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If you could only have one compressor plugin to use for everything, what would it be?

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Re: If you could only have one compressor plugin to use for everything, what would it be?

Postby Arpangel » Sat May 18, 2019 7:35 am

I have two BSS DPR402's, a couple of old Yamaha GC2020's, and a Behringer Composer.
They are sitting in my basement, never used. I don't like compression, the only times I've ever used it was when we used to record our band at home, it's a tool to keep things under control, a utility device AFAIC.
I have used Summit and Avalon compressors in one off situations, recording female vocals, I really like those things, you can hear straight away that they are a cut above, but not only for compression, just putting a signal through them does nice things, but it's not worth my while investing, they'd hardly ever get used.
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Re: If you could only have one compressor plugin to use for everything, what would it be?

Postby Dr Huge Longjohns » Sun May 19, 2019 7:46 pm

So how do you manage your levels issues, do you ride the fader while recording or automate on mixing? Or use clip gain etc?
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Re: If you could only have one compressor plugin to use for everything, what would it be?

Postby kingmoot » Mon Jun 10, 2019 1:58 pm

The problem with threads like this is that, if you've only tried two compressors, for instance, your experience is limited to those two. I'd rather have the opinion of someone who's used loads.

It's the same with monitors - Most people have not used enough types of monitor (I've been using the same pair for ten years) to give a useful insight - once you've bought a pair, you really have to live with them (unless you want to send them back).

The far more interesting question is probably where to use compression...

The DAW I use has a master bus compressor but I don't ever user that as that's really where a mastering engineer comes in.

A lot of people like to compress entire drum tracks, but again, that's not my bag, personally. I use compressors only in three areas:
- Bass (if it's a bit flapping / wavering, it can level out those levels)
- Kick Drums (to make them kick harder)
- Sidechain compression for that often-used ducking effect, on pads, using a parallel kick drum channel as the input. It's an effect that's been rinsed to death in electronic music but you're almost obliged to do it now in that style of music, and it's quite easy to set up.

Hope that helps.
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Re: If you could only have one compressor plugin to use for everything, what would it be?

Postby desmond » Mon Jun 10, 2019 6:11 pm

kingmoot wrote:The DAW I use has a master bus compressor but I don't ever user that as that's really where a mastering engineer comes in.

Well, you're only thinking of one use case here - a mastering engineer optimising loudness for the final product. There are other use cases - for example, it's very common to mix into a buss compressor for mix "glue", just helping the mix to gel together better. This is not about maximising volume, or level control, but simply to make a more pleasing mix.

And there are other ways to use compressors than just general leveling or gain control. You can, for instance, soften or harden initial transients - eg, to soften a hihat sound, or to make a kick harder, and you can use parallel compression to add weight, or even multiband compression (or across mults) to help a part "speak" better. And other techniques too.

So it really depends on your tastes, aesthetic and needs which tools you use, and what you use them for...
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Re: If you could only have one compressor plugin to use for everything, what would it be?

Postby Dr Huge Longjohns » Mon Jun 10, 2019 6:26 pm

This is not about maximising volume, or level control, but simply to make a more pleasing mix

Yes, if you're not experimenting with a compressor on your mix you're missing a huge amount of potential sonic goodness. I like to use the compressor here to help the mix work rhythmically, for example.
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Re: If you could only have one compressor plugin to use for everything, what would it be?

Postby kingmoot » Mon Jun 10, 2019 6:37 pm

kingmoot wrote:I'd rather have the opinion of someone who's used loads.

This isn't actually what I mean at all. Scrub that. What I think is more useful for the OP is to gain insight from those who feel they really understand the concepts and use-cases of compression.

There's so many factors in whether the end result will sound good outside of the specific compressor, that it's foolish to blame your shoddy mix the compressor itself. What you are compressing, why you are compressing and how you are doing it are far more interesting questions to ask, which is why I listed my main (current) uses.

For the record, I'm by no means claiming to be an expert - I'll happily admit a lot of my earlier pieces of music never involved any compression at all.
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Re: If you could only have one compressor plugin to use for everything, what would it be?

Postby kingmoot » Mon Jun 10, 2019 6:59 pm

desmond wrote:
kingmoot wrote:The DAW I use has a master bus compressor but I don't ever user that as that's really where a mastering engineer comes in.

Well, you're only thinking of one use case here - a mastering engineer optimising loudness for the final product.

Dr Huge Longjohns wrote:Yes, if you're not experimenting with a compressor on your mix you're missing a huge amount of potential sonic goodness.

I guess the point I was trying to make is that the mastering engineer that I've used definitely does more than that. Given that he's working entirely from the bounced master audio track, and has a huge amount of outboard / eq / compression options at his disposal, I prefer to use his expertise to apply the appropriate master bus processing.

Whatever works for you, obviously - but I just found that his approach was worth paying for, and sounds way better than what I could achieve with my very limited (and entirely software-based) options / abilities.

I suppose I'm just not that interested in it as a "thing" - the writing, producing and mixing is hard enough!! :lol:
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Re: If you could only have one compressor plugin to use for everything, what would it be?

Postby desmond » Mon Jun 10, 2019 7:57 pm

kingmoot wrote:I guess the point I was trying to make is that the mastering engineer that I've used definitely does more than that. Given that he's working entirely from the bounced master audio track, and has a huge amount of outboard / eq / compression options at his disposal, I prefer to use his expertise to apply the appropriate master bus processing.

Sure - and no one's saying a good ME isn't worth paying for, and won't do a good job.

But there *is* a difference between *mixing into* a compressor on the master buss, versus not.

In either case, the ME can still add whatever magic he feels is worthwhile, and as you say, if someone doesn't know how to really use the appropriate tool, well, appropriately, then best not use it at all... :thumbup:
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