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Compressor attack & Release times? (Tips & tricks thread)
Old 7th January 2006
  #1
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Compressor attack & Release times? (Tips & tricks thread)

Say you got a fast rapper like twister, how would you guys set a compressor
to even his performance out and make it sit in a track real well?

Now say you got a slower rapper like 2 short, how would you set
a compressor for him?


I got my ideas, but I wanted to compare with you guys.
I have found most rappers benefit from compression. (duh)
Normally I will adjust the threshold until there is a few db's of reduction going on all the time and maybe 5 or 6 during the loudest spots, then I turn the attack down until I hear it dulling (usually somewhere around 15-35ms) the attack of the vocals - then back off just a little to let the attack through, next I would set the release at a starting point of 100ms then turn the knob either way until it sounds best. I have found that quicker releases make things seem more exciting.

I try to get the gain reduction needle to bounce in time with the track.

At times I like to use delay calculators to find my attack and release times and compressors that allow you to set the attack and release in milliseconds, experimenting with different delay calculated times always seems to work. I have found this to work pretty well most of the time allowing me to quickly dialing in compressor settings!


Another fun compression thing I do is use the uad-1 1176 in all buttons mode, with a slower attack around 11:00ish and the release all the way to the right (as fast as possible) with threshold hitting around 3- 7 db’s. This has made dull vocals cut and sound much more exciting.

I got an Alan smart C-2 and I was wondering if you guys have had good results
using it for rap vocals in auto release mode.

I'm not a compressor expert at all, but the above seems to work for me.

Tony B and E-cue please jump in!
Old 7th January 2006
  #2
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I do the same with attacks..just use my ears..I like faster release for for faster parts..many times I look at the compressor working and time it up with the beat too. that way i can get a longer release that will snap back to 0 for the next drum hit.
Old 7th January 2006
  #3
Gear Nut
 
Dan DeTora's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Seti808
then I turn the attack down until I hear it dulling (usually somewhere around 15-35ms) the attack of the vocals - then back off just a little to let the attack through
i'd check to see if there's something wrong with your compressor... 35ms is pretty slow for vocals IMO. i don't usually hear the highend get muted until around 5-10ms or so... (depends on the unit or plugin)

fwiw, on a 1176, i set the attack to about 5 and release in between 6-7. ratio at 4. and get the needle movin'... seems to work for most rap artists.
Old 8th January 2006
  #4
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con?one's Avatar
 

On the way in, I usually set it to an average of about 3db of compression (will go up as far as 10db for really plosive parts) with a fast attack. When I mix, I really don't use a lot of compression on the vox. At least not out of need, I try to normalize any words that really need to be tamed, and I use the automation (rather than gate) to fade in and out of silences. Then, if I need it to pop a lil more, I use waves L2 and adjust to taste. I feel this gives me a little more "natural" sounding vocal.
Old 21st June 2009
  #5
Gear Maniac
 

Originally posted by dtraxon:

" a 1176, i set the attack to about 5 and release in between 6-7. ratio at 4. and get the needle movin'... seems to work for most rap artists."

How many microseconds is that for the attack and how many milliseconds is that for the release?
Old 21st June 2009
  #6
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Use your ears. You don't want the attack to kill the transient if there is one there and you don't want the release holding it too long or not long enough, depending on the application and source.

Use your ears. If it doesn't sound right it doesn't matter what the markings on the box say.
Old 22nd June 2009
  #7
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JanZoo's Avatar
usually I use medium attack, I don't want my transient to be killed, and fast release like 200-300 ms, and always (in 95% of cases) I don't do regular compression, but NY compression on lead vocals (same with the drums), and the new compressed layer is always somewhere around same volume with dry signal...
Old 22nd June 2009
  #8
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Alxi's Avatar
 

Depends on a lot of things

From 5-50 ms on attack and usually around 300ms for release . If there's an automatic release curve, i'll set it on unless i want more saturation then i'll keep it off and i'll shorten the release.

I also use parrallel compression on lead vox to add density to it.

The parrallele comp will usually have a fast attack, a mid to slow release and a high ratio.

-Alxi-
Old 22nd June 2009
  #9
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Attack fast. Release Medium. Ratio 4:1-6:1 depending on the dynamics. GR hopping between 4-8db and sometimes high. I kill transients a lil bit. Fukk em. Drums need to cut thru anyway. Vox sit on top in an even layer like butter on pancakes.
Old 22nd June 2009
  #10
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JanZoo's Avatar
1000 people 1000 different answers
Old 22nd June 2009
  #11
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ryst's Avatar
 

I compress the fugg out my vox...especially in hip hop because a lot of the records I mix are aggressive. So fast attack, fast to super-fast release for me usually. Almost to the point of distortion. I like to make them "pop".

