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Old 11th May 2006
Lives for gear

Compression is gain reduction, nothing else. Gain reduction doesn't add noise to the noise floor. So in itself it doesn't add noise. But since you add noise from the unit itself by applying it on the signal (for instance calculation errors ITB) it adds a small amount of noise as well, in that way.

These days the noise floor is normally rather low, but since the final mix is full of additional noise there is less headroom left for that noise to exist before it creates artifacts (= gets loud enough), for instance during limiting, when the increased amplitude on each noise frequency can sum up to audible distortion. When thinking about how popular extreme limiting has become, a low noise floor will have an important impact on the "available" headroom and therefore on the maximum loudness/clearity ratio of the mix. There is plenty of noise added to the signal, no need to make it worse by having a high default noise floor level.