Friday, 24 February 2012

Compression Q&A

Compression Q&A

So I received a few questions about compression. Here's a selection.

What's a "better" deal? Low comp rates and squashing thresholds, or higher comp rates with less "threshold pressure"? Any personal / particular notes on attack / release controls?

I find this depends on what you're compressing. If you are compressing a vocal I tend to use fairly high ratios but on a guitar they are much lower (3:1 or thereabouts). You can get away with a lot of compression on a vocal, especially a rock vocal then you can with an acoustic guitar for example.

If I compress a mix I would use very low ratios (1.5:1).

In terms of attack, like everything it depends on the source. If it's drums i tend to slow the attack so i don't ruin the bite of the drum. On a vocal I'd have the attack pretty fast to catch the first syllable.

With release I'd set it pretty fast on short, quick sounds and slower on the slower sounds. Fast being drums for example, slow being distorted rhythm guitars and  slow tempo vocals.

What software compressors do you recommend?

On the higher end I'd recommend the Waves CLA classic compressors. They are software versions of compressors used in most big studios. They sound really good and are pretty intuitive.

I'd also recommend Massey's CT4 compressor. It's very basic to look at the plug in itself is very cheap to buy and you can run lots on even the slowest computer.

Of course don't forget the compressors that come with your software. I find a lot of them don't like being stretched but they do well to give you a consistent level.

On the final mix,whats best for overall compression? 

I find, as mentioned before, that a low ratio is good on an overall mix. Couple this with a slow attack to let the mix bite and a fast release the give it punch and you should be heading in the right direction.

That's it for this Q&A. I'll be back on Monday with another blog. Don't forget if you want to learn about this and more then you'll like STCs weekend course starting on March 3+4.



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