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Author Topic:  Talking Shop Compression and Reverb
Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post Posted 9 Jul 2018 12:02 am     Reply with quote

Bill Hatcher wrote:
in regards to compression, in the old days before everyone in the universe could just order studio gear online and claim to have a recording studio, the engineers would say if you can hear the compressor....its too much.

now days, there is no standard. each to his own.


Very true, but lets not lose sight, In the OLD days everyone was recording ANALOG, if you exceeded 0 DB it was a gentle transition past the 0 db point, the audio didn't jump into saturation. Compression was not as important. In the digital domain with todays DAW's , the previous Analog 0 DB reference point has now dropped to - 6 db, thats the so called standard digital audio ref. As we approach 0 DB in signal we get into hideous saturation which cannot be repaired.

Too many times we reference the OLD DAYS without consideration that todays standards are not the same as yesterdays.

Exceeding 0DB in the analog realm didn't necessarily ruin a track , it made things a bit hotter, while approaching or exceeding 0 DB in the digital realm means "start over" 'cause you can't fix that.

In the old days for certain compressors were not everyday tools but in this new digital era the compressor can be, if used properly, a session saver. This is probably why every DAW or Digital Workstation on the planet, even the lowest priced units,have an included compressor in the dynamics processing bin. Evidently someone knew something was up !
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David Mitchell


From:
Texas, USA
Post Posted 9 Jul 2018 10:42 am     Reply with quote

I think everybody is right in this thread with a valid point. I haven't tuned into the steel forum in over 6 months but had a little time to kill today so here I am. Here is my thoughts on compression. In the 60's through 90's on analog recorders I had racks full of hardware like 1176'S and La-2's. I got a picture on Facebook of my rack with six 1176's and 3 original La-2a's. I used them all. I had to most of the time to get people that couldn't control dynamics to fit on a vinyl record. In those years we never thought of them as an effect but the lesser of two evils to control dynamics. I prefered not using them but since I didn't have enough fingers to ride gain on 24 tracks or at least 16 tracks (remember it was entire bands and not one track at a time) the compressor was more like an auto-leveler. We didn't have automation/ total recall till SSL came out with it in the 90's. Compression did alter the tone but back then we already had enough mush going with tape compression. Around the year 2000 I started using Steinberg Nuendo in my own studio and solved the problem I hated for all those years. I could now control levels by editing the .wav files instead of using compressors for everything without altering the original sound. Now I still use them but not what I originally used them for. I like a tad of 1176 (either hardware or plugin) to add a sheen to the vocal tracks that you just can't get with anything else. If you use it correctly it will put the vocals in your face without having any pumping, nasty artifacts. La-2a can be used the same way to put some meat on a tracks bones. So compression to me has changed from volume level management to a spice on the cake now that I can spend all the time in the world on a mix moving .wav files around. It's all good!
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David Mitchell


From:
Texas, USA
Post Posted 9 Jul 2018 11:13 am     Reply with quote

This was the last album I recorded before I went into full retirement. It was AWA awards 2014 Album of the Year and no compressors except for a tad of 1176 on Chuck's vocal to get it to pop out in the mix. Very little wav file adjustments because the musician's were so good. They balanced themselves. Junior Knight was the steel player.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGBNel3mb44
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werner althaus


From:
lincoln, NE
Post Posted 9 Jul 2018 8:11 pm     Reply with quote

Tony Prior wrote:

Very true, but lets not lose sight, In the OLD days everyone was recording ANALOG, if you exceeded 0 DB it was a gentle transition past the 0 db point, the audio didn't jump into saturation. Compression was not as important. In the digital domain with todays DAW's , the previous Analog 0 DB reference point has now dropped to - 6 db, thats the so called standard digital audio ref. As we approach 0 DB in signal we get into hideous saturation which cannot be repaired.

!


There's just a little too much misinformation ( in bold) in this post to ignore so here I go:
In the analog days (I assume that means tape) there were all kinds of scenarios possible when you "exceed 0 DB". Tape machines could be lined up all kind of different ways, with more or less headroom, different bias curves, etc, what happened when you pushed past 0 VU was a result of many factors, to say it was a gentle transition oversimplifies things. Add shitty analog electronics on semi-pro machines like Tascam and Fostex and you could get into ratty, clipped sounding recordings pretty quickly. Many of the budget machines could barely reproduce the signal fed into them and it wasn't all lovely tape saturation you were getting, far from it. The first time semi-pro studios had recorders that could record signals faithfully was with the advent of ADATs and DA-88s, but at 16 bit resolution and poor dither they too needed dynamics control to achieve hotter levels.

