Compression Part 2

December 2, 2014

In part 2 of compressors, I'm going to go through attack, release, and knee controls. These knobs will allow the compressor to treat the audio even better. Remember not to overuse compression. First, the attack control is there to control how fast the compressor will start working on the signal that goes over the threshold. This is very useful, because on instruments that need to be heavily tamed, the attack time can be set really fast. On the other hand, something like vocals will require a slower attack time. Now, the original vocal can pass through the compressor just before the audio is compressed. Next, let's look at the knee control on a compression fx unit. This function is there to soften the impact of the compressor. If you set it really heavy, this is known as hard knee compression. On the other side of this knob is soft knee compression. This allows the audio coming into the compressor to be more gently attacked. The last knob to get into is the release. This knob simply allows you to control the time it will take to stop gain reduction after the signal has dropped below the threshold. Release times let you dial in the sustain of the track. This can be very useful in getting the bass track to sound just right. Setting this really high will squeeze the notes together too much, because the next note is being played while the previous one is still being held onto by the compressor. The compressor is one of most essential mixing tools, so having a better knowledge of all the functions will definitely improve your use of it. Try to use it to compliment things in the recording instead of drastically altering them. Sometimes, you'll need to use it heavily, just make sure you don't hear a chopping, breathing sound. That is unless you want to hear this effect. Some producers will add this to something like parts of the drums to get more of the beat into the song. When doing this, set the breathing effect to the tempo of the song by adjusting the attack and release controls.

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