But there are a ton of incredible compressors out there that don’t just focus on recreating old classics. Use long release times to balance and stabilize sounds that are inconsistent dynamically. When listening to other songs in your genre, is the volume consistent or does it change over the course of the song? This gradual compression will sound more natural, while a fast attack that will crush your transient, making it sound extremely compressed. It can also completely flatten out a dynamic performance, take away depth, character and leave a sound thin, pinched and lifeless.So how do you know whether you’ve gone too far, or not far enough? Make sure you aren’t ignoring it – especially when applying sidechain compression. As you might expect, there’s no tried and true “right number.” Your best bet is to listen closely while adjusting the attack. Density is important because it enables the sound to project more forcefully and efficiently through a speaker system. 10 common compression mistakes to watch out for. That forcefulness translates to better localization cues, which ultimately translates to better imaging. [Editors Note: This article was written by Rob Mayzes.]. Tracks are blended using various processes such as EQ, Compression and Reverb.. This is especially true when it comes to compression. Not usually what you’re going for when honing your drum’s dynamics. Compression is a tool that will solve problems in your mix. 1. Our ears have a short attention span. Let us know in the comments below. The number of plugins to choose from can become overwhelming. learn what ear fatigue is and how to avoid it. Genres that are meant to be super dynamic, such as classical and jazz, aren’t going to need much compression in the mix. But multiple compressors working together can give you greater gain reduction while sounding much more natural. Don’t forget to turn the threshold back down! Learn how to improve your mix’s clarity, separation and impact without squashing the life out of it—or leaving it too loose and An extremely common mistake is assuming the stock compressors that come with your DAW aren’t as good as premium ones. Obvious compression is helpful for finding a good attack time, but you don’t want to leave it like that on accident. Say you’re compressing a bass guitar with 9 dB of gain reduction. Discover how to make your kick and bass hit hard by cutting (NOT boosting) the right frequencies! You don’t need to simply listen and guess. Then gradually decrease the attack time until the instrument starts to sound dull and lifeless. If you’re working in a heavier genre where obvious compression is ok, you may want 6 to 10 dBs of compression. Pop isn’t usually meant to sound distorted and rough, so hard compression won’t be particularly helpful. Multiply this by knowing that no singular approach to compression will work in every situation with every instrument, or with every compressor unit; what's easy to end up with is a lot of confusion.Although compression was originally used as a tool to solve purely technical issues, it also became valuable for making sounds more powerful. Fast Attack: 0-1ms (will cut most, if not all, of the transient), Medium Attack: 1-10ms (will shorten and sharpen the transient), Slow Attack: 10-100ms (will warm up the transient attack), Fast Release: 0-100ms (will create dynamic movement and presence), Medium Release: 100-500ms (will rhythmically shape the sustain signal), Slow Release: 500ms – 20 sec (will add balance, warmth and body), Light Ratio: 1.1:1 – 2:1 (transparent compression), Medium Ratio: 2:1 – 8:1 (moderate compression), Heavy Ratio 8:1 – 20:1 (heavy compression), Limiting Ratio 20:1 to ∞:1 (aggressive compression). Remember, the ratio setting will add more warmth as the ratio increases. How to do it: We’ve done a step-by-step sidechain compression guide–take a look to revisit the basics. Audio mixing is the process of taking recorded tracks and blending them together. This is especially true for the rhythmic based compression that must trigger from the transient in order for the musically valued release time to work in time. Turn the threshold really high so the compression is obvious. With slow attacks you’ll also have an easier time avoiding over-compression. Stock compressors usually come with a wide range of attack times, release times, and even different modeling settings. The property of “smallness” is also important because this creates more focused sounds, better separation of elements in a mix, and leaves the necessary space for the reverb and effects to be heard without clouding the mix.Sounds simple, right? Take note of the sounds that disappear most quickly and keep in mind the fact that lower frequencies will disappear more quickly at lower volumes. This content is not available in your country. Each compressor on your track should only be reducing the gain by 1-3 dB’s. This is another key reason to learn the ins and outs of your stock compressor before buying a premium one. What is audio mixing? Since lower frequencies are already, by nature, less dynamic, using the transient energy to trigger too much compression of the sustain signal will naturally lessen the perceived power in that frequency range. More flat. An under-compressed mix can lack definition, sound cluttered and lack dynamic movement. Although this dictionary reference will not tell you how to compress your vocal or drum tracks, it will provide the underlying characteristics of what compression is and how that can be translated into the transmission of audio:Compression: Both definitions get to the root of something important: compression makes things—like sound waves—smaller and denser. But if you don’t have a specific reason to use a fast release, stick with one that’s moderate or slow. Though keeping the same attack setting for all the tracks of drum kit, for example, is also a great way to make the individual elements glue together like a single instrument. You aren’t doing yourself any favors throwing compression on tracks that already sound fine. In mastering, compressors were used to prevent the cutting lathe from driving too deep into the lacquer and potentially destroying the cutting head. In this guide you’ll learn what these common compression mistakes are and how you can avoid them to get clear, professional sounding mixes. Before you reach for a compressor, you should know why you’re using it. You’re just trying to subdue particularly strong peaks here, be careful not to squash your sound. Discover how to make your kick and bass hit hard by cutting (NOT boosting) the right frequencies! So instead of using 1 compressor on the bass to turn it down 9dB, try using 3 compressors that are reducing 3 dB each. To dial in your release, turn your threshold down again and start with a really fast release time. Avoiding these mistakes will go a long way in making sure you have a professional sounding mix every time. Too much compression can make your tracks distort. A good warning sign of under-compression in a mix is that it only sounds good when you turn the speakers up loud. You buy more and more until suddenly you have tons of compressors to choose from. This might sound nice at first, but there is such thing as having too many options. You may be getting the volume you want from the bass, but it’s going to sound pretty processed. If you have a guitar part that gets really quiet during the verses, don’t compress the life out of the whole track just to turn the loud parts down. Pick a song you’d like your mix to sound like and compare your mix to it while you work. But you can get a ton of different tones out of a compressor if you know how to use it. Instead of focusing on mixing, you sink a ton of time into trying out different ones to see which one is “just right.”. If the transient levels are inconsistent, set the threshold lower and adjust ratio lower to get more consistent gain reduction results. By paying attention to your gain reduction, you’ll know exactly how hard your compressor is working and can avoid over or under-compressing. Depth is a characteristic of dynamic movement: whether a performance dynamic, a programmed dynamic, or a transient-to-sustain dynamic. A single compressor that’s working super hard will stick out like a sore thumb in your mix. Any compressor you use will have some kind of meter that shows you how much gain is being reduced. Okay, so maybe I was just being an angsty teen and wanted to break some baking rules, but on the real, you should probably listen to what all of those chefs have been feeding your brain for years (pun intended). A loud sound won't sound powerful unless there's some contrasting energy. But a lot of musicians who turn to premium plugins find themselves stockpiling different compressors with very specific uses. Over-processing with a multi-band compressor can easily skew the frequency and phase relationships of your master. Compression can bring tonal balance, focus, clarity and breathe life into a dead sound. However, over-use of compression will bring out subtle distortions. At the start of your serial compression chain, try using a compressor with a faster attack time. Mix your … This is a technique called serial compression. In the next and final entry, let’s take a look how to prepare your master to be sent out to labels / distributors / digital content providers.
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