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Compression - how to apply

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Anonymous
November 28, 2004 2:29:24 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

Dear all,
I've been trying hard, through looking through the archives and newsgroups,
etc as well as reading up, about compression. As a newbie, I understand WHAT
compression is supposed to achive - more or less, still learning. But I am
still stuck at HOW you actually apply it.

Do you apply compression to an incoming signal as it is played "live", or do
you apply it to a pre-recorded track as you mix or ping pong?

Can compression make tracks which clip, reduce their level? My experiments
say no, but I am just learning.

Finally (whilst I'm here, may as well go for broke) - although everyone
wioll have their own taste and style, and each song will have different
requirements, is their a basic starting point for people like me, as to what
kind of compression to apply - i.e. settings - for say,
vocals
guitar
final mixdown

Any advice, or pointers to websites, books, etc would be greatly
appreciated.

Jim

More about : compression apply

Anonymous
November 28, 2004 2:29:25 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

Hi Jim,

I'll try to answer your questions but keep in mind there is a good change
that I'm misinformed or confused on certain issues so don't take my word as
law, please read, listen and try things a lot and make up your own mind.

> Do you apply compression to an incoming signal as it is played "live", or
do
> you apply it to a pre-recorded track as you mix or ping pong?

Yes, sometimes. Meaning compressing at either point can be useful and
desired but it's sometimes unnecessary and undesirable.

For example in a live performance situation it might be important to capture
a recording of a vocalist that you are unfamiliar with. As you might know,
musicians tend to be 'shy' during sound check so even if you set your levels
careful, half way through the show the singer may 'eat' the mic and let out
a primal scream, possibly causing some nasty distortion in your recording.
To guard against this you can put a compressor ( or limiter or both ) in the
signal chain as a safety net to keep that signal's amplitude at a reasonable
level. On the other hand if you know the singer and their material and you
are recording on more than one night you may want to not use compression and
just ride the levels manually as needed.

An example of why to compress only during mixing is that it will give you
more options with your mix. If you compresses everything during tracking it
can really limit your options during mixing and if you went really overboard
on compression you may have to retrack the part ( or wish you would have
every time you listen to that track for the rest of your days! ;-) My
feeling is that most compression should be left for the mixing stage unless
you know you are going to want a particular effect or you really know what
you are doing mixing.

> Can compression make tracks which clip, reduce their level? My experiments
> say no, but I am just learning.

If you are listening to the track during playback and lowering the track
volume stops the clipping then yes, you could use compression or limiting to
stop the clipping. If the recording already contains the clip distortion
then no, it probably wont help. ( if you are using a computer you can
sometimes hand redraw a clipped wave form to make it more acceptable and
there are some plug-ins that can automatically remove clips. )

> Finally (whilst I'm here, may as well go for broke) - although everyone
> wioll have their own taste and style, and each song will have different
> requirements, is their a basic starting point for people like me, as to
what
> kind of compression to apply - i.e. settings - for say,
> vocals
> guitar
> final mixdown


There is no real hard fast rules that will always work in every situation.
It can be frustrating and tedious but you really need to analyze the
sound/mix and determine if it's acceptable to great or if there is something
wrong and if so, what exactly is it that you don't like. Then imagine what
would need to happen to the sound to make it the way you would like it, but
don't think in terms of what device or plug-in to run it through, just in
your mind imagine the sound changing to become what it should be and make
note of what you were mentally changing. Now think about all the audio
tools and techniques you have at your disposal and try to determine which
one(s) will achieve what you did in your head. Let's say you have a mix
where the bass guitar seems to disappear when lower notes are played but
higher notes sound fine. Also the bass track when soloed seems to sound
fine. If you turn the bass track up in the mix the lower notes get better
but the high notes are too loud. So is it that we want to make the low
notes louder or the high notes softer? If you look at the big picture it
seems like we just want ALL of the bass notes close to about the same level.
A compressor and / or limiter can help you accomplish that by automatically
controlling the volume one the signal reaches the threshold level you set.

There is more to compression than just the threshold too. There is usually
an Attack and Release control. In general, unless you are trying to create
a special effect, try to set the attach and release controls so that they
follow / mimic the sound you are compressing. In the bass example above we
might want to set a fairly fast attach and a some what slow decay since a
plucked/popped electric bass string behaves that way. Be careful with using
too fast of an attack. I found that when mixing my drums, if I set the
attack on a tom too fast it would sound terrible. Why? Well, I had thought
that drums would need a really fast attack but the compressor attack was
faster than the drum's attack and I was only hearing just the first
millisecond or so. But then by setting the attack to 25 to 30 milliseconds
it allowed enough of the stick hit and some of the tom's tone to develop
before the compressor kicked in, which gave the toms a punchy attack but
still controlled the tom's long sustain from dominating the mix.

