Compression settings and understanding them

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by eddies880, Dec 2, 2004.

  1. eddies880

    eddies880 Guest

    Im stuck with my Alesis 3630, Ive found that trying to understand the manual is a real process within itself.
    Ive been knob dicking with it for about 1yr now,and have found the good and bad in the unit,but to tell you the truth,I still have confusion when it comes time to really understanding,threshold,ratio,attack,release etc.
    Ive can hear what happens through my phones when I start knob dicking,but I sure would like to understand what Im doing :cry:
  2. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    Silicon Valley
    Your not likely to ever understand what your doing with the 3630 because it's a piece of crap that doesn't respond the same as a great compressor does. But if you've spent a year tweaking the 3630 and yet don't seem to have it figured out, I'm not sure what it is that can be said that is going to help you in using it.
  3. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    This has all be posted here before ... if you do a search I'm sure you could find it but here goes anyhow.

    Threshold is the level that the compressor starts working ... The best way to run any comp initially is to set the threshold so you reach a gain reduction of 4 to 6 dB maximum. To see how much gain reduction you are dialing up you need to have the meter source switch set to "gain reduction".

    Ratio refers to how much compression is being applied once the signal passes the threshold you have set ... a 2 to 1 ratio means that for every 2 dB the signal goes over the pre set threshold, the output will reach 1 dB over the threshold. A 4 to 1 ratio means for every 4 dB the signal goes over the pre set threshold, the output will reach 1 dB over the threshold and so on. Anything over a 10 to 1 ratio is considered limiting ... anything below 8 to 1 is considered to be compression.

    Attack is how fast the compressor starts working ... a fast attack will onset almost immediately sometimes affecting the impact or "attack" of the sound ... slower settings allow the initial edge of the sound to make it through the comp before it starts working. If you hear the compressor "clamping down" on the sound and you don't like that, a slower attack setting will remedy the problem.

    Release is how soon the compressor recovers from the compression ... longer releases will make a sound appear as if it has more sustain.
  4. eddies880

    eddies880 Guest

    Thanks Kurt!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.youve always been helpful :cool: :cool: :cool: :cool:
  5. I once had compression explained to me in a non-technical way that may help you understand it a bit better. Perhaps a bit childish, but fun anyway... :D
    In every compressor there lives a grumpy old man with a headache, he's got headphones on and a volume knob to control the signal. :-?
    Threshold is how bad his headache is. If his threshold is low he will start to turn the volume down when it's at a very low level. If he's feeling chirpy with a high threshold, he might even tap his foot along to the beat a bit and ignore the volume control.
    Ratio sets how grumpy he is, if the ratio is set high, he's pretty damn grumpy and will turn the volume down more when it hits his headache threshold.
    The attack and release times affect how sprightly and brisk he's feeling, if the attack is fast, he reacts really quickly to a loud sound and turns it down, and a fast release means he will turn it back up again quickly after it goes below his grumpy threshold. A slow attack and release means he's feeling a bit tired and is pretty slow turning the volume down and lazy about turning it back up after.
    The makeup gain or output level control gives you the chance to change the signal level after his headphones, so that you can boost the overall level if he's turning it down a lot.
    Don't try this on your grandfather though, grumpy compressor men have reaction times in the millisecond range, they are generally reacting within individual beats and notes rather than on the overall level, unless you set the attack/release very slow.

    Hope this helps.... :cool:
  6. eddies880

    eddies880 Guest

    :lol: :cool: :cool: :lol: A real unique way of understanding compression!---------Thanks dude!
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