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Author Topic: Compression  (Read 38425 times)

peyemp

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Re: Compression
« Reply #30 on: December 29, 2005, 03:09:17 pm »

zmix wrote on Thu, 29 December 2005 17:47

I hate compression when It's poorly designed, implemented or applied to a track. Record production, engineering, and electronics design all center on one thing: knowing what to listen for.



right on.  nothing can kill a track quite like bad compression/limiting.  there are certain compressors and limiters that I tend to stay far away from when tracking,, only to audition them during mix.  
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Les Ismore

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Re: Compression
« Reply #31 on: December 29, 2005, 04:35:07 pm »

I was talking to a friend who has mixed some major records and he was squishing the living daylights out of every track. When I asked him why he said that way he didn't have to move the faders very much so it was easier. I said that it kills the sound of every track. He said, "Have you listened to the radio recently? This is the sound that gets on the radio. It doesn't matter that it sounds like shit because this is what people want."

Personaly I blame SSL for putting a comp on every channel for popularizing this sound. Every young engineer then thought that they had to use that comp on every channel because "it was there and that's the way it's done". Now many people don't even remember what a dynamic recording sounds like, but they've sure learned to "get all the lights going on those compressors".

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dikledoux

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Re: Compression
« Reply #32 on: December 29, 2005, 05:09:06 pm »

With the limited resources at my disposal, I've found that the least likely reason for me to use compression is to handle volume changes in a track.  That's all to easy to handle with volume automation/envelopes.  Instead, I've gotten to where I use compression and specifically the attack settings to enhance the "impact" portion of a tracked instrument and it's relationship to the "tone" aspect.  I rarely have a desire to hear a compressor "pumping", but I'll monkey with the perceived attack of the instrument with wild abandon.  (I realize my descriptions might be completely useless here, so forgive me.)

For example, on a rock song maybe I'd like the snare to come across the speakers in a way similar to how it seems to in a live settting - the initial impact seems brutal, but somehow I still get to hear the body of the snare sound after (as my ears relax from the initial wince, hehe).  On the recording, with properly applied compression, I can make the attack really separate the initial strike from the rest of the mix, but then I can make the shell and resonance show up as well, without having to just jack the snare sound up overall.

On vocals, I tend to use compression to give the vocal an appearance of being very close to the listener or more "out in the room".  When someone talks RIGHT into your ear, it has a compressed sound - probably cuz your eardrum is being overloaded.  When someone is singing at a distance from you, it comes across in a different way.  But just leaving a vocal dry or applying reverb doesn't necessarily convey "in your ear" or "out in a room".

As a lowly non-professional, it just occurs to me that being able to select from a killer assortment of mics, good sounding rooms and recording media, you can achieve many of these results without resorting to compression as a tool.  If you don't have these resources, sometimes compression can help with that (way more than eq and reverb).

That's all I got.  Hope I'm not way the hell off in the weeds.

dik
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j.hall

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Re: Compression
« Reply #33 on: December 30, 2005, 04:09:20 pm »

it's interesting how many people hate compression.  i'll be bold enough to say that you guys that hate it, probably have records you find to be brilliant sounding that are totally crushed.

i'll keep using tchad blake as my example (for continuity)

i've had many people in my forum say similar things about compression then go on to say they absolutely love tchad's work.

my whole point in my previous posts is that if you know how to musically work a compressor, and you know the comps in your rack very well, then compression is a lethal weapon.

i'll stand by my claim.  i think many of those who hate compression simply aren't good at using them.

here's another bold statement.....

compression is the sound of modern rock n roll.  and quite frankly, i like it.

there are some seriously amazing sounding records that are just crushed.

Andy Wallace
Tchad Blake
Rich Costey
JR McNeely

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J.J. Blair

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Re: Compression
« Reply #34 on: December 30, 2005, 04:41:05 pm »

The Lord-Alge's webpage has a saying: "If you wanna crank it, you gotta spank it."  

Now, you just have to listen to all their mixes and decide for youself if they are right.

Personally, I find a good compressor more useful than a good EQ.  And I agree with J Hall.  It's completely about using these tools musically.  As much as I hate the L2 limiter, I'm sure I wouldn't object to it so much if people used it musically.  The problem is that nobody has done that yet, that I can hear.  1176s, Fairchilds, LA2As, LA3As, 33609s, BA6As, etc.  These are very musical sounding.   I like them when people tend to use them in ways that I think enhances the performance, rather than beating it into submission, because that's what's radio wants.  And that's what we should be doing, isn't it?  Enhancing a performance?  I'm sure Steve will disagree with that, though.

