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Is a very Low threshold too much?
Old 20th July 2013
  #1
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Is a very Low threshold too much?

I'm asking because I had to set the threshold very low (about -43) just so the vocals would sit in the mix. I set the ratio about 3:1. Could it be the room I'm recording in? There's really no echo or any sounds reflecting... I guess I'm still amateur but I'm just wondering if this could be way too much compression. Also, I add a High Pass filter, just to remove muddiness and bass, and I cut off some High frequencies but not too much.. I guess it will be hard to tell if it's compressed too much without the vocal track but I'm just wanting a perspective. Here is a pic of the compressor I used. (Fruity Compressor)

Old 20th July 2013
  #2
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Skamm Goodiez's Avatar
What about your ears? what do they say?
Old 20th July 2013
  #3
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Beatfire's Avatar
 

Try recording at a higher input level. your threshold will register earlier

Sent from my GT-I9300
Old 20th July 2013
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skamm Goodiez View Post
What about your ears? what do they say?
My ears say it's okay, but then again my ears aren't the ears of a professional audio engineer. What sounds good to a amateur, won't possibly sound good to a seasoned veteran.
Old 20th July 2013
  #5
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Chaellus's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeFyTheNorm View Post
My ears say it's okay, but then again my ears aren't the ears of a professional audio engineer. What sounds good to a amateur, won't possibly sound good to a seasoned veteran.
you have no context without the audio playing.
if you have sound that that goes over or at 044db it will be compressed in
this case by 3:1. if you set it to higher your music will have to reach that limit before it starts compressing. Diffrent compressors act and sound diffrent....some dont have a threshold button some do....some have diffrent settings. You need to use your ear and read up on how compressors work and what they are used for. Most people that start out end up abusing compressors but if you dont try you will not find out.
Old 20th July 2013
  #6
Gear Head
 

someone please correct me if I'm wrong.........i think you need the right monitors or headphones first, then try turning the threshold all the way up then slowly reducing it until you find the perfect spot satisfying to your ears then let others with experience hear it to give advice
Old 20th July 2013
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chaellus View Post
you have no context without the audio playing.
if you have sound that that goes over or at 044db it will be compressed in
this case by 3:1. if you set it to higher your music will have to reach that limit before it starts compressing. Diffrent compressors act and sound diffrent....some dont have a threshold button some do....some have diffrent settings. You need to use your ear and read up on how compressors work and what they are used for. Most people that start out end up abusing compressors but if you dont try you will not find out.

I'm familiar with the concept of how basic compressing works. Threshold "Compresses" the volume, ratio is how fast or how much it compresses and then you use the gain to make up the lost volume. This is what I've been taught. What I don't get is what "attack" and "release" does. I've done research and watched videos, but everyone just repeats the same thing and there is no full explanation how to use what and when to use what and why you would use it. I don't have the money to send my vocals to a engineer. So, until I do. I'll just do vocal mixes and ask for opinions.
Old 20th July 2013
  #8
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when it comes to compression, there are many variables so it's hard to say what is 'too low' for a threshold. it's all relative.
are you just concerned about recording / processing levels 'in general' ?
like...will there be any negative effects of having a low level input signal, compressing, and then boosting level afterwards ?
then 'gain staging' is a topic to search about...
if you are setting a 'very low' threshold only because your input signal is very low, then you may need to adjust things for 'best' results.
but if the source material (think dynamic vs. not) and compressor type/settings call for a low threshold, then that's what it takes...
if you do not hear any 'negative side effects' (ie...noise floor raised too much) then you shouldn't be too worried.
numbers are just things to use to remember where to put the knobs if they get moved by accident by your cat when you're not looking...(is it really an accident, though ?)
Old 20th July 2013
  #9
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ZombieMorg's Avatar
 

I'm going to try and explain some compressor terms the way that I see them, hopefully it might help...

Threshold - The threshold is generally irrelevant when talking about how much compression is happening. The threshold will vary for every different source, and every different level. It is merely a way of setting how much gain reduction (see below) is actually happening. For example, if you had a drum track that had a level of -30db, you could set the threshold to -35db and you would create 5db of gain reduction. In the same way, if you had a drum track that had a level of -5db and you set the threshold to -10db then you would also be creating a gain reduction of 5db. Hopefully you can see that the level of the threshold doesn't really affect the compression, it's all subjective to the level of the track.

Gain reduction - this is the value that you really want to pay attention to. It tells you how much compression is actually happening on your audio. 5db of gain reduction will be much less noticeable than 20db of gain reduction. It looks like your compressor doesn't show the gain reduction, so maybe try a different one of look around for a demo of another compressor.