You could possibly think of compression and limiting in bungee jumping
terms. The bridge is - infinity dB ( zero volume ), you are a +1 dB signal
and the ground is clipping ( +0.001 dB etc ). If you were to jump off of
the bridge without a bungee cord you would seriously clip! ( ouch! ) The
bungee cord is your compressor. If you hang the bungee cord off of the
bridge without you attached, the point that the other end of the bungee
hangs to it your threshold level, since it will go that far with out
affecting it's payload ( you ). Now tie yourself to the bungee cord and
jump off. Once you pass the threshold level the bungee compressor starts
causing gradually increasing resistance until it (hopefully) stops you at
some point before clipping. The difference between compression and limiting
is if you used a heavy rope or chain of the same length instead of a bungee.
The threshold is the same but nothing goes beyond the threshold. This can be
good for some audio uses but can sound odd and unmusical for others. And it
is REALLY bad news for jumping off of bridges. ( although there is some
tribe in Africa or South America that likes to do that off of short towers )

So hopefully I haven't confused you more. I've found it helpful to play
records/CDs through a stereo compressor and then just play around with the
settings to see what they do and then start trying to do specific things
with the recorded material. Try some recordings that are really dynamic
like symphonic stuff or whatever.

Best of luck!

John L Rice
Drummer@ImJohn.com
November 28, 2004 2:29:25 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

"Weatherman" <Mrs. Henry@spamblock.com> wrote in message
news:o 58qd.38187$F7.665@fe1.news.blueyonder.co.uk...
> Dear all,
>
> Do you apply compression to an incoming signal as it is played "live", or
do
> you apply it to a pre-recorded track as you mix or ping pong?
>

im taking an audio class that has two instructors. one likes to use external
compressors when recording and the other likes to use the software
compression in the mix. i guess it ultimately depends on what you can
afford, your recording situation, isolation and other factors. personally i
have no choice but to use the software...
-alan
Related resources
Anonymous
November 28, 2004 4:54:06 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

Weatherman wrote:

> Dear all,
> I've been trying hard, through looking through the archives and newsgroups,
> etc as well as reading up, about compression. As a newbie, I understand WHAT
> compression is supposed to achive - more or less, still learning. But I am
> still stuck at HOW you actually apply it.
>
> Do you apply compression to an incoming signal as it is played "live", or do
> you apply it to a pre-recorded track as you mix or ping pong?
>
> Can compression make tracks which clip, reduce their level? My experiments
> say no, but I am just learning.
>
> Finally (whilst I'm here, may as well go for broke) - although everyone
> wioll have their own taste and style, and each song will have different
> requirements, is their a basic starting point for people like me, as to what
> kind of compression to apply - i.e. settings - for say,
> vocals
> guitar
> final mixdown
>
> Any advice, or pointers to websites, books, etc would be greatly
> appreciated.

You need to distinguish compression from limiting. Though both use essentially
the same circuitry and are normally sold as limiter/compressors the uses are
very different.

You don't say what you're trying to achieve. Hence no guidance can be given.
Indeed it seems like you want to apply it without any clear idea of why or what
it can do for you.

In short though, limiting is used to restrict the maximum signal level,
compression is used to manipulate dynamic range creatively.

Graham
Anonymous
November 28, 2004 2:26:39 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

John
Thank you so much for going to all the trouble you did.
I found your advice useful, to say the least. I record using the minimum of
processors, and straight to an AKAI HD system. So Compressor and some
effects are the only processors I try to use - very acoustic-based music in
the style of Linda Williams, etc.

