problem, when I first moved from my 4 track to daw I was tracking far too hot, I would compress and then I would want to bring up make gain after, then my drum or whatever would clip. Now mixing and tracking at proper levels and listening to what the compressor is doing instead if watching what it is doing I have a better understanding. This is why I love a touch of a parallel compressed drum sound back into my "transient" drum sound, you get the smack and the parallel track really brings out the sustain and after transient sound. If that makes any sense. Cheers guys
     
  15. ArsMemoria

    ArsMemoria Member

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    Holy shit, that just blew my mind. I know using your ears is always the best course, but that seriously just made more sense to me than any textbook explanation I've gotten in class.

    Thanks for the posts, guys. I think I'm finally starting to get exactly what this is and why you do it. It's also made me back off a lot of my ratios and rethink how I do things.
     

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