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Understanding Compression Dynamics Processors (HW)
Old 5th January 2011
  #61
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The combo of Storyville's friendly nature and that great big beaming smile in his avatar make him a saint among Slutz

Not to mention the dude helped me with my biggest hardware purchase to date!

He should be paid. MILLIONS.
Old 5th January 2011
  #62
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Audio Alex's Avatar
 

great info.
Old 5th January 2011
  #63
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Storyville's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by east? View Post
If you ever want to visualize what compression looks like and how it affects a waveform, check out Fabfilters Pro-C compressor. The audition-able side-chain is also exceptionally handy for getting a grasp on side-chaining as a concept.
As a learning tool - just to help figure out the concepts for those who are unfamiliar this is a good idea.

However, learning to hear shape is VERY important. The further one can remove visual aids from the process the better.
Old 5th January 2011
  #64
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MisterE View Post
The combo of Storyville's friendly nature and that great big beaming smile in his avatar make him a saint among Slutz

Not to mention the dude helped me with my biggest hardware purchase to date!

He should be paid. MILLIONS.
In my avatar picture - what you don't see is a giant plastic squirrel too my right sitting on the organ. My intern actually took the shot (yes, I paid her for her photography work), and I wasn't smiling in the previous one - until she pointed out the squirrel.

I find most people on this website to be really cool - and even those who are less experienced still generally have a lot of great ideas. I try to be more vocal about it. There was a post about the Hip Hop forum going downhill a while ago, and Tony Belmont's response was "so do something about it" - which inspired me to write the reverb article and a few others. I noticed a few days after I posted this article up, Stoneface posted up a write up of the MPC vs. Maschine, which I found to be a really interesting and informative piece. So hopefully there will be a trend of good threads coming from other GS members.

EDIT: By the way, the hardware - was that the Robbie you managed to snag super cheap?
Old 5th January 2011
  #65
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Ok, I've finally had a chance to properly read this as opposed to skimming.

great thread thanks thumbsup

Looking forward to the 'Understanding Limiting' thread haha
Old 6th January 2011
  #66
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Storyville View Post
In my avatar picture - what you don't see is a giant plastic squirrel too my right sitting on the organ. My intern actually took the shot (yes, I paid her for her photography work), and I wasn't smiling in the previous one - until she pointed out the squirrel.

I find most people on this website to be really cool - and even those who are less experienced still generally have a lot of great ideas. I try to be more vocal about it. There was a post about the Hip Hop forum going downhill a while ago, and Tony Belmont's response was "so do something about it" - which inspired me to write the reverb article and a few others. I noticed a few days after I posted this article up, Stoneface posted up a write up of the MPC vs. Maschine, which I found to be a really interesting and informative piece. So hopefully there will be a trend of good threads coming from other GS members.

EDIT: By the way, the hardware - was that the Robbie you managed to snag super cheap?

LOL @ the squirrel story. No wonder it looks so naturally joyous

Agreed @ the second paragraph. I spent years browsing rapmusic forums for tips, without success. Alot of the posters were arrogant amateur's. I stumbled across GS by googling "best inexpensive microphones", and addiction ensued. Members willfully sharing knowledge? IT CANT BE. Helping eachother and sharing tips, without bragging about collabs with Copywrite? If I spun a dradle, it would never stop.

And yes, I did buy the Robbie. GIGGIDY. It should be here in three days : D

I did not get a JJ mod though. (dont hit me) I went with the SM7b. I'm waiting to test it with the Robbie, I hope its an upgrade from my St55/firewire solo set up.
Old 6th January 2011
  #67
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12ax7's Avatar
 

.
It's funny, but I was just thinking today that a compressor is very much like a bicycle:

Anybody want to write a short paragraph or two that might be helpful to somebody who just bought a bicycle, but who had never actually tried to ride one?

Yeah, it's like that.

A lot of folks think this sort of thing is "instinct" or "common sense", but it's not really.