Many thanks again. Much appreciated.
Jim
"John L Rice" <Drummer@ImJohn.com> wrote in message
news:10qibrn3mj03sc0@corp.supernews.com...
> Hi Jim,
>
> I'll try to answer your questions but keep in mind there is a good change
> that I'm misinformed or confused on certain issues so don't take my word
> as
> law, please read, listen and try things a lot and make up your own mind.
>
>> Do you apply compression to an incoming signal as it is played "live", or
> do
>> you apply it to a pre-recorded track as you mix or ping pong?
>
> Yes, sometimes. Meaning compressing at either point can be useful and
> desired but it's sometimes unnecessary and undesirable.
>
> For example in a live performance situation it might be important to
> capture
> a recording of a vocalist that you are unfamiliar with. As you might know,
> musicians tend to be 'shy' during sound check so even if you set your
> levels
> careful, half way through the show the singer may 'eat' the mic and let
> out
> a primal scream, possibly causing some nasty distortion in your recording.
> To guard against this you can put a compressor ( or limiter or both ) in
> the
> signal chain as a safety net to keep that signal's amplitude at a
> reasonable
> level. On the other hand if you know the singer and their material and
> you
> are recording on more than one night you may want to not use compression
> and
> just ride the levels manually as needed.
>
> An example of why to compress only during mixing is that it will give you
> more options with your mix. If you compresses everything during tracking
> it
> can really limit your options during mixing and if you went really
> overboard
> on compression you may have to retrack the part ( or wish you would have
> every time you listen to that track for the rest of your days! ;-) My
> feeling is that most compression should be left for the mixing stage
> unless
> you know you are going to want a particular effect or you really know what
> you are doing mixing.
>
>> Can compression make tracks which clip, reduce their level? My
>> experiments
>> say no, but I am just learning.
>
> If you are listening to the track during playback and lowering the track
> volume stops the clipping then yes, you could use compression or limiting
> to
> stop the clipping. If the recording already contains the clip distortion
> then no, it probably wont help. ( if you are using a computer you can
> sometimes hand redraw a clipped wave form to make it more acceptable and
> there are some plug-ins that can automatically remove clips. )
>
>> Finally (whilst I'm here, may as well go for broke) - although everyone
>> wioll have their own taste and style, and each song will have different
>> requirements, is their a basic starting point for people like me, as to
> what
>> kind of compression to apply - i.e. settings - for say,
>> vocals
>> guitar
>> final mixdown
>
>
> There is no real hard fast rules that will always work in every situation.
> It can be frustrating and tedious but you really need to analyze the
> sound/mix and determine if it's acceptable to great or if there is
> something
> wrong and if so, what exactly is it that you don't like. Then imagine what
> would need to happen to the sound to make it the way you would like it,
> but
> don't think in terms of what device or plug-in to run it through, just in
> your mind imagine the sound changing to become what it should be and make
> note of what you were mentally changing. Now think about all the audio
> tools and techniques you have at your disposal and try to determine which
> one(s) will achieve what you did in your head. Let's say you have a mix
> where the bass guitar seems to disappear when lower notes are played but
> higher notes sound fine. Also the bass track when soloed seems to sound
> fine. If you turn the bass track up in the mix the lower notes get better
> but the high notes are too loud. So is it that we want to make the low
> notes louder or the high notes softer? If you look at the big picture it
> seems like we just want ALL of the bass notes close to about the same
> level.
> A compressor and / or limiter can help you accomplish that by
> automatically
> controlling the volume one the signal reaches the threshold level you set.
>
> There is more to compression than just the threshold too. There is
> usually
> an Attack and Release control. In general, unless you are trying to
> create
> a special effect, try to set the attach and release controls so that they
> follow / mimic the sound you are compressing. In the bass example above
> we
> might want to set a fairly fast attach and a some what slow decay since a
> plucked/popped electric bass string behaves that way. Be careful with
> using
> too fast of an attack. I found that when mixing my drums, if I set the
> attack on a tom too fast it would sound terrible. Why? Well, I had
> thought
> that drums would need a really fast attack but the compressor attack was
> faster than the drum's attack and I was only hearing just the first
> millisecond or so. But then by setting the attack to 25 to 30 milliseconds
> it allowed enough of the stick hit and some of the tom's tone to develop
> before the compressor kicked in, which gave the toms a punchy attack but
> still controlled the tom's long sustain from dominating the mix.
>
> You could possibly think of compression and limiting in bungee jumping
> terms. The bridge is - infinity dB ( zero volume ), you are a +1 dB
> signal
> and the ground is clipping ( +0.001 dB etc ). If you were to jump off of
> the bridge without a bungee cord you would seriously clip! ( ouch! ) The
> bungee cord is your compressor. If you hang the bungee cord off of the
> bridge without you attached, the point that the other end of the bungee
> hangs to it your threshold level, since it will go that far with out
> affecting it's payload ( you ). Now tie yourself to the bungee cord and
> jump off. Once you pass the threshold level the bungee compressor starts
> causing gradually increasing resistance until it (hopefully) stops you at
> some point before clipping. The difference between compression and
> limiting
> is if you used a heavy rope or chain of the same length instead of a
> bungee.
> The threshold is the same but nothing goes beyond the threshold. This can
> be
> good for some audio uses but can sound odd and unmusical for others. And
> it
> is REALLY bad news for jumping off of bridges. ( although there is some
> tribe in Africa or South America that likes to do that off of short
> towers )
>
> So hopefully I haven't confused you more. I've found it helpful to play
> records/CDs through a stereo compressor and then just play around with the
> settings to see what they do and then start trying to do specific things
> with the recorded material. Try some recordings that are really dynamic
> like symphonic stuff or whatever.
>
> Best of luck!
>
> John L Rice
> Drummer@ImJohn.com
>
>
>
Anonymous
November 28, 2004 2:38:48 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

Many thanks for taking the trouble to reply. I am aware of why I need to use
it....e.g. to ensure certain levels are consistent and to boost gain
overall - with specific tracks. I just don't seem to be able to get my ears
to hear subtle differences, and I seem to either get very heavy results or
results that - to my ears haven't made any difference at all.

If it's because of my musicality, I thought perhaps that if a standard
existed - let's say if a ratio of 2:1 or 5:1 on vocals was a generally good
starting point - then I would start there and at least know I was on the
right track and work from there.

Articles on EQ'ing helped me see that a lot of success with EQ is about
cutting rather than boosting, and I hoped there was some general advice
around compression.

