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Useful compression settings
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Recording David
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20th April 2005
Old 20th April 2005
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Useful compression settings

I found the following in the manual for a Focusrite (yuck) compressor belonging to the school where I do some teaching. I've found most of them to be good starting points for compressor settings...

The first reading is for threshold in dBu, the second (obviously) is the compression ratio.

Kick – 0dBu/2.5:1 – Use the attack control to vary the amount of punch.

Snare - +3dBu/5:1 – Raise compression ratio to make ghost notes more audible. Use the attack control to vary the ‘crack’ of the drum. Set a slower release to increase the ringing overtones of the drum.

Ambience – +9dBu/5:1 – Use with live drums or instruments to enhance natural room ambience.

Loop - +7dBu/7:1 – Add punch to sampled loops and electronic sounds, making them sit in the mix.

Bass Guitar - +6dBu/5:1 – Use a faster attack to get a funky effect when slapping. Use a slower attack for a punchier bass line.

Synth Bass - +11dBu/5:1

Percussion - +6dBu/8:1 – Suitablle for making live or acoustic drums pump, whilst taming any wild hits. Use the attack to vary the amount of punch. Use the release to control pumping.

Acoustic guitar picked - -2dBu/2.5:1 – Increase compression and make up gain to reduce the dynamic range of the guitar if it doesn’t sit well in the mix.

Acoustic guitar strummed - +3dBu/1.7:1 – Use a slower attack to make the guitar sound crisper.

Electric Guitar - +2dBu/2.5:1

Piano - +4dBu/2.5:1

Keyboard – 0dBu/3:1

Vocals - -4dBu/2.5:1

Crunch - +5dBu/6:1 – A setting to make drum loops pump. Use the attack control to vary the amount of punch. Use the release to control the pumping.

Mix (pump) – 0dBu/1.7:1 – for ‘ruff ‘n’ ready’ mastering compression.

Limit - +14dBu/13:1 – To prevent overloading the inputs of a device place after the compressor.

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20th April 2005
Old 20th April 2005
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Recording David
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20th April 2005
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Dude - it's a beginner's guide. That's why it's in Low End Theory.
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20th April 2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Recording David
Dude - it's a beginner's guide. That's why it's in Low End Theory.
FWIW, the Low End Theory isn't aimed at beginners really, but at ppl who don't wanna spend tons of money on gear but still want great results

The list can be usefull to some maybe tho. Obviously, the threshold setting is useless, it depends on your material. The most important for beginners is to understand what each parameter does. After that, you can easily reason what setting you'll most likely need, and in the end, it's only the sound that matters anyway. I'd advice beginners just to tweak for hours with a compressor on various material. You'll get the grasp of what does what
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20th April 2005
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Not to mention that one compressor's 2.5:1 setting can sound radically different than the next compressor's 2.5:1 setting.
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Recording David
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20th April 2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SoSueMe
Not to mention that one compressor's 2.5:1 setting can sound radically different than the next compressor's 2.5:1 setting.
Like the first post says, it's just a guide. Nobody's saying it's hard and fast rules buddy. If it's not helpful to you, don't use it.
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20th April 2005
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Thanks Dave!


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Quote:
Originally Posted by Recording David
Like the first post says, it's just a guide. Nobody's saying it's hard and fast rules buddy. If it's not helpful to you, don't use it.
I'm not saying it couldn't be helpful to some people. I believe good starting points can be a good teaching tool.
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20th April 2005
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I agree also that it is helpful. I think its at least a small shortcut for starters to get you in the right area where you can really hear how a compressor can help out a given signal.


thanks!
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22nd April 2005
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It is impossible to set the threshold without knowing the volume of the input signal. Sorry, but it just is.

Let's take an example: Vocals - -4dBu/2.5:1

This may result in zero dB of gain reduction, or it may result in 20 dB of gain reduction. Somewhere in that general area...
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23rd April 2005
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I learnt useful "beginner's stuff" from my extremely well-written Behringer Composer manual:

Helped me understand and actually HEAR the nature of comp and limiting...

Helped me not F up my quasi-mastering for my demos....

Helped me get a deal because my demo was "louder than anyone else's"



Eg

slow attack /slow release/low thresh/low ratio= leveling for program material

High thresh/high ratio/fast attack/slow release = program limiting.