Very Happy
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electrical

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Re: Compression
« Reply #35 on: December 30, 2005, 04:49:40 pm »

j.hall wrote on Fri, 30 December 2005 16:09

it's interesting how many people hate compression.  i'll be bold enough to say that you guys that hate it, probably have records you find to be brilliant sounding that are totally crushed.

Pretty bold, also absolutely off-base. It's not that compressing music never works, but that it should not be a default maneuver, and it should be done sparingly, selectively, as necessary, because it has bad and obvious side-effects. A "crushed" record sounds bad, otherwise you wouldn't call it "crushed."

And it's cute that you think those of us who don't like compression aren't good at using it. I also don't like being stabbed. Is there a technique to appreciating it that I have yet to master? Am I not good at being stabbed?

Quote:

i'll keep using tchad blake as my example (for continuity)

You hit the nail on the head.

Quote:

here's another bold statement.....

compression is the sound of modern rock n roll.  and quite frankly, i like it.

Bold, yes. Also profoundly misleading. A studio tool is "the sound" of something only if an engineer is foolish enough to fall for gimmicks. If that thing in the rack is more important than everything else you do in a session, you've blown it.

Quote:

there are some seriously amazing sounding records that are just crushed.

Andy Wallace
Tchad Blake
...


Substitue "cliche-riddled, immediately-dated artefacts" for "seriously amazing sounding records" and you've hit another nail on the head.
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bobkatz

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Re: Compression
« Reply #36 on: December 30, 2005, 05:48:35 pm »

electrical wrote on Fri, 30 December 2005 16:49



Quote:

there are some seriously amazing sounding records that are just crushed.

Andy Wallace
Tchad Blake
...


Substitue "cliche-riddled, immediately-dated artefacts" for "seriously amazing sounding records" and you've hit another nail on the head.


You can't argue with taste. I know where I sit on this side of the argument. A record that does not have the feel of a live performance just doesn't make it for me. Many times in mastering I try to put back dynamics that the mixing engineer lost, hower slightly. They love it when they get it back, have no idea how I did it, but they love it.

But too much of anything is TOO MUCH. You absolutely have to keep the sound of the live performance in the back of your head if you're going to succeed, though.

BK
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wwittman

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Re: Compression
« Reply #37 on: December 30, 2005, 10:07:38 pm »

I'm not prepared, ultimately, to be told how something "should be" used.

Appropriate use is entirely in the ear of the beholder.

I don;t like "over compresion" as *I* perceive it, either... but neither then do I like many "purist" records where use of no compression, no eq and so on becomes a religion at the expense of any character at all.

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electrical

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Re: Compression
« Reply #38 on: December 30, 2005, 10:31:53 pm »

wwittman wrote on Fri, 30 December 2005 22:07

I'm not prepared, ultimately, to be told how something "should be" used.

Appropriate use is entirely in the ear of the beholder.

I don;t like "over compresion" as *I* perceive it, either... but neither then do I like many "purist" records where use of no compression, no eq and so on becomes a religion at the expense of any character at all.



Which do you think is a bigger problem, people who don't do enough to change the music they record, or people who do too much to the sound, trying to somehow "make it special?"

I think there is too much of the latter, and a judicious, minimal approach is far from a "religion." It is a response to the problem we all see all around us, that of records that are overcooked in every aspect, and so standardized to a level of abstraction. I think this common tragedy is easily avoidable.

I think there are vanishingly few records that would better serve the bands by being more tweaked, more compressed, or generally more slaved-over. It is so easy to manipulate sound that manipulating the sound has become a goal unto itself. I find that ridiculous, and I defend the approach less likely to create freakish sounds and cliches.
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vernier

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Re: Compression
« Reply #39 on: December 30, 2005, 11:44:34 pm »

Quote:

I think there is too much of the latter, and a judicious, minimal approach is far from a "religion."

I'm joining! ...gonna make '06 a less compressiony year.
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Pingu

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Re: Compression
« Reply #40 on: December 31, 2005, 12:53:51 am »

Alright guys i thought id throw this in from mixing with your mind. I loved this when i saw it.

Mike Stavrou




It's Like Cracking a Safe

Compressors have four basic knobs (parameters) and the key to classy compression is as simple as the order in which you reach out and focus on adjusting those knobs. When you get the sequence right, you'll hear more clearly the effect of each parameter - thereby arriving at a truer and more musical setting.

The compressor's combination lock has four tumblers. Adjusting them in a special order also prevents you from returning to a previously adjusted control. Don't you hate it when you are happy with the Release time until you fiddle with the Attack? They affect each other when adjusted randomly or out-of-sequence. Chasing your tail is about to become a thing of the past. Like cracking any combination lock, once a tumbler falls into place, you need not return to it. Each step represents decisive progress.

