just learning how to use a compressor

Discussion in 'Compressors / Limiters (analog)' started by malamusik, Aug 24, 2006.

  1. malamusik

    malamusik Guest

    just curious: what do you guys compress in your projects??

    I'm just starting to mess with compression, and i'm finding it (as i've always heard and read) to be a tough effect to get a handle on. right now i'm working on a recording with drums, bass, gtr and vox. any advice on what to experiment compressing?? i know not to go crazy with it, just not sure what 'traditionally" gets compressed and what doesnt.


  2. corrupted

    corrupted Guest

    Guitars don't generally get much, but that depends on the type of sound. Clean guitars tend to benefit a little bit more from compression because of the dynamic, so it can fill them up a little more. That one is a case by case situation, it depends on the specifics.

    Bass generally gets more than guitars to smooth out the low end and keep the track more solid and even. Don't over-do it here, though, or it'll give you a pumping sound and it can kill the tone. But, it's nice to use it because bass tends to spike on the attack of each note, and it can fade out towards the end of each note. Compression evens that out if you use it right.

    Drums, well... that's a different animal. Each mic can benefit greatly from it's own compression, as well as enhancement and gate. There is generally so much "other noise" on each drum mic, that a expander/gate can help you clean it up... and compression on some drums can even them out from hit to hit. Snare, specifically, can be fattened up by using the compression to take the "crack" out of the attack, and keep the full sound of the snare without killing the overall mix.

    Vocals usually get a nice smooth compression, nothing too hard like a limiter... but just enough to keep the dynamic range from being lost while still making everything audible. Lower ratios like 2:1 and 3:1 help out here.

    In general, it's better to not use enough than to use too much IMO. I'd rather hear something that sounded more raw than something that sounded over-squished with compression.

    Your best bet is to expiriment. When it sounds like it's compressed... as in, when you can TELL it's compressed, you're using too much. Generally all you have to do in that case is back off on the ratio. Another important thing is to read extensively on the "attack" and "release" controls that most compressors have. Those can do more damage to sound than a lot of people realize.

    That's my $.02
  3. I believe traditionally compression was a short cut.

  4. malamusik

    malamusik Guest

    thanks for the advice!

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