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Re: Compressor

Of course Pers answer is outstanding, and Im afraid, experimentation will yield the best results, but I remember being confused about them too (Am still a bit)

WHat you need is some understanding of the controls of a typical compressor, and a few definitive applications (for your kind of music).

Here we go:

Level: Theres always a level contril
Threshold: a control to select HOW LOUD it has to be before the compressor starts compressing. Low threshold, everything is compressed, High threshold, just the loud bits (this second is a limiter basically)
Ratio: Sometime called other things, this is the AMOUNT of compression.

There are many applications of compressors, but heres 3 (chosen for techno use)

1. MAKE THE WHOLE MIX REALLY LOUD; Yes, Compressors are often placed on the Left Right Main outputs, to turn up the quiet bits and get the loud bits as loud as they can be before getting distorted... the theory is, the louder the music is, the more you will notice it... Hmmm... Im afriad this is true... sad... but true.
2. THE TRANCE GATE: This is usually achieved by the "Side Chain" input of a compressor. That is a special input, that doesnt get affects by the sound, but automatically adjusts the mount of compression BASED ON THE LEVEL OF THE NOISE AT THIS INPUT. So the other, normal input will vary in volume, BASED on the level of the sound sent to the this input. Put a droning synth on the regular input and a high hat in the Side Chain input, and the drone is heard as Da Da Da Da Da Da...
3. BASSDRUM PUNCH: Basically the same effect, but in reverse. The problem for techno artists is that they want the bass drum as loud as possible, but if they turn it up, everything else distorts when it is heard... the trick, turn every thing else DOWN while the Bass Drum is playing, this way the Bass drum appears clean and punchy, and the music is kept clean.

...and finally, a cheat from the 80s, Almost all producers would put the bass drum in the side chain input of a compressor, and put the Bass guitarist in the compressor... yes that slack, dope smoking, sleepy bass player... suddenly, he was as tight as hell... playing right on that beat with the drummer.. "wow what a rythym section...!" Er no... actually, every time the kick drum played, the bass players not was turned up a bit, giving the illusion of tightness...

Compressors, Used in moderation, subtle mix tweaking tools, Used in excess, crazy power effects and broken up beats... But best learned in software, where you can try out lots of thing without a rewire...

Hope this helps!


On Sun, Oct 7, 2012 at 9:37 PM, Sergio Girardi <simpliflying@gmail.com> wrote:
Hello dears.

once again I ask this question which nobody answered till now, hoping that this time I will have more luck.
I know many many people if not all, here, are not into techno and electro, but I suppose you can suggest me and explain me this:

what is a compressor for? And what is a limiter/gate for?
Many compressors are compressor/limiter/gate and other are not (if I remember well, RNC and RNLA are just compressors, for example) and in internet the infos are so technical and complicated that I never understood what are these things for and if I need them or not and which one and many.

For example, to avoid peaks, distortion, and saturation,what do I need? A compressor, a limiter, an EQ, or just set the gain properly? Or a combination of those?
And if I want do get a punchy round kick drum, or a fat powerful dense bass, weather from a sample or from a Synth or beatboxing, what do I need (a part a good sample or synth or voice)?

I hope in some help here because I feel that the compressor is the last missing important thing in my setup and I would like to understand well if I need it and which/many? My budget is limited (did I already announce that I wrote to my boss to quit from next year so that I can actually have time to make music instead of having just some -few- money to buy gears?) so if I can avoid it better but if it really can give to my setup that extra more which makes the difference, I´ll go for it, or for them (= one for the voice, one for the sampler and synths, or one for the kick and one for the bassline, or whatever else).


Mark Francombe
twitter @markfrancombe