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Forums » GarageBand Tips and Tricks » Tips for compression

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hey guys. ive been kind of teaching myself how to produce for a while now and have been reading about compression and other mastering techniques.

was just wondering if someone could give me a quick summary of compression, where to use it, and maybe some examples of settings different instruments in a mix?

thankyou.
Artist Page Send Message Dec 14, 2009 | 2:16 pm
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I found this link helpful on that subject:

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jan01/articles/advanced.asp
Artist Page Send Message Dec 14, 2009 | 3:06 pm
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thanks but ive read that one before, and all the others but theyre all so confusing. ike i understand what they mean but its like "woah ffff that"... shouldve taken music for my GCSE's Sad
Artist Page Send Message Dec 14, 2009 | 3:08 pm
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Read this and afterwards your understanding of compressors should be as clear as mud.
Latest Song: Pipe dreams
Artist Page Send Message Dec 14, 2009 | 3:45 pm
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I always use compressions on bass guitar and vocals, I am not very technical.As far as I know, It just increase volume on softer signals and reduce volume on louder signals.
Artist Page Send Message Dec 14, 2009 | 4:01 pm
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ahh now that helped, thanks alot you three Smile
Artist Page Send Message Dec 14, 2009 | 5:37 pm
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Looks like you're sorted now, but here's compression in a nutshell anyway:

The purpose of compression is to reduce the overall range of volumes in a given source. In its simplest form, this just makes loud things quieter; some compressors also let you make quiet things louder.

Why would you want to do this? To make the sound more even and consistent, which can help it to stand out in a mix.

Compression is used a lot on vocals, for example. In some songs the singer will go from a whisper to a scream, but although you'll still be able to hear that the singer is whispering or screaming, the whisper isn't (usually) super-quiet and the scream isn't super-loud -- they're actually at about the same volume. That's compression in action -- make the loud thing (the scream) as quiet as the quiet thing (the whisper), then bring them both up in the mix so you can hear both equally well.

Another place where it can be useful is on something like an acoustic guitar, where you get a loud initial strum but then the chord get quiet very quickly. With compression you can make the strum and the chord much closer in volume, which means that in your mix you'll hear the acoustic guitar for longer.

As for settings, the best way to learn how a tool works is just to play around with its settings until you get a feel for them. Another approach which you might like is to try a selection of presets on a given source until you find one you really like and one you really hate, then figure out why you like the one you like and why you hate the one you hate by tweaking the settings until you stop liking or hating them.

-Eido
Latest Song: [LiesToChildren] Road Collab
Artist Page Send Message Dec 14, 2009 | 6:38 pm
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Everything " Eido " said you can't go wrong with any of that.....
Artist Page Send Message Dec 14, 2009 | 6:48 pm
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Best way to learn compression is trial and error...
Nothing comes in a can...
You've got to find the best settings for your own gear. Every set-up is different.

I wouldn't touch a PC....
I like stuff that works.
Latest Song: "Moonglow"
Artist Page Send Message Dec 14, 2009 | 8:12 pm
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well from the start i was already using compression and learned it by trial and error... but i was just guessing my way; but Mr. Mod there has completely end of story cleared everything up haha thanks alot Very Happy
Artist Page Send Message Dec 14, 2009 | 8:45 pm
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Yep, Eido usually wraps everything up very neatly. Very Happy
Latest Song: Be Here Now (RTH)
Artist Page Send Message Dec 14, 2009 | 9:35 pm
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I would agree that hardware is slightly better. However wiring and noise conciderations make it far more expensive and time comsuming. Space is also often a problem. As a former electronic tech I know that analog conections allow a little noise to erode signal to noise ratios. The more cables the more noise and the more trouble.
Latest Song: The eight Bar Rule Collab
Artist Page Send Message Dec 15, 2009 | 7:10 am
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I use "Limiter" instead. Isn't Limiter more "simple" to set?
Artist Page Send Message Dec 15, 2009 | 6:03 pm
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A limiter is basically just an extreme compressor; below a particular threshold of volume, a limiter will typically do very little to the sound, but sounds above that threshold will be mercilessly squashed down to that limit. (Hence, 'limiter'. Smile) It's a way of saying 'no louder than this, please'.

You'll often see limiters used on a whole mix to increase the overall loudness of the song -- any large transient peaks will be squashed down, allowing the average level of the song to come up. (Why you'd want to do this is a whole other discussion.)

Limiting isn't really an alternative to compression so much as just a special case of it, though. In my acoustic guitar example above, I wouldn't want to use a limiter because it would be overkill -- I'd much rather use a gentle compression which will bring up some of the volume of the chord's decay, but still let it die away naturally. A hard limiter would bring up too much of the background noise.

Apologies in advance for the self-plug, but you can hear this for yourself on my track Diminished Returns. I wanted to use a compressor to bring out the acoustic guitar in the intro, because the raw recording was getting buried under the piano; so I slapped a compressor with a pretty aggressive setting onto it, confirmed that I could now hear the acoustic guitar much better, and moved on. Unfortunately I didn't notice that I'd also brought the noise floor up a lot. Listen carefully to the acoustic guitar at the start (panned slightly to the right) -- you can hear me strum a chord, then the chord ring out, and then the background noise seems to swell up as the chord dies away. This is because the aggressive compression was trying to squeeze too much volume out of a quiet signal, and all that was left to amplify was the noise. D'oh.

-Eido
Latest Song: [LiesToChildren] Road Collab
Artist Page Send Message Dec 15, 2009 | 6:25 pm
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i only use limiting on breakbeat loops anyway, im gonna guess thats a bad idea then?
Artist Page Send Message Dec 15, 2009 | 6:48 pm
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