Compressers Anonymous

Recording Techniques, People Skills, Gear, Recording Spaces, Computers, and DIY

Moderators: drumsound, tomb

User avatar
surf's up
pushin' record
Posts: 270
Joined: Wed Jan 19, 2005 12:34 am
Location: Texas

Compressers Anonymous

Post by surf's up » Mon Feb 13, 2006 2:56 am

Hi my name is drew and I am addicted to compressing.

I realize this is not a problem per se, but it's a habit id like to curtail. I compress everything, some things multiple times. I dont even ask 'does this need compression? why?' i just do it, cus i assume everything needs compression. i have never compressed something and thought it sounded worse than before i compressed it (okay maybe a few times, but then i fiddle with the settings and settle on one that did improve things).

I feel like its a bad beahvior to adopt because its hurting my ability to really listen to something and figure out the how when and why of compression. the why part im getting pretty good on, but the when and especially the how could use some work. I guess its just one of those things that will take time and practice to understand??

mjau
genitals didn't survive the freeze
Posts: 3976
Joined: Mon Sep 29, 2003 7:33 pm
Location: Orlando
Contact:

Post by mjau » Mon Feb 13, 2006 6:50 am

I hear ya...I like compression too. It helps me to listen to something like Neil Young's Harvest or Will Oldham's Master and Everyone - something that is pretty natural sounding, and I regain an appreciation of the non-compressed sound.

mjau
genitals didn't survive the freeze
Posts: 3976
Joined: Mon Sep 29, 2003 7:33 pm
Location: Orlando
Contact:

Post by mjau » Mon Feb 13, 2006 6:52 am

Of course, then I'll get in my car and have Check Your Head banging away, and decide compression rules again.

User avatar
cwileyriser
pushin' record
Posts: 234
Joined: Wed May 07, 2003 12:32 pm
Location: Lexington/Athens, GA
Contact:

Post by cwileyriser » Mon Feb 13, 2006 8:55 am

Oh, yeah. Master and Everyone is absolutely gorgeous - and mono!

And Marky Nevers says that the stereo mix is even more amazing.

Any suggestions off the top of your head for some "obviously not so compressed" full band rock stuff?

mjau
genitals didn't survive the freeze
Posts: 3976
Joined: Mon Sep 29, 2003 7:33 pm
Location: Orlando
Contact:

Post by mjau » Mon Feb 13, 2006 8:59 am

Somewhat obscure, but there's a Swedish band called Logh (I just posted about them in the listening to music section) whose 2003 album is really open and natural sounding to me - if there is a lot of compression, it must be extremely transparent because I never notice any.
Yeah, Master and Everyone is so simple and beautiful. I'd kill to make an album like that.

drumsound
zen recordist
Posts: 7058
Joined: Tue Jun 01, 2004 10:30 pm
Location: Bloomington IL
Contact:

Post by drumsound » Mon Feb 13, 2006 2:07 pm

A day without compression is like a day without sunlight...

mjau
genitals didn't survive the freeze
Posts: 3976
Joined: Mon Sep 29, 2003 7:33 pm
Location: Orlando
Contact:

Post by mjau » Mon Feb 13, 2006 2:13 pm

drumsound wrote:A day without compression is like a day without sunlight...
You don't have any windows in your control room, so what might this mean...???

Professor
ghost haunting audio students
Posts: 3307
Joined: Wed May 07, 2003 2:11 pm
Location: I have arrived... but where the hell am I?

Post by Professor » Mon Feb 13, 2006 2:34 pm

I've heard the comparison, and used it a few times, that the compressor is to recording what the sustain pedal is to the piano.
Certainly there are some select few examples of piano works which sound fabulous without ever touching the pedal. But they are quite few. Simply removing the pedaling arbitrarily from a piece of piano music usually has disasterous results for the sound, character and tone of the work & performance.
But take a compressor to its essence and all you have is an automatic volume control.
Is that so bad?
I could claim to make a recording without ever using a compressor, and then I could automate the hell out of the levels on all the tracks to make sure that the softest stuff is loud enough to be heard while the loudest stuff is soft enough to not clip at the outputs. I could furiously and perfectly work the faders, or I can employ the assistance of an electronic device which can do the task with much more precision and subtlety than I could muster over many tracks for any fair length of time.

There's no shame in compressing.
But there is shame in creating a bad recording.
And there is also some shame in not understanding the limitations of playback at your destination system - the listener's system.
Wouldn't you consider it shameful to deliver a track with all kinds of phase issues so that when it's summed to mono in a clock radio half the instruments just drop out of the mix?
Isn't it similarly shameful to deliver a track with such a wide and uncontrolled dynamic range that when it is played in a typical environment the listener must create their own compression by working the volume control up for the softs and down for the louds?
Now there's something to be said for not mixing to the absolute lowest common denominator. We shouldn't mix exclusively to mono with no more than a 10-12dB total dynamic range just because some listeners might be using a mono clock radio in the kitchen while cooking. We should mix for the audiophile listening system in a dedicated room, but without forgetting about the clock radio in the kitchen. A happy medium between the two.
For me, at least, this means a subtle touch of compression on nearly (or sometimes literally) every instrument just to control their overall level. Perhaps that means taking a 50-60dB range of a piano track and narrowing it to maybe 30-40dB total range. That seems like a huge amount of compression, but it still gives ample dynamic range to the audiophile while not quite narrowing the range enough for the clock-radio. And so every instrument gets a little squeeze, some even get layered squeezing to narrow the range and then pull them further forward in the mix, and then the overall mix gets a further layering of light compression and limiting.
In the end, that might still result in a relatively 'huge' 30dB dynamic range for a particular track. And if that's what works for the track, then that's what works. If it needs a narrower range of perhaps 20dB, then that's what it needs.
Just like piano pedaling, there is the ever-present danger of doing too much. But there is no shame in using the tools you have to create a good recording.

