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MfM




Date Registered:
08.2003
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COMPRESSOR ETC...        Go on top to this Page

In this site we spoke very much about mastering and pre-mastering, and the matter was treated with a lot of professionalism and clearness by the writers.
I would like to open a new thread talking about compressors,limiter,equalizer,I would like to know how each of you treats these delicate and important effects and perhaps finally have way so to explain to all those which don't know the usefulness what they do ,what are the best ones and what positive effects can give to a song!!!
...(I USE BLUE LINE FX PACKS always)...
to you the word thanks.....!


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10.02.2004, 15:59 Profile of MfM Add MfM to your Buddy-List
kSh




Date Registered:
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MfM, we have in fact talked about mastering here: 'A little bit of mastering confusion'
and here: 'Mastering Gain'
Maybe it's not what you want to do on this thread but it contains a whole lotta very useful mastering links (the first one) and an excellent explanation on volume importance (the second). They both taught me quite much.
For the compressor I use mostly the built-in Arguru Compressor since it is pretty straight forward and it does the job.
I even cannot reproduce Nolwenn's problem which he described lately about this compressor. He wrote that it does not keep the desired volume level and exceeds it in the limiter mode. It's just not true.
To prove it just start a new song, place a compressor in it, plug a synth into the compressor, set the synth->compressor wire volume to MAX and the compressor's Input Gain knob to MAX and Soft Clip knob to ON.
In that situation you just can't get the clip-light (next to the vu meter) red.
That means the compressor works as it should.
Maybe Nolwenn complains that one compressor doesn't solve his all problems. But hey, if you have it plugged as one of many wires, then you cannot say that it's its fault that your faulty mastered song clips.
That's all for now.

Regards,
kSh


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10.02.2004, 20:46 Profile of kSh Add kSh to your Buddy-List
Taika-Kim




Date Registered:
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Hmm, I'll give some pretty straightforward not-too-technical guidelines about how I do things usually.

This is meant for people who don't know what a compressor does, and I hope that after reading this, they will

Assuming a dance track:
I'll set the kick to -6db, that means I'll reserve half of the total song dynamics to the kick drum.
That -6db should be the bassy oomph-part of the kick, not the "snap"-tone (if any) of the attack phase. It's also good to have maybe a 10+ms delay before the kick reaches the maximum level. This so that the start of the beat where usually the most instruments are triggered, doesn't take up so much dynamics and the overall level can be louder (we want that in a dance track!)
(2 bad I'm not at home, I could post some pictures to clarify this...)

Then I set bass(es) to maybe about -12db, and again that means the "body" of the sound, I might reserve 3 or even 6 additional db for a sharp decay phase to make the sound more distinctive.

So in practice: you have a rhythmic bassline and it seems to hover around the -12db mark in the wire view but there are some spikes that go up all the way to, say, -4db, you might want to set the compressor on the bass to something like: threshold -6db, rate 1:8, fast attack (>8ms), medium release (<50ms) and then compensate the volume by a few decibels. This way the bass will get more pronounced without using more peak dynamics.
Why worry about the peaks, you might ask? Well, for the simple reason that if you go over 0db in digital domain, you will get clipping!
Of course you can achieve the same effect by (if this is the reason for the spikes) decreasing amp/filter envelope modulation, but often a compressor is a more reliable way since resonance, possible FX etc might (and will!) create volume spikes uncontrollable from the sound generator itself.

If there's a sub bass (goa trance!!), I check out that there is absolutely minimal decay in volume so that the floor-shaking, body-vibrating quality will be to the max.
Usually -12 to -6db is a good relative volume for the sub bass.

Of course the values I present are just guidelines, but I've found out that values around these just sound good.

So we have now a kick at -6db, a rhythmic bass at around -10db (with accents up to -6db) and a sub bass at, say, -8db (this will be really distinct!).

