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Compression attack advice online too different?
Old 4 days ago
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Compression attack advice online too different?

I've been trying trying to learn how to set compressors attack correctly for on vocals and 2bus. My method of learning is looking for advice online and then following it, learning how it sounds, but.........

Information online can be very different:

For example, for attack times for the 2bus I've seen advice like go for a 500ms attack and roll back until it sounds too chocked, stays at around 50-70ms
Another guy recommends doing 1ms or even 0.1ms attack

Similar situation with vocals, I've seen advice ranging from 00.1ms to 70ms

How do I know which one is correct?

(sorry if this question is too beginner )
Old 4 days ago
  #2
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BT64's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by youngghenea View Post
How do I know which one is correct?
If it sounds good.
Old 3 days ago
  #3
Quote:
I've been trying trying to learn how to set compressors attack correctly for on vocals and 2bus. My method of learning is looking for advice online and then following it, learning how it sounds, but.........
Do not go by reading what others do. go into your DAW and use your ears and when you like the sound, stop adjusting.

There are no one settings for all. Every track, song mix and pierce of music will need different settings for everything.
Quote:
For example, for attack times for the 2bus I've seen advice like go for a 500ms attack and roll back until it sounds too chocked, stays at around 50-70ms
Another guy recommends doing 1ms or even 0.1ms attack
Looking at numbers doesn't represent how it sounds. No one can tell you the right setting by looking. We listen with our ears, not our eyes.
Old 3 days ago
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ Mastering View Post
There are no one settings for all. Every track, song mix and pierce of music will need different settings for everything..
I'm not asking for one settings for all

But isn't there a ballpark of different attack time ranges people usually use for vocals/2bus that would be useful for a beginner like me? If you were to teach somebody relatively new wouldn't you give at least some range of attack times you might use instead of just saying "whatever fits the song best"
Old 3 days ago
  #5
Quote:
But isn't there a ballpark of different attack time ranges people usually use for vocals/2bus that would be useful for a beginner like me? If you were to teach somebody relatively new wouldn't you give at least some range of attack times you might use instead of just saying "whatever fits the song best"
The setting for this is determined on how dynamic and fast or slow the track is and there are about 100 more factors that vary into the setting. yuor newso you do not know about all the factors that effect these settings and this is why your asking a question that no one can answer with truth..

So without being there with you and hearing the audio, you need to start at 0 and then dial it in until it sounds good.

It will take you about 60 seconds to find the setting. Just adjust the setting and listen until it sound good. when it sounds good, you have your setting
Old 3 days ago
  #6
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Owen L T's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by youngghenea View Post
I'm not asking for one settings for all

But isn't there a ballpark of different attack time ranges people usually use for vocals/2bus that would be useful for a beginner like me? If you were to teach somebody relatively new wouldn't you give at least some range of attack times you might use instead of just saying "whatever fits the song best"
As the vaguest of all possible principle/rule of thumb:
(i) Any compression on the 2-buss should be slow and gentle. Most of the time, you're not trying to clamp down on any transients, and you're not trying to tame loud peaks or other problems - you're just trying, gently, to make it all a little more cohesive. (And if you ARE trying to fix stuff, then something has gone wrong; any real squashing should be done to a track, not a mix.) My ballpark attack time for any compressor I have on the 2-buss is 20-30ms, and my release is, ballpark, 150-250ms. Bear in mind that in this context, those are all still "slow" attack times. When you're only compressing 2-3dB, and the attack is more than 10ms, you're not doing any transient clamping - so the difference between 20ms and 30ms is going to be a lot less noticeable than the difference between, say, 1ms and 11ms.
(ii) On the vocal, absolutely anything goes. But, generally, with vocal compression, there usually is an element of peak taming, and much more in the way of level control. So I'd usually have one compressor/limiter set somewhere close to 0, knocking off intermittent peaks of 3 to 6 dB (but not affecting the quiet parts) and another slower compressor that's kind of squeezing the rest of it a little - where, in this context, "slower" means an attack time of 1 to 10 ms. And release would usually be 50-100ms-ish.