-Jeremy

User avatar
;ivlunsdystf
ghost haunting audio students
Posts: 3290
Joined: Mon Oct 18, 2004 7:15 am
Location: The Great Frontier of the Southern Anoka Sand Plain
Contact:

Post by ;ivlunsdystf » Mon Feb 13, 2006 3:47 pm

I favor the Joel Hamilton approach to compressing, with (it seems to me) the use of various differently colored compressors to vary different sources within a piece. That's a lot different from slamming every signal through the same compressor plugin or outboard compressor as a matter of course.

I like how a compressor can thicken the sound of a source without the need for excessive volume.

Maybe I'm just another addict in denial though. Alcoholics often hide behind conisseurship of their beverage of choice.

EDIT: Two typos

User avatar
apropos of nothing
dead but not forgotten
Posts: 2193
Joined: Tue May 13, 2003 6:29 am
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Contact:

Post by apropos of nothing » Mon Feb 13, 2006 4:10 pm

I went on a compression binge and made myself sick, so now I've been trying to avoid it altogether.

Not to say that its a bad tool, but like the bottle says, "Enjoy in moderation".

One thing I'd like to point out is that there's another way to limit dynamic range that doesn't involve compression.

Its called "playing the part with limited dynamics." I've been working on this idea for some months now and it seems to work pretty well.

Just some food for thought. :idea:

User avatar
linus
re-cappin' neve
Posts: 674
Joined: Thu Nov 27, 2003 10:03 pm
Location: New York City
Contact:

Re: Compressers Anonymous

Post by linus » Mon Feb 13, 2006 4:46 pm

drewkon wrote:Hi my name is drew and I am addicted to compressing.
Hi Drew.

Thanks for sharing. Keep coming back. And remember, it's One Day at a Time.

Oh, come to 90 meetings in 90 days and get a sponsor.

User avatar
;ivlunsdystf
ghost haunting audio students
Posts: 3290
Joined: Mon Oct 18, 2004 7:15 am
Location: The Great Frontier of the Southern Anoka Sand Plain
Contact:

Post by ;ivlunsdystf » Mon Feb 13, 2006 6:13 pm

Hey, at least you're not addicted to flanging or octave doubling.

User avatar
surf's up
pushin' record
Posts: 270
Joined: Wed Jan 19, 2005 12:34 am
Location: Texas

Post by surf's up » Mon Feb 13, 2006 6:36 pm

Tatertot wrote:Hey, at least you're not addicted to octave doubling.
:oops:

those are my thursday meetings.

Professor wrote:For me, at least, this means a subtle touch of compression on nearly (or sometimes literally) every instrument just to control their overall level.
this is kind of the line of thought that got me going. I figured if I apply at least very minimal compression to everything, I can improve pretty much any recorded signal without making it sound overcompressed, or even compressed for that matter. Then on the things that I want a more dramatic effect, I can compress those a little bit more agressively.

I just worry that in the midst of all this individual track-make-sound-bettering Im losing sight of the forest and sucking the dynamic life out of my recordings. Or if im not doing that now, then I soon will be as I glide down this slippery, soft-knee slope.

User avatar
MikeCzech
gettin' sounds
Posts: 127
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2005 9:28 pm
Location: Salt Lake City, UT

Post by MikeCzech » Mon Feb 13, 2006 7:46 pm

I also suffer from compression obsession..

People always say "I only compress when I really need it" but I think that's BS. There are very few things I don't compress regularly. I think a better rule of thumb is to not overcompress unless something really needs it.. Drum room mics, for example. Oh, I so love the sound of a room mic on percussive instruments slammed to extremes. :)

There are so many advantages of compressors. Dymanic control goes without saying, but every compressor has a unique multitude of characteristics that can bring dead tracks to life, or smother living tracks to death.

User avatar
surf's up
pushin' record
Posts: 270
Joined: Wed Jan 19, 2005 12:34 am
Location: Texas

Post by surf's up » Mon Feb 13, 2006 8:13 pm

MikeCzech wrote:I also suffer from compression obsession..

Drum room mics, for example. Oh, I so love the sound of a room mic on percussive instruments slammed to extremes. :)

.
here, here!

i dont think there has been an instance when i havent nuked a drum room track since i acquired my distressor. Then the volume fader on that channel becomes like a 'master dirtiness' knob. so handy.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 47 guests