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Author Topic: REAL blind spot with compression, can anyone explain it to me?  (Read 4602 times)

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May 31, 2013, 03:24:17 PM
Dear Anyone.

Hokay, this is the reason I joined this forum - feel free to laugh like drains/flame as much as you like but I wouldn't mind a bit of explanation somewheres....

Y'see, I'm trying to get the hang of mixing but Compressions got me cold.  The way I've read it, you're supposed to set a threshold and a ratio and that determines how much sound comes OUT to how much sound goes IN. So first question. As you've only got a RATIO of the sound coming out, surely it's gotta be QUIETER (you're getting less out than is going in) yet everyone says compression makes things LOUDER. To me that doesn't compute, which means my thinking's at fault, but I don't see where. That's the first prob. I have. Here's the second. 

I've got 3 compression plug-ins, Blockfish, Floorfish and Solid State Logic LMC-1. On none of them can I see any mention of Thresholds, yet all the Compression sites talk about Thresholds - what are they and how do I set them?

Question 3, quite probably related to my lack of understanding of Questions One and Two. If I hit a point where compression is actually DOING something, which I don't think I ever have, then things should get QUIETER because of the ratio effect, or LOUDER because everyone says compression makes things louder even though I don't understand why it should do. I've never, with a gun to my head, heard any sonic difference whatsoever. I've often b/s'd myself into THINKING there's some kinda minor difference going on but in all honesty I can't say I've ever heard any major difference no matter what I do with that big single knob.  I sure haven't heard anything getting majorly louder OR majorly quieter even with the knob on full in either direction.  And I have more idea of next week's Lottery numbers than of any reasons why this should be!

So what's my setup, just to help you out?  I'm disabled so I use a notation program, Quick Score Elite Level 2, and a mouse to put all the notes in. QSE starts off dead basic but can take 90% of all known plug-ins, that's its strongpoint. So I've got the compressors mentioned above, EQium (for EQ, natch!) Edirol Orchestral and many soundfonts/plug-in instruments. And Ozone for mastering.  I THINK I'm OK with EQ, I'm totally lost with compression, I know there's loadsa other effects like phase etc., but I don't want to confuse myself any more than I already am! I also know I should be using Pro Tools or the like to mix with but I really don't want to burden my braincell with another piece of nightmare software until I've got the hang of the basics - I've still got brainburn from trying to learn Reason! (Gave up on that just before they put the straitjacket on me.)

For now, if I could just learn what I SHOULD hear when Compression's working right, how I GET to hear it working right and how to MAKE IT START working right in the first place, I'll be a much happier bunny (and then be able to ask the NEXT dumbass question!)

I write New Age-y music, but you do need to know compression and other effects to do that as well as to do pop music, I feel. 

Yours hopefully and respectfully


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May 31, 2013, 09:13:49 PM
The plugs you describe are all of the 'auto-makeup' variety, so as you compress the signal, they automatically make it louder. Compression doesn't make anything louder, as you point out. What it does is reduce the loud parts, so that the quiet parts can get louder, making the overall dynamic range smaller. So, if you have a piano part with quiet bits and loud bits, compressing it will make the quiet parts closer in volume to the loud parts.

If you want to learn compression, I'd recommend finding a plug-in with the full control set: Input gain, threshold, ratio, attack, release, and makeup gain. Then, using something like a snare drum track, set the input gain to have a good level coming in, loud, but not clipping. Next set the ratio as high as it'll go (8:1 or higher is fine.) Set the threshold low enough that you're seeing a lot of gain reduction on the meter. The sound should be pretty mangled, and you want the attack set to 0 or as short as possible, and the release long. Now, start playing with the attack and hear what happens. Next, do the release. Now, you can play with the ratio, and the threshold in similar ways.

It should all start to make some sense after that. And keep in mind that learning to use compression tastefully is something we all continue working on for years and years. The 'One Knob' type compressors are nice in a way, as they usually are set in such a way as to be useful, and somewhat transparent. Of course, that doesn't help you hear what you're doing!

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May 31, 2013, 09:57:36 PM
Dear John Suitcase.

Thankyou very much for your excellent reply - would start working on it tonight but it's 11pm and the guy upstairs is a mean drunk with King Kong's spare biceps! But in the morning, I'm sure going to give that a go - I've got a compressor with a load of controls on it so I'm sure it's got all the ones you say and it'll be great to actually hear them doing things - I didn't even really realise there was a 'full control set', I just went to a site, those were the 3 they talked about so I downloaded them (the fact they were legit. freebies helped.... - I don't mind paying for kit if I understand enough to know if it's worth paying for from the demo version.)

And thanks also to anyone else who takes the time/trouble to add any more to this.

Yours respectfully


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June 02, 2013, 06:00:06 AM
Dear John Suitcase, or whoever reads this and stops laughing long enough to answer it....

So I downloaded 5orcery (yup, that's how they spell it!) which they said was a multiband compressor. Great, I thought, I can compress different bits of the signal. Now I'll practice.  So I set up a drum track as per Joh Suitcase's instructions, chucked 5orcery on it and - nothing. No sound, no output, doesn't matter what I do with any frickin' button or dial, the input's on plus 9 (max) but it doesn't matter what I do with that either, I get absolutely zero noise coming out no matter what dial I wiggle in any direction. 

