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how important is compression

Posted: Wed Jul 25, 2012 6:52 pm
by princefan3
Hi Guys.....would like to find out if everyone bothers with using compression on there tracks..

compression i have heard is usually associated with vocals and drum hits mostly...

i just mess with the volume settings to get it to balance out.

i have never ever had a compressor, would i be silly to miss this component out on my tracks.

i have sent snippets in audacity of tracks to a few professional people and they have said it sounded fine with nothing on.

i only make tracks for my own amusement and to send to friends for comments so im not thinking commercial.

but i would like to think the sound was considered semi professional.

what do you do...?

Re: how important is compression

Posted: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:59 pm
by garranimal
Compression has a wide variety of uses and I find it indispensable. Actually its become quite difficult for me to not to go overboard. I use it in three ways in my recordings.
1) 4-band multi-band compression during mastering can help clarify the sound quite a bit.
2) Use of sidechain compression to get bass and drums to fit well together. This is my solution to the age old conundrum of preventing mushy low frequencies from getting out-of-hand. It's especially critical to me since I use both acoustic sampled drums (BFD) and a machinedrum at the same time.
3) To add loudness and character. I like it when drumloops breathe in time w/ heavy compression. I like to exaggerate dynamics of certain synth phrases and adding punch to bass.

Alternatively, EQ can be used judiciously to make anything sound louder whether boosting key frequencies for the part, or attenuating all other parts.

Arguments for or against sounding too commercial aside. I'm also not trying to fit in w/ any specific genres. I just want my recordings to adequately express what I'm trying to say. That is, in reference to a world of recordings that are increasingly more and more over-compressed, cooked to a point of annoyance, and frighteningly in-your-face.

Re: how important is compression

Posted: Thu Jul 26, 2012 9:44 am
by dubold
compression can either be used subtly or as an "effect"; no-one is required to use it.

I use compressors on almost every track I work on. Yes, it's possible to create similar effects by messing with the volume settings. You can draw in automation that will be very similar to a transparent compressor, but.. it would be really time consuming.

It's possible to create tracks that sound fine without compression, just as it's possible to create tracks that sound fine without using MIDI, sequencers, samples, nice preamps, valves, arpeggiators, etc. All those things make some tasks easier; it's up to the individual to decide to use them or not.
i only make tracks for my own amusement and to send to friends for comments so im not thinking commercial.
but i would like to think the sound was considered semi professional.
There is no such thing as a professional sound. Technically, if you are paid for your work, you're professional. If you're not, you are an amateur. Or you could say that amateurs do it for love, and professionals do it for money.

Song "quality" is all in the listener's perspective and depends on a lot of factors, only some of which are related to audio.

All the audio professionals I know are able to use a compressor. It's a fairly common bit of hardware or software. Why don't you try downloading Reaper and messing around with the free compressors in it? After you've had a bit of experience using one, you can decide for yourself if it's improving your work or not.

Re: how important is compression

Posted: Thu Jul 26, 2012 11:44 pm
by Zamise
The "pumping" effect I don't think technically is compression. It comes on compressors tho since they'll sometimes come with a gate and limiter that have thresholds etc. for ducking one signal under the other. Anyhow, I say stay away from compression as much as you can, the trick to compression is to not have to have it or use it as little as possible. It is something used for correcting, it is a prison facility for bad sounds. Good sounds should not have to go there, generally speaking. If you are playing out at venues or on a shitty system, it can be big help to be able to compress and EQ your mids back in to your music.

Re: how important is compression

Posted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 6:16 pm
by dubold
Zamise wrote:Anyhow, I say stay away from compression as much as you can, the trick to compression is to not have to have it or use it as little as possible. It is something used for correcting, it is a prison facility for bad sounds. Good sounds should not have to go there, generally speaking.
wow.

Re: how important is compression

Posted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 6:35 pm
by Infinity Curve
dubold wrote:
Zamise wrote:Anyhow, I say stay away from compression as much as you can, the trick to compression is to not have to have it or use it as little as possible. It is something used for correcting, it is a prison facility for bad sounds. Good sounds should not have to go there, generally speaking.
wow.
Indeed.

Re: how important is compression

Posted: Sat Jul 28, 2012 1:56 am
by tekkentool
Zamise wrote: Anyhow, I say stay away from compression as much as you can, the trick to compression is to not have to have it or use it as little as possible. It is something used for correcting, it is a prison facility for bad sounds. Good sounds should not have to go there, generally speaking. If you are playing out at venues or on a shitty system, it can be big help to be able to compress and EQ your mids back in to your music.
Image

As to the original question about compression.

http://www.dogsonacid.com/showthread.ph ... did=507671

Read that.

Yes I love compression (no homo). I use it on things like vocals, acoustic guitars, drums, bass, synths, pretty much everything that's not strings or orchestral stuff. (I still compress some of those though).