Regards
Jim
"Pooh Bear" <rabbitsfriendsandrelations@hotmail.com> wrote in message
news:41A92FBE.6D2A7783@hotmail.com...
> Weatherman wrote:
>
>> Dear all,
>> I've been trying hard, through looking through the archives and
>> newsgroups,
>> etc as well as reading up, about compression. As a newbie, I understand
>> WHAT
>> compression is supposed to achive - more or less, still learning. But I
>> am
>> still stuck at HOW you actually apply it.
>>
>> Do you apply compression to an incoming signal as it is played "live", or
>> do
>> you apply it to a pre-recorded track as you mix or ping pong?
>>
>> Can compression make tracks which clip, reduce their level? My
>> experiments
>> say no, but I am just learning.
>>
>> Finally (whilst I'm here, may as well go for broke) - although everyone
>> wioll have their own taste and style, and each song will have different
>> requirements, is their a basic starting point for people like me, as to
>> what
>> kind of compression to apply - i.e. settings - for say,
>> vocals
>> guitar
>> final mixdown
>>
>> Any advice, or pointers to websites, books, etc would be greatly
>> appreciated.
>
> You need to distinguish compression from limiting. Though both use
> essentially
> the same circuitry and are normally sold as limiter/compressors the uses
> are
> very different.
>
> You don't say what you're trying to achieve. Hence no guidance can be
> given.
> Indeed it seems like you want to apply it without any clear idea of why or
> what
> it can do for you.
>
> In short though, limiting is used to restrict the maximum signal level,
> compression is used to manipulate dynamic range creatively.
>
> Graham
>
Anonymous
November 28, 2004 2:39:18 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

Many thanks for your reply. Much appreciated.
Jim
"alan" <.@.> wrote in message news:cobm1m$nlo$1@gnus01.u.washington.edu...
>
> "Weatherman" <Mrs. Henry@spamblock.com> wrote in message
> news:o 58qd.38187$F7.665@fe1.news.blueyonder.co.uk...
>> Dear all,
>>
>> Do you apply compression to an incoming signal as it is played "live", or
> do
>> you apply it to a pre-recorded track as you mix or ping pong?
>>
>
> im taking an audio class that has two instructors. one likes to use
> external
> compressors when recording and the other likes to use the software
> compression in the mix. i guess it ultimately depends on what you can
> afford, your recording situation, isolation and other factors. personally
> i
> have no choice but to use the software...
> -alan
>
>
Anonymous
November 28, 2004 3:27:02 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

In article <cobm1m$nlo$1@gnus01.u.washington.edu> .@. writes:

> im taking an audio class that has two instructors. one likes to use external
> compressors when recording and the other likes to use the software
> compression in the mix. i guess it ultimately depends on what you can
> afford, your recording situation, isolation and other factors.

Is there a substantial difference in their ages, or in the type of
music that they work with most often?

Whether you use hardware or software for compressing when you're
mixing is a matter of availability (of both the equipment and the
gozintas and gozoutas so you can hook it up) and preference for a
particular sound. Whether you compress during recording or not (and
whether you compress when your're mixing (or not) is determined by
you're recording.

The ringer is that most (if any) software is capable of compressing in
real time when recording, or at least let you hear what it's doing. so
if you need to compress what's going in, you pretty much need to do it
with hardware.

--
I'm really Mike Rivers (mrivers@d-and-d.com)
However, until the spam goes away or Hell freezes over,
lots of IP addresses are blocked from this system. If
you e-mail me and it bounces, use your secret decoder ring
and reach me here: double-m-eleven-double-zero at yahoo
Anonymous
November 28, 2004 4:04:57 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

On Sat, 27 Nov 2004 23:29:24 GMT, "Weatherman" <Mrs.
Henry@spamblock.com> wrote:
>Any advice, or pointers to websites, books, etc would be greatly
>appreciated.

How to set up a compressor:

http://homerecording.about.com/library/weekly/aa110497....

An ebook on the subject ($$):

http://www.audiocourses.com/compression/

Compression and limiting explained:

http://www.harmony-central.com/Effects/Articles/Compres...


All above found in 5 minutes on Google searching "audio compression
recording." You may also find it useful to download some manuals from
various standalone compressors, like FMR's Really Nice Preamp (others
here could suggest more sophisticated ones, or, uh, do a Google
search.) In any case, the above should get you started.

Willie K. Yee, M.D. http://users.bestweb.net/~wkyee
Developer of Problem Knowledge Couplers for Psychiatry http://www.pkc.com
Webmaster and Guitarist for the Big Blue Big Band http://www.bigbluebigband.org
Anonymous
November 28, 2004 6:23:38 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

>
>im taking an audio class that has two instructors. one likes to use external
>compressors when recording and the other likes to use the software
>compression in the mix. i guess it ultimately depends on what you can
>afford, your recording situation, isolation and other factors. personally i
>have no choice but to use the software...
>-alan
>
>

I never compress while recording as I cannot undo what has been done. Digital
recording gives me more than enough dynamic range to allow me to do this.

Compression is something that is best learned by listening.

Start with a 2.5:1 ratio and see what happens.
Change attack and release times and see how that affects the sound.

