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When not to use compression

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When not to use compression

Postby jellyjim » Sun Mar 29, 2020 11:29 am

Hello SOSers

I hope you're all remaining safe and unviral

Thinking through/thinking aloud about use of compression at mix time (as a novice). The following statement; true, false, or, it's more complicated than that

If I've performed a bass guitar part at my keyboard and recorded the MIDI data and then gone through and made edits particularly setting volume levels to my satisfaction, in terms of 'dynamic range', I wouldn't need to later compress the recorded/bounced audio at mix time. In other words, there's nothing to 'tame' and I already know I'm happy with the range of soft to loud.

But I still might want to use compression for 'shape'; controlling transients (attack) and 'length' (release).

Therefore is it fair to say, two of the main uses of compression are:

1. To control the dynamic range of a performance
2. To affect the shape of a sound

And if you don't need to do 1 and don't want to do 2 then don't use a compressor!

Would you ever use a compressor to control dynamic range if you're happy with the dynamic range of a performance? There seems to be a school of thought along the lines of "slap a compressor on everything!" But why?

Thanks
Jim
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Re: When not to use compression

Postby Sam Spoons » Sun Mar 29, 2020 11:58 am

If you are 'playing' a VSTi bass guitar from a keyboard is there any need for compression in any case? Would the VSTi have been sampled/recorded with suitable processing in the first place?
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Re: When not to use compression

Postby jellyjim » Sun Mar 29, 2020 12:01 pm

Sam Spoons wrote:If you are 'playing' a VSTi bass guitar from a keyboard is there any need for compression in any case? Would the VSTi have been sampled/recorded with suitable processing in the first place?

Well exactly. That's what I'm asking! :)
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Re: When not to use compression

Postby jellyjim » Sun Mar 29, 2020 12:06 pm

Hmm ... perhaps a more useful lesson would be for me to record some live bass or guitar played by myself and then explore the effects of compression on those performances as, like you say, a lot of material coming from soft synths or keyboards will be pre-treated.
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Re: When not to use compression

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Mar 29, 2020 12:08 pm

You're over-thinking this. If it doesn't need compression, it doesn't need compression... so don't compress.
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Re: When not to use compression

Postby jellyjim » Sun Mar 29, 2020 12:22 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:You're over-thinking this. If it doesn't need compression, it doesn't need compression... so don't compress.

Indeed. Thanks. Yes, I think I just needed somebody to say that!
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Re: When not to use compression

Postby Sam Inglis » Sun Mar 29, 2020 12:25 pm

Just to uncover a new compartment of worms at the bottom of the can, there are quite a lot of engineers who say they often use compression as a means of changing the tone of a sound. This is dependent on which compressor is being used, but if you heavily compress a bass guitar, for example, you will be able to hear how the relative balance of bass, mid and high frequencies is changed. I seem to remember Andy Wallace saying that he only uses compression on bass for this reason -- for level control he uses fader automation.
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Re: When not to use compression

Postby The Elf » Sun Mar 29, 2020 12:37 pm

The world has taken the idea of 'pro producers/engineers use tons and tons of compression' and run with it. And run, and run and run and...

If you want to appear to be clever you have to spout how you use a compressor to 'crush' signals, and say that device XF-232-Y with the rare yellow fascia is the only compressor you would use on backing vocals. You also need to explain that it's not just about the compression, but how just plugging it in makes the audio sound better. Only mention 'parallel compression' when discussing drums, and never admit that you don't know how to set the attack and release controls. Don't worry - nobody will call you out on any of this stuff, but will instead nod wisely in agreement. After all, they don't want to appear less clever than you.

Such nonsense is the meat and drink of audio forums the net wide.

Use compression when your ears tell you you need it. Use compression when your peak meters tell you you need it. Use whatever compressor makes you smile.

Mic drop... :beamup:
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Re: When not to use compression

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Mar 29, 2020 12:38 pm

:clap: :thumbup:
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Re: When not to use compression

Postby desmond » Sun Mar 29, 2020 1:05 pm

A bit disappointed with all the poor advice in this thread.

*Clearly* you should compress when you've just bought your 15th vintage compressor emulation plugin that "this time *really* nails the emulation, like, totally better than before" and only requires 50% of your computer to do it.

In fact, lightly compress the track, then parallel to another bus and heavily compress that, route those to a sub bus and (of course) compress that, then liberally spread a bunch of compressors on your stereo mix as well. Oh, you'll need "a sidechain", so whack a few more compressors on random channels and feed in random other tracks to the sidechain on those. And the same again on the master bus. Don't forget that you'll need to set the attack time both super fast and real slow, and the same for release times, but also make sure you have Manual *and* Automatic release engaged too.

*This* is how you get a modern sound that appeals to the kids.

pfft! You guys... :headbang:

(Any more compressor plugin sales going on currently..? I've only got 63 compressors, I feel like I'm missing out on some compression flavours...)
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Re: When not to use compression

Postby jellyjim » Sun Mar 29, 2020 1:11 pm

many lolz

you gents are as wise as you are amusing :D
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Re: When not to use compression

Postby Kwackman » Sun Mar 29, 2020 1:22 pm

The Elf wrote:If you want to appear to be clever you have to spout how you use a compressor to 'crush' signals, and say that device XF-232-Y with the rare yellow fascia is the only compressor you would use on backing vocals

If was a betting man, I'd risk a £5 that a new software compressor called "XF-232-Y" will appear in due course.....
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Re: When not to use compression

Postby zenguitar » Sun Mar 29, 2020 1:53 pm

Careful, some bloke called Uli might register the name XF-232-Y ready to issue a hardware tribute.

;)

Andy :beamup:
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Re: When not to use compression

Postby blinddrew » Sun Mar 29, 2020 2:23 pm

As long as it doesn't have a wall-wart power supply... ;)
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Re: When not to use compression

Postby desmond » Sun Mar 29, 2020 2:28 pm

Kwackman wrote:If was a betting man, I'd risk a £5 that a new software compressor called "XF-232-Y" will appear in due course.....

I'm waiting for an emulation of that most secret of secret weapons, the Nibnob DX2...
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