There is a name for it:

It's called Tacit Knowledge.
.

.
Old 6th January 2011
  #68
Understanding Compression

Except with compression some people could be not pedaling, or pedaling tooooo hard and not even know it. It took me a while to actually "use" my compressor for the powers of good.

If I had this article years ago(@15yrs ago), it would have helped me tons.
Old 6th January 2011
  #69
Here for the gear
 

Appreciate the tips, because me and a professor were discussing compressor and what they do.
Old 6th January 2011
  #70
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Storyville's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by MisterE View Post
LOL @ the squirrel story. No wonder it looks so naturally joyous

Agreed @ the second paragraph. I spent years browsing rapmusic forums for tips, without success. Alot of the posters were arrogant amateur's. I stumbled across GS by googling "best inexpensive microphones", and addiction ensued. Members willfully sharing knowledge? IT CANT BE. Helping eachother and sharing tips, without bragging about collabs with Copywrite? If I spun a dradle, it would never stop.

And yes, I did buy the Robbie. GIGGIDY. It should be here in three days : D

I did not get a JJ mod though. (dont hit me) I went with the SM7b. I'm waiting to test it with the Robbie, I hope its an upgrade from my St55/firewire solo set up.

Hahahaha. Sm7bs are EXCELLENT microphones. It's a good choice. Uh, yeah, the Robbie is definitely going to be an upgrade.

Don't be afraid to hit the vocals with some eq when you use the SM7 - they take to eq well, and usually need to be brightened up a bit for most Hip Hop stuff.
Old 6th January 2011
  #71
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Storyville's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by LeoLeoLeo View Post
Except with compression some people could be not pedaling, or pedaling tooooo hard and not even know it. It took me a while to actually "use" my compressor for the powers of good.

If I had this article years ago(@15yrs ago), it would have helped me tons.
Leo man, you should write an article when you get a chance!
Old 6th January 2011
  #72
Understanding Compression

Quote:
Originally Posted by Storyville

Leo man, you should write an article when you get a chance!
I'm sure it would wind up being a strange & intresting read. Alot of rambling to decode, haha. Not to sure what the topic would be....
Really I'm just a fan of proper(& intentional improper) gain structure & signal routing to get the sounds right.
Going to both extremes on something to find the happy medium....or stay extreme. I'll think about it...
Old 6th January 2011
  #73
Gear Nut
 

Thanks for the post.

Like i stated in my previous thread i get lucky on most of my tracks they somehow turn out right but i don't ever feel confident and half the time i don't know what im doing.

What are my comp settings supposed to be for tracking and mixing( i know every vocal is diffrent but do i have to pay attention to the vu meter or something)? Am i supposed to make the signal as loud without it clipping or distortion. Im lost.

I think what will help me a lot out is if someone can explain this to me in a simple way.

Example:

I have a beat made. I mixed it(non of my instruments are hitting above -6db)

Now how do i know what instrument needs compression? How do i know what instrument needs eq?

If someone can simply explain this to me it would help me out so much.

Thank you.
Old 6th January 2011
  #74
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I guess, the question shouldn't be which instruments need to be compressed but rather :

Does my isntrument pokes hard enough through my speakers... Does it decay way too fast ? How can I make it seem to be (sound) closer to me ?

Then as a result you would use, for instance, a compressor, to mold your instruments to a desirable state. You don't have to know necessarily about any figure for your treshold, gain, ratio I think. You merely have to know what they do and know that if you touch one of these, it will affect the sound in a certain way.

Now, the big problem is to be able to judge a sound... **** is "hard as f***" and please excuse my french (I'm french lol)...
I guess, experience, breaking down records to analyse them, interning, attending studio sessions and see how the big dudes work, mixing relentlessly can bring an answer...

