Saturday, 9 April 2011

Compression of a single track (or instrooomint) - oh bollox.

If you recall, previous to the drunk post you would probably do well to ignore, we were using a BASS GUITAR track as an EXAMPLE for effective - aimed primarily at freeing up db's and make the most out of the loudness and secondly to remove the mud and add punch to the track.
If you don't recall or are new here GO THE FUCK BACK and read every sensual word of what's been written because, srsly dood, I want to make you a little hard n horny or moist in the knicker-pants and I put a fuck load of work into choosing just the right tantalising phrases to acheive that aim. 
Even if you have no CLUE what a 'reverb unit' is and have no inclination to do any audio work on anything evvvorr, idc, get your horn on from my meticulously crafted poetic prose and adore me for it and fantasise twice daily about it as you rub one out ffs. (I know you do it at least 3 times, so you can easily dedicate two to me, I deserve it COMEON!) Yeah.

So anywayz...


Yep, I know it.

But... hear that? When you 'unsolo' the track, some notes are REALLY popping, and others are a bit lost in the mix.

(Oh bollox).

Compression is something that two, maybe three people in the world know how to do right and they are druids who can summon demons 'n' shit - certainly when it comes to mastering (we will GET TO IT LATER! ffs).

'Compressing' is what it says it is. It 'squishes' the sound so that louder bits go quieter and stuff stops popping out.

Again, we stick with this bass guitar you are so fond of - it's an ideal example again, especially because most bass guitar needs a decent bit of compression, as the instrument has a tendency for certain notes to pop out.

You will never get this right, I never have, but screw it, let's do this.

Set your db. 
We're going to pretend you are compressing a miced-up (no, nothing to do with revamping instruments by putting mouses in them. I mean a bass amp with a microphone in fernt ovvit) live bass. You will never compress a miced-up live bass, but let's just do this for demonstration purposes.

K. I got it. I compress the bass. Make it all LOWD an everytings.
Uhmmm. *sticks tongue out and wiggles it around*
db 'thersh howld???'.. let's see.. all der way dowwwn. Infinimit! Yay.
Rationz... eh.. all der ways UP! Gun a rock dat fador up now... YAY LOWWWD!

Loud all right. The fucking bass amp hum is deafening.
By doing that you have compressed the queitest noise (the amp hum) to be as loud as the loudest sound (the thumb slap off the 'e' stringBOMP!)

Listen to the track now and it goes all sucky (literally it sounds like it's sucking - gobbling ferociously at a cow dangler. It's Tom Sucky Green and HE SUCKS!)

Just use your ears. Remember the things on the side of your head you used to listen to your composition as you put it together? I did mention you need them while mixing too.

If your ears have fallen off, figure out what the average level for the quieter musical elements of the bass track is. 
Check that bit where yer man is slapping and popping and then does the nifty little fingering bit.

Without compression you can't hear his nimble fret work - it gets lost in the mix. When soloed you know it sounds awesome because you EQ'd that bastard like a pro, but in the mix you can't hear it behind that fucking guitar (TURN IT DOWN ALREADY! effing guitarists).

Sooooo.... what db is the nifty nimbly bit hitting. -10db is it?
Try your threshold at -12db.

Set your ratio.
Pump your ratio until it goes all sucky during the slap 'n' pop bit. (Must have ears for this part, sorry).
Pull it back to a touch under where it stops that sucky pig suckle nom nom sound.
Unsolo the track.

Turn that fucking guitar down a notch (guy uses so many pedals you will never need to compress that track - unless he turns one off then it's FACE PALM TIME!)

YAYYYYYYYY! We can hear the nimblynimble licks after the poppinslap even with mophead givin' it loads on his axe.

Careful now!
Unless you are Daft Punk, dynamics does be important in musics (we'll talk more about this in mastering).

E.g. snarez! 
While you don't want half of them inaudible and others bursting eardrums, (particularly with a live drummer) you probably don't want all your snare hits at the same level right? You want to PRESERVE THE DYNAMICS so bear this in mind while compressing. You can easily strip out the performance or 'soul' of the instrument (even if it is a VST instrument) with compression. 
Of course, that's fine with bass - 'performance'? 'Soul? They're just there to boost the sound of the guitar, no? Oh, and to chat to the drummer to keep the dumb sack from getting bored at gigs.

Repeat all that shite with all your tracks. Optimise their potential through EQ and compression.

'solo' the instrument. Watch your level.
Just. Just. WATCH YOUR FREAKING LEVEL!  Watch it! Waaaaatch iiiit!


  1. Who knew a tutorial on sound compression would make me laugh so much. Well done!

  2. didn't laugh that much on tutorial ever

  3. nice tut. also lol'd at it. very nice.

  4. Thank you sir for actually making this stuff interesting.

  5. This is actually the most worryingly entertaining blog I've ever seen. Following.

  6. good advice, im usually weary of compression cause i like them raw dynamics

  7. hahahaa I loved your comment! I have no clue what you are talking about here?
    ill just get my horn on from your meticulously crafted poetic prose and adore you for it! :D

  8. i really like the style of your blog, very nice.

  9. Thanks, learnd alot new. Following

  10. Got it, watch the instrumental and listen to the bass, wsup

  11. I wish more tutorials out there were like this :) Definitely following :D

  12. thanks for the tips. useful as usual!