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 Forum index » How-tos » Production - engineering/mixing
Which compressor to buy?
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Leon-2010



Joined: Oct 22, 2009
Posts: 8
Location: Leicester, United Kingdom

PostPosted: Sat Apr 02, 2011 6:14 am    Post subject: Which compressor to buy?
Subject description: Which compressor to buy and where to place it in the chain
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Hi All

I do not know a lot about compressors, but I understand that they can improve the outcome of the finished track.

My setup so far is like this:

1. I use 'Cakewalk Sonar' as a midi multi-track sequencer, that triggers all of my hardware - 2 drum machines (DR202 & Electribe ER-1), 2 synth rack modules (Orbit 9090 & JV1080) and 2 electribes (EA-1 & ES-1). I don't use it all together just different kit for different tracks but that does not matter.

2. The kit runs into an 'Allen & Heath Zed14 mixer', which I also have a 'Lexicon MX400' effects unit linked up to, for reverbs and delays.

3. Then I record it all back into my laptop using 'Reaper' in a 2 channel live stereo mix. (I tried to record it back into Sonar but I kept getting some audio overload errors, or something like that).

I am very happy with the tracks that I am making, but when I compare them to other peoples music on the net they sound a lot lower in volume.

So finally my question:

I was wondering if I put a compresser between my mixer and laptop (on the way into my laptop for recording) would it help?
If so what compressors would you recommend?

Or perhaps I have got the placement wrong in the chain, please advise.

I have seen the 'Alesis 3630 Compressor, mentioned a lot, also I have looked at the 'DBX 266XL Compressor Gate' that has different inputs and outputs which may be better. Both are round about £100, which is about the price that I would like to pay, as music is just a hobby for me.

Thanks for any help in advance.

Cheers
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Antimon



Joined: Jan 18, 2005
Posts: 3618
Location: Sweden
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 02, 2011 6:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I have heard good things about RNC, which is €185 at Thomann.

Re: getting a low volume in the mix. I'm a hobbyist too, and I've found that since I learned to use EQs more I've managed to push up the general volume a bit.

Maybe you already know this, but if you put an EQ on each track before mixing, and limit the bandwidth for it without making it sound different or bad in the mix (don't worry if you think it sounds bad when you're soloing it - it's the mix that counts), you'll be able to sum all the tracks together at a higher volume without clipping.

This is because especially the low frequencies tend to stack up and cause a lot of inaudible energy to be spent in the low range, overshadowing the other stuff higher up in the spectrum that you are more interested in listening too. Also, giving each track or instrument its own range in the frequency spectrum may lead to a "nicer" mix, where each instrument is discernible and so on, though I personally often feel that this part is on the borderline between science and taste.

Also, compressing sound to boost volume means participating in the "loudness war", which is fine if you're after that effect, but it could also be that you just need to relax and worry more about getting the song right than about competing with the big boys' dynamics which are glued to the maximum. Compressing a mix to the max without distorting the way it sounds is an art in its own right.

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Leon-2010



Joined: Oct 22, 2009
Posts: 8
Location: Leicester, United Kingdom

PostPosted: Tue Apr 05, 2011 1:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Hi Antimon

Thanks for the input.
I was looking at 'Reaper' the other day (the program that I record the stereo mix to) and I have downloaded some plugins for it. Some of them are compressors, so I may have a play round with these first before I buy a hardware compressor (if I decide to buy one that is).
Here is a link to a couple of my finished tracks on soundcloud and myspace: http://soundcloud.com/leon-19
http://www.myspace.com/leon-trax

How do you think they sound?

Cheers Leon
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Leon-2010



Joined: Oct 22, 2009
Posts: 8
Location: Leicester, United Kingdom

PostPosted: Tue Apr 05, 2011 1:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Hi Antimon

Thanks for the input.
I was looking at 'Reaper' the other day (the program that I record the stereo mix to) and I have downloaded some plugins for it. Some of them are compressors, so I may have a play round with these first before I buy a hardware compressor (if I decide to buy one that is).
Here is a link to a couple of my finished tracks on soundcloud: http://soundcloud.com/leon-19 and myspace: http://www.myspace.com/leon-trax

How do you think they sound?

Cheers Leon
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