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Audio Mixing Bootcamp

Understanding compressor parameters


From:

Audio Mixing Bootcamp

with Bobby Owsinski

Video: Understanding compressor parameters

A compressor is nothing more than an automated level control that uses the input signal to determine the output level. In this video, I am going to show you all the parameters of a compressor and discuss how they each change the sound. All compressors have roughly the same parameter controls and are operated the same way, but they can sound different from one another because there are different ways of designing a compression circuit. Let's look at the controls. The first one is the Ratio control. Ratio controls how much of the output level the compressor will increase compared to level that's being fed through the input.
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  1. 1m 16s
    1. Welcome
      1m 16s
  2. 8m 20s
    1. Determining the listening position
      2m 27s
    2. Fixing acoustic problems
      2m 5s
    3. Setting up your monitors
      3m 48s
  3. 20m 17s
    1. Setting up your session
      5m 52s
    2. Setting up your subgroups
      7m 50s
    3. Setting up your effects
      6m 35s
  4. 8m 45s
    1. Developing the groove
      3m 46s
    2. Emphasizing the most important elements
      3m 44s
    3. Knowing what to avoid
      1m 15s
  5. 1h 4m
    1. Learning the principles of building a mix
      1m 1s
    2. Assigning the drums to a subgroup
      3m 55s
    3. Building the mix from the kick
      10m 8s
    4. Building the mix from the snare
      8m 46s
    5. Building the mix from the toms
      5m 25s
    6. Building the mix from the overhead mics
      3m 53s
    7. Checking the drum phase
      4m 44s
    8. Balancing direct and miked bass channels
      3m 36s
    9. Building the mix from the bass
      3m 26s
    10. Building the mix from the vocals
      4m 19s
    11. Balancing the rhythm section
      2m 44s
    12. Balancing the rest of the instruments with the rhythm section
      5m 22s
    13. Making a mix without building it
      4m 20s
    14. Balancing the harmony vocals
      2m 35s
  6. 23m 2s
    1. Looking at the three main panning areas
      9m 23s
    2. Panning the drums
      6m 9s
    3. Avoiding pseudo-stereo
      7m 30s
  7. 1h 17m
    1. Understanding compressor parameters
      3m 42s
    2. Setting up the compressor
      14m 44s
    3. Compressing the drums
      7m 53s
    4. Compressing the room mics
      4m 9s
    5. Compressing the bass
      5m 24s
    6. Using the New York compression trick
      4m 23s
    7. Compressing the clean electric guitars
      4m 40s
    8. Compressing the distorted electric guitars
      4m 48s
    9. Compressing the acoustic guitars
      8m 7s
    10. Compressing the piano
      6m 35s
    11. Compressing the electric keyboards
      4m 32s
    12. Compressing the vocals
      4m 34s
    13. Compressing the horns
      3m 55s
  8. 25m 36s
    1. Learning noise gate basics
      9m 23s
    2. Using the noise gate on guitars
      3m 57s
    3. Using the noise gate on drums
      7m 38s
    4. Learning de-esser basics
      2m 15s
    5. Using the de-esser on vocals
      2m 23s
  9. 36m 4s
    1. Understanding equalizer parameters
      10m 16s
    2. Learning subtractive equalization
      8m 57s
    3. Learning frequency juggling
      8m 28s
    4. Using the magic high-pass filter
      7m 39s
    5. Learning the principles of equalization
      44s
  10. 49m 46s
    1. Equalizing the kick
      6m 7s
    2. Equalizing the snare
      2m 57s
    3. Equalizing the rack toms
      5m 4s
    4. Equalizing the floor tom
      4m 32s
    5. Equalizing the hi-hat
      4m 56s
    6. Equalizing the cymbal or the overhead mics
      6m 49s
    7. Equalizing the room mics
      5m 13s
    8. Equalizing the bass
      3m 59s
    9. Editing the bass rhythm
      4m 21s
    10. Equalizing the rhythm section
      5m 48s
  11. 47m 58s
    1. Equalizing the electric guitar
      8m 15s
    2. Equalizing the acoustic guitar
      4m 55s
    3. Equalizing the hand percussion
      3m 28s
    4. Equalizing the lead vocals
      6m 5s
    5. Equalizing the background vocals
      4m 14s
    6. Equalizing the piano
      4m 46s
    7. Equalizing the organ
      6m 49s
    8. Equalizing the strings
      6m 4s
    9. Equalizing the horns
      3m 22s
  12. 30m 47s
    1. Learning the principles of reverb
      1m 59s
    2. Understanding reverb parameters
      6m 49s
    3. Timing the reverb to the track
      6m 6s
    4. Equalizing the reverb
      2m 51s
    5. Using the two-reverb quick setup
      5m 35s
    6. Using the three-reverb setup
      7m 27s
  13. 59m 8s
    1. Adding reverb to the drums
      7m 56s
    2. Adding reverb to the vocals
      11m 59s
    3. Adding reverb to the guitars
      5m 17s
    4. Adding reverb to the piano
      4m 19s
    5. Adding reverb to the organ
      3m 43s
    6. Adding reverb to the strings
      5m 36s
    7. Adding reverb to the horns
      2m 57s
    8. Adding reverb to the percussion
      4m 46s
    9. Using reverb to layer the mix
      12m 35s
  14. 46m 8s
    1. Learning delay principles
      1m 40s
    2. Understanding delay parameters
      6m 54s
    3. Timing the delay to the track
      1m 28s
    4. Using delay timing variations
      2m 51s
    5. Equalizing the delay
      4m 23s
    6. Understanding the Haas effect
      2m 51s
    7. Using the three-delay setup
      7m 23s
    8. Adding delay to the vocals
      8m 43s
    9. Using delay to layer the mix
      9m 55s
  15. 21m 35s
    1. Understanding the types of modulation
      2m 43s
    2. Understanding modulation parameters
      4m 13s
    3. Modulating the guitars
      4m 7s
    4. Modulating the keyboards
      3m 17s
    5. Modulating the vocals
      4m 17s
    6. Modulating the strings
      2m 58s
  16. 12m 22s
    1. Mixing with subgroups
      5m 5s
    2. Using mix buss compression
      4m 21s
    3. Understanding the evils of hypercompression
      2m 56s
  17. 39s
    1. Goodbye
      39s

