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Signs of too much compression
Old 3rd March 2011
  #1
Gear Head
 

Thread Starter
Signs of too much compression

I tend to use a lot of compression, a bit on most of the tracks, then some parallell compression on the drum bus, and then a limiter and parallell compression on the stereo bus. All using analog gear. A friend of mine always thinks I use too much compression and claim he can hear it, he says it's sound squashed and you can hear the compressors working. I would like to be able to know myself when I mix when I am using too much, and wonder if anybody have any better descriptions on what to look for when I listen. His descriptions I don't find very useful as I am not sure what the sound of squashed and a compressor working is. Obvious pumping I can relate to, but I am able to avoid that. I can also hear that the there is little dynamic, but I am happy with that, I like it to be "Loud". But what is it that you don't want from too much use of compression really? What are the "donts" I should be listening for?
Per
Old 3rd March 2011
  #2
Geariophile
 
Karloff70's Avatar
 

Totally subjective. Sounds like you're making it sound how you like to hear it. What's the problem exactly? Your friend likes less compression.....wouldn't worry. These things go in phases anyway. You won't like that much compression forever and when you don't anymore you'll know why at the time without anyone telling you.....
Old 3rd March 2011
  #3
Dan
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Yeah, seems like the only way is force yourself to mix with little to no compression for a while. --only to change your perspective. If you can mix happily without it, mixes with heavy compression won't sound right.

It's just a perspective thing, but mixing without compression probably takes a little more work, as in riding levels. If you are happy with the sound, then I wouldn't worry about it.

The up side of working stuff like that out is that your ears may get a little more trained to hearing the potentially negative effects of compression. It's not all bad though, sometimes things sound better with compression.
Old 3rd March 2011
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan View Post

It's just a perspective thing, but mixing without compression probably takes a little more work, as in riding levels.
Dunno, if you whack every natural dynamic flat you will be forced to automate new dynamics in, i.e. could actually mean MORE auto riding......but then I believe this is the commonplace method amongst pop mixers. Whether that means it makes the sound you want to hear is another thing of course.
Old 3rd March 2011
  #5
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One of my favorite engineers says he use almost no compression.

Alan Parsons
Old 3rd March 2011
  #6
Dan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Karloff70 View Post
Dunno, if you whack every natural dynamic flat you will be forced to automate new dynamics in, i.e. could actually mean MORE auto riding......but then I believe this is the commonplace method amongst pop mixers. Whether that means it makes the sound you want to hear is another thing of course.
I've heard of that as well. Point taken, but then I wonder what dynamics they're talking about. Are there dynamics in pop music?
Old 3rd March 2011
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan View Post
I've heard of that as well. Point taken, but then I wonder what dynamics they're talking about. Are there dynamics in pop music?
lol.
Old 3rd March 2011
  #8
Gear addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan View Post
I've heard of that as well. Point taken, but then I wonder what dynamics they're talking about. Are there dynamics in pop music?
ha ha. that's funnier than it should be.
Old 3rd March 2011
  #9
Lives for gear
Transients bring excitement and emotion. Compression too I guess, depending on the style.

I've heard track here that some people thought were over-compressed and yes, I can confirm that I heard it too... a big block of audio with no sparkling transients in the drums especially. Somehow glued but without life. Sounding ok, and loud, but somehow flat.
Old 4th March 2011
  #10
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vernier's Avatar
Just use a tad if/when needed...Or, if you have something cool like BA6 or 176, blast away for the 60's sound.
.
.
Old 4th March 2011
  #11
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Retinal's Avatar
It never really happened to me to overcompress, well, overcompress to the point that *I* could say "ok, that's too much.." till a couple of weeks ago

I was testing a new cool compressor in a mix, on a very powerful (and dynamic) female voice,
I printed it and the next day I realized that when she was "pushing" it felt like it wasn't going anywhere,
when she was suppose to be loud the effect was a "stomp on the breaks" kinda feeling..