Getting started (temporary settings)

To crack this combination, you will need to set all the controls to a temporary setting while you focus on one parameter at a time. Once the first one is set, that tumbler falls in place, leaving three more to crack. Focus on the next one - listen - adjust - and tumbler number two falls into place and so forth. Approach this safe-cracking exercise in a different order and you will arrive at a different result.

* Attack to anywhere
* Release to minimum
* Ratio to maximum
* Threshold to sensitive

1. Attack

The first thing you do is set the ratio to as high as it'll go - 20:1, infinity... the highest you've got. Next set the release time to as fast as it'll go - which, admittedly, is faster than you'd ever want it. Then, drive the audio into the unit, either by lowering the Threshold or increasing the input (depends on the unit), and listen while you adjust the only the Attack time.

Listen to the Attack - the leading edge of the sound - while rolling the Attack knob. Try to ignore the horrible pumping caused by the after effects of the fast Release - just listen to the Attack. (The ultra-fast Release lets you hear far more individual attacks than a slow setting.)

Listen to the front edge of the sound. Notice how the Attack knob affects the size of the hit. So, if it's a snare drum that you are compressing, and the Attack is on a fast setting, it's as though the drumstick is really skinny.

Alternatively, if the Attack is on a slow setting, it's as if the stick is much thicker. Likewise, if it's an acoustic guitar and the Attack is on a fast setting, you're just hearing the finger nail come through as it hits the string; while if the Attack is slow, you might get the whole strum through - the entire transient bypasses the compressor. So, forget all the after effects, just listen to the thickness of the Attack until it's "tasty" - you might want it thin, you might want it thick, just think aesthetics. And then, because the ratio is so high and the release is so fast, you'll be able to hear the affect of the Attack time much clearer than if they were on any other setting. This technique effectively "turns your ears up" to heighten your perception of the Attack time control.

2. Release


The second step is to play with the Release time. "Release" controls the speed at which the sound glides back at you after being punched away. The trick is to get that speed to become a musical component of the sound. You might ask, "Do you mean in time with the music?" or "With fast music do I set faster than I would for a slow ballad?" Perhaps, but certainly don't think, "I want it fast because I want to compress the crap out of this" - don't do that. In fact, make it as slow as you can, so the compression envelope bounces back to reinforce or establish the groove of the music. Remember, any dynamic movement in a song affects the groove, and compressor/limiters are no exception. (Whether the Singer is moving back and forth from their mic, or you're madly wiggling a fader, or a compressor is pushing and pulling on a sound, the groove is at risk of being enhanced or destroyed by dynamic movement.) So, don't set your Release to a fast setting just because you want to hear something buried behind the sound. Forget that. There are bigger fish to fry. You're already compressing a little bit, so the  background sounds will come forward anyway. Instead, you want to think, "How slow can I get it while maintaining some control?", because the power in the groove is really a slower-moving, subliminal yet powerful wave - it's not an ultra-fast thing that's there to crunch your sound. Even in a frantically fast-paced tune, a slower, subliminal undercurrent carries most of the power. For example, you might have it so slow by the time the next hit comes along it's not quite fully released. But that's okay. A formulaic approach might intellectually tell you that it has to be fully released before the next hit, but that's more math and less groove.

Listen to the Release. Feel the way it glides or bounces back at you and there will be a point where you sense this bounce-back is kind of like a swing -almost like someone is swinging from a rope in a tyre in groove with the tune. It doesn't have to be perfectly in time, because a groove - as anyone who teaches music will tell you - should keep time, but not necessarily play the time.
Never play the metronome. Never play the conductor's baton. So, don't just make it a quarter of a beat or whatever, just look for that groove, and that's your release time. Make the rush of the Release a musical component that pushes you into the next beat without pre-empting the beat. Let the musician hit you while the pressure is still rising instead of letting the compressor finish its swing - dead air - lifeless moment... no good, Allow the compressor to push the sound towards you until the music makes it's next statement.

If, however, all you care about is maximum volume (no matter how detrimental to the groove that might be), then ignore this last paragraph and set the Release to "maximum irritation"! But I must add that if you aim to make the product likeable (extremely groovy, for example), the wrist of the listener will always turn up the volume for you more effectively than any brick wall compression ever could.

3. Ratio

At this point, the Ratio is set to maximum, so it's going to sound over compressed. So the next job is to take the Ratio and lower it as much as you can without losing the effects you created with your Attack and Release settings.

