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James Quillian


From:
San Antonio, Texas, USA
Post  Posted 16 Jun 2018 4:43 pm    
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Mostly I use presets with plugins and then mess with the knobs until it sounds right. I always go light with effects.

I am curious how others set the levels on compression and reverb. If an actual recording engineer was going to apply compression and reverb to voice he would certainly have a starting point from which to deviate.

So, What I am asking is what settings would most likely be a best guess or starting point on these two effects?
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Tony Prior


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Charlotte NC..
Post  Posted 20 Jun 2018 12:56 am    
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James, first off, compression is a processing tool, not an effect. Maybe one of the most difficult to understand it's use. There are no presets or "this worked last time" settings.


start here.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1U2hZHHFY0
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Richard Keller


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Deer Creek, Illinois, USA
Post  Posted 20 Jun 2018 2:38 am    
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Tony, that was a really good video explaining compression.
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werner althaus


From:
lincoln, NE
Post  Posted 22 Jun 2018 6:53 pm    
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I disagree, compression these days is very much an effect, unfortunately. It's seems that many "engineers" will default to an overdose of Squish on everything the same way that they used to put reverb or chorus on everything. I know of musicians who were totally awestruck when working with engineers who don't use compression and EQ at all and "fix it in the mic" instead.
Compression really falls into 2 camps, transparent compression does control levels without imparting any tonal signature while Non-transparent compressors change the timbre of the instrument or track. Both can be a good thing but IMO the best way to learn about compression is to first learn to engineer without them. many of the greatest engineers never had compressors when they started out. Plus in todays DAWs the volume automation can make compression largely unnecessary. In the video the female vocals clearly sound better uncompressed so riding the fader during the quiet part would have yielded better results IMHO.
Just my 2 cents.
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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post  Posted 23 Jun 2018 12:22 am    
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What are you disagreeing with, learning how to use a compressor ?
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James Quillian


From:
San Antonio, Texas, USA
Post  Posted 23 Jun 2018 7:06 am    
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For some reason I get a better sound using Audacity than I do with my other DAW, Mixcraft. It seems a good time to get a better handle on compression. Mainly what I do with just about anything is look for a good starting point to deviate from. Since I use very little compression, this is what I start with for voice.
Ratio: 2.3
Threshold: -24db
Attack: 2ms
Release: 12ms
Gain: 5db

I think of this like buying a suit. You get the size that fits the best to start before taking it to the tailor.

I might be alone in looking at it this way but the last thing I want to do is emulate the standard Nashville recording studio sound. IMO, they are not as good as they think they are. Tony, that is about the most concise and clearest compression video I have seen.
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werner althaus


From:
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Post  Posted 23 Jun 2018 7:55 am    
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Tony Prior wrote:
What are you disagreeing with, learning how to use a compressor ?


No, of course not, I'm disagreeing with the statement that compression is not an effect. The way music is being compressed these days reminds me of how fast food is spiced, it appears pleasing at first but leaves an overpowering artifact that's fatiguing to the ear the same that too much salt (a "cooking effect" if you will) wears out your pallet. It shouldn't be that way but it's overuse renders it an effect in my view, much so that uncompressed audio sounds wrong to many people. But to my ears it's always a breath of fresh air to hear a proper, minimally compressed recording.
Again, I believe before you can really learn what a compressor can do for you it'd be good to learn how to mix/ record without it.
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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post  Posted 23 Jun 2018 10:37 am    
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Got it, however, many things can be viewed with an alternative use, a compressor as well. Regardless of whether people use it is an effect, it's a dynamic processor first and foremost. It's initial and original intent is not as an effect to make is sound squashy.

Sending the sound from a speaker thru a hi speed FAN is also an effect Very Happy
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werner althaus


From:
lincoln, NE
Post  Posted 23 Jun 2018 1:11 pm    
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Tony Prior wrote:
Got it, however, many things can be viewed with an alternative use, a compressor as well. Regardless of whether people use it is an effect, it's a dynamic processor first and foremost. It's initial and original intent is not as an effect to make is sound squashy.