So far, I haven't been getting it...or rather only in pieces but I really need to book a session w/ a big guy and learn.
(I'm also tired of mixing instrumentals so if anyone got songs I could train upon :D )
Old 7th January 2011
  #75
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theBF's Avatar
 

This is one the finer threads on the Slutz site. Thanks to Storyville for kicking it off so well, and everyone else for contributing.

Storyville's "shape" explanation is very cool and there is one interaction between EQ and compression that people don't talk about too often that I think this way of thinking of "shape" clarifies.

The interaction is: The order that you chain EQ and compression can affect the sound a lot.

If you put EQ first, compressor second and say have some hi end boost of say 5 dB at 8 KHz; now the shape of that sound has a bump in the high end. Everytime some sound is in that EQed space, the shape actually goes up 5dB above what it would normally be.

The compressor can see that shape increase and reduce the gain (compresses) the entire sound while the high frequency stuff is going on. This may not be what you wanted at all. ALL the sound is going down whenever some 8 KHz sound is part of the shape.

If you turn the order around, compressor first/EQ second, you don't have that problem, but you could have the shape of your EQ sending levels too high for the next unit in the chain.

It's just good to remember this interaction and choose the order that makes your music sound right.

I find thinking of this in terms of the shape helps put together the two concepts nicely, because you can imagine the shape of the sound for EQ and compression in one thought.


My 2 cents


BF
Old 7th January 2011
  #76
Old 9th January 2011
  #77
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Storyville's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by pootie2good View Post
Cool Clip!
Old 9th January 2011
  #78
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Storyville's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by LeoLeoLeo View Post
I'm sure it would wind up being a strange & intresting read. Alot of rambling to decode, haha. Not to sure what the topic would be....
Really I'm just a fan of proper(& intentional improper) gain structure & signal routing to get the sounds right.
Going to both extremes on something to find the happy medium....or stay extreme. I'll think about it...
I read your comments on my eq article. Important points. I'm going to bug you about writing something.

I'm going to bug Chris Carter to write something about using Delay too.
Old 9th January 2011
  #79
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Storyville's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by theBF View Post
This is one the finer threads on the Slutz site. Thanks to Storyville for kicking it off so well, and everyone else for contributing.

Storyville's "shape" explanation is very cool and there is one interaction between EQ and compression that people don't talk about too often that I think this way of thinking of "shape" clarifies.

The interaction is: The order that you chain EQ and compression can affect the sound a lot.

If you put EQ first, compressor second and say have some hi end boost of say 5 dB at 8 KHz; now the shape of that sound has a bump in the high end. Everytime some sound is in that EQed space, the shape actually goes up 5dB above what it would normally be.

The compressor can see that shape increase and reduce the gain (compresses) the entire sound while the high frequency stuff is going on. This may not be what you wanted at all. ALL the sound is going down whenever some 8 KHz sound is part of the shape.

If you turn the order around, compressor first/EQ second, you don't have that problem, but you could have the shape of your EQ sending levels too high for the next unit in the chain.

It's just good to remember this interaction and choose the order that makes your music sound right.

I find thinking of this in terms of the shape helps put together the two concepts nicely, because you can imagine the shape of the sound for EQ and compression in one thought.


My 2 cents


BF
As a GENERAL practice - corrective EQ tends to work better before compression - tone enhancement tends to work better after - for me. But, one has to consider that the detector on different compressors will be different - and different frequency bands require more amplitude than others to be heard as even.

Here's a kick drum example.

If you eq up the low end before compressing - you'll be feeding more of that fundamental sound into the compressor. So you are going to get more of the compression action. If you want to fluff up a kick drum for a sexy rnb track, this might be a good way to go - the low end of the kick will end up moving more into the attack area of the kick "softening" it, and also you will need less compression overall, so less comp artifacts. You can set a decently long attack for that kind of an effect, and a long release as well.

