compression question?????

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by meadows83, Jan 17, 2006.

  1. meadows83

    meadows83 Guest

    just a quick question for all you guys that know a lot more than i do. i've been a home recordist for about 2 years, and i'm using pro tools le, just in case you need to know. anyway, usually after i record some tracks and get them sounding decent, i'll open up a master track and put t-racks eq(which always makes it sound better to my ears), and i usually put a compressor plug-in on the master as well(anywhere from 3-to-1 to 10-to-1) to try and get more volume. my questions:1. is it typical practice to put compression on the master track? 2. when i have a compressor on the master, i like the way all the instruments sound together, but if there is a part of the song where the guitars are not present, and it's just the drums, the volume of the drums goes through the roof, to the point where they're alot louder bythemselves than when all the other instruments are together. could someone tell me what i'm doing wrong? should i not be using a compressor on the master track? thanks for the help.
  2. TeddyG

    TeddyG Well-Known Member

    Jan 20, 2005
    Just basically.

    If , when you ALWAYS add some "thing"(The Eq you mentioned, of which I am not familiar), which ALWAYS makes it sound better, try to add whatever it is that "makes it" sound better, earlier in the process. If your tracks need Eq, for whatever reason, try to add it as you mix. Actually, if you ALWAYS need ALOT of Eq, you may have "room problems"? Frequencies getting "lost", or "overdone", in the tracking room itself? OR, you may have a problem in the mix-room? Same thing, except the frequencies may "be there" and you just don't hear them "right", again, due to accoustics of the room, itself. In any event, it worries me that you always add anything, before you're "done"...

    Compression. Many times, a "bit" of compression may be added, when tracking! Vocals are a good candidate, as a bit of compression(Yes, "always", or at least almost always), can help. But, a bit is a bit! 1.2:1, at 3db, or something? For something really raucous, maybe 3:1 at 6db(If I felt I had to do much more I'd try to train the vocalist to "work" the mic a bit better!)..? And, as one of the final steps in the mix-process, you may use a bit of "smoothing" compression overall, I don't know? Again at 3:1/6db? More "limiting", then anything - if needed(Though it shouldn't be much needed, if you monitor your levels all the way through the process!). 10:1+, should be reserved for "effects", on individual instruments, say... Yes, you'll hear from alot of people who use a whole lot more compression/limiting than even this! If you like their sound, go for it! If you like to hear the entire range of a performance, don't. Stay away from "heavy" anything "overall".

    Truth to tell, very little compression/limiting/Eq, is needed if one is careful when tracking! Get the levels right going in! Move things around, use different mics or mic techniques, "fix" the room accoustics, then, do a proper mix - use the volume controls for the different sources - gently! And always keep in mind that while compression can help raise the "average", or "apparent" loudness, it ALWAYS limits dynamics(The "range" from loud to soft), which can(should!) be an important part of your recording. While you don't want the poor listener having to reach over and turn the volume up and down 10 times through your song(Like the commercial breaks on TV?), do you want to fry their brain with a constant high level and noticable compression and "wear-them-out" before they even get through your song? I hope not.

  3. meadows83

    meadows83 Guest

    TG, thank you for your insight.
  4. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    Dear Meadows 83,

    I don't use ProTools but I do like T-Racks (where less is more). Many people on this forum abhor it. I usually make a point of using a hardware compressor/limiter when recording vocals before it gets into the computer. 4:1 is what I generally start with on vocals, with either peak or RMS style detectors, whatever suits the sound. I don't generally like mixing through a compressor/limiter unless I am requested to do so. Again, as stated prior to my post, I try to get the mix correct first, before adding any other "mastering style" dynamic processing to the mix.

    Most engineers try to create a " dynamic mix", which is to say, you do not leave your levels static. Parts and pieces are always coming up and down throughout the mix. That's why so many people like automation. We only have 10 fingers each.

    Later in the mastering process you can go ahead and at some fine-tuning with downstream equalization and dynamics processing. This should help keep your mix in the proper perspective.

    Ms. Remy Ann David

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