Go-to track compressor?

VST, AU, etc. plug-in Virtual Effects discussion
832 posts since 27 May, 2008

Post Thu Oct 31, 2019 2:38 pm

Or justez reaches for precious..

3968 posts since 21 Sep, 2005

Re: Go-to track compressor?

Post Thu Oct 31, 2019 9:30 pm

JCJR wrote:
Wed Oct 30, 2019 6:42 pm
Thanks codec_spurt. I:m fairly out of touch and that is kinda what I was getting at-- Tis not insurmountably difficult to make a clean transparent dsp compressor, so was curious if maybe the average modern musician doesn't want them anymore now that they are pretty easy to come by? How could I find out without asking? My psychic powers don't work so good. :)

Dunno so far as the earliest compressor. The crudest compressor design I saw in an old hardbound "encyclopedia of electronic circuits" book. In some ways (possibly laziness, possibly copyright avoidance) this book was similar to old bootleg musicians realbooks.

Some schematics had parts values and some did not. Some circuits were labeled by designer or company and some were not.

One circuit drawn in an 'early style' consisted of a tube amp driving an incandescent light bulb. The slow light bulb controlled the gain of an old opto vacuum tube perhaps the type used in early talky film projectors.

The only identification was "compressor circuit". Maybe this was the product of some genius from the dawn of radio and talkies? Or maybe it was only the brainchild of "The Stupidest Electrical Engineer of 1955"? :)

I think if anyone wanted to go mad on this one and research it they would probably find there is a 'circuit' or 'design' from the 19th Century (before most people had switch-on lightbulbs) that they could 'patent' with regard to some kind of early compression concept, whether in practice or in theory.

People were messing about with this stuff in the 17th Century and earlier. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_o ... ngineering

By the 20th Century it was really 'hotting up'.

And what is 'Compression' anyway?

I'm sure people were using Compression algorithms way before all that again. They would have had to. Whether in early electrical circuits or even earlier information systems.

But let's not be a smart-arse about it all.

The tech is there now to get just about as transparent and invisible 'wave-shaping' compression as you can possibly get (the human ear is the final arbiter).

And half the time, this is exactly what you want.

The other half of the time, you just want something to do roughly the same effect, but maybe squish and squash things a bit more, adding the so called 'character'.

Plugins like Ferox and SDRR by Toneboosters and Klanghelm, respectively, also do this. Just not so overtly. They kind of mimic the compression you get at the 'end-stage' when you are printing things to tape. Saturation.

The ordinary compressors we are talking about would be units to volume-change and level before it got to that end point. Ideally. In theory. The other kind of compression would be artefacts coming about through imperfections in the medium.

Sometimes the kids just want to compress a signal. And it ends up saturating it too.

Other times the kids just want to saturate a signal. And that ends up compressing it too.

(I'm not an expert on this or any kind of authority.)

One is an overt explicit kind of thing, which 'compresses'. And levels the signal, hopefully, as cleanly as possible. (with regard to our early hardware Fairchild and 1176 compressor units, and these days, with their software counterparts, giving just about perfect leveling due to latency and 'look-ahead' times because they already 'read' the signal)

The other is more of a covert, secondary effect, which also 'compresses'. And saturates the signal as well a bit, hopefully not too much. (with regard to how much electromagnetic information you can get down on tape without it sounding like 'crud' - some people prefer Ampex 456 to this or that, but most people hate Cassette tape)

Analog tape might have sounded like shite compared to the superior bandwidth of digital, but it still sounded 'better' (subjectively) when pushed in to the red and beyond its so called 'sweet-spot' - in fact, working out where this so called 'sweet-spot' was, was the preserve of the sophisticated audio-engineer, who knew just how far he could push his Ampex compared to his Studer before things got a bit too gnarly or 'over-glued' and people would start saying: Eh, this is shite. As opposed to: Eh, this is really rocking it man.