Next we want to add some trippy phaser FX, so we make some stuff and send it to the phaser. We want to maximize the sweep, so we use a big range.
Now what happens is that we have occasional very loud bass coming out of the phaser where it gets to the lower spectrum, and at times we maybe can't hear it properly?
So what we do is put a simple lowpass filter to around 100-200hz to cut out the bass so it doesn't hamper the kick, and what's even more important, the bass.
Next we look at the wire volume bars again and see that at the times where we think the sound is too silent, it's at about -20db. The peaks, are however at, say, -8db so if we just crank the volume up -10db to make the sound louder, we will go 2db over the max and the whole tune will clip (probably earlier, though, because all the other instruments add to the whole!)

Now put a comressor at threshold -20db with a really big rate like 1:16 or something, make a fast attack and slow release (>200ms) and voila! The peaks stay at around -20db. Now adjust the volume to taste. The bass-cut can also be adjusted if the effect seems to be covering the more important bass instruments...

And so on until we have a ready tune.

I use roughly these initial guidelines for almost all my trance tracks:
kick -6db
rhythm bass -12db (+ peaks maybe)
sub bass -12db
percussions -6db
leads -10 to -6db
accompanying melodies & FX -24 to -12db
"key" FX like in fills & such up to -6db

I'll only start finetuning these values when I've íntroduced all the sounds & preferably finished with the general structure of the song.
Then I'll find the loudest part of the song (in electronic music, meaning usually where there's the most instruments playing, in acoustic music this is not necessarily the case...) adjust everything so that there's enough space for anything, and THEN I proceed to finetuning the different parts of the song, hopefully never increasing the volume of anything anymore, but decreasing the other instruments instead...

Remeber decreasing the volume 6 decibels simply means LOWERING THE VOLUME BY HALF! (ok, was that lound enough!?<g>
That's all there's to it. -6db is half the volume of whatever we are talking about, -12 is 1/4 of the maximum, -24 is 1/8 and so on...


Now that the track is ready, we set master gain to some very low value to avoid ANY clipping, and render a 24bit wav.
Then first normalize the whole thing to 0db to see the overall dynamics.
Then add the final EQ and compressing, leaving from 3 to 6db of "space" for the beats etc. What I'm meaning is, that the overall volume is at -6db but loud sounds like the kick, many percussive sounds etc go all the way to 0db.

Phew. I hope this was of some use to those who are still wondering about the mystical "dynamics" that people keep talking about all the time
It's like reading, first you just don't get it, and afterwards it's so simple that it's hard to explain it to somebody who's still confused about it

And finally, a good homework lesson for everybody to get a hands on feel of the whole thing:
get a breakbeat that isn't compressed (you'll se a lot of sharp spikes in the wave graph if you can't otherwise say), put it through a compressor, and tweak the settings with preferably headphones on, and the wire volume after the compressor on the screen for the whole time. You'll hear what the thing does easily enough!

11.02.2004, 14:47 Profile of Taika-Kim Add Taika-Kim to your Buddy-List Homepage of Taika-Kim
nolwenn




Date Registered:
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kSh , i don't complain about the native arguru compressor, and i've never said that i wanted a magic plugin that do_everything_and_erase_all_the_faults_just_with_an_on/off_knob.
Please keep cool kSh.

I just noticed that the limiter mode doesnt work in some cases, if this can be avoided by a better use of the machines before the final limiter, just give some advices like Taika kims does (thank you for your advices taika kim) it's more constructive.

And don't say "it's just not true", if you're afer the red clipping light, just try this.

To answer to MfM:

- i use blueline fx pack too, but not for heavy compression i found that the native arguru compressor is better than the blueline compressor for hard settings (i mean "compression as an effect", for heavy shaping and change on the sound, and not for "mastering").
Maybe i am wrong, and maybe blue compressor is very good for getting that daft punk pumpin sound, but i don't own the truth...i don't know everything about everithing, i apologize for that.

11.02.2004, 19:29 Profile of nolwenn Add nolwenn to your Buddy-List
DMNXS




Date Registered:
01.2004
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quote:
original by nolwenn
i use blueline fx pack too, but not for heavy compression i found that the native arguru compressor is better than the blueline compressor for hard settings

It's not that extreme, but when you have a lot of different signals going into BlueLine, you can get sort of wavering sounds where the volume of a sound goes up and down. Or did you mean something else?

