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Foundations of Audio: Compression and Dynamic Processing
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A session with Brian Lee White


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Foundations of Audio: Compression and Dynamic Processing

with Brian Lee White

Video: A session with Brian Lee White

(music playing) My name is Brian Lee White. I am a mixer, producer, and educator, based in Oakland California, and I like to make records and show other people how to do the same. I grew up in a musical family. My dad played lots of instruments, played in bands, so I've been playing instruments since I can remember.
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  1. 4m 56s
    1. Welcome
      1m 49s
    2. What you should know before watching this course
      32s
    3. Using the exercise files
      53s
    4. Using the "Get in the Mix" Pro Tools and Logic Pro session files
      1m 42s
  2. 13m 47s
    1. What is amplitude?
      1m 51s
    2. Measuring amplitude
      1m 57s
    3. What is dynamic range?
      4m 8s
    4. What are dynamics processors?
      3m 36s
    5. Hardware and software dynamics processors
      2m 15s
  3. 38m 40s
    1. Introducing compressors
      1m 45s
    2. Understanding threshold
      1m 29s
    3. Utilizing compression ratios
      3m 0s
    4. Understanding makeup gain and gain reduction
      3m 13s
    5. Understanding attack and release
      2m 12s
    6. Applying attack and release
      5m 22s
    7. Demystifying compression controls: soft knee vs. hard knee
      2m 43s
    8. Get in the Mix: Using compression to even out a vocal performance
      4m 55s
    9. Get in the Mix: Using compression to add punch and sustain to drums
      4m 39s
    10. Intelligently using compression presets
      3m 6s
    11. Recording with compression: Why or why not?
      2m 53s
    12. Recording with compression: How to do it
      3m 23s
  4. 18m 50s
    1. Introducing limiters
      1m 59s
    2. Types of limiters
      4m 17s
    3. Get in the Mix: Maximizing mix loudness with brickwall limiters
      5m 58s
    4. Solving common mix problems with limiters
      2m 58s
    5. Using layered dynamics processing
      3m 38s
  5. 26m 49s
    1. Understanding and using de-essers
      3m 46s
    2. Get in the Mix: De-essing a vocal track
      3m 30s
    3. Understanding and using gates
      4m 41s
    4. Understanding and using expanders
      1m 35s
    5. Get in the Mix: Gating a drum track
      3m 18s
    6. Understanding and using multi-band compressors/limiters
      3m 31s
    7. Controlling frequency content with multi-band compressors
      3m 3s
    8. Understanding and using transient shapers
      3m 25s
  6. 36m 38s
    1. Effectively using side-chain inputs
      2m 6s
    2. Using side chains creatively
      5m 4s
    3. Keying gates and compressors (and/or ducking)
      4m 12s
    4. Managing gain staging and headroom and fixing over-compressed tracks
      3m 20s
    5. Compression first or EQ first?
      2m 56s
    6. Understanding mix bus compression
      3m 26s
    7. Get in the Mix: Using mix bus compression
      2m 47s
    8. Get in the Mix: Working with parallel compression
      3m 46s
    9. Working with "modeled" vintage compressor/limiter plug-ins
      5m 57s
    10. Building healthy compression/limiting habits
      3m 4s
  7. 14s
    1. Goodbye
      14s
  8. 5m 51s
    1. A session with Brian Lee White
      5m 51s

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Foundations of Audio: Compression and Dynamic Processing
2h 25m Appropriate for all Dec 22, 2011 Updated Jan 10, 2014

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In this first installment of the Foundations of Audio series, author Brian Lee White shows how to improve the sound of a mix with compressors, limiters, gates, de-essers, and other dynamic processors. The course explains the fundamentals of sound waves, and amplitude, explores common compressor controls, and shows how to eliminate unwanted noise using gates and expanders. The course also demonstrates best practices in compression and limiting in a variety of audio applications and covers sculpting the attack and decay of individual notes with transient shapers and applying frequency specific dynamics control with multiband compressors. Exercise files accompany the course and include special Get in the Mix session files.

