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Forums » GarageBand Tips and Tricks » Tips for compression

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I found this:

Limiter explained: http://www.sweetwater.com/expert-center/techtips/d--02/03/1998

Compressor explained: http://www.sweetwater.com/expert-center/glossary/t--compressor
Artist Page Send Message Dec 15, 2009 | 8:22 pm
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BladeKemp wrote:
i only use limiting on breakbeat loops anyway, im gonna guess thats a bad idea then?


Well, a lot of this is subjective and heavily dependent on musical context -- it's hard to say categorically that anything is a bad idea without knowing exactly what you're trying to do. If I wanted to record a pure, clean vocal sound it would be a bad idea to slap a distortion plugin on it, but if I wanted a distorted part as an effect then it might well make sense.

Really, you should approach the question the other way round. First, figure out what the tool does -- get used to the sound of a limiter in various contexts and with various settings. Next, figure out what you're trying to do -- why your breakbeat loop doesn't sound the way you want it to right now, and what you think needs doing to it to make it sound the way you'd prefer. Finally, identify a tool that shapes the sound in whatever way you need, and apply it.

A lot of people use effects because they've read somewhere that you should use them -- I used to start my mixing process by slapping a bunch of compressors and EQs on things, without even listening carefully to the parts I'd recorded beforehand. Going back to some of those old mixes now, some of them sound better if I take all the effects off completely! These days I try to start with a sound which is as close as possible to what I want in the finished product, and apply the least processing possible to polish the mix, and I think I'm getting much better results.

One other concept that's important is the idea of 'unity gain', which in plain English is basically 'equal volume'. The way human perception works, if something is louder it usually sounds better. A lot of effects, particularly those involving compression, will make the output sound louder just by turning the effect on, regardless of what it's doing to the source. So you'll add an effect, think 'That sounds awesome!' and move on without really thinking about it. In order to give yourself a better idea of what the effect is really doing to the sound, you should adjust the output level of the effect so that the volume you perceive is the same with the effect enabled or disabled. That way the perceptual effect of 'louder=better' doesn't kick in, and you can hear whether you've really improved the sound or not.

So, getting back to your specific question: if you thought the breakbeat sounded like it needed limiting, and when you put the limiter on at unity gain it sounded better to your ears, then it was a good idea. If it sounded worse, or no different, then it wasn't necessarily a bad idea to try it, but it would be a bad idea to leave it on.

-Eido
Latest Song: [LiesToChildren] Road Collab
Artist Page Send Message Dec 16, 2009 | 2:40 am
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Compression softens the peak moments in the volume of your track depending on what you set the threshold at. The good to it is that you can then turn the master volume up on your track to make the "quiet" parts louder without clipping at the "louder" parts. The bad can be losing some dynamics between the soft and loud parts since it's all producing in a tighter volume range. I think that's right...anyways, that's how I learned it on the street. lol.
Artist Page Send Message Jan 13, 2010 | 4:04 am
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yeah, i agree with you ^^. I have always just used my judgement when compressing things, and its worked so far. its not an exact science, but i've learned to use it i suppose.
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Artist Page Send Message Jan 13, 2010 | 3:43 pm
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Well I am using MixCraft and Reaper, for now I have the classic series plug-in's and am just scratching the surface if not my head as to how to use them wisely.

I have been finding so many free plugins that it can make your head spin and well sometimes I tend overuse them and sometimes I prefer not to use them at all.

I have a thing for this slow sweeping chorus thing that I need to get off of.

Smile
Artist Page Send Message Jan 13, 2010 | 4:19 pm
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Watch out with Compression. It is a mixer's drug of choice. If over used it can really hurt the sound of the overall mix.

There are 2 schools of mixing those who don't like compression and those who use it by default. Some professional mixers can be identified just by the use of compression.

I would try using EQ in your mix to help get a good clear mix first then consider using compression on really high energy parts that need a bit of taming. You may want to consider Limiting as well instead of compression in some cases.

But as the wise man said (Eidolonia) "it's hard to say categorically that anything is a bad idea without knowing exactly what you're trying to do"

With that in mind if you have a vision for what it sounds like use things to help you achieve that sound.

Hope that helped...

Peace,
Tony
Artist Page Send Message Jan 13, 2010 | 4:52 pm
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well thanks to you guys im getting proper savvy at this stuff now

just for thread purposes, would you mind listening to this: http://www.icompositions.com/music/song.php?sid=131404 just to see if you think ive got the peaks and lower levels under control?

i think i did quite a good job myself Smile
Artist Page Send Message Jan 13, 2010 | 5:19 pm
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This is such a great thread. It's hard to get good explanations about equipment like this.
Latest Song: Sunshine
Artist Page Send Message Nov 06, 2010 | 1:31 am
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