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using compression to push a sound back in the mix?
Old 18th September 2019
  #1
Gear Head
 
Proverbalizer's Avatar
 

using compression to push a sound back in the mix?

So, I always thought that a general effect of compression is to make sounds seem more up-front in the mix, which is why it's so crucial to apply a decent amount of compression on things like lead vocals...
(and thus, sounds that are meant to be in the background should only be very lightly compressed, if at all)

but I'm watching this video on Groove3 where the guy mentions that certain compressor settings can actually be used to intentionally push a sound back (further away) in the mix.

Does anyone here actually do this?
Old 18th September 2019
  #2
For my home-studio music I'll maybe use a compressor to push back backing vocals by reducing dynamic range - also using the compressor as a gain stage. Currently experimenting with expanders for the same role....just levelling the BV's and pushing them back a few feet.

Pre- or post-send to the reverb comes into play too; maybe heavily-compressing the BV send and using a wet/dry to place the reverb in a suitable, complimentary position.
Old 19th September 2019
  #3
Quote:
Originally Posted by Proverbalizer View Post
So, I always thought that a general effect of compression is to make sounds seem more up-front in the mix, which is why it's so crucial to apply a decent amount of compression on things like lead vocals...
(and thus, sounds that are meant to be in the background should only be very lightly compressed, if at all)

but I'm watching this video on Groove3 where the guy mentions that certain compressor settings can actually be used to intentionally push a sound back (further away) in the mix.

Does anyone here actually do this?
I never view compression as a tool for pushing a sound "back" in the mix. You can easily do that by using volume levels, EQ and sometimes reverb.
Old 19th September 2019
  #4
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Proverbalizer View Post
So, I always thought that a general effect of compression is to make sounds seem more up-front in the mix, which is why it's so crucial to apply a decent amount of compression on things like lead vocals...
(and thus, sounds that are meant to be in the background should only be very lightly compressed, if at all)

but I'm watching this video on Groove3 where the guy mentions that certain compressor settings can actually be used to intentionally push a sound back (further away) in the mix.

Does anyone here actually do this?
Sure, in the sense that you can rein in the dynamic range of something enough that you can have it very low in the mix, on average, and still hear most of what's going on with it.

It's something that people mixing movies and TV shows do all the time with voices and sfx when they want them "small" and in the distance but still audible.

But the compression isn't "pushing" so much as the mixer (you) is "pulling," setting the level of the element deliberately low and using the compression to make it be heard anyway.
Old 19th September 2019
  #5
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Proverbalizer's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Sure, in the sense that you can rein in the dynamic range of something enough that you can have it very low in the mix, on average, and still hear most of what's going on with it.

It's something that people mixing movies and TV shows do all the time with voices and sfx when they want them "small" and in the distance but still audible.

But the compression isn't "pushing" so much as the mixer (you) is "pulling," setting the level of the element deliberately low and using the compression to make it be heard anyway.
that makes sense, if you want something in the background, but consistently audible, rather than in the background and fading in an out of scene or bouncing in between the levels of "unobtrusive"/"subliminal"/"inaudible"
Old 19th September 2019
  #6
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so the guy's theory was based on the idea that if a sound is located closer to your ears you hear a louder transient relative to the rest of the sound, but if a sound is located further away, the volume of the transient does not seem very loud compared to the rest of the sound. (obviously at longer distances the volume of both the transient and the tail are much lower, but he was speaking about the relative balance between them). He gave an example of somebody hitting a snare next to your head where that sharp pop from the stick hitting the skin is what's really gonna jump out, versus you hearing a snare from far away, where it's the body and the sustain of the snare that are going to be more evident

So basically he was saying that Slow Attack / Fast Release settings that allows transients to get through the compressor were good for positioning sounds upfront
whereas Fast Attack / Slow Release settings that really clamp down on the transients could actually be used to help position sounds in the background. To my ears it seemed to work for him in the listening samples. I guess it's something to experiment with more on my own anyway...

FYI, The video was called "Mixing with FabFilter Plug-ins" and had some interesting stuff about mixing and acoustics in general applicable to using any brand of plugins
https://www.groove3.com/tutorials/Mi...s?itemid=13435
Old 19th September 2019
  #7
Gear Head
 
Proverbalizer's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bender412 View Post
I never view compression as a tool for pushing a sound "back" in the mix. You can easily do that by using volume levels, EQ and sometimes reverb.
Yeah, I pretty much had the same view.

