Reverse compression / limiting
Old 13th March 2007
  #1
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Thread Starter
Reverse compression / limiting

Has anyone ever tried to run a mix through a compressor or a limiter in reverse?

I would think that this would allow for more gain reduction with out killing the transients as the transients are gradually ramped into in reverse.

I know a slower attack time on a compressor can help preserve the transients etc but I was just wondering if anyone played with this techniques and what experience they had.

From what I noticed it actually reduced the transients even more but it did create a larger RMS result compared to using the same setting in the forward direction. This could be because the attack phase of the compression has already passed by the time the beginning of the transient is compressed at the end of the reverse envelope.

I know this may be strange and not a valid technique...or it may have some merit.

thoughts?
Old 13th March 2007
  #2
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Berolzheimer's Avatar
 

I've done it as an effect, with extreme settings, but not in mastering. Was cool tho....
I've suspected that Flaming Lips do this on their drum tracks sometimes, it sounds like the compressor kicks in just before the attack of the kiks & snares. Has anyone here worked with them that could confirm or deny?
Old 13th March 2007
  #3
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Bob Yordan's Avatar
 

Yup a lot of times, using my own plugs.

Expanders & Transient handling plugs might be what is easiest to use
to achieve this.

There are some Backward plugs, Backman and some other plug (with a simular name)
that reverses a track during playback. Might be the easiest way to do it.

Old 13th March 2007
  #4
Gear maniac
 
Tubefreak's Avatar
 

Ok... reverse the music, then add compression...... cool idea, haven't tried it yet. But I wonder... how do you tweak settings? My hearing is ok, but I have no idea how good my reverse hearing is.

Maarten
Old 13th March 2007
  #5
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MattGray's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by mix-er View Post
Has anyone ever tried to run a mix through a compressor or a limiter in reverse?

I would think that this would allow for more gain reduction with out killing the transients as the transients are gradually ramped into in reverse.

I know a slower attack time on a compressor can help preserve the transients etc but I was just wondering if anyone played with this techniques and what experience they had.

From what I noticed it actually reduced the transients even more but it did create a larger RMS result compared to using the same setting in the forward direction. This could be because the attack phase of the compression has already passed by the time the beginning of the transient is compressed at the end of the reverse envelope.

I know this may be strange and not a valid technique...or it may have some merit.

thoughts?
Actually this technique has been used for sometime in mixing & was publicized in a book called 'Mixing With Your Mind' by author Michael Paul Stavrou. I've tried it in a mastering setting & while it can offer cleaner smoother compression, it can also produce some undesirable time constants if not set very carefully. This makes it hard to predict as it's hard to set it by ear while listening to the music backwards. Not to mention the look on the clients face if you were to use this technique during an attended session... lol

Matt
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Old 13th March 2007
  #6
Sounds like a good idea but I could see it taking a long time to get the settings right.

Eck
Old 13th March 2007
  #7
Gear Head
 

Thread Starter
thanks for the feedback. I have played around with it a bit.

The flaming Lips drum treatment sounds really interesting as a mix technique / effect. probably leave the release setting a bit long to create that precompression sound...?

as far as mastering goes I have found that you can use a more gentle comp setting as far as ration and also a quicker attack with greater results (more reduction). basically the compressor sits on the signal longer with out releasing thus keeping the gain reduction at a more consistant and maximum level.

the release is harder to set though....with out getting the flaming lips effect.

The over all result seems to have less peaks and it does look more consistent / "smoother"

I am trying to figure out how reverse limiting would / would not apply.

I agree a hard technique to use with clients in the room.

puts new meaning to the look ahead limiter........
Old 13th March 2007
  #8
Gear nut
 

If you're going for that Flaming Lips drum sound or a more workable way to use this pre-triggering technique, you can copy your track, nudge the copy forward and make that the trigger for the compressor.

rogier
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Old 19th March 2007
  #9
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Taproot's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mix-er View Post
Has anyone ever tried to run a mix through a compressor or a limiter in reverse?

