Is Compression a Crutch?

Discussion in 'Tracking / Mixing / Editing' started by Dave McNair, Aug 20, 2001.

  1. Dave McNair

    Dave McNair Active Member

    How many times have you guys mixed something and thought, do I really need all this compression? Should I have more compression? Is this song good or do I just like the compression?
    Thoughts, flames, ect? Don't tell me what your favorite compressor is.
     
  2. NEVE8068

    NEVE8068 Guest

    They are not crutches they are your friends . Its all kind of like the bar sometimes you need one drink to answer and cause problems some times you need 12. There is no answer just make it sound good and say ^#$% IT it all about the damn song to begin with.-Mark Owen
     
  3. audiowkstation

    audiowkstation Active Member

    Many areas where compression is a "must".

    I will name two really quick

    Vox (if you want to hear all the words and not clip your signal)

    Bass (if you want it to gel with the dynamics of a kit).
     
  4. Hi,
    There is a engineer who always says to the Jazz Musicians when they ask why his sound sucks so much. "Compression is your friend!" In engineering terms his work is good for TV, but what he doesn't realize is that music is expression & dynamic expression is really, apart from the note choice the only other thing you can do with a piano. With his mixes every note & cord has the same dynamics, soft or loud it always equals the same output. Without Dynamics, all you have is a midi file done with real instruments!
    Regards Michael
     
  5. pan

    pan Guest

    It's not about how much compression, it's about how many compressors! I hate hearing compression if not intended, and I like pumping cymbals/rooms on drums, but if it comes to overcompression, it's most likely too many sources through too less compressors. You can never have enough (good) compressors. Agree?

    Niko
     
  6. realdynamix

    realdynamix Well-Known Member

    Originally posted by Michael Earth Media:
    Hi,
    There is a engineer who always says to the Jazz Musicians when they ask why his sound sucks so much. "Compression is your friend!" In engineering terms his work is good for TV, but what he doesn't realize is that music is expression & dynamic expression is really, apart from the note choice the only other thing you can do with a piano. With his mixes every note & cord has the same dynamics, soft or loud it always equals the same output. Without Dynamics, all you have is a midi file done with real instruments!
    Regards Michael


    There is a noise floor to stay above, or soft passages get lost in ambient noise. I prefer wide dynamics, but sometimes it can only be enjoyed under ideal conditions. I use a lot of midi, and it has very wide dynamic capability, depending on the type of music.
    Think about the past, some recordings were done real time around a single mic, dynamics were the musicians, and singers job, along with an engineers keen gain riding ability. All this coming together, with a sense of space, in a great room. But, the disc mastering, the pre-transmitter optimods, and the jukebox limiters, definately added some magic.

    --Rick
     
  7. audiowkstation

    audiowkstation Active Member

    Live jazz is another whole topic.

    I should have been clear that my response was for multitacked studio sessions.

    I will never use a compressor recording a live jazz combo, classical, opera or Chamber orch.

    Gain management is the key and as few microphones as you can get away with.

    For studio recording using 20 to 50 tracks...you simply will not hear all the words if you don't incorporate a vox compressor...no how..no way..

    (unless the singer is using a B58 in their hand and is well versed in self modulation and hand compression of the mike.
     
  8. Mixerman

    Mixerman Active Member

    To me compression is a mixers best friend. They are also an artists wost enemy, if used over-zealously, as is en vogue now.

    There are many genres I wouldn't use a compressor. I saw someone pointing out that they don't tend to use compression on jazz. I'm assuming we're talking real jazz here, and not the radio friendly NAC that is sometimes confused with jazz. I too wouldn't use very many compressors mixing a straight ahead jazz group, but those are not typically close mic'ed, and the tracking enginer is utilizing the acoustic compression of a room.

    Classical uses a much wider dynamic range than rock, but it's designed to be enjoyed in a listening room unfolding over a long period of time, otherwise it really just becomes background noise, particularly in the soft parts.

    Rock, pop, hip hop, R&B, these formats are song oriented, and look to grab and hold ones attention for a span of 3 minutes. These formats also tend to be listened to while doing other things. For that reason, a wide dynamic range is not desireable. Really, no matter what the format, too wide a dynamic range makes it useless in a 'real world' situation where there is constant background noise.

    Compressors are great for keeping bottom end in control, and limiters are great for reducing peaks that would otherwise be too broad. They currently get a bad rap because mixes are given a 0db dynamic range. But it's not the compressors that are doing that, it's the people that are compressing 10db at a 10:1 ratio that are doing that.

    Compression can really make a mix sing, unfortunately it can destroy a mix as well.

    Mixerman
     
  9. Originally posted by Mixerman:
    Compression can really make a mix sing, unfortunately it can destroy a mix as well.
    Mixerman


    "It's such a fine line between stupid and clever."
    - Spinal Tap
     
  10. If you really think about it - I think compressing/limiting has alot to do with MIDI. With Hip-pop, r&pop, rap&rock-pop, etc etc becoming the largest selling acts. I think alot of people always look at things that cost the most, and figure "hey, they had all that money - and any option they want, and it's that big label, so I'm sure they got the best sound". With all these pop-like bands (who are more so wizard behind the curtains bands) having sounds that are from highly-compressed samples, people are starting to accept this as the norm. Also - these crushed sounds, sound decent on the shittiest of speakers - and face it, more people that not listen to music on really shitty stuff. I've seen people hear their really well recorded stuff on bad systems, and cringe and the translation - yet I've heard really badly overcompressed mixes that I thought sound $*^t played back on the boombox, and it sounded better! This at time almost made me dislike some of my ambient recordings, yet I eventually slap myself back into being a listener.

    I personally am really exicted now that I am getting into soft-sampling, and using sounds that are recorded very well. I am actually now working on a battle-album for a electronica label a friend runs. For those not in the know ( and I was one up to two weeks ago) - a battle ablum is a vinly ablum with all sorts of snippets and beats to use for scratching only. I've been recording (and compressing) everything from traffic, to casinos, video archades, crowds, people, animals, speak n' spells - etc. Am I really really into the $*^t, not as much as the DJs are, yet I do get one hell of a kick out of watching this kids hear something that was recorded with care, and explaing to them that things in their musical genre don't all have to have the same sound.

    but what would I know - the only hardware compressor in my personal stash is a RNC.
     
  11. Jay Hudson

    Jay Hudson Guest

    I like to think of mixing like a tv screen.
    Compression can help you focus or blurr the image.
    You know what I mean?
    :confused:
     

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