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  • What does a compressor do?

    what is a compressor used for?

    I heard of people using them when recording vocals, and other instruments.

    I read an article and Jimmy Page said he used it on the riff to "black dog."

    can anyone explain? I'm totally new to recording.

  • #2
    By running an instrument through a compressor you can set the compressor to reduce the amplitude of the loud parts while leaving the quieter parts the way they are. That way you can keep the instrument sounding more in control instead of having the balance of the quiet/loud parts being to extreme.

    Also, a compressor can be used to add a certain tone to the sound. Tube/valve compressors have their own sound depending on the manufacture. There are also transparent compressors that sound nice and clear.

    Its just a matter of taste.
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    • #3
      so, does everyone use these?
      Or do some people actually prefer to have the louder parts loud to add to the contrast of the quiter parts?

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      • #4
        Originally posted by SpliffyJonez
        so, does everyone use these?
        Or do some people actually prefer to have the louder parts loud to add to the contrast of the quiter parts?


        See the button on top that says "search"? Try using it.

        This question comes up every other day, it seems, and it's simply ridiculous to explain it day in and day out.

        But yes, everyone uses them. Compressors are essential to a good production, unless you're going for a crappy indie sound, in which case, no, you wouldn't need them.
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        • #5
          Originally posted by SpliffyJonez
          so, does everyone use these?
          Or do some people actually prefer to have the louder parts loud to add to the contrast of the quiter parts?

          Everybody uses them, but not always for everything. It just depends what you are after and every situation is different.
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          • #6
            Originally posted by scubyfan
            But yes, everyone uses them. Compressors are essential to a good production, unless you're going for a crappy indie sound, in which case, no, you wouldn't need them.


            Compressors make loud things softer, and soft things louder... they compress the dynamic range. Along the way, if you're somewhat skilled in their use, you can alter the envelop of the sound.

            However, not everyone uses them... and there are a whole lot of people that do use them that shouldn't. If you identify a lack of compression with a "crappy indie sound" you're doing yourself a major disservice.

            No compression is far superior to bad compression... and I see a whole lot of discussion on this board about some pretty ****************ty compressors...
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          • #7
            If you're recording a really good guitar player, who knows something about dynamics and taking control of his instrument, then a compressor might not be the best idea because you'll lose some of the expression. On the other hand, if you're recording a player that just rips it apart from the get-go and doesn't care much about the dynamics, a compressor can be your best friend...especially if he likes to adjust the volume from time to time, without letting you know.

            My keyboard player uses a lot of different sounds that vary in volume. Ultimately it would be nice if she'd work on adjusting the volume of each sound internally (within the keyboard), but that doesn't always happen, so a compressor is a good thing here too because it even's the sound out.

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            • #8
              So that when the soloist plays a quite passage you can still hear
              the slow passage even if you have your radio volume dial at 3. So inherently compressors are very unnatural and all recordist and musicians strugle with compression (with or without using a compressor) to come close to the natural sound and that ultimately is what will trully distinguishes a good produced mix from a lousy mix. This philosophy has changed dramatically lately and compressors are used to make CDs louder and louder but to fit a concert hall into a CD player (never mind an AM radio) and still make it sound vibrant and natural not dull and lifless without detecting or hearing compression is the true measure.

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              • #9
                http://www.theprojectstudiohandbook.com/articles3.htm
                Dan Richards
                Pro Studio Reviews

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                • #10
                  I think compressors are not necessary, but they can help greatly. They can help when a vocalist is too loud or quiet. They can also help remove breathing. They can help guitar tracks and drums also. One thing I personaly never do is use compression on everything, you will lose some of the sound dynamics. I use a little compresson here and there. I have found them useful to help add a flavor to a mix also. I know I will get crap for this but I use a Behringer composer pro and I think it is great. It is the only Behringer piece I have.
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                  • #11

                    Thanks everyone for the posts I have always wondered what a compressor did.. now I know!

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                    • #12
                      compressors make drums and guitar sound better and clearer. weak sounds are made louder while loud sounds are made softer.

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                      • #13
                        Hi Connor,

                        There are many uses for compressors, but at its core, its main use is to help regulate the volume of a track to stay within a particular volume range. For example, an emotional singer may sing softer at some parts where the volume is low and during loud parts where the volume is much higher. A compressor comes in handy to help tame the highs and also can be set to raise the lows.

                        There are also some brands of compressors (both software and hardware compressors) that add a particular color to the track. This is very preferable at times - other times, not so much.

                        But all in all, compressors are mainly volume regulators.

                        Hope this helps!
                        -Peter
                        --
                        http://www.peterknightmusic.net

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