Think of the Ratio control a bit like a telephoto lens - the higher the Ratio, the smaller the sound is - although it will be more controlled. The lower the Ratio - as in 2:1(given the same output voltage), aesthetically feels like a larger image. So, the lower the Ratio the bigger it is - but at the risk of getting out of control. Meanwhile, the higher the Ratio, the smaller it is - although more contained. The idea is usually to try and make it sound big, but in control. So, bring down the Ratio, then when you don't hear the effects that you like - the thickness of the stick, the groove you created with the Release time - you can raise the Ratio a little, all the time focussing on size. At this stage, don't think about Ratio in terms of numbers - just about size and firmness of the sound. You know how I often talk about "firmness' and "Hardness Factors"? Well, as you raise the Ratio, the sound will become firmer (and smaller) as as you lower the Ratio it becomes softer(but bigger). So you might want to think along the lines of: "How firm do I want this?"


4. Threshold

The last thing you adjust is the Threshold. It's important to turn the Threshold knob so that it's not compressing all the time. The right setting will see dynamic movement coming to rest at special moments - otherwise you get a flatter, more lifeless sound.

Having uncompressed sound emerging from the processor at appropriate musical moments adds colour and contrast to the sound. For example, permitting the dynamic movement to come to rest in some quieter moments allows that moment to attain a momentary, bigger, 1:1 presence, and prevents it from rushing towards the listener with unwanted noise. It's sad enough that the little quiet moments are small without being squashed smaller still due to high compression ratios. Each time the sound comes up for air, so to speak it attains a sense of reality - a 1:1 ratio.

WARNING!
Most engineers do not realise that Ratios are multiplicative, not additive. If you compress your mix 10:1 and then the mastering engineer compresses it at 10:1 you effectively achieve, not a 20:1 but a 100:1 texture. Ouch! Consider yourself warned. This applies to all compression. If you compress a voice during recording at 10:1 and then in the mix again at 4:1 you don't get 14:1 but 40:1. Next time you mix consider the ratios likely to be used at the radio stations that provide the finishing touch. Ask yourself, "How small a sound can I bear to hear On the Air?"

That Very Expensive Sound
If you follow these steps, set your compressor to the settings in the illustrations, and follow the path of the Yellow Knob Road, then by the time you get to this point in the article you'll have a big and bouncy, firm but flexible, juicy and slippery groovy sound. Or as some would say, "a more expensive sound".

Mike Stavrou
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electrical

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Re: Compression
« Reply #41 on: December 31, 2005, 01:02:12 am »

Phi Lion wrote on Sat, 31 December 2005 00:53


That Very Expensive Sound
If you follow these steps, set your compressor to the settings in the illustrations, and follow the path of the Yellow Knob Road, then by the time you get to this point in the article you'll have a big and bouncy, firm but flexible, juicy and slippery groovy sound. Or as some would say, "a more expensive sound".

Oh sweet weeping Jesus, this is rank.
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maxim

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Re: Compression
« Reply #42 on: December 31, 2005, 01:13:43 am »

mike's advice is very valid and teaches you how to listen, something most people have a lot of trouble with when it comes to compression

not listening is the biggest thing that f*cks up records, imo, much more than fancy overproduction
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giraffe

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Re: Compression
« Reply #43 on: December 31, 2005, 01:21:01 pm »

i love this thread  Laughing

i think that when people use the phrase "good compression"
they often mean "compression that doesn't make this stuff sound significantly worse than when it started"
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wwittman

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Re: Compression
« Reply #44 on: December 31, 2005, 01:43:51 pm »

electrical wrote on Fri, 30 December 2005 22:31

wwittman wrote on Fri, 30 December 2005 22:07

I'm not prepared, ultimately, to be told how something "should be" used.

Appropriate use is entirely in the ear of the beholder.

I don;t like "over compresion" as *I* perceive it, either... but neither then do I like many "purist" records where use of no compression, no eq and so on becomes a religion at the expense of any character at all.



Which do you think is a bigger problem, people who don't do enough to change the music they record, or people who do too much to the sound, trying to somehow "make it special?"

I think there is too much of the latter, and a judicious, minimal approach is far from a "religion." It is a response to the problem we all see all around us, that of records that are overcooked in every aspect, and so standardized to a level of abstraction. I think this common tragedy is easily avoidable.

I think there are vanishingly few records that would better serve the bands by being more tweaked, more compressed, or generally more slaved-over. It is so easy to manipulate sound that manipulating the sound has become a goal unto itself. I find that ridiculous, and I defend the approach less likely to create freakish sounds and cliches.


I tend to agree with you. Steve.

There is CERTAINLY more over tweaking and just outright CHANGING for no reason (or at least with poor taste) than the other way round.
But I also encounter a good amount of "I read somewhere that you should never EQ during tracking" types and that's equally ridiculous.

The idea is to make a great sounding record that represents the songs well (first) and the performer well (probably a close second).

I hate to NOTICE the recording technique except on rare occasions.
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