thoughts?
Tom Dowd taught me this trick on vocals. Pretty amazing results. Never in mastering though.
Old 19th March 2007
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Taproot View Post
Tom Dowd taught me this trick on vocals. Pretty amazing results. Never in mastering though.
This is definitely a Dowd trick. The idea is not only that the compressor itself can work more effectively, it is also that everything in the chain works better because of the "ramping up" effect... nothing is being "hit" with a transient. Look ahead compression doesn't work as well as this technique. It works great on anything, especially mastering. I owe infinite thanks to Steve Gursky for showing me this.
Old 19th March 2007
  #11
Gear nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by toledo3 View Post
This is definitely a Dowd trick. The idea is not only that the compressor itself can work more effectively, it is also that everything in the chain works better because of the "ramping up" effect... nothing is being "hit" with a transient. Look ahead compression doesn't work as well as this technique. It works great on anything, especially mastering. I owe infinite thanks to Steve Gursky for showing me this.
I'm going to check this out. Thanks
Old 4th November 2007
  #12
Gear addict
 

I’m reviving this thread, because I’m doing a lot of reverse compression in my DAW - in particular bass & vocal tracks.

Does anybody have a favorite plug-in setting, emulation (FET, Opto, VCA)?

Thanks.
Old 15th July 2014
  #13
Gear nut
 

Been daydreaming about this reverse compression technique again. I just finished mixing an EP and forgot to experiment with this approach. Makes a lot of sense to me for vocals. I'm guessing a fast attack would keep the ends of words from ramping up and also bring up a lot of breath in the process. Anyone had any luck doing this lately?
Old 15th July 2014
  #14
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I only compress in the 4th dimention...
Old 15th July 2014
  #15
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Too much pump during dynamic transient moments. Careful time settings.
Old 15th July 2014
  #16
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Kiwi's Avatar
 

I believe this was a secret technique of some very big name studios for preserving transients when dubbing to analog tape. Analog processing in reverse means that your phase smearing goes backwards. Almost like the concept behind BBE. Linear phase EQ using analog? Doable if you can be bothered.

Just another way to use your gear. It is similar to a trick that artists use by painting or drawing with the photo or paper/canvas upside down. You lose some of your preconceptions and see things differently.

Useful concept to understand - not for everything though.
Old 15th July 2014
  #17
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This idea has temporarily blown my mind. Wow.
Old 16th July 2014
  #18
It's an old technique. Stav mentions it in his book, Mixing With Your Mind. Sometimes works really well on drums.
Old 16th July 2014
  #19
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api2500's Avatar
Never tried this till last night on a dynamic acoustic track. Sounds totally bizarre and I found it initially counter intuitive.

I totally get the upside down painting effect and then turning it around to view the final product. But I have to say, most of the improvement tends to be, for me, the total surprise that it actually worked. Most of the wow factor came from not actually hearing the compression till the end.

I'm not sure whether the purported improvement can't be matched with normal, careful compression and actually listening to the product though.
Old 16th July 2014
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by api2500 View Post

I totally get the upside down painting effect and then turning it around to view the final product.
I am actually a visual artist and I have never heard of that either. Now that is totally a gimmick.

It's not the same as audio. It would mean creating the entire song backwards, it would be, ... uhm experimental music.

Anyone who has some trick to work upside down in visual art, is a joke, a gimmick.
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Old 16th July 2014
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smoke View Post
Anyone who has some trick to work upside down in visual art, is a joke, a gimmick.
It's one of those tricks that you read in those amateur drawing books divided into grids and told to draw sonic. Or thomas the tank engine.
Old 17th July 2014
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by api2500 View Post
It's one of those tricks that you read in those amateur drawing books divided into grids and told to draw sonic. Or thomas the tank engine.
And you know, I suppose they are just trying to get you to think outside the box, and not be so stuck on the 'rules'. I guess there is an art to how you use (well, find) discoveries.
Old 17th July 2014
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smoke View Post
Now that is totally a gimmick....Anyone who has some trick to work upside down in visual art, is a joke, a gimmick.
You say that like it's a bad thing ...


For a creative soul you seem quite inflexible and intolerant ... what kind of visual artist are you, out of curiousity?

Many of the great artists had a trick or gimmick that worked for them ...

The idea of painting from an upside down photograph (or versions of the same principle) is that your brain removes the meaning from the equation, and you start to draw what you see - not what you *think* you are seeing ...

You should try it ...

