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Old 23rd May 2006
Gear Nut

Compression question reply to moppish

I do generally avoid compression when tracking classical music. The idea of this kind of recording to preserve as much as possible of the original acoustic signal. Naturally some decisions we make before hand have an effect on how faithfully that happens (the mic selection colors the sound of course) but mostly we are tryng to preserve the performance as accurately as we can in this kind of recording.

When I am doing a simple two track on location and don't have good sound check opportunities I do employ some Apogee Soft Limit on my MiniMe. It's a conscious compromise that has saved many recordings from some nasty overs. Even when you do have good sound checks it's been my experience that most performers play their loudest passages at least 3 dB louder during the actual performance. Sopranos, brass players, and some pianists even more. So I compensate for that when I set levels.

Any compression in mastering is likewise minimal. Acoustic music is characterized by wide dynamic range and when possible I like to keep it all. Most of the time people are going to listen to it in fairly quiet surroundings so this approach works. Good classical recordings don't often work well in cars which is one reason radio stations compress their signals before broadcast.