I know others have problems USING compression, but I bet that at least they're getting NOISE coming out the other end.  Right now I'd settle for that, it would be a starting point to work on.  But I've got the Korg MDE Jack of All Trades that put frying eggs all over everything it tries to compress, Blockfish/Floorfish that don't seem to want to do nothing nohow no way and now 5orcery that just takes the sound and shoves it into a black hole, never to be heard again no matter what you twiddle. (That goes for presets too, been through the presets, tried higher drum sounds, lower drum sounds, dumbeks, you name it....)

If anyone's got any ideas what I'm doing wrong, I would be eternally grateful.  I'd settle for terminally mangled sound coming out that I could work on but I'd love to hear SOMETHING coming out of a compressor that sounds CHANGED - and going from drum rhythm to absolute silence is a little TOO changed for me!

I'm very sorry, John, if you read this, I did do what you said, there's input level on 5orcery, a whole bank of compressor meters, output gain, each meter's got its own gain settings, nothing lets any sound back out again! If you know of any other downloads (free/trial period) that DO let sound back out again so I can hear what's going on, I would be eternally grateful.....

Yours pathetically


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June 02, 2013, 02:12:46 PM
Personally, I would chuck the multi band out the Window, and start with something simpler.

Grab the reaper effects bundle from Cockus, it has some dead simple effective stuff.
I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity. During these fits of absolute unconsciousness, I drank - God only knows how often or how much. As a matter of course, my enemies referred the insanity to the drink, rather than the drink to the insanity.
          -- Edgar Allan Poe

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June 02, 2013, 05:02:48 PM
Yeah, multiband is useful in some cases, but just adds complexity at this point.

Most DAWs include a basic compressor that has the needed controls, if you search on you will find a bunch of freebies and commercial plugs to try.

I don't have any idea why that plug isn't giving you any output, unfortunately!

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June 03, 2013, 02:56:13 AM

hey brother as a compressor can also be used as a limiter check your thresh hold & ratio are not set to high if set to hot
this will limit your signal to the point where you will get no output at all

this pack is free and a good starting point ulrichburke below is a couple of plugins included in the pack
to see them all head to the link below

once you master some of these plugins you will understand what each one does:)

download link is on there page
look for <<<<Download Here (v4.95)>>>

* Modern Compressor.
                     * Power On/Off button.
                     * Gate On/Off button.
                     * Gain Reduction meter include.
                     * Post-gate control (-96 to -30 dB).
                     * Gate time control.
                     * Threshold control (0 to 48 dB).
                     * Attack time control (1 ms to 50 ms).
                     * Release time control (60, 125, 250, 500ms, 1, 2, 4sec).
                     * Ratio switch (1.5:1, 2:1, 4:1, 8:1, 16:1, 32:1 and Tank mode).
                     * Side-Chain filter control (Highpass, off to 300 Hz).
                     * Mix control (0 to 100 %).
                     * Gain control (0 to 30 dB).

* Modern Equalizer.
                     * EQ In/Out button.
                     * Phase flip In/Out button.
                     * High-pass filter control (off, 60, 120, 180, 240, 300, 360 Hz).
                     * Low-freq control (60, 80, 100, 150, 200 Hz).
                     * Low gain control (-18 to +18 dB).
                     * Low Peak/Shelf modes button.
                     * Med-freq control (500, 1200, 1800, 2400, 3200 Hz).
                     * Med gain control (-18 to +18 dB).
                     * Med bandwidth control.
                     * High-freq control (3000, 6000, 9000, 12000, 16000 Hz).
                     * High gain control (-18 to +18 dB).
                     * High Peak/Shelf modes button.
                     * Mix-Ratio control.
                     * Output control (-18 to +18 dB).

* Modern Expander.
                     * VU meter include.
                     * Threshold control (-96 dB to 0 dB).
                     * Ratio control (1:1 to 30:1).
                     * Knee control (0 to 20 dB).
                     * Range control (0 to 60 dB).
                     * Attack time control (0.1 to 3 ms).
                     * Release time control (150 to 3000 ms).
                     * Mix control (Full wet to dry).
                     * Output control (-20 to +20 dB).

* Modern Exciter.
                     * Power On/Off button.
                     * Stereo level meters include.
                     * Extreme Low, High controls.
                     * Balance control.
                     * Output control (-18 to +18 dB).

* Modern De-Esser.
                     * Power On/Off button.
                     * Gain Reduction meter include.
                     * Threshold, Ratio, Width, Release controls.
                     * Freq control (3000 to 9999 Hz).
                     * Output level control (-15 to +15 dB).

* Modern Spacer.
                     * Power On/Off button.
                     * Stereo level meters include.
                     * Pre-Delay control (off to 2 secs).
                     * Time control (off to 10 secs).
                     * Room Depth control (15 to 3000 m).
                     * Room Width control (20 to 300 m).
                     * Mix control (Full wet to dry).
                     * LS, MF, HF, HS controls for Reverb EQ.
                     * Output control (-18 to +18 dB).

hope this helps brother

« Last Edit: June 03, 2013, 03:21:27 AM by S1770 »