I like the grit/sound the compressor was giving so I did some fader riding and automated the voice to give it some dynamic back,
very time consuming if you want to make it believable.
I could have tried upward compression but I didn't want to experiment, waste time and maybe get nothing done.
Automation might be time consuming but it gets the result done every time

Meaning, it's easier to compress more if needed than to decompress..
Old 4th March 2011
  #12
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Crackling, squashed, lifeless, harsh, smushed sound. See Robert Randolph and the Family Band 'Colorblind' album for some very good examples...the worst modern "rock" album Ive ever heard and an obvious victim of the loudness war.

Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Colorblind
Old 4th March 2011
  #13
Fhl
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Quote:
Originally Posted by targa2 View Post
One of my favorite engineers says he use almost no compression.

Alan Parsons
He says he uses limiting instead.
Old 4th March 2011
  #14
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Beyersound's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by targa2 View Post
One of my favorite engineers says he use almost no compression.

Alan Parsons
He had lots of compression, but most of it didn't come from compressors. He used tape, a great deal of compression comes naturally from it. Now that most of us don't use tape, we have to use more compression to achieve similar results.
Old 4th March 2011
  #15
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One of the main ways I hear "too much" compression is when my ears start getting fatigued by the third verse. It especially happens for me when the drums and the low mids on the bass just don't ever let up. Everything sounds really cool at first: hot, up front, "punchy," etc. But sometime after that first chorus, I start to realize that I need a break. I need a glass of water or something. Or a walk outside.

Personally, I hate what that does to my ears, but that's just me and my tastes. I think it should be possible to get a loud enough master without over-compressing. I just pulled up Radiohead's "There There" from Hail To The Thief, and it's super loud, but it never actually gets fatiguing to my ear. Well, maybe a bit around the 4:00 mark, but it generally stays all right to me.
Old 4th March 2011
  #16
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This **** will kill your ears at high volume, too bad cause its a cool song otherwise:

Old 4th March 2011
  #17
Gear Head
 

Thread Starter
The mix attached

Thanks for replies! From the posts the suggestion seem to be that the effect of compression is a more subtle one, not something you can hear the second you put on the song, but that it got fatiguing effect with time. I've uploaded the mix I did, see if you can hear the compression, do you sense that it's too much compression, how do you notice it?
Attached Files

Vinden Visker.m4a (5.75 MB, 2017 views)

Old 4th March 2011
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by targa2 View Post
One of my favorite engineers says he use almost no compression.

Alan Parsons
There isn't a right and wrong answer, if you like it then go for it. Normally i write albums with no compression, but at the moment I'm working on a project which is heavily compressed and it sounds GREAT.

Riding the faders through the whole mix is the same as compresison if you ride them fast enough

If it feels good do it!
Old 4th March 2011
  #19
Quote:
Originally Posted by targa2 View Post
One of my favorite engineers says he use almost no compression.

Alan Parsons
There isn't a right and wrong answer, if you like it then go for it. Normally i write albums with no compression, but at the moment I'm working on a project which is heavily compressed and it sounds GREAT.

Riding the faders through the whole mix is the same as compression if you ride them fast enough

If it feels good do it!
Old 4th March 2011
  #20
Geariophile
 
Karloff70's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by orpheus_ View Post

Riding the faders through the whole mix is the same as compresison if you ride them fast enough
eeerhhh, no. Not at all.
Old 4th March 2011
  #21
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mdoelger's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by ppaulsen View Post
Thanks for replies! From the posts the suggestion seem to be that the effect of compression is a more subtle one, not something you can hear the second you put on the song, but that it got fatiguing effect with time. I've uploaded the mix I did, see if you can hear the compression, do you sense that it's too much compression, how do you notice it?

Snare seems squashed. And I hear the stereo bus compressor "pumping slowly" (moving in and out).

More experienced mixers might pick a lot more things...
Old 4th March 2011
  #22
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ppaulsen View Post
Thanks for replies! From the posts the suggestion seem to be that the effect of compression is a more subtle one, not something you can hear the second you put on the song, but that it got fatiguing effect with time. I've uploaded the mix I did, see if you can hear the compression, do you sense that it's too much compression, how do you notice it?

