Tagged: compression

Quick Tip: Setting a Compressor

Here’s a quick tip on setting a compressor properly so you’re not overcompressing the signal. I got it from reading through the excellent posts like this one on Production Advice (mentioned in an earlier post). I’ve been using compressors for years and I can’t believe I never knew this bit of wisdom! Here it is:

In normal use (i.e. not for a special effect), set your compressor’s threshold so the gain reduction goes back to zero a few times each measure.

That’s it! That way you know you’re only compressing the loudest parts of the signal and not crushing the whole thing. It also ensures that the release time isn’t too long and the compressor has a chance to “let go” of the signal before the next loud bit. Continue reading

Production Advice

Photo by Thomas Helbig

Just found this great blog on recording, mixing and mastering: Ian Shepherd’s Production Advice. Shepherd covers all aspects of achieving great-sounding mixes, from getting the best sounds at source, mixing them effectively, and making the end result loud and punchy so it competes with commercial mixes. I stumbled onto the site a mere 24 hours ago and I already feel like I’ve spent a month in engineering school (in a good way).

Being a professional mastering engineer, Shepherd tends to focus on that end of the chain. But I also feel like that’s more misunderstood than recording and mixing anyway, so it’s a welcome addition to my trove of resources. Witness his discussion of dithering, an esoteric and confusing subject if ever there was one. Shepherd maintains that one should dither whenever you bounce, whether it be to 16 or 24 bit. This goes against conventional wisdom, at least the conventional wisdom I’ve read, but it does make sense when he explains it. Continue reading

Free Stuff for the New Year

Native Instruments has just released Skanner, a new wave-scanning synthesizer for Reaktor and Reaktor Player. It’s a pretty incredible little sound-mangling tool, especially considering it’s FREE. Skanner seems more suited to sound-mangling than anything else, making it a sound-designer’s dream, but it is possible to get it to make pretty music if you’re careful. One of the coolest features is the ability to morph between two presets, and even modulate the morphing with an LFO. If you don’t own Reaktor. you can still use Skanner with the free Reaktor Player.

In that spirit, here are a few other freebies out there on the Interwebs. Enjoy, share, etc., and if you like them, be sure to buy some actual products from the generous vendors:

Continue reading

Compressors Made Easy

To really hear what a compressor is doing, set the Ratio and Threshold at their maximum.

Compressors can be confusing little buggers. When I was a recording novice, I was often baffled by them and was never really sure if they were doing anything. Even now, with more experienced ears, it’s still sometimes hard to tell exactly whether a compressor is adding anything useful to a track.

A compressor’s effect on a track can be subtle—and that Makeup Gain knob doesn’t help, since we usually perceive “louder” as “better.” I’ve often discovered, after thinking I’d improved my audio by adding a compressor, that all I’d done was make it louder. A few years ago I learned this handy trick for setting compressors: go way too far with the compressor’s settings so you can really tell what you’re doing, and then back them off:

Continue reading