Compressor release times-Advice needed

Discussion in 'Compressors / Limiters (analog)' started by jm2, Nov 7, 2008.

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  1. jm2

    jm2 Active Member

    Oct 13, 2008
    I have a reasonable understanding of all functions of a compressor, except release times. I would be very grateful for some insight into what kinds of settings one would use and why.
  2. From my limited knowledge (I'm sure there are other people one here that can explain it better). But you can use compressor release times for a lot of different reasons:

    1. Quick release times tend to make the tail of your transient (snare/kick/whatever it may be) tend to stick out. Let's say you comp a snare...with a quick release the rattle of your actual snares will sound more exaggerated. Same with a kick drum. the low end "boom" will be a little more exaggerated.

    2. With longer release times it tends to control and help sustain the transient.

    Like I knowledge. If someone has a better way/ways of explaining this it would definitely help me out as well. I hope this has helped at least a little. Plus, there are a ton of posts on compression throughout this forum. Just search for it and I'm sure you'll find something.

    Good Luck!

  3. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    Release times provide one of the largest perceptual differences in "Apparent Loudness". Short release times will increase apparent loudness. This is the technique utilized within the FM loudness wars. It's not attack time, which creates perceptual differences as well. Slower release times will provide less aggressive smoother level control. Of course at the expense of "apparent loudness". But release times too fast will cause artifacts such as "pumping", including huge rushes of background noise, people gasping for air, dull sound, exaggeration of bad room acoustics, etc.

    Of course not all compressors & limiters have release time controls, such as many Opto-compressor/limiters. Their attack & release times are based upon the ballistics of the light source, i.e. Electro-luminescent panel, LED, light bulbs. Along with their associated light dependent resistors. A typical example of those would be UA/UREI LA-2, 3, 4's. So those can't be manipulated quite in the same way, except for ratio.

    So it really depends upon the sound you're trying to obtain on whether you'd want fast or slow release times. Of course, again, you'll tweak it differently for different types of sound sources. But faster generally equates to a much more aggressive quality with greater apparent loudness. But aggressive "quality" can be misconstrued. Too aggressive & you've destroyed your "quality". Of course it will sound really loud and virtually unlistenable causing great ear fatigue. So it's a careful adjustment you must make. There is no right or wrong, cut or dry, just good ears or bad, good technique & bad technique.

    So, I don't need to go through that a low ratio generally equals compression and a high ratio generally equals limiting? That's a generality as limiting & compression can generally apply to threshold levels and not just ratios. But then, you already knew that. And you know that not all gain reduction elements are created equally, i.e. LDR (like dependent resistor), VCA (voltage controlled amplifier), FET (field effect transistor utilized as a input level controller), variable gain tube circuits, etc.. There is no one best. Although many of us have our favorites and a good assortment is a great thing to have.

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  4. You're good...and quick!

  5. jm2

    jm2 Active Member

    Oct 13, 2008
    Thanks for the replies.

    "So, I don't need to go through that a low ratio generally equals compression and a high ratio generally equals limiting?"

    Thankfully no, I am a novice but not quite that novice. I did however have to google opto-compressor to gain an elementary understanding of this term. :wink: and soon I will visit gain reduction elements.

    I am using a FMR (RNC) Really Nice compressor that I just bought after much research. It fit the budget, and came with some respectable endorsements. I have yet to record with it, but I have been very impressed with its function on amplified electric guitar. It does exactly what it is supposed to do, quite transparently.
  6. Todzilla

    Todzilla Active Member

    May 12, 2003
    Neuse River Watershed
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    The RNC is great.

    Well you have done, young Skywalker.
  7. AudioGeezer

    AudioGeezer Active Member

    Nov 10, 2008
    Very good compressor info......

  8. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

    Oct 23, 2005
    Also distortion, as the compressor starts to react to individual cycles instead of the overall volume envelope (especially on low frequencies).

    A limiter with instantaneous attack and release times = hard clipping distortion.

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