Now we live in a wonderful world where just about anyone can experiment with this stuff, even if it's only virtually (and 90 percent there), and with free plugins too. If you want to take it further, you can probably get it 95 percent there by paying for the better stuff (plugins). Those that really want to push the envelope can get it 98 percent there by paying as much for a plugin as they would the hardware. YMMV.

All in my totally uninformed and made-up opinion, of course.

Really the Toneboosters and Tokyo Dawn Labs compressors are the best there is for clean compression where you just want to level. If you want some mojo or some 'saturation' along the way, well...

You could do worse than hooking up the free Antress compressors, loosely modeled on god knows what.

But yes, loosely breaking it down, in this day and age, any audio-engineer will reach for a compressor for one of two reasons: A - to level a peak or perhaps even bring up a low part of the signal that needs pronouncing more. Or, B - to smudge and smear and make 'more coherent' the overall signal, either for 'character' or to just sit in a mix better.

Some tools can do both, but usually a different tool is better. But of course now with plugins like DMG has, you can pick your poison.

And let's not even get in to Expansion and Noise-Gating which is essentially just a compressor taken to its logical conclusion, when you want to do the really fancy stuff. Many great compressors can do both (See Waves C1).

By compressing the signal we make it more dynamically TAME, therefore making it LOUDER.

By expanding the signal we make it more dynamically WILD, therefore making it QUIETER.

Counter-intuitive concepts. But that's the way it works, and once you grasp and grok that, that's all you really need to know about 'compression' really. Kind of.

Audio plugins and DSP kind of bleed in to one another after a while when you look close enough.

Most of the developers are far too busy developing stuff, to be explaining it. I think they may think it might be seen as a form of shilling or maybe they are just too lost in the la-la land that is DSP coding. I wouldn't know. But sometimes they do venture out and share their deeper findings with us. It's that I base my observations on. That and real world empirical examples where I do my own testing.

And there are developers out there as well that will help you out behind the scenes like Vojtech from Melda. He's happy to take time and really help you to understand what is going on.

I still don't know what is going on. But it's fun to try and understand.

And when someone asks an honest question, it can be mind provoking to try and answer it. I still don't feel as if I have. But maybe there is some food for thought there all the same.
"Once a junkie, always a junkie, I guess" - Bruce Swedien.

17 posts since 24 Sep, 2019

Re: Go-to track compressor?

Post Sat Nov 09, 2019 7:39 am

Soon to come to your appstore/playstore a new AR app called "Pokemon Go2".

With this app you play a game: your personal go-to comp hides anywhere around you. You win by catching your fovorite comp and hailing it [pokemon]Go-To.

Good luck ! :P

2 posts since 14 Apr, 2019

Re: Go-to track compressor?

Post Sun Nov 10, 2019 10:18 am

cnt wrote:
Sun Oct 27, 2019 1:36 pm
I know a purist that don't use compressors AT ALL. Not a single limiter or compressor. For a whole album! Not even at mastering! Only using only a little bit of EQ and then only volume/automation.. Surely that is a somewhat esoteric way to mix... But some of the most dynamic and rich/full sound I ever heard came out of that actually. It's amazing when your hear it. Almost everything else sounds dull/lifeless in comparisson. No details. No subletly. Although, in a way it destroyed the pleasure to me of listening to a lot of other music, so it wasn't all good to have this "a-ha" experience... :)
It’s tough to make anything of this without hearing it. What was the album? What kind of music? If it was a folk or classical record then I wouldn’t find this too hard to believe, but if it was any kind of popular music with live drums and vocals then I’m a little skeptical without hearing it.

I’m not saying you didn’t have this experience but you don’t even describe the music, much less give an example so we can form our own opinion. As they say “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” In this case I think an audio clip would suffice.

1791 posts since 12 Nov, 2014

Re: Go-to track compressor?

Post Tue Nov 12, 2019 11:11 pm

Well Mr Bruce Swedien would say he doesn’t use compressors and would argue against it.

The thing is, and I mean this respectfully, he is kind of lying to himself as he uses tape as his compressor. That’s probably a big reason why he never went to digital. It meant he’s have to relearn compression all over, basically.

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