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 Forum index » Reviews, Editorials and Commentary » Commentary and Editorials
Thoughts about compressors
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mosc
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2005 9:29 am    Post subject: Thoughts about compressors Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

[Editor's note: I split this topic off of another topic in the Nord Modular forum: http://electro-music.com/forum/topic-5636.html . Looks like it might be a good one for discussion.

On more thing. This is my opinion. Compressors are devices that were originally developed and used to correct mistakes. Since the 1950s, pop singers all use them, but classical singers don't. Classical musicians can control their voices and every gain fluctuation is intentional; it is part of their art.

Most "pop" musicians ignore dynamic control when they play. Everything is just loud or louder. Musicians and audiences have accepted this for the most part, but to me it a glaring weakness in electric music. Too often, compressors are used to compensate for bad musicianship.

Again, this is not fact, just my opinion. I'm not saying this is The Truth.

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Last edited by mosc on Mon Mar 14, 2005 10:15 am; edited 2 times in total
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richard s



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2005 9:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I love compressors of every shape and kind. I like the G1 and G2 compressors for making things sound plastic, frustrated and european - I think they'd probably sound horrible on vocals!

its too easy to say compressors are about correcting mistakes, the sound of pop music, since The Who (and actually before them) IS compression, and it can be used to make beauty (Lee Perry) and for ugliness (B. Spears). The greatest pop singer will still use compression to keep the voice level more restricted than their actual performance in a mix which might have many elements vying for attention, this is production technique not a sign of failure!

Digi compressors like those on the G2 are mere gain controllers and to some extent shapers, think of them as envelopes... but they have little impact on the timbre and quality of the tone like a great analogue compresser can

analogue compression and digital compression are just different universes and are not to be too lightly compared

BTW stick the G2 through a Chiswick Reach valve compressor are really does start to sound like a moog modular!

Richard
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elektro80
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2005 10:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

This post got orphaned when the thread got split..

Compressors were designed to control gain, but of course they can be used for correcting mistakes. However, a skilled rock vocalist will be able to tell you about the skill needed to sing well with compressors.

There are a lot of nice old compressor designs. This is very true, but personally I think there is too much hype going on.

There are many different ways to design compressors, and the strongly coloured expensive ones are still popular. Reasonably transparent ones are perhaps more important to have in the gear closet, but this isn´t about hifi ideals anyway.. so coloured compressors are cool to have around too. You can never have too many compressors.

Quote:
Finally, I'm sure people like certain legendary compressors because of the distortion they introduce as a byproduct.


Yes, very true.. and if you read some posts at boards like recording.org a lot of the praise is actually a pretty detailed description of artifacts .. transparency isn´t quite what they are after. This is however quite OK.

BTW: Universal Audio has been lowering the prices on the esoteric hardware gear a lot. Those are worth looking into. Great gear and the prices are almost decent.

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Mohoyoho



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2005 2:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I think classical singers come from the school where you sing from a stage without microphones. Thus dynamics and its control were a big part of their performance.

Microphones changed the way people sang. Performers like Bing Crosby were one of the first to master the use of a microphone. Good singers know when to back away from microphone and when to come in close. Mosc is right. So many of today's singers just get up close and belt it out. They depend on the soundman to compensate for their inadequacies. I think of a microphone as an instrument, and it takes practice to learn how to use it effectively.

Now if only I could sing.

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The Why Project



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2005 4:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I have to dissagree... in the case of close-miked vocals:
With the large diafragm condenser as todays studio standard for
vocal recording, the proximity effect is one of the reasons why you'd
rather record with compression as opposed to the singer backing away
on loud vocals.

But there is obviously a difference between killing something with
compression or using it as a gain control for recording.
I'll always record vocals with compression, will choose an opto
compressor for this most of the time, and I'll let the thing peak at -5 dB
gain reduction. By the way, that's a different setting than the Britney setting.

Now back to a long time ago, when singers sang without a microphone:
That's a different time, now there's different recording media, and don't
forget the radio loudness war... if you don't compress before your final
mix, the radio will kill it!
By the way, that doesn't mean that I approve, but it does mean that I'd
rather have some control myself.

Regards,

The Why Project.
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elektro80
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2005 4:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

A good point re the proximity effect. I was just about to comment that one myself.
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mosc
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2005 4:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I actually share Why's attitude. Every patch I build has a compressor module at the end. I'm not a good enough patcher to assure things never blow up with certain settings. A compressor can make the difference between a patch (track) you can use and one that is not usable at all. I use it as a safety mechanism.

I understand that compressors can be used as an appropriate effect. I couldn't imagine The Beatles without all that compression.

One capability electronic music has is it is possible to have tremendous dynamic range. It's a very important aspect of music. It's a shame we don't have more dynamic range in our music.

My music is hardly ever on the radio. I wouldn't want to limit the music to that medium.

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elektro80
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2005 4:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I use compressors and filters a lot within patches in order to hunt those sounds within the sounds. Most of my material posted here is now offline. but I guess "A Scanner Darkly" will be online for a week or so. That one uses such compression a lot. Related to this is the fact that a lot of my material was in fact written for being played pretty loud. Because of this I tended to construct the pacthes to have some cutting power. Channel level management is of course a different concept.
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mosc
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2005 5:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Your music is beautiful, so that speaks well of the technique. Very Happy
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2005 5:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

THX.. uh.. Embarassed
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