I've not done a poll, but this might be a case where even the language itself is context dependent: a "slow" attack setting on a mix-buss compressor makes me think "20-30", and a "slow" attack on a vocal makes me thing "1-10".
Old 3 days ago
  #7
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Owen L T View Post
As the vaguest of all possible principle/rule of thumb:
(i) Any compression on the 2-buss should be slow and gentle. Most of the time, you're not trying to clamp down on any transients, and you're not trying to tame loud peaks or other problems - you're just trying, gently, to make it all a little more cohesive. (And if you ARE trying to fix stuff, then something has gone wrong; any real squashing should be done to a track, not a mix.) My ballpark attack time for any compressor I have on the 2-buss is 20-30ms, and my release is, ballpark, 150-250ms. Bear in mind that in this context, those are all still "slow" attack times. When you're only compressing 2-3dB, and the attack is more than 10ms, you're not doing any transient clamping - so the difference between 20ms and 30ms is going to be a lot less noticeable than the difference between, say, 1ms and 11ms.
(ii) On the vocal, absolutely anything goes. But, generally, with vocal compression, there usually is an element of peak taming, and much more in the way of level control. So I'd usually have one compressor/limiter set somewhere close to 0, knocking off intermittent peaks of 3 to 6 dB (but not affecting the quiet parts) and another slower compressor that's kind of squeezing the rest of it a little - where, in this context, "slower" means an attack time of 1 to 10 ms. And release would usually be 50-100ms-ish.

I've not done a poll, but this might be a case where even the language itself is context dependent: a "slow" attack setting on a mix-buss compressor makes me think "20-30", and a "slow" attack on a vocal makes me thing "1-10".
Thank you, this is what I was looking for!
Old 3 days ago
  #8
Gear Maniac
 

Advice from Owen L T is very good.

I'll just comment -- as a beginner, it's true that you probably should NOT use fast attack compression on the mix bus. But, I have seen mastering engineers (who have more developed ears than you or I) use a very tiny amount of fast attack-fast release low-ratio compression across the mastering bus. If your recordings will eventually be mastered, you should not try this yourself. But if you're just experimenting, no harm in seeing what it sounds like.
Old 3 days ago
  #9
Gear Addict
 
Lunar Attic's Avatar
If you feel like digging in and really get some sort of grip on the subject there is no better resource than Michael -Mixing With Mike- White's Power Compression Course.

There is a video on just Vocal Compression but it's worth it to watch the whole 12 part series from beginning to end.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis..._FEQwbUOSubqRz


T
Old 2 days ago
  #10
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Owen L T's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by youngghenea View Post
Thank you, this is what I was looking for!
No worries. Didn't notice your username before, but assume that's an homage to a decidedly non-newbie engineer we all know of?

Many people are way more intuitive with this stuff than I ever was. Personally, I almost always need something beyond "use your ears" before I can start to ... use my ears!

With attack times, open up a session in your DAW that has a variety of tracks in it - doesn't matter if they're recorded live, or if you've bounced them from VSTs, but you want to have waveforms in there that you can see as well as hear.

Now zoom all the way in, so you can see 0, 10ms, 20ms, 30ms in your timeline, and so that each track is at least an inch/25 mm high. In other words, so that you can clearly see the transient in each track. Look at how fast the transient of a kick occurs compared to a vocal. Or how the onset of guitar strum is actually stretched out over a few ms.

THAT's why "fast" attack is such a wide-ranging term. A lot of its meaning is in relation to the transient speed of the track. A 3ms attack means the compressor would clamp down on a vocal before it reaches its peak; so that would be "fast". But it would let through the click of a kick beater, and not fully engage until a couple peak cycles had passed through. So, in that context, it would be "medium" at best. Kind of. It's not precise. But it is important to understand that the transient of kicks and snares are an order of magnitude greater than vocals, for instance.
Old 2 days ago
  #11
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loujudson's Avatar
Not mentioned here yet is the type of compressor to use. There are great differences! 1176 type fast attack limiter, LA-2 or -3 optical type, and many in between. Sometimes both in series. I won't try to tell you how to set them, it took me 30 years of on the job learning to get really good at it! I will say, though, that subtle is good, unless radical compression is called for by the track or the performance!

I learned my craft and art before there was an internet, so I am boggled by people trying to do audio by asking unknown people on the interwebs. Good luck!
Old 1 day ago
  #12
Gear Nut
 

All this advice about deep learning is the way to go. Compression to me is one of those things that requires some pretty good knowledge and practice if you want to be better than just lucky. A lot of subtle factors are interacting in major ways, including all the parameters of compression, the differences between compressors, and variations in the material.
Old 1 day ago
  #13
Gear Addict
Great advice above. Please read also this thread.
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