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Although compression and limiting is usually best left for when you mix, sometimes just a touch of limiting when recording can control the peaks and make the acoustic guitar sit a little better with the other instruments. Let's take a look at how that's done. Plug a hardware limiter either into the output of the mic preamp or an insert on the console. Keep in mind that the plug-in might add a delay to the recording, which can throw the player off because what he'll be hearing in the headphones will be after he plays it. Start with the limiters set a 10:1 compression ratio with both the attack and release controls set to medium.
Then set the threshold controls so there's only a couple of dB of compression happening on the peaks. (music playing) Depending on the type of rhythm that the guitar player is playing you may want to decrease both the attack and release time so they react faster. Be aware that the sound will begin to dull if the attack is set too fast, and you'll begin to hear the compressor work, if the release time is too short. (music playing) So that's how we set up the limiter on an acoustic guitar to control the peaks.
Set the ratio of 10:1 and both the attack and release controls somewhere in the middle. Then set the threshold, so there's only a couple of dB of limiting that happens on the peaks. This is another case of a little going a long way. So go easy on limiting while recording. You can always add more in the mix.
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