Change ratio and see what happens.

Chage threshold and outputs and compare the sound. If the sound doesn't seem to
change much, but your dynamics are reduced, you have a pretty good unit. If any
amount of compression seems to distort the sound, you have an Alesis 3630.
Richard H. Kuschel
"I canna change the law of physics."-----Scotty
Anonymous
November 28, 2004 6:50:30 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

"Weatherman" <Mrs. Henry@spamblock.com> wrote in message news:<o58qd.38187$F7.665@fe1.news.blueyonder.co.uk>...
> Dear all,
> I've been trying hard, through looking through the archives and newsgroups,
> etc as well as reading up, about compression. As a newbie, I understand WHAT
> compression is supposed to achive - more or less, still learning. But I am
> still stuck at HOW you actually apply it.
>
> Do you apply compression to an incoming signal as it is played "live", or do
> you apply it to a pre-recorded track as you mix or ping pong?
>
> Can compression make tracks which clip, reduce their level? My experiments
> say no, but I am just learning.
>
> Finally (whilst I'm here, may as well go for broke) - although everyone
> wioll have their own taste and style, and each song will have different
> requirements, is their a basic starting point for people like me, as to what
> kind of compression to apply - i.e. settings - for say,
> vocals
> guitar
> final mixdown
>
I'm intriguged by "what compresseion is supposed to achieve".

I'd say for vocal you want a limiting not compression. Guitar
compression or maybe nothing. Final mix, nothing or maybe a little
peak limiting.

Try setting up a compressor with a farly low threshold and high ratio.
Tro a moderate to quick release and the slowest attack possible. Then
run a varity of track through it. Probably this will be too much gain
reduction, but you'll see where compresion vs limiting should be
chosen. When you run you voclas through this, you probably hear a clik
at the begning of words or phrases. This is annoying. Use less gain
reudion and a fast attack for a limiting effect which will even them
out.

Try the original compresison setting on a kick drum or snare drum. Not
that clcik sound is emphasizing the attack of the drum and you'll
probably like it. Be cafull you relesae isnt' to sloo or that you
accidnetlaly kill the ghost notes and that the whole snare volum drops
for a long fill. This could sound good on bass and makybe acoustic
guitat. Keep in mind the original setting was meant to be extreme.

Try cutting it back by increasing the threshold and/or decreasing the
ratio so that that click effect is just barely audible on your
strummed acoustic track.

This is a start that is meant to help you hear compression, but keep
in mind some of the masters took years before they could hear this.
November 28, 2004 7:09:22 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

"Mike Rivers" <mrivers@d-and-d.com> wrote in message
news:znr1101649737k@trad...
>
>
> Is there a substantial difference in their ages, or in the type of
> music that they work with most often?
>

yes, it makes the class really great because they have completely different
approaches, except that in class i keep thinking "but so and so said..." one
instructor is very into analog, but you can see the purist in him tempered
by the availability of great new digi gizmos; and his students are obviously
too poor for classic <$1000 compressors or even a few rnc's. i like working
with the analog stuff when i can though, since the digital interfaces are
mostly modeled from the old analog anyways...
good topic, thanks for the help. does anyone have any recommendations for
software compressors? esp. free ones!
-alan
Anonymous
November 28, 2004 8:05:27 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

Weatherman wrote:

> Many thanks for taking the trouble to reply. I am aware of why I need to use
> it....e.g. to ensure certain levels are consistent and to boost gain
> overall

Ok.

Now we're talking.

One of the best examples of 'getting a consistent level' I had to deal with was
a guitar - unusually ! most guitarists usually give you plenty of level ;-) -
in a live band situation.

The guy was playing with 'studiolike' dynamics and the guitar was being lost in
the overall sound half the time.

In this case you need to use compression to reduce the dynamic range.

I seem to recall using a threshold of around -30 / - 35 and a modest ratio of
around 1.25/1.3:1 . This initially reduces the level so you have to adjust the
output level control ( technically known as 'gain make up' ) to compensate.

The overall effect was to lift his level back into the mix.

I was surprised at how small a ratio I had to use. The threshold had to be set
low enough to catch the quiet bits.

I used 'auto' for the attack / release btw. Works fine on most sources. When you
need to get clever you can fiddle with that stuff. I saw a post about drums - a
good example of where you might want to set attack yourself.

Watch the gain reduction meter btw - a good indication of how effective your
settings are.

> - with specific tracks. I just don't seem to be able to get my ears
> to hear subtle differences, and I seem to either get very heavy results or
> results that - to my ears haven't made any difference at all.

Well..... Good compression *is* subtle ! It's not like an 'in your face' effect.
It's there to enhance a mix.


> If it's because of my musicality, I thought perhaps that if a standard
> existed - let's say if a ratio of 2:1 or 5:1 on vocals was a generally good
> starting point - then I would start there and at least know I was on the
> right track and work from there.

5:1 is where you call it limiting. I.e. a 5dB Increase in input only gives 1 dB
increase in output.