BUT these settings vary from plug-in to plug-in/hardware to hardware;

Classic engineer's answer: "It depends"
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23rd April 2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Recording David
Focusrite (yuck) compressor
uhmm.... quite a blanket comment dont you think...... They made good gear as well as bad....

and I cant really see the value of posting compressor threshold settings aside from a very gear specific value that may possibly be a sweet spot for a certain application...perhaps...maybe...depends
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23rd April 2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by toolskid
uhmm.... quite a blanket comment dont you think...... They made good gear as well as bad....

and I cant really see the value of posting compressor threshold settings aside from a very gear specific value that may possibly be a sweet spot for a certain application...perhaps...maybe...depends
OK, fair point. It's a Platinum Penta compressor - it ain't great!
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12th February 2013
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Here's my post from a similar forum:

Well I found the first recommendations and their specificity to be quite interesting even though a fool would think there's one answer for this or that. I like to find these types of recommendations just for different ideas to investigate. I tend to learn a lot from it. And that process is exactly the same as any other process where you just keep trying whatever until it sounds the way you want. Experts aren't going to help you just like politicians will do anything to keep their jobs or win a job. And the other thing...I have people coming up to me all the time telling me about how my producer's work isn't as good as their's and how I should work with this person instead. I hate mix peddlers. Take your mix back to the alley. I'm good with mine. I've listened to a lot of different music...some of it sounds like total junk but I appreciate the art of it. It is true that you just have to "do it" but specific ideas are points of departure. Even if you're Tom Hanks with a studio on a deserted island in cast away you'll create you're own departure point. So what's the point of dismissing anything really? Unless maybe you don't have the discrimination to know if it works or not for you. See some people in this process are scared of other peoples ideas because it might change their routine that has been so successful. I try to observe without judgement but with intelligent discrimination so that no stone is left unturned. Besides there are so many infinite studios pumping out local music and popular music and it's all different. What's good? What's you goal? Underground art? Hyped Pop? Super-compressed hip-hop tracks? Death medal? Wow! Lot's of different ratio's and eq settings to deal with. In conclusion: anything can be a point of departure for learning even if it's wrong so when you see people disagreeing about these details and how to go about learning, just quietly observe knowing that you can learn more from both sides at once while they waste their time getting entangled in arguments.
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12th February 2013
Old 12th February 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mgs0001 View Post
Here's my post from a similar forum:

Well I found the first recommendations and their specificity to be quite interesting even though a fool would think there's one answer for this or that. I like to find these types of recommendations just for different ideas to investigate. I tend to learn a lot from it. And that process is exactly the same as any other process where you just keep trying whatever until it sounds the way you want. Experts aren't going to help you just like politicians will do anything to keep their jobs or win a job. And the other thing...I have people coming up to me all the time telling me about how my producer's work isn't as good as their's and how I should work with this person instead. I hate mix peddlers. Take your mix back to the alley. I'm good with mine. I've listened to a lot of different music...some of it sounds like total junk but I appreciate the art of it. It is true that you just have to "do it" but specific ideas are points of departure. Even if you're Tom Hanks with a studio on a deserted island in cast away you'll create you're own departure point. So what's the point of dismissing anything really? Unless maybe you don't have the discrimination to know if it works or not for you. See some people in this process are scared of other peoples ideas because it might change their routine that has been so successful. I try to observe without judgement but with intelligent discrimination so that no stone is left unturned. Besides there are so many infinite studios pumping out local music and popular music and it's all different. What's good? What's you goal? Underground art? Hyped Pop? Super-compressed hip-hop tracks? Death medal? Wow! Lot's of different ratio's and eq settings to deal with. In conclusion: anything can be a point of departure for learning even if it's wrong so when you see people disagreeing about these details and how to go about learning, just quietly observe knowing that you can learn more from both sides at once while they waste their time getting entangled in arguments.
Please use paragraph breaks in the future. Your unbroken comment is difficult to read. I write this in the most sincere and honest way. I would like to read what you are trying to share with us, but it is visually taxing.
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12th February 2013
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Epic thread recovery.... 8 months old

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13th February 2013
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8 months?

The last comment was 8 YEARS ago
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**** i didnt even check the year!!

This is almost as old as USB sticks lol...

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8 months?

The last comment was 8 YEARS ago
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13th February 2013
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Old thread revival huh. Some basic ideas on setting up compressors/limiters and what they do, can be found in this article I wrote some time back. It may be helpful for people who are trying to learn to understand compressor settings to read:

Understanding and Using Compressors
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