Compression. The most misunderstood effect?
Compression. Everyone talks a good game about it. I've found few know exactly how to use it. My personal opinion is that most people do not understand compression at a gut level. Sure that can throw a compressor on a track or channel with some default settings...but do they really know what a compressor does?
As I explain in one of the first lessons in my the Masterclass in Compressors, Limiters & Gates, Compressors squash the dynamic range of a signal so that they can better sit in a mix. A track with many peaks and valleys will either poke it's head up into distortion, or live so far down in the mix to be a heard. A well set up compressor will fix this.
What is Dynamic Range?
it's the difference between the quiet parts and loud parts. If you have a vocalist who whispers some phrases and belts out a number of big notes...it's going to be hard to place that in a mix. If you boost the fader for that vocal part up to catch the whispers, the big notes will distort when they come up. Do it the other way and bring the fader down to accommodate the big notes, then the whispers will get lost.
Can't I just fix this with Microphone Technique?
Yes. And I train any signer that I'm working with to move into and/or away from the microphone to help balance out the dynamics, but the problem will still remain for variances within phrases like plosives or even variances in bass guitar tracks between fingering and slapping. You can't move the pickup away from the strings on slapped notes! There are a myriad of ways that tracks can have large dynamic ranges that make them almost impossible to fit into a mix. Compressors fix all of this my taming the peaks and bringing up the quieter parts.
But there's so much to learn with compression ratios, thresholds, attack and release settings, makeup gains, gain reduction and soft knees.
Since this seems to be an ease where there's a lot of confusion, I put all the tips & tricks that I've learned as professional audio engineer over the last 30 years into a brand new Compression Secrets Chart and it's accompanying series of videos that go through exactly how compression works...and specifically how to use compression in your recorded tracks or live sound.
It's a great resource suitable to framing or lamination for quick access in your studio or live sound mixing position. You're literally 60 seconds away from downloading your own chart and viewing your first video.
Click here to sign up.