Music Production Basics: Compression

//Music Production Basics: Compression

Music Production Basics: Compression

When you are starting out on music production, you may have heard of compression.
You can use a compressor to fix sounds or use it for effects. An example of fixing can be maintaining a notes length as it fades out. Creatively, you can use a technique called “gain pumping” which used commonly in edm for adding power to the kicks. The initial sound is boosted then quickly released to give it a punch effect.

There are 5 basic controls within a compressor in music production . Each will change the sound of an audio clip within a track.

Threshold:

Sets the volume level (dB) at where the compressor starts doing its thing. For example, if you set the threshold at 5 dB, any audio signal above that volume level will get compressed according to the rest of the compression settings below.

Ratio:

Sets how much compression will be applied to a signal once it passes the threshold.
Having 3:1 ratio will bring out 1 dB for every 3 dB that goes over your threshold level.

Attack:

This is measured in milliseconds (ms). This is how long it will take for the compressor to reach the maximum sound level. Having a fast attack level is commonly used for damping percussion tracks so the overall signal can be increased.

Release:

Also measured in milliseconds (ms), the release time controls how long it takes for the compressor to release a signal once it goes below the threshold level. Having a long release time us commonly used to sustain an instrument’s note.

Output:

This is the overall volume of with the effect. This can also be known as the makeup gain.

Here is a simple guideline for the settings you can use when you get into music production.

Drums

Attack: 5ms
Release: 10ms
Threshold: -15dB
Ratio: 5:1 – 8:1
Knee: hard

Bass

Attack: 4-10ms
Release: 10ms
Threshold: -4dB – -8dB
Ratio: 4:1
Knee: hard

Vocals

Attack: Fastest
Release: Lowers
Threshold: -3dB – -8dB
Ratio: 4:1 – 12:1
Knee: soft

Main synths/instruments

Attack: Fastest
Release: Fastest
Threshold: -10dB – -14dB
Ratio: 2:1 – 8:1
Knee: hard or soft

When you get into music production, it is essential to know how to use a compressor. These are just the basics of compression but it should help you give an understanding on how to use it for music production.

By | 2016-11-20T01:30:46+00:00 July 21st, 2016|Other|0 Comments

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