Compression Basics [Video]

| Mixing, Plugins, Tips, Video

Of all the plugins that musicians and engineers have at their disposal when working in a DAW, the compressor seems to be the most mysterious and misunderstood. I hear it all the time from friends and readers’ emails: What do all the different parameters mean? What should I use a compressor for? Should I use a compressor in my mix at all?

In this 2 part video I want to clear the confusion up. The compressor is a very powerful and useful effect, but only when you understand what it does and how to use that to your advantage. I hope you find this useful!

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16 Responses to “Compression Basics [Video]”

  1. Chuck

    Graham,
    I’m a tad confused. How is compression different from going into a track and automating the volume adjustment at different times to make the levels the same?

    Reply
  2. Graham

    Chuck,
    Good question. There are two main ways compression is different:

    1. The compresser is affecting every single wave form below the threshold, thereby reducing the dynamic (or volume) range of every note that is sung. Then the overall level is brought up, right? Well with volume automation, unless you are automating every single syllable to match up, you will inherently keep some of the dynamic differences among words. It will sound different.

    2. Many compressors impart a sonic quality or character to the sound source as well as affecting it’s dynamic range like we saw in the video. So in general something can sound different just having been run through a compresser, where volume automation simply adjusts the volume and is not an effect.

    Reply
  3. Herman

    Wow! Thanks a million, i’m a fifteen year old who has just started assembling his home studio and i have to say this helped me loads. Your a legend mate, cheers :-)

    Reply
  4. Albert

    Great Video. Do you have a video on how to get a warm sounding vocal or can you make a video showing how to get a warm sounding vocal?

    Reply
  5. Owen Grech

    Hey Graham, thanks for another interesting article and video. Learned a lot about one of the most feared topic in music production. Just a quick question: I am currently working on a song which is quite progressive and am using one compressor on the bass track but since the track changes vibe a lot I am finding out that one some sections the compressor is working nicely while on other it does not. Does it make sense to use a different compressor for each setting?

    Reply

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