Anyway, in digital the "analog 0 DB reference point" has not dropped to "-6 db", far from it, it is whatever you want it to be . (Truth be told , it was the same way with high quality Reel-to-reel machines and high output tape stock, engineers constantly had to weigh s/n against headroom and lined them up with the headroom they needed/ wanted ).
Most common digital reference levels, aka the point where an analog 0 VU signal (+ 4 dBu, -10 dBv or whatever) equals a given digital signal measured in dBFS (full scale) are -12, -14, -18 and -20 dBFS , not -6 db, as you claim, but there's no reason you couldn't build 30 dB of headroom into your system, whatever you need, assuming your analog gear can keep up.
One really shouldn't record at - 6 dBFS approaching 0 dBFS, there's no need to. A good digital peak level of -18 to -12 dBFS recorded at 24 bits gives you enormous headroom and superior S/N ratio unobtainable with analog recorders.
And your mix should leave enough headroom for the mastering guy to do his work. For that you should monitor True peak levels (usually hotter than regular peak level) , same goes for encoding, it too requires headroom. In short, never get close to 0 dBFS.

So the need for compressors today is less than back in the analog days. Back then you had to print levels as hot as possible and with EQ to get good s/n and printing EQ kept you from raising tape noise by boosting highs during the mix. Therefore you had to contain peaks that might over modulate your input while maintaining hot average levels. None of that is necessary with digital, if properly used. 0 dBFS is not a reference level, it's the maximum level at the AD and DA conversion. There's no need to approach those levels until you get to mastering.
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werner althaus


From:
lincoln, NE
Post Posted 9 Jul 2018 8:25 pm     Reply with quote

David Mitchell wrote:
I think everybody is right in this thread with a valid point. I haven't tuned into the steel forum in over 6 months but had a little time to kill today so here I am. Here is my thoughts on compression. In the 60's through 90's on analog recorders I had racks full of hardware like 1176'S and La-2's. I got a picture on Facebook of my rack with six 1176's and 3 original La-2a's. I used them all. I had to most of the time to get people that couldn't control dynamics to fit on a vinyl record. In those years we never thought of them as an effect but the lesser of two evils to control dynamics. I prefered not using them but since I didn't have enough fingers to ride gain on 24 tracks or at least 16 tracks (remember it was entire bands and not one track at a time) the compressor was more like an auto-leveler. We didn't have automation/ total recall till SSL came out with it in the 90's. Compression did alter the tone but back then we already had enough mush going with tape compression. Around the year 2000 I started using Steinberg Nuendo in my own studio and solved the problem I hated for all those years. I could now control levels by editing the .wav files instead of using compressors for everything without altering the original sound. Now I still use them but not what I originally used them for. I like a tad of 1176 (either hardware or plugin) to add a sheen to the vocal tracks that you just can't get with anything else. If you use it correctly it will put the vocals in your face without having any pumping, nasty artifacts. La-2a can be used the same way to put some meat on a tracks bones. So compression to me has changed from volume level management to a spice on the cake now that I can spend all the time in the world on a mix moving .wav files around. It's all good!


Great post Smile
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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post Posted 10 Jul 2018 12:53 am     Reply with quote

double strike
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Emmons Steels, Fender Telecasters
Pro Tools 8 and Pro Tools 12


Last edited by Tony Prior on 10 Jul 2018 1:01 am; edited 1 time in total
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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post Posted 10 Jul 2018 1:00 am     Reply with quote

quote="werner althaus"]
Tony Prior wrote:



There's just a little too much misinformation ( in bold) in this post to ignore so here I go:


Thanks for setting me straight, I'll refrain from future posts.
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werner althaus


From:
lincoln, NE
Post Posted 10 Jul 2018 5:00 am     Reply with quote

Tony Prior wrote:
quote="werner althaus"]
Tony Prior wrote:



There's just a little too much misinformation ( in bold) in this post to ignore so here I go:


Thanks for setting me straight, I'll refrain from future posts.