Yes, that mix is - to my ears - over compressed. I can't really tell where in the chain, or process, your problem lies, but at least you need to back down on the 2 buss comp. A lot. At the moment it is completely brickwalled. The vocals are pumping, the crashes are totally buried, the whole mix is distorting in places.

Can you fill us in how you set this up and what comps/plugins you used, and where?

Where in Norway are you based?
Old 4th March 2011
  #23
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ppaulsen View Post
Thanks for replies! From the posts the suggestion seem to be that the effect of compression is a more subtle one, not something you can hear the second you put on the song, but that it got fatiguing effect with time. I've uploaded the mix I did, see if you can hear the compression, do you sense that it's too much compression, how do you notice it?

Yes, that mix is - to my ears - over compressed. I can't really tell where in the chain, or process, your problem lies, but at least you need to back down on the 2 buss comp. A lot. At the moment it is completely brickwalled. The vocals are pumping, the crashes are totally buried, the whole mix is distorting in places.

Can you fill us in how you set this up and what comps/plugins you used, and where?

Whereabouts in Norway are you based?
Old 4th March 2011
  #24
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Space Station's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by ppaulsen View Post
Thanks for replies! From the posts the suggestion seem to be that the effect of compression is a more subtle one, not something you can hear the second you put on the song, but that it got fatiguing effect with time. I've uploaded the mix I did, see if you can hear the compression, do you sense that it's too much compression, how do you notice it?
I'd say your friend is right, the mix compression pumps way too much for the song IMHO.
Old 4th March 2011
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Karloff70 View Post
eeerhhh, no. Not at all.
Thanks for the lol Karlof during my 3 minute GS break, I'm out
Old 4th March 2011
  #26
Gear maniac
 

There's a little plugin called TT Dynamic Range Meter

TT Dynamic Range Meter Plugin for all platforms available! | DYNAMIC RANGE | pleasurize music!

Basically you put it on the 2bus and you can use this as a guideline to see if things are getting too squashed. Most pop music has a DR (dynamic range) of 10dB.
Acoustic dynamic range (of an acoustic guitar for example) is around 14dB.
Best to compare it with tracks that you like, or that suit your style, and see what they did with the dynamic range.
Old 4th March 2011
  #27
Take one of your fav 1970's tunes and load it into your editor. Now load your tune, see a difference?

One looks like a waving thing, the other looks like a big fat worm. I leave it to you to figure out why.
Old 4th March 2011
  #28
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emmymusic1's Avatar
 

i use a lot of compression. and by a lot of compression i mean i use compressors on almost every track, but not heavily. very transparent compression to bring out the punch and transients on everything that needs it. i never compress the drum buss but i do use parallel compression to blend it on a sep aux track. the only things that are squashed are things that arent important like background noises and backing tracks. i mean i still mix itb most part sooo maybe the compression punch is a must....just get a tape machine and call it a day....just my .02
Old 4th March 2011
  #29
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emmymusic1's Avatar
 

i use a lot of compression. and by a lot of compression i mean i use compressors on almost every track, but not heavily. very transparent compression to bring out the punch and transients on everything that needs it. i never compress the drum buss but i do use parallel compression to blend it on a sep aux track. the only things that are squashed are things that arent important like background noises and backing tracks. i mean i still mix itb most part sooo maybe the compression punch is a must....just get a tape machine and call it a day....just my .02
Old 4th March 2011
  #30
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basmartin's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by ppaulsen View Post
Thanks for replies! From the posts the suggestion seem to be that the effect of compression is a more subtle one, not something you can hear the second you put on the song, but that it got fatiguing effect with time. I've uploaded the mix I did, see if you can hear the compression, do you sense that it's too much compression, how do you notice it?
Yeah, a bit too much compression for this song, IMO. A little bit less GR on the compressors to let the song breath.

I´m no pro engineer, but I use compressors to tame unwanted transients, level out an inconsistent performance, to add punch or smash the track for effect. In this track, the compression just smears it all out, nothing really jumps out of the mix.
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