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What is Compression?

Compression controls  dynamics, acting as an automated level control.The input itself sets the output level, which is governed by the threshold and ratio settings.

Gain ratio is the basic principal of compression and is measured by input level compared to output level. When you see settings like 3:1, it means for every 3db you input to the compressor the output is 1db. In other word, when you add compression to your recording, you lose volume. On most compressors, this loss of volume is compensated for by the make-up gain control.

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Using Compressors for Your Recordings

  • Compression on Vocal Recordings: No vocalist sings every word at the same level. Compression allows  the listener to hear the whole performance, with consistent levels.
  • Compression on Drum Recordings: Compression, particularly on the kick and the snare drums, evens out the drummer's performance.
  • Compression on Bass Recordings: On both electric and the double bass, some notes just naturally play louder than others. Compression evens these natural idiosyncrasies out.
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Deciding Whether You Need Compression on Your Recordings

Compression is a helpful audio processing tool. When used in moderation, compression can help your mixes achieve deep, crisp, lows, as well as and smooth-sounding vocal tracks. Compression can be thought of as the sweet icing on a cake.