But sure - it's a trick, a gimmick ... not for everyday use ... but if it gets you out of a creative rut, why not ...
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Old 19th July 2014
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiwi View Post
You say that like it's a bad thing ...


For a creative soul you seem quite inflexible and intolerant ... what kind of visual artist are you, out of curiousity?

Many of the great artists had a trick or gimmick that worked for them ...

The idea of painting from an upside down photograph (or versions of the same principle) is that your brain removes the meaning from the equation, and you start to draw what you see - not what you *think* you are seeing ...

You should try it ...

But sure - it's a trick, a gimmick ... not for everyday use ... but if it gets you out of a creative rut, why not ...
I don't agree with you at all, but I'm not up for this type of argument.

Be well.

Edit: that was too fast. As a learning tool, I understand, and I have done these type of exercises.

In no way do I use gimmicks as an adult artist. I have tricks that I have discovered, sure. But "get out of a creative rut" by using tricks... I am sorry but I have not come across that. I am a real artist, too. I make my living from it. I don't find many true artists, they are one of a kind.
Old 21st July 2014
  #25
Finally got round to trying this technique myself and while it was just one one track I found the results quite interesting.

It's a pretty bass heavy house, garage'y type track with the focus of the low end being on the bassline.

I did a test for both compression and limiting forward and backwards. What I found was that when setting the compression on the reverse track although it was a weird experience working that way I could still kind of 'feel' where things needed to sit as it were (although this being my first time using this I suppose I could have cocked it up and not had a clue!)

I used the exact same settings on the 'forwards' track and the difference was quite a pleasant surprise. I found that on the forwards track the sub and bass synth would kind of smash together and we'd get this nasty pumping down there (I was going for about 3-4 db of GR so I could properly hear what was going on)

However listening back to the reverse one once I'd swapped it round to A/B I found that it actually pushed this low end back a bit and tightened things up massively (although at the cost of apparent loudness)

The same thing happened when I tried the limiter as well (hitting about 4-5db on this one) I found the results to be a bit more subtle than the compression but similar thing again, tighter low end, keeping the snap in the drums at a cost of loudness. Here though I though to myself well it's tight enough as it is let's run this through a limiter doing 1 db forwards. This worked wonders, I did the same on the other forward limited track and the one that had been reversed sounded a whole lot cleaner when pushed harder.

Very happy with what I found and as said before it isn't something for everyday use I imagine a scenario where a mix is very pokey and bass light being possibly the complete opposite of where you'd want to apply this but definitely something I will consider trying out a bit more in future.
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Old 21st July 2014
  #26
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Storm Mastering's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathan Race View Post
Finally got round to trying this technique myself and while it was just one one track I found the results quite interesting.

It's a pretty bass heavy house, garage'y type track with the focus of the low end being on the bassline.

I did a test for both compression and limiting forward and backwards. What I found was that when setting the compression on the reverse track although it was a weird experience working that way I could still kind of 'feel' where things needed to sit as it were (although this being my first time using this I suppose I could have cocked it up and not had a clue!)

I used the exact same settings on the 'forwards' track and the difference was quite a pleasant surprise. I found that on the forwards track the sub and bass synth would kind of smash together and we'd get this nasty pumping down there (I was going for about 3-4 db of GR so I could properly hear what was going on)

However listening back to the reverse one once I'd swapped it round to A/B I found that it actually pushed this low end back a bit and tightened things up massively (although at the cost of apparent loudness)

The same thing happened when I tried the limiter as well (hitting about 4-5db on this one) I found the results to be a bit more subtle than the compression but similar thing again, tighter low end, keeping the snap in the drums at a cost of loudness. Here though I though to myself well it's tight enough as it is let's run this through a limiter doing 1 db forwards. This worked wonders, I did the same on the other forward limited track and the one that had been reversed sounded a whole lot cleaner when pushed harder.

Very happy with what I found and as said before it isn't something for everyday use I imagine a scenario where a mix is very pokey and bass light being possibly the complete opposite of where you'd want to apply this but definitely something I will consider trying out a bit more in future.
I think, for a fairer comparison, that you would have to tweak the time constants differently in both ways. A fast attack/slow release in backward would be more near the vibe of a slow attack/fast release in forward.
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