Taika kim, do you mean using a compressor for a single signal path, as in a compressor for ONE synth-bassline? For me that hardly changes the sound (depending on the compressor used, of course; some compressors don't do anything, and some do something audible )

I use a compressor for hats and drums, etc. and a final compression for everything except the bassdrum and maybe some synths. Usually sounds better.

11.02.2004, 22:37 Profile of DMNXS Add DMNXS to your Buddy-List Add DMNXS to your Contact-List
Taika-Kim




Date Registered:
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YES! I mean exactly that, nowadays I tend to compress most of my instruments solo...

If there's lot of modulatuion, fx and such in the sound, very loud volume spikes can occur, and in most cases this is a bad thing.

Of course if you have 1VCO-1VCF-1VCA without FX, the sound can be probably be tuned well enough from the generator.
Also remember that 2 waves with amplitudes at -4db will clip if they happen to coincide in a favourable phase... So with 2osc with detune we'll already get amplitude modulation which, if we don't like it, can be tamed with compressing.

12.02.2004, 11:16 Profile of Taika-Kim Add Taika-Kim to your Buddy-List Homepage of Taika-Kim
Taika-Kim




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Oh, something that I've only lately started doing because it's more work than the usual way.

Use only minimally processed percussion samples and use one sampler for each. Then place eq + compressor after each one and route them all to somekind of master reverb + compressor/limiter combo.

This way the final dynamics of the percussions can be controlled much better than having to go out of psycle to some wave editor, doing some "blind" (in context of the song) editing, importing the sample and listening if it was any good...

Of course things can be grouped, but it's good to have things like the snare and the hihats in seperate sources, for example...

12.02.2004, 11:20 Profile of Taika-Kim Add Taika-Kim to your Buddy-List Homepage of Taika-Kim
dilvie




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07.2002
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Taika-Kim's advice is very good.

A lot of people get all excited about compressors, because a lot of people talk about them like they're some magical mystery effect that nobody really understands.

I'm going to burst that illusion right now.

A compressor doesn't do anything particularly special. It's nothing more than automated volume control. You have more power with a good envelope generator, generally speaking.

When a sound is soft, the volume is raised, but when the sound reaches a certain threshhold, the compressor begins to attenuate the signal according to the ratio setting.

You remember ratios from math class, right? Pretty simple stuff. 2:1 is about 6dB (roughly half the volume).

Try turning the input gain way up with the ratio set at something like 8:1, and then mess with the threshhold knob... that should give you a pretty clear idea of what's going on really quickly.

The attack and release settings are just like they sound -- not a whole lot different from tweaking an envelope generator. The attack specifies how long it will take to attenuate the sound fully after it crosses the threshhold setting. The release setting specifies how long it will take to return to normal once the sound drops back down below the threshhold.

Clear as mud? Good.

Let's re-cap:

Input gain is used to set a general level of amplication to pull your sound into the average range where you want it to sit in your mix

Threshhold is used to tell the compressor at what point to begin attenuating the incoming signal.

Ratio sets how much to attunate the signal when it crosses the threshhold

Attack tells the compressor how long it should take to reach the target attunation level after the signal crosses the threshhold

Release tells the compressor how long it should take to stop attenuating the signal once it has dropped back down below the threshhold


If you're using the compressor the way it was originally intended, you shouldn't hear a big difference. Compressors are supposed to be a subtle effect. Of course, that doesn't stop people like me from abusing them horribly, like I did in the misadventures of the purple sine.

Never, ever, ever do that. It sounds like crap. I intend to make that effect much more subtle if I ever get around to re-mixing that track.

ehehe

- Eric


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Last edited by dilvie on 12.02.2004, 15:12 o'clock.

