Helpful ReplyNo Longer Hate Compression

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Johnbee58
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2018/10/25 02:49:32 (permalink)

No Longer Hate Compression

To all the people who ever advised me on my long banters on improving my vocal tracks who told me to use compression, a huge THANK YOU!! 
I confess that I used to hate compression and couldn't understand why anybody thought it made anything sound better.  That was before I finally decided to take the time to actually LEARN how to use it!!  I've been recording digitally now with software DAWs for 11 years and I only ever either used presets or moved knobs not knowing what they did but turned them until the sounded good enough.  I swear, only since this past May did I finally, during a prolonged writer's block, learn to research and learn about how tools like EQ and compression work.  I also learned how to set up reverb and delay to get the best out of a track, especially vocals.  These past 2 weeks I revisited 2 projects from the past two years that I thought the vocals kind of sucked on and went in and remixed them with the new knowledge and better tools and now they sound great!!  I now understand how compression works to make a vocal sound better.  I'm so glad I listened to you folks here.  You are a big reason why I made such an improvement.  BTW, My main compressor go-to is the Red Compressor that comes with Focusrite interfaces.
 
John B.

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gswitz
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Re: No Longer Hate Compression 2018/10/25 06:47:18 (permalink) ☄ Helpfulby jude77 2018/10/26 15:36:40
Cool 😎 compressors are awesome. There are lots of different ones and ways to use them. Definitely try parallel compression if you have not.
Also drag eq before and after the compressor to hear cool differences.

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Johnbee58
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Re: No Longer Hate Compression 2018/10/25 09:13:17 (permalink)
gswitz
 Definitely try parallel compression if you have not.




Yeah, I tried that. But I don't know if I did it right because I didn't hear any difference.  What I did was insert another audio channel and brought a second copy of the vocal into it.  Then I set up the processing to match the first vocal track but compressed the crap out of the second one.  Truthfully, I heard no difference in the result.  I must've done it wrong because everybody says it's the way to go.
 
JB

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davdud101
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Re: No Longer Hate Compression 2018/10/25 12:09:24 (permalink)
That's awesome! I love those tools, I definitely use EQ the most above all else, and then compression. There are so many possibilities!

 
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bitflipper
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Re: No Longer Hate Compression 2018/10/25 15:01:57 (permalink)
IIRC that compressor has a wet/dry mix knob. If I'm right about that, you can set up parallel compression much more easily than the traditional parallel bus method. All you have to do is play with the wet/dry control.
 
Parallel compression is challenging for the same reason compressors are challenging generally: it's difficult to hear what's happening when you're taking something away from the track. How can you hear something that isn't there?
But once you grasp what parallel compression is actually doing, you'll then know what to listen for.
 
In a nutshell, parallel compression makes the quiet parts louder.
 
Call it "upward compression" if you want to sound smart. All that means is that the quiet parts aren't so quiet. Imagine what that might do on a vocal, bass or lead guitar track, if the quiet bits were turned up. 


All else is in doubt, so this is the truth I cling to. 

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batsbrew
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Re: No Longer Hate Compression 2018/10/25 15:04:30 (permalink)
do what the pros do.

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Wayfarer
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Re: No Longer Hate Compression 2018/10/25 17:44:00 (permalink)
Better yet, spend a little money on a good old DBX 160A (or two of them for stereo) and use it on your board's channel inserts so you won't overload the signal going into your DAW. Plus, compressors just sound better there rather than applying them after a track has already been recorded.
 
Bill
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batsbrew
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Re: No Longer Hate Compression 2018/10/25 19:35:08 (permalink)
Wayfarer
Better yet, spend a little money on a good old DBX 160A (or two of them for stereo) and use it on your board's channel inserts so you won't overload the signal going into your DAW. Plus, compressors just sound better there rather than applying them after a track has already been recorded.
 
Bill


IF YOU ARE MIXING IN THE BOX...
 
this would not be the way.
 
 
that said, i always track with external compression,
a dbx unit, by the way.....
but you have to understand how this colors sound,
as well as controls level.

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Wayfarer
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Re: No Longer Hate Compression 2018/10/25 23:25:10 (permalink)
I don't always track with it. Like I don't have a need for it with my guitar synth or with a mic'ed electric guitar cab. If I want compression on electric, I'll use a stomp-box, but I seldom use one. Compression tends to sound lousy on classical guitar, so I don't use it there, plus there's just no need as classical guitars seem to have such an even sound without it. Steel string acoustic is hit and miss---depends on the guitar and how I'm playing it. I would tend to use it more on a dreadnaught for instance because they can be a little boomy. And with some steel string acoustics, compression really brings them to life, but I've had others where it didn't.
 
Also, DBX units all sound different to me. I don't think a 166 or 266 sound very much like a 160. I also had an old 163 decades ago and didn't think much of it. The 160 and its variants (I have the 160XT) was the great one in my opinion. I know there are compressors costing a few thousand bucks. I've never used anything in that league, so I don't know how they compare to something like a 160, but in the $500 and under range, I think the 160A or 160XT are hard to beat.
 