If however, you want a punch to the gut kick, eq'ing up the lows will get you further AFTER compression.
Old 10th January 2011
  #80
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Simon FP's Avatar
 

I need some clarification about attack and release time:

If I set the attack to 1sec, it's gonna take 1sec for the compressor to work once the threshold has been reached, right. but let's say the signal goes over the threshold for only 0,5sec will the compressor still start to work no matter what level the signal is after that 1sec "countdown"??

now if I set the release to 1sec, will the compressor stop to work after that 1sec even if the signal is over the threshold for 2sec??
Old 10th January 2011
  #81
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s.d.finley's Avatar
Understanding Compression

Quote:
Originally Posted by Simon FP
I need some clarification about attack and release time:

If I set the attack to 1sec, it's gonna take 1sec for the compressor to work once the threshold has been reached, right. but let's say the signal goes over the threshold for only 0,5sec will the compressor still start to work no matter what level the signal is after that 1sec "countdown"??

now if I set the release to 1sec, will the compressor stop to work after that 1sec even if the signal is over the threshold for 2sec??

Some compressors have a knee function which determines the amount of time that it takes the comp to kick in once the source has crossed the threshold. Soft knee is slow, hard knee is fast. It all depends on the comp design. For vocals I like just a little bit of gain reduction. -3 to maybe -6. On the way in of course, mixing do whateva works.
Old 10th January 2011
  #82
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Simon FP's Avatar
 

sorry sdfinley but that was not what I asked
Old 10th January 2011
  #83
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Storyville's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Simon FP View Post
I need some clarification about attack and release time:

If I set the attack to 1sec, it's gonna take 1sec for the compressor to work once the threshold has been reached, right. but let's say the signal goes over the threshold for only 0,5sec will the compressor still start to work no matter what level the signal is after that 1sec "countdown"??

now if I set the release to 1sec, will the compressor stop to work after that 1sec even if the signal is over the threshold for 2sec??
Attack time is not how long it takes to work - it's how long it takes to reach the maximum gain reduction. That's a complicated way of saying it's the "angle" at which gain reduction occurs.

As soon as the signal is no longer above the threshold, the compressor starts letting go. The angle at which it let's go is the release time.

This works if you think of a sounds shape as amplitude vs. time, with amplitude as the Y axis, and time along the X.

I'm not sure I've explained this well?
Old 10th January 2011
  #84
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Storyville's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by s.d.finley View Post
Some compressors have a knee function which determines the amount of time that it takes the comp to kick in once the source has crossed the threshold. Soft knee is slow, hard knee is fast. It all depends on the comp design. For vocals I like just a little bit of gain reduction. -3 to maybe -6. On the way in of course, mixing do whateva works.
This is not exactly correct either. It kind of is.

If attack and release times are the angle at which a compressor changes voltage, the knee describes the function or curvature of that change. So if the reduction is evenly distributed to the signal crossing the threshold, one would consider that to be a "hard" knee. If the signal reduces gradually as the signal is closer to the threshold, but faster as the signal is farther above the threshold, one would call that a "soft" knee.

UBK - you around? You can probably describe this stuff better than I.
Old 10th January 2011
  #85
Gear Guru
 
u b k's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Simon FP View Post
If I set the attack to 1sec, it's gonna take 1sec for the compressor to work once the threshold has been reached, right.

Wrong. heh

Attack time is a greatly misunderstood thing. Most people believe as you do, that attack is the amount of time it takes a compressor to respond to signals over threshold.

In truth, the attack time of a compressor is the amount of time it takes a compressor to reach 'X' db of gain reduction once a signal has crossed threshold, and for most designers X=6 although as with all things in this game, the numbers are fluid and as often as not I swear they're made up as they go along... don't get me started on the freqs your eq claims to be boosting!

But make no mistake: as soon as your signal crosses threshold, that gain reduction circuit goes to work. In your example, it would take the gr circuit 1 sec to apply 6db of gain reduction, and it would begin to do so the instant threshold is reached. Depending on the knee it would either apply the gain reduction gently at the onset (soft knee) or it would start pushing as hard as possible (hard knee) right away, or something in between (med knee).