Actually this same video pointed out how narrowing the EQ range (as in rolling off top and bottom end) can push a sound back because we hear a greater frequency range from closer sound sources...so I guess I've been kind of sleeping on that particular role of EQ (although, I almost always use narrower or much more aggressively hi-passed EQ on BG vocals and Adlibs naturally to make them distinct / keep them from interfering with the lead vocals).

And obviously if you want a sound to be laid back in the background you don't want it be super "bright", whereas if you want a sound to cut through the mix and jump out then you probably want some more brightness, so I've probably been using EQ to position sounds Front/Back without really analyzing it or consciously / strategically applying it
Old 19th September 2019
  #8
Gear Head
 
Proverbalizer's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Proverbalizer View Post
so the guy's theory was based on the idea that if a sound is located closer to your ears you hear a louder transient relative to the rest of the sound, but if a sound is located further away, the volume of the transient does not seem very loud compared to the rest of the sound. (obviously at longer distances the volume of both the transient and the tail are much lower, but he was speaking about the relative balance between them). He gave an example of somebody hitting a snare next to your head where that sharp pop from the stick hitting the skin is what's really gonna jump out, versus you hearing a snare from far away, where it's the body and the sustain of the snare that are going to be more evident

So basically he was saying that Slow Attack / Fast Release settings that allows transients to get through the compressor were good for positioning sounds upfront
whereas Fast Attack / Slow Release settings that really clamp down on the transients could actually be used to help position sounds in the background. To my ears it seemed to work for him in the listening samples. I guess it's something to experiment with more on my own anyway...

FYI, The video was called "Mixing with FabFilter Plug-ins" and had some interesting stuff about mixing and acoustics in general applicable to using any brand of plugins
https://www.groove3.com/tutorials/Mi...s?itemid=13435
second opinion found right here:
https://youtu.be/qe7OEVKkLJQ?t=227
Old 19th September 2019
  #9
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Unclenny's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
But the compression isn't "pushing" so much as the mixer (you) is "pulling," setting the level of the element deliberately low and using the compression to make it be heard anyway.
Interesting. I have something right now that I'm going to try this on.

Old 20th September 2019
  #10
Gear Guru
 

I too would favor volume and EQ to push something "back" in the mix. Things that are farther away are quieter, and they are duller. They also have more reverb usually.

I might think of using compression as a way to "make up for" pushing something back in the mix. That is to say, if it is low in the mix, it may sometimes get "buried" by other, louder elements as its volume naturally rises and falls. So if you compress it a lot, you can find a point where it is still audible, but since it is now at a consistent volume, it won't drop below that point. Or shoot above it for that matter.
Old 20th September 2019
  #11
Quote:
using compression to push a sound back in the mix?
Yes you can, Only if you compress every track, except the one you want pushed back. So in essence, yes it will work
Old 20th September 2019
  #12
Gear Nut
In theory the faster the attack time the less transient comes through, and this will result in something being further “back....” But only really in comparison to something else in a similar frequency range and at a similar volume with the opposite sort of compressor settings.

It’s super subtle. If you used that theory in conjunction with varying amounts of reverb, rolling off some high end and of course changing the volume than you should be well on your way to creating depth.

Basically rolling off high end moves things back, adding more reverb moves things back, and choosing faster attack times moves things back.
Old 20th September 2019
  #13
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dlane View Post
In theory the faster the attack time the less transient comes through, and this will result in something being further “back....” But only really in comparison to something else in a similar frequency range and at a similar volume with the opposite sort of compressor settings.

It’s super subtle. If you used that theory in conjunction with varying amounts of reverb, rolling off some high end and of course changing the volume than you should be well on your way to creating depth.

Basically rolling off high end moves things back, adding more reverb moves things back, and choosing faster attack times moves things back.
Bingo!
Old 20th September 2019
  #14
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ Mastering View Post
Yes you can, Only if you compress every track, except the one you want pushed back. So in essence, yes it will work
That would work IF you used make-up gain on the compressed tracks. Compression without make-up gain lowers the level of the compressed tracks relative to an uncompressed track.
Old 26th September 2019
  #15
Quote:
That would work IF you used make-up gain on the compressed tracks. Compression without make-up gain lowers the level of the compressed tracks relative to an uncompressed track.
Of course
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