Hmmm, not sure that my intend was to set anybody straight. Neither would I want you to refrain from future posts. I merely pointed out what I believe to be fundamental misconceptions about digital vs analog audio as it relates to dynamic range control.
If my posts come across in a way that offends I apologize, again. My only intend is to further the discussion.
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Bill Hatcher


From:
Atlanta Ga. USA
Post Posted 14 Jul 2018 4:15 pm     Reply with quote

the "old days"....

lets see who we might be thinking of....

sinatra, the beatles, chet atkins, symphony orchestras with two mics, classic recordings that actually sound markedly better than the majority of the crap you hear today. so, in the old days, many studios...hold that thought...there were no home studios with any good gear in them or real engineers..so a studio in the old days was an actual studio that were like places you never got to go, because they were expensive and usually only good musicians engineers and decent artists worked there.

so, back to the compressors. i talked to bill porter one day. bill might have been the greatest engineer chet atkins ever hired at rca. look him up. he told me that "in the old days" they only had one or two compressors in the studio. the recording techniques did not use them much. the compressor was usually only used on the star of the session such as a vocalist or if an instrumental then the lead instrument got it. compression was not a gadget like it is today. you look at a vu meter of any pop record out you will see brick wall limiting/ compression. the mix ramps up as loud as it can be and just pegs there. there is very little dynamic range at all. thats why in the "old days" you could hear very distinctly everything done processing wise. so, very little compressing done on the original tracking session. you hear the tape compression usually. then on mixing, no compression was usually added, because the majority of the time lets say 1962 what you tracked was basically mixed while it was going to mono or two tracks. now mastering... mastering set ups were again cut to tape, so there is some natural tape compression...which by the way..when you compare that to blasting through a dedicated compressor device natural tape compression is very light. the mastering stage is where they would add some compression to the mix just for controlling peaks not to smash then entire mix down. ask any good mastering engineer...they will tell you that a good engineer will have recorded the session well and mixed it well that that mastering is just a very small part of adjusting some peaks and some overall eq things. poor engineering and poor mixing cannot be saved at mastering. so again, a good engineer in the "old days" would not want to hear the compressor as they are used today. they also knew that most of the radio stations broadcasting the material would be smashing the feed to the transmitting tower in order to squeeze every bit of coverage they could get out of whatever they were allowed by the gov. so compression in the old days....quite different from now. i have to fight engineers all the time about compressors. try to do a bass session with no compressor these days. most players do not know how to even play evenly so you dont need one, but even if they did, engineers crank up the compressor just as a matter of fact. i spent so long in the recording studios that i have a musicians union pension for it! lol the old days look better and better to me and sound better and better every day. home home on the dynamic range....Winking
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werner althaus


From:
lincoln, NE
Post Posted 14 Jul 2018 9:47 pm     Reply with quote

double post

Last edited by werner althaus on 14 Jul 2018 9:57 pm; edited 1 time in total
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werner althaus


From:
lincoln, NE
Post Posted 14 Jul 2018 9:47 pm     Reply with quote

werner althaus wrote:
Bill Hatcher wrote:
....i have to fight engineers all the time about compressors. try to do a bass session with no compressor these days. most players do not know how to even play evenly so you dont need one, but even if they did, engineers crank up the compressor just as a matter of fact.


OMG, this is soo true and frustrating. Today it's the engineers who get their chops from the internet that use compression because it's there. Live sound engineers are even worse, they try to recreate live the smashed mess that studio albums have become. Watch the meters on a digital live console with some kid at the controls, it looks like the meter deflection you'd get playing a CD, no wonder it sounds so bad. In the days when I worked in Sound reinforcement you rarely saw any (VU) meters move, the consoles were "loud enough" to leave plenty of headroom and the music had (a) pulse
The stuff today's "Mixing engineers" do to bass is beyond criminal. Every remnant of finger or pick attack is removed in favor of a synth-like bottom end that just rests heavy and lifeless on the track. Every track on the radio has this sound, this squished sponge garbage that only gives pitch constantly but zero pulse. Unlistenable IMHO, thanks for pointing it out, rant over, ha
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