For not-so aggressive stuff, I slow down the release a bit. But again, it's all about what sounds good.
Old 22nd June 2009
  #12
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UniqueRecordings's Avatar
 

Try This

Try doing an UAD LA2A doing 3 DB of Gain Reduction Followed By A Waves RCompresor doing another 3-5 DB of reduction. Adjust gain and attack and release times accordingly as these parameters change constantly from song to song. I notice this really adds a nice sound to the vocal. and really makes it sit well within the mix.
Old 22nd June 2009
  #13
I've gone up to 50:1 ratio on the Waves Renaissance Comp to get the rap vocals sounding right
Old 22nd June 2009
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chrislago View Post
I've gone up to 50:1 ratio on the Waves Renaissance Comp to get the rap vocals sounding right
Whatever sounds best is the right pick for you, although it seems to me like there isn't a whole lot of difference between 20:1 and 50:1 - they're both limiting (= "infinite"'ish) ratios IMO. Usually if I want a comp to just slam, I'll start at 10:1 and go from there.

One of the things I often end up doing is compressing with two compressors. First I'll have a FET-type limiter going (I use Purple Audio Action, you can use whatever you want) with a medium release and 4:1 or 8:1 ratio, dipping till it sounds right. Sometimes that means it just has to graze the signal, sometimes it means slamming the signal till it raises low end/hi end in that 1176-manner.

Then, as I don't always have a CL1B in my studio, I'll go ITB for a slower comp, often with lower ratio as well. I often end up using Logic Pro's native compressor with its' "Platinum" or "Opto" circuit, around 2:1 ratio, slow attack (25-40ish ms), med release (adjust to program) and a little soft knee too. Doing around 6-12 dB GR. I also use the EMI TG limiter at times, but that's another story.

On some vocals, I've ended up using the Sonnox Inflator to clip the signal a few tenths of a dB and apply a tad of harmonic distortion in order to bring them way forward in the mix.
Old 22nd June 2009
  #15
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JanZoo's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by T. Gundersen View Post

On some vocals, I've ended up using the Sonnox Inflator to clip the signal a few tenths of a dB and apply a tad of harmonic distortion in order to bring them way forward in the mix.
I'm often doing that when I have "cold" vocals...
Old 22nd June 2009
  #16
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Question?

Some people say "fast" attack or "medium" "attack". What in ms would be considered "fast" since some compressors go down to .01ms and some start as fast as .1ms?? How about a "medium" "attack" what time would this be "30ms+"? And I never hear anybody mention "slow" attack times would this be "100ms+"? How about release times would "fast" be "100ms" and would medium start around "500ms"? What is the fastest release time a compressor can offer? Can someone kindly help? Or do "Fast" "Medium" "Slow" all relate to the source at hand? Maybe I am answering my own questions.

I'm just trying to keep up with the jargon so when I read other folks posts I can relate.
Old 23rd June 2009
  #17
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fast, medium, slow? different compressors?

anyone.. i just wanna keep up with the lingo..


by "fast" do you mean all the way slammed left, let up just a little, or what?

by "medium" do you mean half way?

by "slow" all the way dialed right?


The same question implies to both "attack" and "release." It's confusing because each compressor (i.e. ssl, api, etc) has different time windows for their control knobs. Plus, the time windows are different when talking "attack" or "release."

Or maybe people are just trying to look educated and they're just saying "fast", "medium", or "slow" yet that don't have a friggin clue.

Please explain.
Old 23rd June 2009
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J CraQ View Post
anyone.. i just wanna keep up with the lingo..


by "fast" do you mean all the way slammed left, let up just a little, or what?

by "medium" do you mean half way?

by "slow" all the way dialed right?


The same question implies to both "attack" and "release." It's confusing because each compressor (i.e. ssl, api, etc) has different time windows for their control knobs. Plus, the time windows are different when talking "attack" or "release."

Or maybe people are just trying to look educated and they're just saying "fast", "medium", or "slow" yet that don't have a friggin clue.

Please explain.
At the very least you gotta know which direction on the knob is fast vs. slow!

I don't care about the numeric speed, I just start fast as possoble and dial down to get the 'click' I want. That's really all. Release is another beast, but I generally resort to "auto" The only time I set a release is when I know timing and pump matters for that particular song. If you boost all the way first, it's a lot easier to understand and dial in what you need.
Old 23rd June 2009
  #19
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Alxi's Avatar
 

There is no specific rules but generaly speaking

By fast Attack i would say under 6 ms
By medium Attack i would say from 6 to 40ms
By long Attack i would say 40 and up

By Short realease i would say under 50 ms
By medium release i would say 50-300 ms
By long release i would say 300ms and up

-Alxi-

Quote:
Originally Posted by J CraQ View Post
anyone.. i just wanna keep up with the lingo..


by "fast" do you mean all the way slammed left, let up just a little, or what?

by "medium" do you mean half way?

by "slow" all the way dialed right?


