Gain reduction begins at the speed of electricity once the compressor is triggered to act. Another way to think of it is graphically. As these questions get more specific, compression starts to get a bit more complex. This setting would be more akin to peak limiting and could be used to make sure there is no overloading of our signal path from the occasional kick that was hit a bit too hard. Here are six reasons I reach for a compressor. (Makeup) Gain – Since the level is being attenuated by the compressor (remember our 0dB signal ending up at -1dB after compression), it is necessary to add level to the signal to boost the compressed signal back up to it’s original level (or higher). Perhaps your snare track “bites” too hard, or the bass you’re processing has too much “slap.” In both of these situations, an element of your song is refusing to play nicely with the rest of your mix; when you turn the troublesome channel’s level … Traditionally, however, compressors will have external controls that tell the attenuator what to do. Are we having the attenuation happen fast, slow, somewhere in the middle? Most of this can be controlled with volume automation, but some dynamic shifts happen a little too fast for the fader. The ratio works relative to the threshold. Sometimes the fun of a compressor is to abuse it. The end result is a very fat sounding track, … Like I said at the beginning, once it clicks, it clicks. In other words, a 2:1 ratio would bring the kick level down halfway to the threshold level, while 3:1 would bring the kick down two-thirds of the way toward the threshold level, and an infinity:1 ratio would bring the signal all the way down to the threshold level. Reading is not sufficient enough to know how a compressor really works, you need to train your ears too! Our ears have a short attention span. This means the *entire* signal is sent through the processor, and then back out (“in series”). Compression can be a great tool for taking the quiet nuances of a performance and bringing them to the forefront. If, for example, our kick drum peaks above the threshold, the ratio would indicate how much attenuation would be applied to the kick in terms of how close to the threshold level the resulting signal would be. This can be a fun effect on room captures, reverb/delay returns, drum busses, modulating guitars, or even vocals if you’re feeling frisky. When we use a compressor, we are turning the loudest parts down, but that is effectively the equivalent of turning the quieter parts up once we apply makeup gain. This can be a good setting for just rounding out the transient of the kick without really diminishing its punch. Some mixers even have a ducking feature built-in these days to achieve this effect all-in-one. The ratio determines by how much. In truth, as voltage levels begin approaching our threshold the compressor will start reacting, meaning in most analog systems a degree of gain reduction will be applied before the signal level actually breaches the threshold. This function tells the attenuator how hard to work. Sometimes we don’t want this. It essentially creates two versions of the track for you and lets you balance them in volume how you see fit. For instruments with transients (impact sounds: kick drums, snares, hi-hats, etc), a fast attack is usually necessary to capture that initial hit and hold it down. The threshold is actually an equilibrium point and not a definitive point in which the compressor acts or does not act. We can think of a compressor as two circuits: a “processor” which effects the signal, and “detector” which tells the processor how to act. Limiting and Compression are one and the same as far as processing is concerned. I would like to now briefly touch on the different styles of utilizing compressors, as I don’t want to overwhelm you with how in depth this discussion could go. Big Beat style kick drums come to mind. Knee – Probably the most complex aspect of compression is the Knee, which basically controls how fast the signal reaches the threshold, and how it acts after the threshold is crossed. So whether we are four decibels over our threshold, or thirty, the amount of reduction will be exactly according to the ratio. ➥ Get 46% off The Compression Collection today. Of course that leads us back to those nagging questions: How much attenuation are we doing? There are a few other ways of using compression, including Multiband Compression which is commonly used in mastering, but I believe them to be beyond the scope of this article. You’ll end up with something that sounds like this: A song with no room to breathe; as flat as a pancake. The recipe is fairly simple. However, there is one problem: Compressors, along with all Dynamic Range Processors, are usually routed in a Serial connection (or Insert). Suddenly we have a longer lasting low-end hit. We can place this streamlined signal in our mix tucked just loud enough to be consistently heard (even though it’s in the background and quiet). A “hard” knee is the opposite, a sharp curve that applies the ratio very quickly (according to the attack/release times). A-Trak and the “Real DJing” debate, Ableton Live Tips: Launch Properties and Follow Actions, Getting Creative With Serato Scratch Live. Download this 40-minute workshop by Matthew Weiss, now for FREE! However, when we’re dealing with physical, analog devices we are subject to the laws of physics. You can automate the send to the sidechain to exaggerate the pump during certain sections of the song and stop the pumping during other sections. In the latter, we often want to create a deliberate audible pumping effect. Sometimes we can get more musically flattering results if we soften the knee. When the shout outs are finished, the music comes back to its original volume, without any manual fader/volume knob moves. Depending on the software, it’s also called the master bus or stereo bus. When we’re following an instrument in a record, a certain degree of dynamic variance is good — it’s part of what makes a performance exciting. There are no external parameters which change how the compressor acts. In this example, a 4:1 ratio might act like a 2:1 compressor when we’re only a few dB over the threshold, but may function like a 10:1 compressor when we’re way overshooting the threshold. The only crucial difference is the ratio setting. It’s a “chain” of circuitry that exists on the “side” of the main signal so that the compressor can figure out how the main signal should be effected. Mixing continuously for hours can easily wear down your listening skills. How quickly are we letting go of the attenuation? You’ll end up with something that sounds like this: A song with no room to breathe; as flat as a pancake. Unsubscribe at any time. In this article I’m going to demonstrate how to use a compressor in-depth, in different situations, and then show you how to set up a way to make your DJ mixes sound a bit more professional. Congratulations! Now put your favorite compressor on the channel, and start running part of a song that you consider to be pretty loud. When our knee is adjustable, we can control how gradual we want this transition to be. A heavy compressor/limiter/maximizer over the entire mix, sometimes combined with running each track through heavy compression beforehand as well. We get to make our own rules. Blend your compressed signal with the original until you have a good mix between clicky-impact and round bass. Plus, more counterintuitive ways to get fuller yet controlled low-end in your mix. Mix bus compression is the act of adding compression to your entire mix. Don’t you compress during the mix like on individual instruments e.g. We can picture this as a signal level that increases over time, hits the threshold, and then sharply angles to produce a line that is less steep. We just sent a download link to your inbox. Going back to our kick drum, if our threshold is set to just catch the peak of the kick, if we set the attack slowly we will do very little gain reduction even if the ratio is set very high.

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