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Acoustic guitars generally have a lot of dynamic range, which means that they require some compression to keep the sound even in the mix. In this video I am going to show you how to set up the compressor to keep that signal steady, and to keep everything even in the mix. So the first thing to realize is that acoustic instruments are usually a lot more dynamic than electric instruments, so they have to be controlled more, and that's why we use a compressor. The other thing to remember is the more wild the peaks the higher the compression ratio should be, just like we did on other instruments. So let's have a listen in the track without a compressor and you can hear how sometimes you hear it really well and other times it drops out in the track.
(music playing) Now, one of the things to realize about an acoustic guitar that strums like this, it's almost a rhythm instrument sometimes because it's pushing the track along. Just have a quick listen without the acoustic and listen to the difference.
(music playing) So there are two things that happen here: the first thing it takes up a nice frequency range in the middle that really sounds good, and the next thing is it pushes everything along. It's almost like another rhythm instrument, and sometimes with a good acoustic guitar track you don't have to add percussion or something like that to make the track really move. That's the value of a good acoustic guitar track. Anyway, let's put our normal compressor in that we always use, which is the standard Pro Tools compressor, and let's have a listen.
(music playing) So like we did with other instruments, we're going to adjust the attack time until it just begins to dull, because we're cutting off the actual attack of the instrument. That's when we want to back off a little bit. So let's do that now. (music playing) Now, next thing we're going to do is we're going to back off on the release a little bit; we're going to make it longer. (music playing) And because there are a lot of peaks, what we're going to do is we're going to raise the ratio up.
(music playing) Now, we can hear the compressor kick in, and that's not what we want. So we're actually going to use something that we haven't used up until now, and this is the Knee parameter. What this will do is right at the point where the compressor kicks in, it will soften that a little bit. So instead of going from no compression to compression, it gradually turns on. So it makes it sound a little bit smoother.
(music playing) Now, I think the gain is different, and it should be because we're compressing a whole bunch and the more we compress, the less the gain will be. Let's listen to it where the compressor bypass and hear how loud it is. (music playing) So what we're trying to do is use the Gain control to even out the differences between the uncompressed and the compressed sound, and now that they are about the same, we can really hear the compressor working here.
(music playing) Let's listen to the track. (music playing) We can hear it pushing the track along, and we can hear all those strums.
The problem is this doesn't really sound all that good, and sometimes that happens; certain compressors sound better on certain instruments and sometimes they just don't work as well. So we're going to try a different compressor. In this case we're going to go to another native compressor in Pro Tools, and this is going to be the Bomb Factory, BF76. And what this is is a software emulation of the hardware UREI1176, which has been a standard in studios for fifty years about.
This is actually one of the first compressors built and used by studios all over the world, and it's still revered by just about everybody. The thing about the 1176 though, or in this case the BF76, is that the Attack and Release controls work backwards from normal Attack and Release controls. So in other words, on the attack the fastest is actually all the way to the right and the slowest is all the way to the left, and that's completely different from what we see in most other compressors. What we're going to do is back the attack off to its slowest, and we're going to put the release at its fastest and have a quick listen.
(music playing) Now, I can hear it getting even already. What we're going to do is we're going to back the attack off until we just about hear a dull, and when we hear that, we're going to back off. (music playing) Now we didn't hear a dull and that's because this works so well for this particular acoustic guitar that sometimes it's just a perfect match. That's because the attack time of the 1176, or in this case the BF76, is fairly slow.
Now, let's back off the release time and make it breathe with the track. (music playing) Now, let's listen in the track. (music playing) Now usually what I like to do in cases of an acoustic guitar that's strumming is back it off until you can just about hear it, and that way it will add motion to the track, which is what it's supposed to do.
It will fill up an acoustic space, which is also what it's supposed to do, but it won't be too prominent so it drowns out the other instruments. So let's bring that back a little bit. (music playing) Now let's just listen without it, hear the difference. (music playing) After we EQ it and add some effects, this would sound really, really good.
But now you get an idea of how to make it fit into the track, how to make it sound even with a little bit of compression, and what it will do to the motion of the track.
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