Attack - Attack is how fast the compressor acts when the audio passes above the threshold (triggering the compression). A fast attack means that the compressor will immediately clamp down on the audio, squashing it. A slower attack will let the initial peak through before compressing. Slow attacks are normally good for drums as the initial peak of the drums is where all the good stuff happens. A quick attack means that you squash the whole of the drum hit, which can make things sound mushy. A fast attack could be good for something that needs a lot of control - a very dynamic vocal for example.

Release - This is the opposite of the attack setting. Again, I'll use drums to explain it because that's easiest for me. A slow release will mean that the compressor stays active (it is still compressing) for a long duration. On drums, this would increase the sustain of the hits and make the hits ring out longer (great for making things sound big). A quicker release means that the compression will stop sooner once the audio goes back below the threshold. This gives a punchier sound, as well as being less noticeable. With drums, this would not increase the sustain (good if you want to compress a snare, but don't want the horrible ring and overtones to be extended).

Hope this helps!
Old 21st July 2013
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DeFyTheNorm View Post
I'm familiar with the concept of how basic compressing works. Threshold "Compresses" the volume, ratio is how fast or how much it compresses and then you use the gain to make up the lost volume. This is what I've been taught. What I don't get is what "attack" and "release" does. I've done research and watched videos,.

No. 'Attack' relates to 'how fast' after the signal reaches the Threshold compression will be applied. In your example after the targeted signal exceeds -43 dB for 40ms (the first 40 ms passes un-effected) a compression ratio of 3:1 reduction will be applied for the next 200 ms to which you're then applying 15+ dB of make up gain. It's that make up gain that I find to be extreme rather then, necessarily the -43 dB threshold . . .

The 'Threshold' is, well, the threshold that will be used by the other parameters. -43 db is a fairly low threshold but that only suggests that you're 'looking at' nearly the full audible dynamic range for the other parameters to 'effect'. As a general thing that's neither good nor bad, too low or too high.

Which is kinda what other responders suggested: it depends. The suggestion to alter one parameter at time for a given voice, listening to it solo, listening to it in the mix is a reasonable suggestion. With the wide range of relatively accurate parameters one has to work with digitally there is, typically, a wide range of technique that approaches similar goals within any one mix. You gradually tend to sort out the methods that work best for you.

Oh, unless you're working in a very big room (for a project studio) Echo is pretty much never going to be an issue. 'Reflection', i.e. 'reverberate' audio is always present. Strategies for 'dealing' with that universal pre & post tracking is a significant part of 'audio engineering' art and also subject to a wide range of differing strategies to address similar goals.
Old 21st July 2013
  #11
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Thanks that actually helped me understand it a bit better. I guess I'll have to train my ears to know when to use what and it's not exactly a matter of someone telling me when to use what since, as you said every vocal is or track is different and recorded differently. But one question I have is my vocals sound like they've been compressed too much and they sound to "hard" or too "pressed" it's hard to describe how it sounds, but if I turn the ratio down to about 2:1 then the vocals become too loud and don't sit in the mix, but they don't sound overly compressed. Would adjusting the attack or release alter the sound to make it sound less "smashed?"
Old 21st July 2013
  #12
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Actually, I just went back and looked at the mix, simply turning up the release made it sound so much better, but then I had to readjust the gain because volume was lost.. Is that normal?
Old 21st July 2013
  #13
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ZombieMorg's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DeFyTheNorm View Post
Actually, I just went back and looked at the mix, simply turning up the release made it sound so much better, but then I had to readjust the gain because volume was lost.. Is that normal?
If you increase the release time, then the compressor is active for a longer period of time over the vocal.

This means that more compression is happening and as a result, the volume will be lower. So yes - it is normal to have to increase the gain after causing more compression.

Try setting your output gain so that the vocal level is the same as when the compressor is bypassed. This way, you can turn it on and off and actually hear the effect of the compressor without the volume of the vocal tricking you into thinking there is a bigger difference than there really is.
Old 21st July 2013
  #14
Gear Maniac
 

Try playing with the attack, 40 may be already a good number, a nice way to listen to the effects is to put it in the mix and listen softly (maybe lower the volume of the vocal for this). You might notice it getting through easier or maybe it starts to sound harsh and sibilant. Experiment with the settings and always remember to compensate the volume and focus on the other changes.

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Old 21st July 2013
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZombieMorg View Post

Try setting your output gain so that the vocal level is the same as when the compressor is bypassed. This way, you can turn it on and off and actually hear the effect of the compressor without the volume of the vocal tricking you into thinking there is a bigger difference than there really is.
Good advise!
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