Burning Question: What are Audio Compressors and How do I Use Them?

Burning Question: What are Audio Compressors and How do I Use Them?
Tutorial, Burning Questions Aug 28, 2017 at 01:02 PM

Learn about types of compression; terminologies like attack and release, limiting, and compression ratio; compression in vocals and voiceovers; and third-party compression plug-ins. This is an overview, so there’s a lot that isn’t covered here, but this will hopefully give you some background for further exploration.

Audio Compression Basics 

Dynamic audio compression, as it is often called, balances the magnitude between the loudest and softest parts of an audio recording in a designated range. Learn more at Sanford-Brown Blogs What is Audio Compression and Why is it so important?

Mike Russell explains the basics of audio compression, including how to set an audio compressor for maximum effectiveness. He'll show you when to use a compressor vs when an audio limiter. He explains terminology like attack, release, and attack times, ratios, and multi-band compression. He uses Adobe Audition in this webinar.

Compression 101: How to Use a Compressor

The Pro Audio Files is a great website full of audio production resources. See also: 16 Free Resources for Learning to Use Compression

Mastering Your Compressor: Attack & Release Settings

SonicScoop.com is another great website for in depth audio information. Justin Colletti dives deep and tells you everything you need to know about attack and release. If you're something that explains the terminology clearly, this video is easy to understand.

What Does Audio Compression Sound Like?

Dan Salvato gives a few examples of compression artifacts.

Compressor Ratio Explained For Beginners

The Recording Solution explains the compressor ratio knob.

Multiband Compression and how it works

Waves have an article on their website about Multiband Compression and talk a bit about the compression ratio.

Tony Maserati talks about using Multiband Compression on vocals. Tony has worked with Black Eyed Peas, Jason Mraz, Jay-Z, and Beyoncé. He's mainly talking about the Waves C4 Multiband Compressor, but it also applies to the Waves C6 Multiband Compressor.

Compression for Voiceover

Mike from Booth Junkie gives some tips on the basic settings for compressors on voiceovers.

Pro Tools Tip - sidechain compressing music to make voice overs sound better

Pro Tools has great built in compression tools and supports third party tools as well. This tutorial is about the built-in sidechain compressor. 

Third-Party Audio Compression Plug-ins

There's a vast range of audio plug-ins available for a variety of uses. Here are a few at Toolfarm.

FabFilter Pro-C 2FabFilter Pro-C 2

A high-quality compressor plug-in for the most demanding engineers. Whether you need subtle mastering compression, an upfront lead vocal, that magic drum glue or deep EDM pumping: Pro-C 2 gets the job done with style!

Eight different compression styles, of which five are new in version 2: Vocal, Mastering, Bus, Punch, and Pumping.

Learn more

More from FabFilter

FabFilter Pro-MB - Multiband compression and expansion are powerful tools, but notoriously difficult to set up and control. Enter FabFilter Pro-MB: making multiband dynamics processing intuitive yet powerful at the same time. Handles any form of dynamics processing, from highly transparent compression, limiting and expansion to pumping upward compression and punchy gating. 25% Off Through August 31, 2017

FabFilter Pro-DS - Not a compressor but it can fix problems with compression. Even when using the best mics, pre-amps, and converters, sibilance in vocal recordings can easily get over-accentuated during post-processing like compression or saturation. But don't worry, FabFilter Pro-DS comes to the rescue!

McDSP SPC2000 Serial/Parallel CompressorMcDSP SPC2000 Serial/Parallel Compressor

Powerful Multi-Stage Compression! The SPC2000 Serial/Parallel Compressor takes the power and flexibility of the now classic CompressorBank plug-in by McDSP and offers two, three, and four stage configurations with serial and parallel routing combinations, unlike any dynamic processor. Couple this routing capability with the ability to emulate any other compressor, and it’s clear the SPC2000 is a serious audio tool.

Learn more - On sale now! McDSP August Sales - Ends August 31, 2017

More from McDSP

McDSP Classic Pack Bundle - This bundle contains McDSP Analog Channel, CompressorBank, FilterBank, MC2000 Multi-band Compressor. There's a McDSP Classic Pack HD Bundle and a Classic Pack Native Bundle too.

McDSP 6050 Ultimate Channel Strip - The 6050 Ultimate Channel Strip has everything you need to make your mix sound great. All the modules from the award-winning 6020 Ultimate EQ and 6030 Ultimate Compressor plug-ins are included. Additional modules include gates, expanders, signal saturators, and specialized filters. On sale now! McDSP August Sales - Ends August 31, 2017

 

Waves API 2500 Stereo CompressorWaves API 2500 Stereo Compressor

With both “feed back” and “feed forward” compression types, the API 2500 boasts a wide range of incredibly musical parameters which have made it a favorite of engineers the world over.

Learn more

Waves sale items - Waves always has several items on sale so check out their goods here!

Other Compressors from Waves

Waves C6 Multiband Compressor - For years, the C4 has been a favorite of studio engineers the world over, and in live sound, it's quickly become a must-have for front-of-house and monitor professionals as well. To create the C6, we took the tried-and-true functions of the C4, and added two additional floating bands plus a sidechain feature, for one-stop vocal and instrument shaping. Equally at home in the studio, live, and in post production, the C6 lets you zero in on problem frequencies with surgical precision.

Waves H-Comp Hybrid Compressor - H-Comp combines the modeled behavior of transformers, tubes, and transistors, together with the power and precision that only a plugin can provide.

Waves OneKnob Pumper - Designed for achieving an instant ducking effect, OneKnob Pumper simulates sidechain compression, saving you the need to route the kick track to the sidechain input of a compressor.

Waves Power Pack - With everything from reverb, delay, and equalization to compression limiting, and level maximization, Power Pack is a perfect introduction to the Waves experience. Whether you are just getting started or you are expanding your production palette, NPP gives you the processing power you and your mixes just can’t do without.

Waves H-Series Bundle - A Waves H-Series Bundle consisting of H-Delay, H-Reverb, H-Comp, and H-EQ!

Waves dbx 160 Compressor / Limiter - Considered one of the best drum compressors ever, the original dbx® 160 stands tall among its peers, boasting a very clean sound with minimum THD. The fast-acting dbx® 160 compressor was used in almost every major recording in the late ‘70s and throughout the ‘80s, and later models in the 160 series also became industry standards.

SoundToys Devil-Loc DeluxeSoundToys Devil-Loc Deluxe

The evil analog level destroyers are here. Devil-Loc and Devil-Loc Deluxe are a SoundToys twist inspired by the classic Shure Level-Loc mic limiter. These plug-ins add huge sucking compression, grit, dirt, distortion, and take drums (but try it anywhere) to a wonderful hellish nightmare. It's not for the faint of heart.

Learn more

Posted by Michele Yamazaki

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