There isn't a 'standard'. You use it as required. Same as EQ.

My experience shows musical results with the lower ratios such as below 2:1. But
why not experiment and see ?

> Articles on EQ'ing helped me see that a lot of success with EQ is about
> cutting rather than boosting, and I hoped there was some general advice
> around compression.

It sems to be rather less well covered as a rule but I'm sure there must be info
out there. What I've learned about how to apply it has been by practice.


Graham
November 28, 2004 8:27:38 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

oops i meant ">"

--
"""""
x x
>
(~)

"alan" <.@.> wrote in message news:codpbi$9kv$1@gnus01.u.washington.edu...
>
> "Mike Rivers" <mrivers@d-and-d.com> wrote in message
> news:znr1101649737k@trad...
> >
> >
> > Is there a substantial difference in their ages, or in the type of
> > music that they work with most often?
> >
>
> yes, it makes the class really great because they have completely
different
> approaches, except that in class i keep thinking "but so and so said..."
one
> instructor is very into analog, but you can see the purist in him tempered
> by the availability of great new digi gizmos; and his students are
obviously
> too poor for classic <$1000 compressors or even a few rnc's. i like
working
> with the analog stuff when i can though, since the digital interfaces are
> mostly modeled from the old analog anyways...
> good topic, thanks for the help. does anyone have any recommendations for
> software compressors? esp. free ones!
> -alan
>
>
Anonymous
November 29, 2004 1:57:49 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

Many many thanks, Graham. I think you have certainly got me on the right
road. Much appreciated.
Jim
"Pooh Bear" <rabbitsfriendsandrelations@hotmail.com> wrote in message
news:41AA0557.4A95F9B8@hotmail.com...
>
> Weatherman wrote:
>
>> Many thanks for taking the trouble to reply. I am aware of why I need to
>> use
>> it....e.g. to ensure certain levels are consistent and to boost gain
>> overall
>
> Ok.
>
> Now we're talking.
>
> One of the best examples of 'getting a consistent level' I had to deal
> with was
> a guitar - unusually ! most guitarists usually give you plenty of level
> ;-) -
> in a live band situation.
>
> The guy was playing with 'studiolike' dynamics and the guitar was being
> lost in
> the overall sound half the time.
>
> In this case you need to use compression to reduce the dynamic range.
>
> I seem to recall using a threshold of around -30 / - 35 and a modest ratio
> of
> around 1.25/1.3:1 . This initially reduces the level so you have to adjust
> the
> output level control ( technically known as 'gain make up' ) to
> compensate.
>
> The overall effect was to lift his level back into the mix.
>
> I was surprised at how small a ratio I had to use. The threshold had to be
> set
> low enough to catch the quiet bits.
>
> I used 'auto' for the attack / release btw. Works fine on most sources.
> When you
> need to get clever you can fiddle with that stuff. I saw a post about
> drums - a
> good example of where you might want to set attack yourself.
>
> Watch the gain reduction meter btw - a good indication of how effective
> your
> settings are.
>
>> - with specific tracks. I just don't seem to be able to get my ears
>> to hear subtle differences, and I seem to either get very heavy results
>> or
>> results that - to my ears haven't made any difference at all.
>
> Well..... Good compression *is* subtle ! It's not like an 'in your face'
> effect.
> It's there to enhance a mix.
>
>
>> If it's because of my musicality, I thought perhaps that if a standard
>> existed - let's say if a ratio of 2:1 or 5:1 on vocals was a generally
>> good
>> starting point - then I would start there and at least know I was on the
>> right track and work from there.
>
> 5:1 is where you call it limiting. I.e. a 5dB Increase in input only gives
> 1 dB
> increase in output.
>
> There isn't a 'standard'. You use it as required. Same as EQ.
>
> My experience shows musical results with the lower ratios such as below
> 2:1. But
> why not experiment and see ?
>
>> Articles on EQ'ing helped me see that a lot of success with EQ is about
>> cutting rather than boosting, and I hoped there was some general advice
>> around compression.
>
> It sems to be rather less well covered as a rule but I'm sure there must
> be info
> out there. What I've learned about how to apply it has been by practice.
>
>
> Graham
>
Anonymous
November 29, 2004 3:18:38 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

Weatherman wrote:

> Many many thanks, Graham. I think you have certainly got me on the right
> road. Much appreciated.
> Jim

You're welcome.

A bit of experimenting will work wonders.

Don't forget to watch the gain reduction meter / led ladder.