Topics include:
  • Measuring amplitude
  • Understanding dynamic range
  • Introducing compressors
  • Utilizing compression ratios
  • Applying attack and release
  • Evening out a vocal performance with compression
  • Adding punch and sustain to drums
  • Using compression presets intelligently
  • How to record with compression
  • Solving common mix problems with limiters
  • De-essing a vocal track
  • Using gates and expanders
  • Controlling frequency content with multiband compressors
  • Using sidechains creatively
  • Keying gates and compressors
  • Fixing overcompressed tracks
  • Using mixbus compression
  • Working with parallel compression
  • Compression and limiting best practices
Subjects:
Audio + Music Mixing Music Production Audio Foundations Audio Effects
Software:
Logic Pro Pro Tools
Author:
Brian Lee White

A session with Brian Lee White

(music playing) My name is Brian Lee White. I am a mixer, producer, and educator, based in Oakland California, and I like to make records and show other people how to do the same. I grew up in a musical family. My dad played lots of instruments, played in bands, so I've been playing instruments since I can remember.

I got into computers at a really young age too, computer's and technology and the Internet. So to me, mixing kind of really incorporates this left-brain, right-brain, sort of very artistic right and aesthetics as well as highly technical and analytical components, and kind of fusing the two together into this kind of middle-brain spot, to really kind of achieve the best of both worlds, and deliver something that's really special. (music playing) I originally got into teaching sort of as a way to supplement my income in what is really a hard industry.

Ultimately, I really grew to love teaching, you know, being able to share my experiences, share my tips and tricks with everyone, and I kind of created this kind of nothing-is-secret approach. I came to that point because I would have students and I would have friends come to me and they would say things like, "Yeah, you know, I heard this really cool thing that my buddy was doing and he told me, 'I am not going to show it to you because that's my trick.'" I would hear that and I would that's just say, "That's ridiculous.

That's not the mentality that we need to have in this community of people making art." And I would immediately go and then show them exactly what they wanted to learn how to do and then some. The real value of a mixer, or a producer, a songwriter is what's in here, those instincts that tell you, you know, not how to do something, not how to turn a knob, but why you would turn that knob. I think ultimately the mix has to serve the song, right, it has to serve the emotion of the song, and ultimately when I'm working for somebody, I'm providing a service, so I ultimately want to achieve the goal of the songwriter and the producer, sort of where they want to go with their aesthetic, right.

And that could be both artistically as well as commercially. What I like personally in a great mix is I tend to gravitate towards mixes that really make a strong statement. Right, so, where the artist and producer and the mixer have all come together, they're all the same page, and they kind of say, let's go for this. We are going to go out there. This could be a polarizing aesthetic, this could be the sounds and the textures and the way we are presenting them, not everyone might get.

You know, we are going to make a really gutsy move on this, and we are going to make an artistic statement. Those are the kind of things that really excite me. As a mixer of course, sonics are a big thing for me, how things sound. Is it clear, was it recorded well? While that is my job, I think it's important for me as a mixer and other mixers, all the greatest mixers, what they recognize is sort of what draws people to a piece of music or a piece of art.

It can be totally disconnected to with how it sounds sonically. You can see it all over the place, right. You see people listening to songs off their cell phone speaker and just loving it, just digging it, right? You know, listening stuff off YouTube. It's been recompressed thirty times and it's no different to them. They are just, they are getting it, right. The emotional connection is not lost. People are really stoke on music, and it makes them happy, and even in very bandwidth-limited presentations where the sonics are just horrible, it still makes them happy, and they are still getting 99% of the same enjoyment out of it.

And so, I need to take that to heart and use those concepts to really serve the project I'm working on and try to present those so that that enjoyment is maximized, no matter what speaker system or compression algorithm is being used to put that out there. (music playing) One of my most important job as a mixer is to really own the aesthetic of the song and the genre and really present that to the listener.

So whether it's a crazy Garage Rock Punk Tune, that's going to have all kinds of distorted vocals and drums, or some super-clean R&B that's got a ton of low-frequency and a ton of high-frequency extension. You know, for me, I really want to own that genre. I want to own that aesthetic, and yes, fit it within sort of some genre expectations, and kind of really push that forward so that listeners of that genre--it's not a super big stretch for them to kind of take that and run with it--and I think that really makes my job super fun, because I know, I really get to wear all these different hats and to paint with all of these different colors from one day to the next.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Foundations of Audio: Compression and Dynamic Processing.


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Q: This course was updated on 1/10/2014. What changed?
A: The Get in the Mix videos have been updated to the most recent version of Pro Tools. Also, the course now includes free Get in the Mix sessions for two more DAWs: Logic Pro X and Pro Tools 11.
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