12.02.2004, 15:10 Profile of dilvie Add dilvie to your Buddy-List Homepage of dilvie Add dilvie to your Contact-List AIM Screenname: dilvie23
nolwenn




Date Registered:
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Like Dilvie said, compressor were intended to be a subtle effect, and i agree with him to not overuse it to keep the mix cleaner.

For the kick drum i think we can experiment mad settings, the risk of crappiness is less than with other sounds. i hope.
That what i meant DMNXS, completely change the sound of a kick with hard compression settings.

Dilvie your explanations are very clear.

When all things about the compressor will be demystified i think it will be time for a new thread about the stereo/space/panning/etc because it's more forgotten than dynamics/eq when we talk about the good equilibre of a mix.

13.02.2004, 22:29 Profile of nolwenn Add nolwenn to your Buddy-List
kSh




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About Nolwenn's clipping incident:
First of all sorry for any unintended harm. I do not mean any offence. Second thing - your example, Nolwenn, does not show clipping
As you can see, the red indicator is lid. Yes. But it is just a happy 0dB indicator. If you tested the wire with any mastering plugin such as Inspector (Elemental Audio Systems), then you shall see that no clipping incident does take place.
The built-in indicator gets red when 0dB is reached for a certain amount of time. In your example, the drum definitely reaches 0dB. Arguru's Compressor is limiting to 0dB, not lower. That's why you should minimally lower the wire connection (one downkey press on the Compessor -> Master Connection Volume window gives you 0.39% difference - not to be noticed by anything).
Is that enough constructive?

Regards,
kSh

Staying cool


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14.02.2004, 11:09 Profile of kSh Add kSh to your Buddy-List
nolwenn




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That what i call a cool post kSh
Now it's clear.

The psycle native compressor does a good job, and i think it could be useful to implement a side chain mode on it (if a super good coder read this !), a thing like : left input = signal to compress and right input = triggering signal (a VST does that but the compressor itself is not as good as the arguru compressor), so it will be mono in this mode... it's just an idea.

17.02.2004, 16:47 Profile of nolwenn Add nolwenn to your Buddy-List
MfM




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quote:
Original by kSh
MfM, we have in fact talked about mastering here: 'A little bit of mastering confusion'
and here: 'Mastering Gain'



Yes,I read them But it isn't the same thing!!

quote:
Original by DMNXS
It's not that extreme, but when you have a lot of different signals going into BlueLine, you can get sort of wavering sounds where the volume of a sound goes up and down. Or did you mean something else?




I agree and I hate this!!!





--Compliments to taika kim for the clearness with which he treated this subject!

--good dilvie you understood exactly what I wanted to say. . optimum!!!


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19.02.2004, 16:00 Profile of MfM Add MfM to your Buddy-List
DMNXS




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quote:
Original by MfM

Original by DMNXS
It's not that extreme, but when you have a lot of different signals going into BlueLine, you can get sort of wavering sounds where the volume of a sound goes up and down. Or did you mean something else?
____________________________________________

I agree and I hate this!!!



Well, IMHO it CAN sound good, when only a small part of the song wavers, though it of course SUCKS when the entire song volume goes up and down, up and down...

P.S.: for the new Psycledelics, PLEASE support quotes in qoutes.

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MfM




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quote:
Original by DMNXS

P.S.: for the new Psycledelics, PLEASE support quotes in qoutes.



YESSSS!!please...


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24.02.2004, 11:40 Profile of MfM Add MfM to your Buddy-List
Hakyoku Seiken




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For compression (sorry...a bit of a side track, but still on thread topic, no?)

MDA Multiband compressor is probably the most used effect in all the songs I work on. I simply can't live with out it...it's really useful for maximizing the quality of whatever instrument you're using that you want heard most...for instance, a nice growling synth ala drum n bass can be made easily out of a distorted 303, even if the distortion nearly eliminates the low end.

Very useful too for keeping those hi resonation filters from 'stabbing' at certain frequencies...does anyone know what I'm talking about? Seems on some synths with high resonation, when the cutoff goes near midrange, it's just PAINFUL! :p MDA Multiband totally smooths out those rough edges....

I totally recommend. Especially since it's free!


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