Re: how important is compression

Posted: Sat Jul 28, 2012 4:46 pm
by vanpet
I agree with Zamise that you shouldn't use TOO MUCH compression. I almost never use it on synths and electronic instruments (to me they sound already compressed). The exception being the bass, vocal and drum bus, to make levels even. On the master track, it's a limiter.

Here I'm talking about technical compression. Because for artistic effect, I can go overboard with sidechain compression and abuse it on effects, pads, and loops. But that's only for the pumping effect, I can even automate the volume to achieve that effect so it's not really compression per se.

Re: how important is compression

Posted: Sat Jul 28, 2012 7:49 pm
by Rick N Boogie
My synths go from output to a small mixer, from the main out of the mixer into an optical compressor, and from there, out to amps and PA mixing boards. so, obviously, I like to use compression. Not so much to "squeeze", but moreso to "flavor" my mix. Personal preference.

Re: how important is compression

Posted: Tue Jul 31, 2012 12:27 am
by georgemarauder
I mostly use compression as an effect. I like to run my whole mix through a compressor and overcompress the c**p out of it. I like the effect that gives my tracks. I rarely ever use compression on single tracks or sounds, just the whole mix. Works for me.

Re: how important is compression

Posted: Tue Jul 31, 2012 6:12 am
by colmon
Infinity Curve wrote:
dubold wrote:
Zamise wrote:Anyhow, I say stay away from compression as much as you can, the trick to compression is to not have to have it or use it as little as possible. It is something used for correcting, it is a prison facility for bad sounds. Good sounds should not have to go there, generally speaking.
wow.
Indeed.
yes, it's absolutely shocking that somebody would hold a differing opinion about an artistic endeavour, isn't it? must post pithy response in order to show how superior i am!

Re: how important is compression

Posted: Tue Jul 31, 2012 12:08 pm
by nvbrkr
I think it's important.

There are some respected recording engineers like Bruce Swedien that tell people not to use it and just set the volume levels manually. But I think many of those old-timers could get away without using it largely due to old-fashioned recording techniques (recording to tape and using mic'd up amplifiers etc.). These days when many / most of the instruments are DI'd and recorded to HD there's usually so much excessive dynamics present that trying to correct it all by hand is just a pain in the a*s.

One reason why people like the sound of compression is that when used correctly it provides a nice impression of interaction between the different elements in the mix. One louder sound makes the other ones quieter in the mix and that effectively adds animation to the entire piece. Of course, ideally, this type of "interaction" between different instruments should be accomplished by making good arrangements, but if you use e.g. unusual electronic sounds in your stuff then compression can help a lot in that regard. It's not just about "making it all louder".

I find that setting the threshold levels carefully is more important than trying to simply get the ratio settings "just right". I like to add reverb before and after the compression stage of an entire mix myself.

Re: how important is compression

Posted: Tue Jul 31, 2012 1:56 pm
by Infinity Curve
colmon wrote:
yes, it's absolutely shocking that somebody would hold a differing opinion about an artistic endeavour, isn't it? must post pithy response in order to show how superior i am!
From what that post is saying it's pretty clear they don't know how to use compression and where, and they are stating things(mis-informed opinions?) as fact. Thus the responses. To each their own, if you don't want to use any compression, cool, but to make statements like that post could be misleading to some who might read this and take it as fact.

Sorry you read so much into our posts that you had to comment on them, rather than the topic at hand.

Re: how important is compression

Posted: Tue Jul 31, 2012 6:18 pm
by dubold
colmon wrote:yes, it's absolutely shocking that somebody would hold a differing opinion about an artistic endeavour, isn't it? must post pithy response in order to show how superior i am!
I'm not shocked that someone has a differing opinion. I just firmly disagree with anyone who says that _______ tool for recording is only for correcting bad sounds.

Almost anything can be used creatively. It's my opinion that people who say otherwise - you MUST have toobs, you MUST have this software, you MUST do it this way - are trying to sell you something, or convince you they're an expert.

I dunno where this "compression = bad" idea came from. My guess is either people parroting Steve Albini, or confusing lossy data compression with audio compression.

Re: how important is compression

Posted: Wed Aug 01, 2012 3:31 pm
by dustinh
I use compression a lot for percussive sounds and basslines. Example. I like making basslines on my alpha juno and when doing a basic sounding bassline with a fast filter decay, it creates that kind of punchy sounding bassline. Add some compression with a 20-30 msec attack makes it a lot more punchy and rhythmic.

You can also use it as an effect obviously, such as side chaining or just squashing the sound for an effect. Usually synths don't need a lot of compression since they usually don't vary a lot in dynamic range. That's why I mostly use them to add more punch on the attack of the notes to make it feel tighter and more percussive. I also use compression a lot on drums apply various techniques such as parallel compression for big drum sounds and all that fun stuff.

While it's definitely easy to go overboard, just pick and choose tracks that could benefit from a little bit of coloring and leave the rest alone in relation to compression.