Discussion in 'Compressors / Limiters (analog)' started by AUD10, Mar 27, 2006.

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  1. AUD10

    AUD10 Active Member

    Mar 20, 2005

    Does anyone know if there is a good website that explains how to use compressors?

    I am familiar with the basics of the parameters involved in compression but would like to learn more about it.
  2. saemskin

    saemskin Active Member

    Nov 6, 2005
    you dont need a website, you need time.

    Now get your ass back in there and try again!!!
  3. chrispick

    chrispick Guest

    This lays out the basics. The rest is learning behind the wheel.

    Good luck.
  4. StevenColbert

    StevenColbert Member

    Feb 13, 2006
    He is right, trial and error will yield much more results then reading a how to post.
    Record a mix with your compressor set the way you think it sounds good. Call it "mix A"
    Now write down the settings. Next...
    zero the compressor knobs, and do another mix. Call it "mix B"
    Write down the settings. Next...
    zero the compressor knobs,...ect...ect....ect......

    Do like 4 or 5 mixes (A,B,C,D, and E). Now sit back and listen to each mix "back to back" without stopping. This will allow you to A B the mixes. Also find a friend you respect and ask them to listen to all 5 mixes and tell them to narrow it down to the best one or two mixes. Then pick the best one out of those 2.
    After you have picked the one that really sounds better than all the others, go back to your settings you wrote down, and compare the different settings. Or just set it up like it was before and leave it.
  5. saemskin

    saemskin Active Member

    Nov 6, 2005
    I suppose there are a few things you shouldnt do that seem common sense.

    1. Dont use a compressor just because you can. Not everything needs compressed. Learn what it does and understand why you want to use it first. Abused effects always sound like ass.

    2. Dont set the threshold above the source signal. I was reviewing a friends mix to supply tips for him and in several instances he has a threshold set several db's above the source signal (I put a spectrum analyzer on everything during mixdown), which is just using up cpu. See tip #1. I guess this would be difficult to hear with a transparent comp, hence the spectrum analyzer.

    3. Dont set the release so its moving into the attack of the next note/hit/cycle, as that would make the attack time you set irrelevant. Another reason I use the spectrum analyzer, so I know when the signal has moved out of the threshold cutoff point.
  6. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    Here's the nutshell on compression/limiting.

    You have a meter that is generally switchable between input/output and what we referred to as " gain reduction".

    The input control usually sets the threshold which is the point at which compression/limiting begin to occur.

    The ratio settings may be a continuous control or switchable. Compression are usually the smaller numbers and limiting are usually the higher numbers. Things like vocals may need to be compressed or they may need to be limited? Compression is usually a gentle thing where limiting is like running your car into a brick wall. For vocals are a general setting with the ratios set to our round 4: 1. Adjust the threshold control so that when the singer sings loudly, you should see approximately a 10 DB gain reduction indication.

    You would then use your output control to compensate for the amount of gain lost through compression i.e. make up gain.

    Attack and release controls generally determined the sound of the compression and limiting action.

    A slow release will sound more natural. A fast release will create a greater sense of perceived loudness but can become overhyped and become deleterious to the audio when adjusted too fast.

    A slow attack time will allow a certain amount of peaks through which will still allow your sound to have some snap to it. A fast attack time will prevent most peaks from getting through and will generally kill any snappiness to your sound.

    Experimentation is the key as there are numerous different kinds and brands of compressors and limiters. Some have peaked detecting circuits and others have average or RMS detection circuits and all sound different from one another and have equally different applications.

    If your unit happens to have an auto setting for attack and release, start there first before you start screwing with the controls manually.

    If you do well, things will sound great! If you don't, everyone will know it.

    A compressed and limited answer
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  7. twon

    twon Guest

    shotgun has a good overview of compressors and what they do... look in the recording studio forum
    and keep practicing

  8. AUD10

    AUD10 Active Member

    Mar 20, 2005


    Thanks for all your replies.

    I intend to use the compressor in a live sound environment for speeches. One of the speakers just suddenly raises their voice while speaking fairly frequently and this causes the recorded signal to sound distorted/clipped.

    I was hoping that a compressor set to a high attack would prevent this from happening?

    What ratio should I use for this application?

    Wouldn't the output gain control on the compressor cause the signal being fed back into the mixer, to clip?
  9. elephantwest

    elephantwest Guest

    i think you want to use your compressor as a limiter (very hi ratio), if your speaker is at an ok level most of the time with some peaks here and there
  10. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    Aud 10 I think you are slightly confused? If you are trying to work with spoken word, of course it is not nice sounding through a public address system due to the human voice's incredible dynamic range.

    The first thing one must do is to have the microphone preamplifier gain trimmed properly. This is frequently accomplished by either pressing your solo button, while observing the test subject on the console meter and adjust accordingly for an indication of between -10 to -6 DB. Yes that's right! Then from the insert patch to the compressor/limiter, when your test subject gives you a louder peak level test, your limiter should be set up so that the ratio is adjusted from 10:1 up to 20:1. Adjust the threshold control on the limiter so that on the loudest spoken passages, you observed between -2 to -6 DB on average. Only at that stage would you then adjust the limiters output control, so that when you're channel strip slide fader is set to the " 0 ", or the unity gain position, you should then see a nominal output level at your output section on your console. That is provided that your Master output level control is also set to the 0 or unity gain position. Then you should experience no distortion and very little chance for feedback. I'm sure you'll find this a most appropriate way of doing spoken word recordings and PA?

    Forever dealing with blather
    Ms. Remy Ann David

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