I also currently have cheapo Behringer Composer Pro-XL. It's a stereo compressor / limiter that I mostly use just once in a great while for limiting. It's not much of a compressor, but it's very quiet, and any limiter that's quiet and has a quick response time is fine with me. Limiting is easy---compression is hard.
 
Dang it. No world series game tonight....
 
Bill
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Johnbee58
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Re: No Longer Hate Compression 2018/10/26 01:35:12 (permalink)
bitflipper
IIRC that compressor has a wet/dry mix knob. If I'm right about that, you can set up parallel compression much more easily than the traditional parallel bus method. All you have to do is play with the wet/dry control.
 

You DO remember correctly.  It has a wet/dry as well as an input control. This is interesting.  You're telling me that the wet/dry control essentially makes this parallel compression?  Is it really that easy?
 
JB
 
 

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Johnbee58
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Re: No Longer Hate Compression 2018/10/26 01:47:59 (permalink)
I decided to post here the two songs I mentioned on the original post.  Sorry, but I discarded the original mixes and these are the improvements.  The first is a song I wrote for my first wife who I lost to cancer in 2014.
https://johnbowen.bandcam...rack/through-the-storm
 
Second is a song called "Liner Notes" which is a look back to the LP covers of the 50s & 60s and the commentary about the artists on the back of the record cover.
https://johnbowen.bandcamp.com/track/liner-notes
 
I think I had both of these tunes posted here before so you might remember how crappy the original mixes were. If you don't remember the posts or never heard them, trust me, they sucked compared to these.  Comments of any kind are welcome.
 
JB

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bitflipper
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Re: No Longer Hate Compression 2018/10/26 15:26:17 (permalink)
Johnbee58
You DO remember correctly.  It has a wet/dry as well as an input control. This is interesting.  You're telling me that the wet/dry control essentially makes this parallel compression?  Is it really that easy?
JB
 

Yes, it really is that easy.
 
Picture what's happening with parallel compression. First, you duplicate the original signal so you now have two identical signals in parallel. One of them gets compressed, the other does not. Then they are mixed back together.
 
So using the wet/dry mix control does exactly the same thing as using a parallel bus. Well, actually it's better, because you don't have to keep turning one down while you turn the other one up.
 
I should also note that this only holds true for conventional broadband compressors. Multi-band compressors and dynamic equalizers - even some static EQs - may also have wet/dry mix knobs, but they don't work the same way. That's because you can't just mix signals back together when one of them is phase-shifted.
 


All else is in doubt, so this is the truth I cling to. 

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Leizer
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Re: No Longer Hate Compression 2018/10/26 21:00:47 (permalink)
Wayfarer
I don't always track with it. Like I don't have a need for it with my guitar synth or with a mic'ed electric guitar cab. If I want compression on electric, I'll use a stomp-box, but I seldom use one. Compression tends to sound lousy on classical guitar, so I don't use it there, plus there's just no need as classical guitars seem to have such an even sound without it. Steel string acoustic is hit and miss---depends on the guitar and how I'm playing it. I would tend to use it more on a dreadnaught for instance because they can be a little boomy. And with some steel string acoustics, compression really brings them to life, but I've had others where it didn't.
 
Also, DBX units all sound different to me. I don't think a 166 or 266 sound very much like a 160. I also had an old 163 decades ago and didn't think much of it. The 160 and its variants (I have the 160XT) was the great one in my opinion. I know there are compressors costing a few thousand bucks. I've never used anything in that league, so I don't know how they compare to something like a 160, but in the $500 and under range, I think the 160A or 160XT are hard to beat.
 
I also currently have cheapo Behringer Composer Pro-XL. It's a stereo compressor / limiter that I mostly use just once in a great while for limiting. It's not much of a compressor, but it's very quiet, and any limiter that's quiet and has a quick response time is fine with me. Limiting is easy---compression is hard.
 
Dang it. No world series game tonight....
 
Bill


I have a DBX 160XT. It has been gathered dust the last 2-3 years, but I recall tracking bass with it getting nice result.

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Wayfarer
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Re: No Longer Hate Compression 2018/10/26 22:48:27 (permalink)
Yeah, a lot of people use it on bass. I use a limiter on bass more often than not though.
 
John,
 
Both tracks sound fine to me.
 
Bill
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Kev999
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Re: No Longer Hate Compression 2018/10/26 23:19:31 (permalink)
Wayfarer
...DBX units all sound different to me. I don't think a 166 or 266 sound very much like a 160. I also had an old 163 decades ago and didn't think much of it. The 160 and its variants (I have the 160XT) was the great one in my opinion. I know there are compressors costing a few thousand bucks. I've never used anything in that league, so I don't know how they compare to something like a 160, but in the $500 and under range, I think the 160A or 160XT are hard to beat...

 
Yes, I have a DBX 166XL and I find that it's only good for use on electric guitar and nothing else really.

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