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Audio Mixing Bootcamp
8h 53m Beginner Nov 11, 2011

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In this course, author Bobby Owsinski reveals industry tips, tricks, and techniques for producing professionally mixed audio on any digital audio workstation. He offers recommendations for setting up an optimal listening environment, highlights the most efficient ways to set up and balance a mix, and shows how to build a powerful sound with compression. The course also explains how to master the intricacies of EQ; incorporate reverb, delay, and modulation effects; and generate the final mix.

Topics include:
  • Optimizing your listening environment
  • Setting up sessions, subgroups, and effects
  • Understanding which mixing elements to avoid
  • Understanding the principles of building a mix
  • Panning instruments
  • Setting up the compressor
  • Using noise gates and de-essers
  • Understanding the concept of frequency juggling
  • Using the magic high-pass filter
  • Timing reverb and delay to a track
  • Using reverb to layer the mix
  • Understanding the Haas effect
  • Modulating guitars, keyboards, and vocals
  • Mixing with subgroups
  • Tweaking the final mix
Subjects:
Audio + Music Mixing Music Production Audio Effects
Software:
Pro Tools
Author:
Bobby Owsinski

Understanding compressor parameters

A compressor is nothing more than an automated level control that uses the input signal to determine the output level. In this video, I am going to show you all the parameters of a compressor and discuss how they each change the sound. All compressors have roughly the same parameter controls and are operated the same way, but they can sound different from one another because there are different ways of designing a compression circuit. Let's look at the controls. The first one is the Ratio control. Ratio controls how much of the output level the compressor will increase compared to level that's being fed through the input.

Usually this is calibrated in a ratio that goes anywhere from 1:1 to 100:1. And what that means is if it says 4:1, every 4 dB that's coming into the compressor, only 1 dB will go out through the output. The next control is the Threshold, and Threshold determines the signal level where the compression actually begins. Below the threshold point, no compression occurs, and above it is when all the compression occurs. Many compressors are calibrated in dB, so a setting of -5 means that when the level reaches -5 in the input meter, the compression begins to kick in.

Next controls are Attack and Release. Not all compressors have attack and release parameter controls, but most of them do. These controls determine how fast or how slow the compressor reacts at the beginning or the end of the signal envelope. The beginning is the attack and the end is the release. Some compressors have an auto mode that automatically sets the attack or release according to the dynamics of the signal. Some compressors have a fixed attack and release where you can't alter them at all. The Attack and Release controls are actually the key to proper compressor setup, but many engineers overlook these controls completely.

That being said, it's possible to get good results by keeping these controls set to midway, but learning how to use them provides much for consistent and professional results. Gain control is sometimes called makeup gain or output. When a compressor begins to compress, it actually attenuates the signal. So in order to boost the signal back up to where it was when we started, we use the Gain control, which adds some additional gain. Sometimes this is called makeup gain and sometimes it's just called an output control. We can use this additional gain for other things as well, and we'll talk about that in later movies.

The Gain Reduction Meter is an indicator of just how much compression is occurring in any given moment. On most devices, this is either a V or a peak meter, but it reads backwards. Let's take a look. (music playing) This means that if it reads -12, there is 12 dB of gain reduction actually occurring. If it reads -6, it means there is 6 dB of gain reduction occurring. It usually varies in the amount of gain reduction depending on the signal.

The sidechain is used for connecting other signal processors to the compressor. The connected processor only receives a signal when the compressor exceeds the threshold and begins to compress. Sidechains are often connected to EQs to make a de-esser, which will soften the sound of the S coming from a vocal when they exceed the compressor's threshold. You can also connect to delay or reverb or anything you want to the sidechain for unusual program-level-dependent effects. You can also feed the signal from another channel into the sidechain and will cause a sound to trigger from that original channel.

This is used a lot in electronic music especially. Finally, the Bypass control allows you to hear the signal without any gain reduction taking place. This is useful to help you hear how much the compressor is controlling or changing the sound. It also makes it easy to set output control so the compressed signal is about the same level as the uncompressed signal. So those are the parameter controls on a compressor.

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