Graham
Anonymous
November 30, 2004 1:38:14 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

Mike...
many thanks to you for taking the trouble. And I take your point about maybe
looking at limiting. Thanks again. Much appreciated.
Jim
"Mike Caffrey" <mike@monsterisland.com> wrote in message
news:9b30ebb8.0411281550.777579f9@posting.google.com...
> "Weatherman" <Mrs. Henry@spamblock.com> wrote in message
> news:<o58qd.38187$F7.665@fe1.news.blueyonder.co.uk>...
>> Dear all,
>> I've been trying hard, through looking through the archives and
>> newsgroups,
>> etc as well as reading up, about compression. As a newbie, I understand
>> WHAT
>> compression is supposed to achive - more or less, still learning. But I
>> am
>> still stuck at HOW you actually apply it.
>>
>> Do you apply compression to an incoming signal as it is played "live", or
>> do
>> you apply it to a pre-recorded track as you mix or ping pong?
>>
>> Can compression make tracks which clip, reduce their level? My
>> experiments
>> say no, but I am just learning.
>>
>> Finally (whilst I'm here, may as well go for broke) - although everyone
>> wioll have their own taste and style, and each song will have different
>> requirements, is their a basic starting point for people like me, as to
>> what
>> kind of compression to apply - i.e. settings - for say,
>> vocals
>> guitar
>> final mixdown
>>
> I'm intriguged by "what compresseion is supposed to achieve".
>
> I'd say for vocal you want a limiting not compression. Guitar
> compression or maybe nothing. Final mix, nothing or maybe a little
> peak limiting.
>
> Try setting up a compressor with a farly low threshold and high ratio.
> Tro a moderate to quick release and the slowest attack possible. Then
> run a varity of track through it. Probably this will be too much gain
> reduction, but you'll see where compresion vs limiting should be
> chosen. When you run you voclas through this, you probably hear a clik
> at the begning of words or phrases. This is annoying. Use less gain
> reudion and a fast attack for a limiting effect which will even them
> out.
>
> Try the original compresison setting on a kick drum or snare drum. Not
> that clcik sound is emphasizing the attack of the drum and you'll
> probably like it. Be cafull you relesae isnt' to sloo or that you
> accidnetlaly kill the ghost notes and that the whole snare volum drops
> for a long fill. This could sound good on bass and makybe acoustic
> guitat. Keep in mind the original setting was meant to be extreme.
>
> Try cutting it back by increasing the threshold and/or decreasing the
> ratio so that that click effect is just barely audible on your
> strummed acoustic track.
>
> This is a start that is meant to help you hear compression, but keep
> in mind some of the masters took years before they could hear this.
Anonymous
November 30, 2004 6:18:20 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

Weatherman wrote:
> Dear all,
> I've been trying hard, through looking through the archives and newsgroups,
> etc as well as reading up, about compression. As a newbie, I understand WHAT
> compression is supposed to achive - more or less, still learning. But I am
> still stuck at HOW you actually apply it.
>

How is pretty simple, too. You twist the knobs until they
acheive the desired effect.

The fun part is not "how", but "why".

Some examples:

- on a rhythm guitar part run thru a cheezy Leslie sim, I noticed
that the levels varied more than I liked as the Leslie
"swung". So I squished 'em.

- a bass part sounds pretty good, but it's not "present" enough,
and the arrangement is flawed in a way that makes the bass
"disappear". Compression modifies the note envelope such that
the part is more audible without using a bunch more mix bandwidth,
or without radical EQ.

Really, though, in this case, the arrangement should be fixed,
or EQ applied. But there have been times...

- You want the snare to "crack" - more leading transient. Or
you want to hear the strainer settle after each note. Two
different compression effects.

- You want a really washy ride cymbal, so you squash it
to make it spill out the sides.

> Do you apply compression to an incoming signal as it is played "live", or do
> you apply it to a pre-recorded track as you mix or ping pong?
>

Usally, it's more reversible after it's tracked. That's also a
choice, though - comitting to mix decisions earlier makes for
more interesting mixes.

> Can compression make tracks which clip, reduce their level? My experiments
> say no, but I am just learning.
>


No.

> Finally (whilst I'm here, may as well go for broke) - although everyone
> wioll have their own taste and style, and each song will have different
> requirements, is their a basic starting point for people like me, as to what
> kind of compression to apply - i.e. settings - for say,
> vocals
> guitar
> final mixdown

Don't use any compression for final mixdown until you've pretty
much finished the mix, and then not much. Unless you want a
squooshed mix. But save an unsquooshed one so if you get tired
of the squooshed one, you can go back...

>
> Any advice, or pointers to websites, books, etc would be greatly
> appreciated.
>

The thing to do is get a DAW package, add some compression plugins
and see what the knobs do. If you can swing some hardware
boxes, do that too, but the DAW ones will give you a *general*
idea for cheaper.

> Jim
>
>

--
les Cargill
Anonymous
November 30, 2004 11:31:08 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

Play with the knobs and listen to what they do. Use that knowledge.