Sending the sound from a speaker thru a hi speed FAN is also an effect Very Happy


It's initial intent was to adapt the signal to the medium / transport. For radio transmission to stop audio modulation at or below 100% and in record mastering to negotiate the length of the material against it's natural dynamics.
If digital had been around before compressors were invented nobody would have a need for them since the digital medium has no need for dynamic compression at all. It's sole use now is for effect. That's my point but I do understand the aesthetic possibilities of compression as a tone shaping tool and use it for that purpose.
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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post  Posted 23 Jun 2018 3:06 pm    
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werner althaus wrote:
It's sole use now is for effect.


Sorry, now I , as well as many pro engineers will totally disagree. A compressors main use today is NOT for effect, it's still the same, tame/control/balance audio peaks, even in the digital realm. Of course you can OVERDO it and come up with a squash sound but thats not why we use them in studio sessions while tracking. Engineers will use them and you won't even know it because you can't hear it working , while it is working.

over and out, we don't need to argue, you use them for effects, I'll use them for taming audio peaks.
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werner althaus


From:
lincoln, NE
Post  Posted 23 Jun 2018 7:36 pm    
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Tony Prior wrote:
werner althaus wrote:
It's sole use now is for effect.


Sorry, now I , as well as many pro engineers will totally disagree. A compressors main use today is NOT for effect, it's still the same, tame/control/balance audio peaks, even in the digital realm. Of course you can OVERDO it and come up with a squash sound but thats not why we use them in studio sessions while tracking. Engineers will use them and you won't even know it because you can't hear it working , while it is working.

over and out, we don't need to argue, you use them for effects, I'll use them for taming audio peaks.


No need to argue indeed, that wasn't my intent. I'm just offering an alternative viewpoint. I know that saying "compression is an effect" is controversial but to my ears that's what it has become due to unlimited instances of emulations of every compressor known to man at your fingertips courtesy of your DAW. Back in the day studios had a few compressors, not one for every track. Parallel compressed snare is an effect, Pumping room mics are an effect, distressors are an effect, bass compression to the point of loosing any attack in the notes is an effect, vocals that sound pinched due to over compression are an effect, a "sound du jour". I say that because I hear it as such and it offends me. Watch "produce like a pro" videos and you'll come away thinking that nothing can be mixed without at least a compressor, an EQ and some tape simulation plug in inserted in every track.
So if asked for advice to which setting a novice should explore I say "bypass" and take that as far as you can, then engage if you feel it still needs something.
peace

For more reading :http://www.audiomasterclass.com/newsletter/can-you-record-and-mix-entirely-without-compression

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/bruce-swedien/83046-compression-kids.html

Quote:
Experiment with all the new signal processors. There is no such thing as wasted time spent messing around with new effects.
- Bruce Swedien
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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post  Posted 24 Jun 2018 3:12 am    
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To that we agree. As I stated and as the video states, use them as needed, or not. I believe the big picture is before you can use one or NOT, you still have to know how to use one, which is the entire point of the discussion . Very Happy
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werner althaus


From:
lincoln, NE
Post  Posted 24 Jun 2018 9:06 am    
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Tony Prior wrote:
To that we agree. As I stated and as the video states, use them as needed, or not. I believe the big picture is before you can use one or NOT, you still have to know how to use one, which is the entire point of the discussion . Very Happy


Agreed, and with that in mind I think a good starting point is to identify what dynamic range processors are no longer needed for, namely protecting the capture medium/ transport chain. With digital audio at 24 bit word length there's no need to get anywhere close to 0 dBFS when recording. If your input clips before 0 dBfs it's most likely due to insufficient headroom in the analog chain, no plug in will fix that, instead the fix is to back off the recording levels. On the output side the same holds true, most DAWs have tons of headroom inside the box, overs are totally okay as long as the stereo bus doesn't clip. Rather than compressing the mix , simply reduce the master fader level and your bounced audio file will be free of clipping.
One thing I find hardest in talking about compression is that those plug in graphics suggesting that you're listening to a faithful recreation of an 1176 or Fairchild or Euphonic system 5 are totally misleading. I've done many side-by-side comparisons, most recently the Avid channel strip vs the real deal, an S5. Using the same settings the results couldn't be more different. IMO most plug in emulations are lacking and the numbers on the parameters are usually meaningless.
Instead of trying to master compression via plug ins I'd recommend buying or borrowing a decent hardware compressor for study, preferably one without markings in dB or ms.
If it has to be ITB then I'd recommend buying something good, like McDSP or something. I took the OP's comment about the "Nashville studio sound" to mean that he too isn't a huge fan of audio-waveforms that look like a two-by-four.
Smile
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werner althaus


From:
lincoln, NE
Post  Posted 24 Jun 2018 3:20 pm     Re: Talking Shop Compression and Reverb
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I wanted to quickly dress the OP's reference to presets, since nobody has addressed that yet.