Now if your hypothetical signal drops below threshold after 500ms, your comp with 1s attack will not have applied a full 6db gain reduction before it releases. But release also takes time, and has its own curve, so your signal is still compressed after it drops below threshold and will remain so until the gr circuit is able to restore full level (i.e., 'recover'). And it may not have time to recover before signal crosses threshold again, at which point the GR circuit starts pushing down again.

This is why you can have a signal (like drums) that continuously move above and below threshold, but can nevertheless be made to 'swim' in compression. The comp never recovers before it starts working again.

And anyone who has an affinity for this stuff and grasps the above might begin to understand how ratio affects attack, and why that number on your attack knob has one sound when your ratio is 2:1, and why it has another when your ratio is 10:1. But that doesn't really matter unless you want to design these things.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Simon FP View Post
now if I set the release to 1sec, will the compressor stop to work after that 1sec even if the signal is over the threshold for 2sec??

I hope my above explanation makes it clear that the entire premise of this question is flawed, but just in case: the release is not the length of time it takes a compressor to stop working, it's the length of time it takes to restore X db of gain reduction that's been applied.

That's a lot to take in, but since I'm on a roll I'll throw out one other factor to consider: with some soft-knee designs, depending on how the attack is set and how high the ratio is, the knee will actually have to begin below threshold in order to be able to do what is asked of it, so your signal starts to experience compression before it reaches threshold. Not common, but not rare either.


Gregory Scott - ubk
Old 10th January 2011
  #86
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Storyville's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by u b k View Post
don't get me started on the freqs your eq claims to be boosting!
At least those are you usually in the ballpark! Ever watch the meters on a compressor?? Those things lie through the teeth.
Old 10th January 2011
  #87
Gear Maniac
 
Simon FP's Avatar
 

thanks storyville and ubk, that was really helpful.
Old 10th January 2011
  #88
Gear Guru
 
u b k's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Storyville View Post
At least those are you usually in the ballpark!

Not if it's a shelf!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Storyville View Post
Ever watch the meters on a compressor?? Those things lie through the teeth.

That's true, and in all fairness to the designers of the world, metering is a tricky thing. It's not necessarily there to tell you what's actually going on, in many cases it's there to tell you what it *sounds* like is going on.

The meters on the 2500 are very VU-ish, slow to recover. Paul's a diehard old school engineer, he's used to working a certain way. Distressor/Fatso meters are incredibly accurate at revealing what's actually going on with your signal.

Another thing to throw into the already-heady mix is that some comps distort right at the onset of reduction, so you get some transient clipping that sounds like extra compression but it won't show on the meter. This is actually a huge part of why different comps sound so different, that little nub of distortion at the corner of the knee.


Gregory Scott - ubk
Old 10th January 2011
  #89
Understanding Compression

Quote:
Originally Posted by u b k



Another thing to throw into the already-heady mix is that some comps distort right at the onset of reduction, so you get some transient clipping that sounds like extra compression but it won't show on the meter. This is actually a huge part of why different comps sound so different, that little nub of distortion at the corner of the knee.


Gregory Scott - ubk
I may be way off, but it seems that solid state designs do this a little more than tube. It maybe from my experience is with tube comps is mainly la-2a's, sta-levels, elop's. Which have fixed release, signal dependant/kinda slow. Is it that the SS ones more so have manual release and can have faster release times which will/can be on a constant state of starting release, which will be more distorted.

Is any of that right?
Old 10th January 2011
  #90
Gear Guru
 
u b k's Avatar
 

I'm really going out on a limb here, but my educated guess at this point is that it has to do with the transistors and they're slow (compared to tubes) slew rate. They distort more, and in a less transparent way, when you try to go from 0 to 60.

That's a shot in the dark from a guy who knows enough about design to have an intelligent conversation, right up to the point where I sound like an idiot.


Gregory Scott - ubk
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