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Compression - Where and how should i use it?

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by chriswalker8511, Feb 5, 2009.

  1. chriswalker8511

    chriswalker8511 Active Member

    Jan 31, 2009
    Hi guys
    I've heard allot about compression and myself have only messed around with a few plugins. I've heard people say its essential and other people saying there's no need to use it. Where would i use it, I've messed around with it on drum tracks but would it be beneficial to use it on vocals guitar ect.

  2. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    You use it where you feel you need it. Remember, LESS IS MORE.

    Typically, I don't record any pop vocalist without it. I track with it.

    Typically, I'll limit the bass guitar, sometimes electronic keyboards in tracking or in mixing/Post.

    Lots of folks place a limiter/compressor across their stereo mix bus. I only do that when it's requested by a client. Otherwise, that may be taken care of when I master the finished mix. Yes, I do my own mastering for most low-cost bands. And I don't always do everything in software. Everything I do is in a hybrid fashion of digital & analog, to & from, from & to, hither and thither, through the woods, to Grandma's House we go.

    Chicken soup with Neve is my favorite
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  3. chriswalker8511

    chriswalker8511 Active Member

    Jan 31, 2009
    So with compression shall i just have a mess around with it and see the differences and see what's best? Also I've heard you either put compression after the track has been recorded or while your recording the track. Is this true and if so which should i do?

  4. cfaalm

    cfaalm Active Member

    Feb 21, 2005
    Home Page:
    Both, this one, the other one, none of the above. Really, it depends. Sometimes you do it for "technical" reasons e.g. to fit in the mix, sometimes you do it for "artistic" reasons e.g. you like the sound of it.

    If your source fits the dynamic range you work in, there is no technical reason to track with compression. You might however still want to do it because the compressed sound is desirable.

    There was a song in the late 70s (The Knack - My Sharona) where they heavily compressed the roommics on the drums. This caused a kind of rhytmic heavy breathing. This was obviously for artistic reasons. There was no real need to apply compression here.

    I suggest you google some to get a sense of the controls and settings and indeed experiment with it.

    If you'd like a bit of theory there is this to get you started.
  5. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    Mar 31, 2007
    North Vancouver
    Hi chris, yes experiment and find your own rules...

    Personally I don't track with compression, unless the vocalist really needs it (loud soft LOUD soft)

    But in the mix:

    I often compress:
    E. GTRS

    But it is all a matter of taste.
  6. NCdan

    NCdan Guest

    Compression basically levels out playing. Just remember that. It isn't a magical band-aid. Crappy bass guitarist? Limiting, not just one, but two or three (I should know: I'm a very crappy bass player). An electric guitar? Since electric guitars are already compressed, especially through nice tube amp, they generally don't require a lot of compression. It's all about the peaks. I agree that compressing an entire mix is best done in mastering. Just remember that compression tends to kill the attack; too much compression and it sounds like a blanket was put over everything before micing. I really do use compression and limiting, but I try to use it only when needed. God bless.
  7. chriswalker8511

    chriswalker8511 Active Member

    Jan 31, 2009
    Thanks guys, really appreciate all your help.

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