In case of compression I would say that presets are mostly useless, just like EQ presets. Best to just ignore them since the source material to be processed has too many variables to find a starting point that works reliably. Threshold is probably the easiest one to adjust from a preset to match the audio in question but the threshold works in conjunction with ratio, knee, attack/ release time and peak vs RMS detection to form a response. Who's to say a vocal needs to be compressed at 4:1? Compressors can be very destructive to the audio if all parameters aren't set to match the source as well as the desired outcome.

When auditioning compressor presets it fairly difficult to retain your acoustic center, especially if the preset includes makeup gain. The louder compressed sound will always appeal to our senses, ABing of compressed vs uncompressed really should be done with loudness being equalized, hitting a preset that changes the volume drastically will confuse your hearing. I think I speak the truth when I say that many of todays engineers will rely as much on the kick down ( gain reduction) meter as their ears when setting up compression but with plug ins we have no idea how accurate the meters actually are. I don't pay too much attention to metering and other graphical feedback in DAWs because they are just that, a graphic. Once you mix with a larger control surface that has dedicated knobs for every parameter ( like Digidesigns' ICON) in order to get you away from staring at the GUI and mousing everything, you' might find that what sounds good looks totally "wrong" on your favorite plug-ins' GUI.

Reverb on the other hand lends itself very much to using presets. There are 2 ways to use reverb, either inserted in the track and dialed in via the dry/ wet control or the more common AUX send / AUX return method. In both instances it is fairly easy to start with a preset because one can slowly add it to the dry signal. The dry signal won't change, we only add reverberation. It's usually pretty easy to hear whether you have chosen the right preset to start. For vocals a plate with pre delay will work most of the time, all you have to do is adjust the pre-delay to simulate the room size you want and the decay (reverb time) to control the reverb in relation to the tempo of the song. High frequency response is always a good one to check and tweak since reverberation in nature is rarely as bright as artificial reverb.
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Bill Terry


From:
Bastrop, TX
Post  Posted 25 Jun 2018 9:16 am    
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Werner wrote:
One thing I find hardest in talking about compression is that those plug in graphics suggesting that you're listening to a faithful recreation of an 1176 or Fairchild or Euphonic system 5 are totally misleading.


I got to thinking about that a while back; I wonder how much development time is dedicated to getting the 'graphics' right???

I would hope that at least some effort is expended to make an '1176' looking comp plug work and sound something like a real 1176, but in reality (and in my personal experience in the SW development biz) the marketing guys always have a strong hand in the product design/implementation.. many times to a fault.

I've got a couple of plugs that are freeware downloads that look like the interface was designed with an etch-a-sketch, but they are amazingly useful because the DSP stuff is really well designed and implemented.
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Jack Stoner


From:
Inverness, Fl
Post  Posted 25 Jun 2018 10:25 am    
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I'm late to this thread. But, my take is compression equalizes the high and low levels so they are generally the same level. Limiting is just what it says, it limits the level to a designated level and any peaks above that are "limited" to the designated level. Limiters are what radio stations used to use to keep the level from going above the set point.

As far as being an "effect", I don't consider it an effect.
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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post  Posted 25 Jun 2018 11:32 pm    
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What Jack says abaove is pretty much what a Compressor does. A Limiter can eliminate everything above the set point while a Compressor folds it back INTO the audio envelope, it doesn't eliminate audio at the set point . Thats why we may hear the squashy sound. It is said that a Compressor with it's MAX settings is a Limiter, but a Limiter cannot be used as a Compressor. LIMIT vs COMPRESS, two totally different definitions. A properly used compressor to tame peaks may not even be heard in the audio envelope , but if we are viewing the meters we can see it working. A quality compressor used appropriately is a wonderful tool, otherwise, as stated way above, it colors the audio waveform with the squashy sound which is what people refer to as the "effect". The higher the ratio the more SQUASHY sound is the result. Whereas a Limiter will ( based on settings) make the audio above the set point " undetected ", meaning no sound. No squashy sound.