The same question implies to both "attack" and "release." It's confusing because each compressor (i.e. ssl, api, etc) has different time windows for their control knobs. Plus, the time windows are different when talking "attack" or "release."

Or maybe people are just trying to look educated and they're just saying "fast", "medium", or "slow" yet that don't have a friggin clue.

Please explain.
Old 23rd June 2009
  #20
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yo, smoke and alxi... thanks for answering..!

the release is gonna help you for sustained instruments/vocals. i think of a compresser as an attack/sustain shaper. let off the attack a little have some come through.. *wham* compressor clamps.. for how long.. ?? wait, wait, wait, *NOW!!... ahhh release... volume comes back.. make up gain how much volume to replace from the clamp.. now attack and sustained parts are as loud as you increased the make up gain. and the middle hunk is decreased however far you have your threshold and ratio set. like a halfpipe you skateboard on. thats the shape of the a compressors linear activity. adjusting the release will help the long tailend sustain of a bass guitar for instance to maintain higher level in volume while controlling the middle chunk giving a balanced level from beggining of the pluck til the end of the ring and of course the attack will let the initial pluck through.

but the lingo on the website... thats what i don't get.
Old 24th June 2009
  #21
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Storyville's Avatar
I hate to say this, but attack and release setting really depend on the envelope of the source you are compressing - and how the individual compressor translates the settings. The shape of a persons voice tends to be consistent regardless of the speed in which it's delivered, but will change based on the pitch of the vocal.

I'd say, find the attack time that really suits the rappers voice. Find the release time that sits the rappers voice in the song.

answer number 956.
Old 24th June 2009
  #22
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3rd&4thT's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Storyville View Post
The shape of a persons voice tends to be consistent regardless of the speed in which it's delivered, but will change based on the pitch of the vocal.
That's an interesting observation.

Do you mean your compression settings change on one performer if he or she pitches the rap up or down, or do you mean different people working different pitch ranges?

What kind of correlation do you get with different pitches? And does it show up more with attacks or releases or both?

Sorry if I'm not getting it right away, but I'd like to understand this.

Cheers,
3rd&4thT
Old 24th June 2009
  #23
Gear Addict
 
ninjasoards's Avatar
 

medium attack
fast release

for most rap vocals...

of course every unit and plug in is differnt
Old 19th August 2013
  #24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Lago View Post
I've gone up to 50:1 ratio on the Waves Renaissance Comp to get the rap vocals sounding right
This is what I would've done years ago, but now I treat my dynamics with a series of compressors. The song I'm currently mixing is crazily compressed vocally. The vocals are all tripled, so each individual track gets its own CT5 compressor that does the most work, then the aux sum of the triples will get another CT5 taking off a few db, followed by a CLA-2A taking another couple of db. Yeah, it's aggressive, but it works for this song, Idk what the attack and release of the CLA-2A is, but all the CT5s are fast attack fast release.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jikky View Post
Attack fast. Release Medium. Ratio 4:1-6:1 depending on the dynamics. GR hopping between 4-8db and sometimes high. I kill transients a lil bit. Fukk em. Drums need to cut thru anyway. Vox sit on top in an even layer like butter on pancakes.
+10, my thoughts exactly.
Old 16th July 2017
  #25
ah, new york compression. i forgot new york compression is slang for parallel compression lol. i'm going to use this partially because i'm from new york and partially because i want to preserve the natural dry sound.

What should u do for parallel compression? please give me MS values.

Should you limit or automate down some peaks off the raw vocal first?

someone mentioned tying the attack and release to the rhythm of the song. how would u do that?
Old 16th July 2017
  #26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Seti808 View Post
At times I like to use delay calculators to find my attack and release times and compressors that allow you to set the attack and release in milliseconds, experimenting with different delay calculated times always seems to work. I have found this to work pretty well most of the time allowing me to quickly dialing in compressor settings!
so, do you look at the BPM of the song and set the attack value to say, a 16th note and the release value to say, a quarter note?
Old 16th July 2017
  #27
Quote:
Originally Posted by MicESanzMusic View Post
so, do you look at the BPM of the song and set the attack value to say, a 16th note and the release value to say, a quarter note?
He posted this 11 years ago and never returned to the thread. But maybe you'll get lucky and he'll answer...
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