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Like most acoustic instruments, horns can have a wide dynamic range. Either with brass or woodwinds, the same compression principle apply. Let's look at how we compress a solo tenor sax. So let's listen to the sax by itself. (music playing) So there is a lot of dynamic-range difference between all the notes, and what we're trying to do is even them out.
So the first thing we'll do is go to our dynamic plug-in, and once again we'll use the standard Pro Tools dynamics plug-in. And let's have a listen. (music playing) Now you can see it's compressing a lot, and that's because the threshold is down below what it needs to be. So let's bring this up. (music playing) So like with other instruments, we set the attack and release time so it breathes with the track. Since there is no rhythm track for us to set the attack and release, we're going to set it so it sounds best within the context of the solo sax.
The first thing we want to do is set the attack, and the attack is set so just about the time we hear the attack part of the sax envelope cut off, we're going to stop there. I am going to back it off a little bit. So let's listen to it with the attack cranked up where it really sounds bad, first of all. (music playing) You can hear the brightness go away, and of course, we want to maintain that. So the first thing we do is bring it all the way, as far as we can, to its longest attack time.
(music playing) So that's working pretty well, but you can see, once we set the attack time that long, in fact there's no compression that happens. So what we want to do is back it off a little bit until we just about hear it begin to dull. (music playing) Let's go again on the loud parts. (music playing) Now what we're going to do is bring the threshold down so the compressor kicks in.
(music playing) What we're doing here is we're lowering the peaks, and if we wanted to actually bring up some of the softer sections of the sax solo, what we'd do is we'd compress it a bit more. So let's do that.
(music playing) So you can hear that all notes are just about the same. The last thing we want to do is set the gain, and the way we do that is we bypass the compressor and then what we'll do is compare the level of the bypassed compressor to when the compressor is in the circuit.
(music playing) So to sum it up, we use compression on either brass or woodwinds to even out the level differences between notes and phrases. Start with the attack and release so it breathes with the track and then adjust the Threshold and Ratio controls with just the right amount of compression.
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