Simply defined, on the chart, anything less than 10:1 is recognized as Compressing the audio signal , when we approach 10:1 we can see what happens to the audio signal. Limiting takes place. A Compressor setting near 2:1 may not even be detected with our ears but it is indeed folding back the audio signal, as little as it may be. It may just be the perfect amount on a recorded track to balance the envelope.

Especially for Steel Guitar players who use a Volume pedal and may not be as consistent as we like.


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werner althaus


From:
lincoln, NE
Post  Posted 26 Jun 2018 10:26 am    
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Many of todays' limiters do more than just "brickwall limiting", as described in Tony's post, they bring up the average level enormously as you move the threshold down , waves L1,2 and 3 come to mind. In other words, they do affect the audio below the threshold. They also introduce latency due to their "look ahead" function.

One really useful example of compression for vocals is as "de-esser". Every time a sibilance peak (6-8K-ish)exceeds a given threshold, the audio get compressed, either across the full bandwidth or in "multiband mode", where only the sibilance frequencies are compressed. But here's the kicker, as good as todays de-essers are, many of the top engineers resort to a different solution to tame offensive sibilance (assuming it couldn't be tamed by mic selection, position, etc.) and that is "volume automation" which is French for "riding the fader", only difference being that one can draw the volume automation precisely to duck only the offending sibilance. Another example where results that were previously only achievable via compression can now be achieved with automation.
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Bill Terry


From:
Bastrop, TX
Post  Posted 26 Jun 2018 10:32 am    
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Fader automation is a great tool when I have to deal with mixing live vocals, which in my experience tend to be a lot more uneven than a studio recorded track.

It's kinda fool proof in a way, I'm living testimony. Smile
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Rick Campbell


From:
Sneedville, TN, USA
Post  Posted 26 Jun 2018 1:09 pm    
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Editing the track to highlight the spikes and trim them down works well too. Also automated faders are handy. I don't depend on compressors to do too much. If you do, it starts to sound sterile to me.

RC
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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post  Posted 27 Jun 2018 1:50 am    
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The entire point of my replies to the ops initial question is to discuss what a compressor does , it is not to determine if we like them or even if we use them. Two unrelated topics.
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werner althaus


From:
lincoln, NE
Post  Posted 27 Jun 2018 7:37 pm    
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Tony Prior wrote:
The entire point of my replies to the ops initial question is to discuss what a compressor does , it is not to determine if we like them or even if we use them. Two unrelated topics.


Sure, but the OP didn't ask "What does a compressor do?", instead he asked this:
Quote:
If an actual recording engineer was going to apply compression and reverb to voice he would certainly have a starting point from which to deviate.

So, What I am asking is what settings would most likely be a best guess or starting point on these two effects?
...

... to which my reply was
A; that I too feel that compression is an effect, I think that's something we can agree to disagree.
....and ...
B: that I would offer the "Bypass" position as a starting point and instead try to achieve the desired "effect" by use of automation.
I'm not suggesting I'm right but I do think it's a valid contribution to the discussion, considering how much damage is being done with compressors these days.
I don't see these as separate issues at all. But it wasn't my intend to derail this thread, so if I did I apologize.

And for the record, I use compression and I like compression but I learned how to control dynamics without them.
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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post  Posted 28 Jun 2018 1:52 am    
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and we can go on and on forever...
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Bill Terry


From:
Bastrop, TX
Post  Posted 28 Jun 2018 4:30 am    
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I dunno 'bout ya'll.. but I don't mind a bit of topic drift, especially in this forum section. It's kinda like when any group of people (especially musician types!) get together; the general conversation can wander to all sorts of topics.

I see it as just a natural part of any dialog, and a lot of times some really good information comes out of such discussions.

Besides, if we all agreed on everything, what fun would that be??? and who would be left for us to 'educate' as to the 'right' (i.e. my) way to do whatever.. Smile
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Bill Hatcher

 

From:
Atlanta Ga. USA
Post  Posted 3 Jul 2018 8:33 am    
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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.
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