"I'm beginning to suspect that your problem is the gap between
what you say and what you think you have said."
-george (paraphrased)
Anonymous
December 1, 2004 12:24:48 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

Many thanks Les....excellent advice.
Jim
"Les Cargill" <lcargill@worldnet.att.net> wrote in message
news:0ERqd.73488$7i4.63414@bgtnsc05-news.ops.worldnet.att.net...
> Weatherman wrote:
>> Dear all,
>> I've been trying hard, through looking through the archives and
>> newsgroups, etc as well as reading up, about compression. As a newbie, I
>> understand WHAT compression is supposed to achive - more or less, still
>> learning. But I am still stuck at HOW you actually apply it.
>>
>
> How is pretty simple, too. You twist the knobs until they
> acheive the desired effect.
>
> The fun part is not "how", but "why".
>
> Some examples:
>
> - on a rhythm guitar part run thru a cheezy Leslie sim, I noticed
> that the levels varied more than I liked as the Leslie
> "swung". So I squished 'em.
>
> - a bass part sounds pretty good, but it's not "present" enough,
> and the arrangement is flawed in a way that makes the bass "disappear".
> Compression modifies the note envelope such that
> the part is more audible without using a bunch more mix bandwidth,
> or without radical EQ.
>
> Really, though, in this case, the arrangement should be fixed,
> or EQ applied. But there have been times...
>
> - You want the snare to "crack" - more leading transient. Or
> you want to hear the strainer settle after each note. Two
> different compression effects.
>
> - You want a really washy ride cymbal, so you squash it
> to make it spill out the sides.
>
>> Do you apply compression to an incoming signal as it is played "live", or
>> do you apply it to a pre-recorded track as you mix or ping pong?
>>
>
> Usally, it's more reversible after it's tracked. That's also a
> choice, though - comitting to mix decisions earlier makes for
> more interesting mixes.
>
>> Can compression make tracks which clip, reduce their level? My
>> experiments say no, but I am just learning.
>>
>
>
> No.
>
>> Finally (whilst I'm here, may as well go for broke) - although everyone
>> wioll have their own taste and style, and each song will have different
>> requirements, is their a basic starting point for people like me, as to
>> what kind of compression to apply - i.e. settings - for say,
>> vocals
>> guitar
>> final mixdown
>
> Don't use any compression for final mixdown until you've pretty much
> finished the mix, and then not much. Unless you want a
> squooshed mix. But save an unsquooshed one so if you get tired
> of the squooshed one, you can go back...
>
>>
>> Any advice, or pointers to websites, books, etc would be greatly
>> appreciated.
>>
>
> The thing to do is get a DAW package, add some compression plugins and see
> what the knobs do. If you can swing some hardware
> boxes, do that too, but the DAW ones will give you a *general*
> idea for cheaper.
>
>> Jim
>
> --
> les Cargill
Anonymous
December 1, 2004 1:12:00 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

"Weatherman" <Mrs. Henry@spamblock.com> wrote in message news:<o58qd.38187$F7.665@fe1.news.blueyonder.co.uk>...
> Dear all,
> I've been trying hard, through looking through the archives and newsgroups,

dBx conducted a workshop on compression/limiting in the 80's, and I
think I learned more there in 1 day than my previous years in radio
with all the 'leveling amps' and peak limiters simply because they
applied the information to both recording and live sound which is what
I had gotten into by that time.
Some of the info is touched on briefly at:
http://www.dbxpro.com/ftp_mirror/PDFs/WhitePapers/Compr...

> etc as well as reading up, about compression. As a newbie, I understand WHAT
> compression is supposed to achive - more or less, still learning. But I am
> still stuck at HOW you actually apply it.
>
> Do you apply compression to an incoming signal as it is played "live", or do
> you apply it to a pre-recorded track as you mix or ping pong?

Normally, apply only to a track going in if it's absolutely needed
like on a
really rowdy vocal and then only enough to keep things from clipping.
Most signals need to be left clean until you decide how they will be
used in the mix. (Oh, it's OK to comp the bass guitar if it's lined in
but I like
to mike an amp, but that's just me ...)

>
> Can compression make tracks which clip, reduce their level? My experiments
> say no, but I am just learning.

DIGITAL CLIPPING IS BAD, VERY BAD !
Control levels as needed to keep things out of the red.
If your using 16 bit: then some very dynamic sources (that rowdy
vocal,
a slapped bass, maybe drums) might be helped along by some slight
compression or maybe a peak limit just below the clip point.
24 bit should never need dynamics control going in.

> Finally (whilst I'm here, may as well go for broke) - although everyone
> wioll have their own taste and style, and each song will have different
> requirements, is their a basic starting point for people like me, as to what
> kind of compression to apply - i.e. settings - for say,
> vocals
Probably the most appropriate source to compress but only just enough
to
smooth out the loud stuff. If your'e reducing gain by more than 4-6 dB
on peaks it's too much.

> guitar
electric: not needed
acoustic: maybe just a bit- 2-3 dB

> final mixdown
if it's a good mix it shouldn't need much if any, but if you are
tempted
to compress a mix use a high pass filter ( dBx's 'contour') to keep
from
pumping on bass/kick. an eq in the sidechain rolled of below 100 or so
will work if the unit doesn't have a HPF.
>
> Any advice, or pointers to websites, books, etc would be greatly
> appreciated.

If it's creating an audible effect then it's too much, unless you are
using it just as an effect.

>
> Jim

Good Luck
RD
!