Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Compression Thoughts

About compression (From various internet articles...)

Four main aspects...

Threshold - This is the rise in dbs that determines if the comressor engages. When the rise reaches the trheshold then the attack occurs.

Attack - the time that the compression waits until it begins to decrease the gain of a signal when the prescribed threshhold is reached.

Ratio - The amount of gain reduction 3:1 means that for every 3 db rise the compressor will only raise the level by 1.

Release - How fast or slow does the compressor return the gain back to the actual/original level.

Knee - What is the shape of the change hard of soft (may not apply to some compressors)

So…compressors are about smoothing out the dynamic peaks to allow the entire track to be raised up in the mix.

The BIG problem with compression is that it can kill the emotional and esthetic dynamics of a track in additon to introducing unwanted audible changes in gain if poorly used.

Most of the articles I have read say….fix dynamic issues in tracking and avoid harsh use of compression. That goes without saying. Vocals are the toughtest to keep a intimate dynamic sound AND not clip. So there two ways…

One sing to stay within the confines of the levels set. Easier said than done. I found in singing Spinning Things I have to edge closer to the mike during soft parts and lower the timbre of my voice to highlight a gentle passage. In more loud parts I move back slightly and turn my head slightly to prevent any SSs or P-pops of B booms…

The other way is to go ahead and belt it out any old way you want and let the engineers fix it with compression. How it works out is up to the listener. Seems most are putting the burdon on the musician to keep the perfromance smooth to a certain degree. But all agree SOME compression is very useful.

So…I am now understanding compression. I was jaded by past experiences by a compression happy techs in combinations with inexperienced recording musicians. (young wacky punkers, thrash types)

So rule of thumb to be useing for this project...

Best perfomance goes on the disk.

Better musical performance by the musicians the easier it will be to mix. And that means controlling dynamics while still keeping the emotion going...

I guess I think of it as staying within a described dynamic range. Soft and loud but not too loud or soft...layer the instruments in the song to create the dynamics. Sometimes the notes not played are as important as the ones played.

No comments: